San Francisco City Performance, Brand Strength and Reputation

San Francisco, one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the USA, is also the financial center and cultural hub of the West Coast. A popular tourist destination for its location, climate, and architecture, it is also known for its openness. Famous for its innovative environment, several technology companies have chosen San Francisco as their base, putting it in close competition with Silicon Valley.

But how is San Francisco performing in terms of reputation and influence, business attractiveness and sustainability? Let’s explore deeper how San Francisco positions itself on the world stage, drawing insights from data provided by leading rankings and indices.

Let’s take a closer look at:

  • San Francisco’s competitiveness and financial performance
  • San Francisco’s brand strength and global attractiveness
  • Liveability: San Francisco’s appeal for digital nomads and locals

San Francisco’s competitiveness and financial performance

How attractive is San Francisco as a place to work and do business?

The Global Financial Centres Index 34 ranks San Francisco 5th, positioning the same as the previous ranking. It is currently sitting between Hong Kong (4th) and Los Angeles (6th). San Francisco holds the second place in the North American region behind New York City. The city holds a strong standing in the following areas of competitiveness: Human Capital (5th), Reputational & General (5th), Business Environment (9th) Infrastructure (12th), and Financial Sector Development (12th).

San Francisco performs well in the following industry sectors: Fintech (6th), Professional Services (7th), Government & Regulatory (7th), Finance (7th), Trading (8th), Investment Management (9th), Insurance (10th), Banking (11th).

According to 2thinknow’s Innovation Cities Index 2022-2023 San Francisco ranks 9th, a jump in three positions from the previous ranking. The city now sits in between Seoul (8th) and Houston (10th).


San Francisco’s brand strength and global attractiveness

Which subfactors hurt and help the brand of San Francisco? 

Resonance’s 2023 World’s Best Cities Report ranks San Francisco 7th, scoring the following in the Place Power Score subfactors: 5th in Prosperity, 20th in Livability, and 28th in Lovability. It currently sits in between Dubai (6th) and Barcelona (8th).

Kearney’s 2023 Global Cities Report ranks San Francisco 17th, falling two positions compared to last years’ publication. However, San Francisco has managed to surpass London and take over the first position for Global Cities Outlook, when last year it held the 13th position.

The comprehensive ranking of the Global Power City Index ranks San Francisco 27th. In terms of function-specific rankings, the city ranks 7th in terms of Economy, 7th in R&D, 38th in Cultural Interaction, 39th in Livability, 43rd in Environment, and 30th in Accessibility. Admirably, San Francisco ranks 2nd in terms of most award winners in Science and Technology. Lastly, San Francisco positioned 18th in the Highly-skilled Workers, 5th in the Corporate executive, 41st in the Resident and 44th in the Tourism categories.

According to Brand Finance’s City Index 2023, San Francisco ranks 8th in the global ranking with a score of 76.3/100, sitting in between Tokyo (7th) and Dubai (9th).


Livability: San Francisco’s appeal for digital nomads and locals

Which aspects of San Francisco’s urban living make it an attractive place to live, work and study?

The Mercer Quality of Living City Ranking places San Francisco 37th between Lyon (38th) and Brussels (36th). The Mercer Cost of Living Ranking ranks San Francisco 14th behind Shanghai (12th) and Beijing (13th). The cost living survey reports that factors such as currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services, and instability of accommodation prices are key to determining the cost of expat packages for employees on international assignment.

According to the Best Urban Cities for Digital Nomads ranking by Spot a Home, San Francisco ranks 8th out of 56 global cities. It currently sits between Madrid (7th) and Wellington (9th).

The Arcadis Sustainability City Index 2022 ranks San Francisco 9th overall, sitting in between Paris (8th) and Amsterdam (9th). San Francisco’s pillar rankings are the following: Planet 35th, People 38th, Profit 4th. The city ranks highest on education, transport, air pollution, electricity and economic development, while work-life balance and income inequality are areas which could be improved. 

Lastly, San Francisco is home to two of the best universities in the world. According to The Times Higher Education ranking, Stanford ranks 2nd and UC Berkeley 9th. The QS World University ranking positions Stanford in 5th and UC Berkeley in 10th.


Last updated in December 2023. More city benchmarking insights, profiles and reports in our City Observatory.


Enjoyed our summary of global rankings and indices on San Francisco’s economic performance, its sustainability, attractiveness for digital nomads, brand strength and reputation? Thanks for sharing!

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