It depends on your privacy preferences, relationship status, etc. If you want to live by yourself in a safe neighborhood, with good transportation options, you should try to earn (as a young single person) between $75K to $85K a year. You can live less expensively if you are willing to have room-mates. If you live in the East Bay and take BART in (Walnut Creek is 35 minutes out on BART from Embarcadero) you can cut costs by half. Use the extra money to pay off student loans ,etc as you grow your career then you can move into the City without debt and at a higher income later.