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Yes, You Can Afford Life in San Francisco as a Musician

Editors at Varo
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Meet Sami Perez: a freelance audio engineer, musician, and student in San Francisco, CA. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Sami is hustling to pursue a creative lifestyle in one of the country’s most expensive cities. Here are Sami’s top tips for making it work:

Plan for the future in baby steps

“The future to me means everything from tomorrow to the day I die. I think the only way to handle the future without getting extremely overwhelmed is to think about it in baby steps—more frequently than long-term. Right now, I’m working on building a good foundation, which really just requires me to build networks for myself and to find new opportunities, which I think I’m doing.”

Recognize your own worth

“The part of me that wants to bring myself down is like, ‘I am not worth any money.’ I think in order to recognize my worth in a studio, I had to go from trainee to trainer, and realize that I can teach others. I do know what I’m doing, and can teach someone how to do it.”

Keep an eye on your money

“I’m keeping a closer eye on my bank account now because I have to. Just like visually seeing my bank account, I’m realizing I need to put more in my savings. I check on my bank account probably every couple of days—I’m not super paranoid about it. But it’s important to know.”

Make financial decisions that make you happy

“Even though it’s a struggle to make money doing what you like in a city that’s nearly impossible to live in, it’s so worth it. If I were anywhere else I think I would be struggling to feel comfortable and liberated creatively. I feel I can really be creative, be myself, and enjoy all the opportunities in San Francisco with my friends and my family—and I wouldn’t leave it.”

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