Here’s How Many People Rent in San Francisco

Over 60% of San Franciscans have leases attached to their domiciles — and it’s a figure that continues to grow, year after year.

Not only is homeownership outside the means of affordability for most San Franciscans but renting is actually far cheaper still — even in the long haul. At current home and rent prices, you could actually save around $800,000 over the course of 30 years (assuming a secured 7% mortgage at present home prices, with 10% down, and a lease signed for a rent-controlled unit at the current market rate).


San Francisco is also home to one of the highest percentages of residents who rent. At the moment, it’s estimated about 65% of San Franciscans rent their domiciles. For context, about 54% of Los Angeles residents have leases tied to their homes, apartments, condos, rooms, and what have you. SF is actually now very close to NYC — the city that presented America’s first rent-control ordinance in 1969 — in its ratio of residents who rent compared to owning their homes.

So… exactly how many people in San Francisco rent? Well, it’s nearly impossible to track down an exact figure. But, with a bit of sleuthing and applied math, we can give a ballpark figure.

A little more than 834,000 people lived in San Francisco in 2022 — a number published in the California Department of Finance’s population estimate in July of 2022. However, the U.S. Census showed the population of San Franicos at 808,437 at the same time. Let’s take the rounded average of these two figures: 821,219.

Now! As waxed earlier, estimates for the percent of San Franciscans who rent their homes is 65%… though some real estate aggregator sites like RentCafe show 62% of the households in San Francisco are renter-occupied. Again, we’ll round out an average of two estimates: 64%.

Using some simple maths, taking the estimated average of SF’s population and multiplying it by 0.64 — the assumed percentage of SF renters — and we find that 525,580 San Franciscans rent their domiciles. Or about the population of Sacramento.

Suffice it to say that securing and bolstering tenant rights in San Francisco, and across the country, are as important as ever. Housing should be a human right… dead-ass.

Feature image: Courtesy of Trulia

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