San Francisco rents are expected to rise at least 7% by the end of 2023 — meaning that Contra Costa County’s rentability will remain even more attractive.
Rents around the Bay Area have skyrocketed over the past twenty-four months, reaching near pre-pandemic levels in some Bay Area zip codes. San Francisco’s rent prices climbed nearly 10% in 2022 over 2021 — on par with the national average for that same figure. The yesteryear of steep lease discounts, months off rent, and $500 Visa gift cards given after an executed lease are long a thing of the past.
Now, we’re back to paying $1,400-plus rent for a single room in desirable neighborhoods like Castro
Those of us — like myself, who are considered “low earners” in San Francisco — feel endlessly grateful that we managed to, by some means of both luck and divine intervention, to snag affordable domiciles that we will likely continue living until our bodies devolve into raw carbon. Or an Ellis Act eviction is put on our doors.
While the average San Franciscan looking to rent a studio apartment can, indeed, find something around $1,500 — it takes some legwork. And the space will inevitably be small, likely less than 400 square feet. But you can get much more bang for your buck elsewhere in the SF Bay Area; Contra Costa County *still* remains the most affordable county to rent in the region.
For example: That same $1,500 worth of rent for a studio space in SF can cover nearly 600 square feet of living space in Antioch, which is massively more than what that same amount could apparently get you in The City By the Bay.
A now-password-blocked report published by the nationwide rent listing service RentCafe dove into how much space renters can get for $1,500 in various large U.S. cities. In San Francisco, a tenant can expect to spend that much for around 300 square feet — the size of a single-car garage — of living space. (However, on a more anecdotal note, I’d wager to say that’s a generous estimate given the current SF studio apartment prices listed on Zillow and Craigslists.)
Among the 100 U.S. cities analyzed, Oakland was found to be almost on par with SF in regards to dollar-per-rented-square-foot; $1,500 in the East Bay city will get you around 400 square feet of living space.
To put this amount into context, the nationwide average apartment size for a unit costing $1,500 is over 750 square feet.
Other Bay Area cities like San Jose and Mountain View also boasted among the least-spacious apartment dimensions per dollar spent. Renters in both cities can expect to secure 483-square-foot domiciles for that aforenoted amount.
RentCafe’s findings did also point toward a clear trend: The farther away from San Francisco, the more bang for your buck you get in the rental market — particularly in areas that necessitate traveling over the Bay Bridge.
With a budget of $1,500, cities like Antioch in Contra Costa County still offer the biggest rental space in the Bay Area at more than double that of San Francisco. The average apartment size at this price is around 600 square feet in Antioch, meaning a full-sized one-bedroom apartment, while in San Francisco renters need to settle for half of that space for the same rent. Renting in neighboring cities and suburbs — Concord, Novator, Hayward, and Pittsburg, for example — will afford apartment-dwellers between 550 and 590 square feet for a $1,500 monthly rent on average.
If the amount of living space at your disposal is of the utmost importance to you, and leaving the Bay Area entirely is an alien thought, then look no further than Antioch. Which, yes: Is an incredibly quaint and charming city of about 102,000 residents (that’s rich with regional history) and is also now experiencing a resurgence in popularity as the Bay Area’s “last bastion of the good commute.”
But what I hope becomes wholly grasped in my lifetime is the idea that affordable housing is a human right; that someday $1,500 will easily secure an apartment with a dividing wall in San Francisco. In the meantime, I’ll continue cheerfully living out my days writing from my rent-controlled studio.
Feature image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons