Bay Area renters have to make between $31 and $68 an hour in order to afford an apartment

Resident Emmet Dettweiler does yoga on the roof of the 100 Van Ness apartment building on Friday, March 19, 2021 in San Francisco, California.

San Francisco Bay Area renters have the most expensive housing in the US, according to a new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. 

The high cost of living in San Francisco and surrounding counties is nothing new, and it’s due to its booming tech industry and proximity to Silicon Valley. Despite the recent outflow of tech talent from the Bay Area to places like Lake Tahoe and Austin, it is still one of the most expensive places to live in the US.

The pandemic caused San Francisco rent prices to plummet 30% year-over-year, Insider’s Katie Canales reported in October. Even with rent declines, workers have to make between $31 and $68 an hour in order to rent a two-bedroom apartment.

That means minimum-wage employees have to work 2.8 full-time jobs, or 112 hours per week, to pay for rent and still have enough left over for living expenses. The minimum wage in California is $14 per hour, and the average renter’s hourly wage is $24.89.


Affordable housing has long been an issue for America’s technology capital — one that Mayor London Breed has tried solving. With 45% of California’s population being renters, the impact of the crisis is widespread. 

"I think the problem we have, and why we are seeing even more homeless people than we have in the past, has a lot to do with the fact that we have not kept up pace with building more housing," Mayor Breed said on a Freakonomics podcast last October. 

The counties with the most expensive housing in the Bay Area are San Mateo County and Marin County. Lower rent prices can be found in Solano, Napa, and Sonoma counties, the three northernmost Bay Area neighborhoods.

Living further from the city center comes with a cost though, as commuting to San Francisco is notoriously expensive due to high gas prices. The city’s average price for regular unleaded gas is currently $4.46 per gallon, CBS SF reported. In comparison, New York City gas costs around $3 per gallon, as of this week. 

The affordable housing crisis is rarely fought neatly across partisan lines. Research shows that voters on both the right and the left tend to oppose new developments in their own neighborhoods, Insider’s Taylor Borden reported.

"San Francisco has become more popular as more people were working here," Breed said. "The tech giants like Google and Facebook that revitalized the area were also key drivers behind the city’s climbing cost of living and widening wealth gap."

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Hannah Towey July 15, 2021 at 01:18AM

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