Surprise, Surprise! S.F.'s Rental Market Is Twice as Expensive As the National Average

Categories: Housing

painted-ladies.jpg
That beauty doesn't come cheap.
Anyone who has searched for an apartment in San Francisco could appreciate the proverb "A drowning man will clutch at a straw." The process sucks. Open houses draw dozens of competitors, some who eagerly inform the landlord that they're willing to pay $200 more in rent and hand over the first-months check right now. And then come the rejections. Application, denial. Application, denial. And so on.

Eventually, the search is no longer about finding the right apartment; it's just about finding an apartment. Consumed by a growing sense of hopelessness, the apartment hunter craves for the day the search ends. By the time it does, he is so eager to sign a lease that the city's sky-high rental rates -- $1,400 for a Tenderloin studio, $4,000 for a Potrero Hill two-bedroom -- barely register. And that sentiment pretty much carries San Francisco's renters through the first of each month, as we sign bank account-denting checks with just-happy-to-be-here smiles.

For many of those residents, making rent means making sacrifices -- the price to pay to live in San Francisco. According to a new study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, San Francisco's rental market is nearly twice as expensive as the national average.

The study based its calculations on the idea that a renter should spend less than one- third of his earnings on housing costs -- anything more cuts into important quality-of-life expenses. It measured rental markets by the total hourly wages a household needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rental -- as measured by the Housing and Urban Development department.

For San Francisco, that number was $34.52. Only Honolulu, at $35.25, costs more. The national average was $18.75.

Unsurprisingly, the Bay Area dominated this list, with five of the 10 most expensive counties in the nation -- San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz. In addition to SF, two other local metropolitan areas -- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara and Santa Cruz-Watsonville -- were among the six most expensive in the country, with two-bedroom rental wages above $30-an-hour. By comparison, New York City was eighth on the list, at $28.35.

As the study suggests, "large numbers of low-income renters cannot afford the cost of living in the cities and towns where they work." San Francisco's minimum wage is $10.55, more than $3 higher than the federal standard. A full-time minimum-wage worker earns a gross pay of $422 for a 40-hour week, around $1,700 for the month.

If you decided to spend 100 percent of your salary on housing, those minimum-wage paychecks could get you 600 sq. ft. in Visitacion Valley or 440 sq. ft. in the Inner Richmond.




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14 comments
Randy
Randy

This happens every time the San Francisco economy improves. Build More Housing! 

Eric Carlson
Eric Carlson

when will the Genentech / google etc bus crowd be moving there?

Simone Fung
Simone Fung

Please don't! What Andrew and Alicia said.

Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson

Uhh, hate to break it to you but oakland rent is NOT affordable either, unless you want to live in the middle of daily gun violence. sf has ruined oakland rental costs as well.

塞繆塞繆
塞繆塞繆

Oakland rental is low due to killing every day there! SF is better and safer

Michael Manjarrez
Michael Manjarrez

I value my life too much to move to Oakland! You gotta' pay to play and I shall continue to play on here in S.F.!

Dee Dee Russell
Dee Dee Russell

I do not feel safe in Oakland we are not all one and I look out for number one. San Francisco is the place for me.

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