I moved to San Francisco in 2006. At the time, my roommate and I paid $2500 per month to rent a beautiful two-bedroom house in North Beach. San Francisco rent prices seemed exorbitant to me then. We had moved from Tucson, AZ, where I had been living alone in a three-bedroom house, with a yard, that even today continues to rent for less than $800 per month.
So, we paid $2500 by not just splitting it between the two of us but also renting out the living room as a third bedroom. Then we also rented out the couch for awhile. AirBnB was new at the time and it was great that we lived in a tourist area because we could make some good extra money that way. We got by. I’ve always felt that even though San Francisco is an expensive city, it’s where my heart is, and it’s well worth the cost.
It’s been a little over a decade and now that $2500 sounds like a steal. That same apartment now rents for more than $4000 per month. It’s hard to get much at all for $2500 these days. Let’s take a look at some of the ridiculous San Francisco rent prices in 2019. Notably, although they are ridiculous, most of these are not over-the-top outliers in the rental market. Instead, they are average San Francisco rent prices right now. Although, I’ll share a couple of the extravagant options as well.
1. $1200 to Rent a Bunk Bed
If you are the kind of person who enjoys staying at youth hostels then perhaps you would like to live in a PodShare. You will share a bunk bed with a stranger in a communal home with other strangers. You’ll get a locker, a shelf, and a personal televsion. You’ll also get access to a pantry of really basic supplies. Moreover, you’ll only need to pay $1200 per month to stay there.
It sounds ridiculous, but it’s not a bad option for people who don’t spend a lot of time at home anyway. If you work most of the time, travel a lot, or like to crash at your partner’s place but don’t want to give up the security of your own home then this could be a good option. It’s also not so bad for people who have just moved to San Francisco. You can make new friends in the PodShare while you look for a more permanent place to stay.
2. $1800 for a Room of Your Own
If you don’t mind the idea of sharing housing with strangers but you do want your own room then there are other similar co-living spaces to consider. Bungalow rents out furnished rooms in old Victorian homes for between $1500 and $1800 per month. You also have to pay a $150 monthly membership fee to be part of the co-living group.
A quick glance on Craigslist reveals that this is about the going rate to rent a room in a house with stranger anyway. You’ll definitely find some cheaper options. Or if you want only 1-2 roommates, then you’ll probably have to pay more than this. In my years of being here, what I’ve learned is that if you spot a potentially great roommate situation, you should show up early, with check and references in hand, and plan to put on a great interview in the hopes of joining that home.
3. $2500 for a Studio
If you want a space of your own, then your cheapest bet is, of course, a studio. Gone are the days when you could rent a two bedroom for $2500 like I did when I first moved here. Now that $2500 is probably only going to get you your own studio. Curbed notes that studios priced around $2100 are generally described as “cozy.”
You can definitely find studios for a bit cheaper. For example, there’s currently a Tenderloin neighborhood studio for rent for $1745 per month. Moreover, it even allows pets, which is hard to find here. But you better come fully prepared because you need to pay $35 to apply for a lease. Plus, you’re required to have your two most recent bank statements and two most recent pay stubs. Moreover, you need a minimum credit score of 600, a positive rental history, and proof that you earn at least 3 times the monthly rent. Oh, and also proof that you have at least three times the rent in the bank right now. So if you don’t have over $5000 in the bank, don’t bother applying.
4. Or $4000 for a Studio
If you actually want a nice studio apartment, then you’re looking at the $3500 – $4000 price range. There’s currently a Nob Hill studio for rent for $4000. It allows pets (but dogs have to be under forty pounds, non-aggressive breeds, and you have to pay $40/month pet fee). But for that price you get hotel-style amenities, including cable TV, WiFi, and even fresh linens. There’s even a washer and dryer in unit.
5. $2400 for 300 Square Feet
Square footage is of the most important things that you need to pay attention to when you’re looking for housing. Don’t let the headlines fool you. For example, Curbed points out that a $2400 one-bedroom one-bath loft was described as spacious, but when you look closer it measures only 300 square feet total. The same price could also get you a one-bedroom in-law that’s a bit larger at 440 square feet, but it’s also a bit further out from the city center.
6. Or $1500 for 144 Square Feet
If you only have $1500 per month to spend then you should really look for roommates. But occasionally you can find a micro-apartment of your own for this rate. The law is that an apartment needs to be a minimum of 220 square feet, but Curbed found one earlier this year that was only 144.
7. How Much Does a One Bedroom Rent For in San Francisco?
If you’re looking for your own one-bedroom apartment, you have varied options. It really depends on how much space you want, what neighborhood you want to live in, and what amenities you require. Generally speaking, average one-bedroom rent prices right now are between $3000 and $4500 per month. You can get a good-sized one-bedroom in a decent neighborhood for about $3700 according to a recent article from Curbed, which highlighted a 1000+ square foot one-bedroom loft in SoMa and a trendy one-bedroom apartment in Hayes Valley. And this isn’t just a San Francisco thing, one-bedrooms in Chicago are extremely expensive as well.
8. $7500 for a 1 Bedroom … in a Building That’s Falling Over
Millennium Tower has had no end of controversy. First, people didn’t like how it changed the city’s skyline. Then the whole building started both sinking and leaning over. It’s all wrapped up in lawsuits. But you can still rent a place there. There are currently at least two rental listings on Craigslist for one-bedroom, two-bathroom units in this building. They rent for $7500 per month, and you have to sign a one-year lease. There are no pets allowed. However, you get access to a screening room, terrace, fitness center, and other amenities.
This isn’t the only pricey luxury apartment option in the city. In fact, if you’re in the market to spend $7000 – $10000 per month, you can find a great assortment of one-bedroom apartments with sustainable design, brand-new appliances, and great views. Luxury loft spaces in the SoMa neighborhood are particularly popular.
9. $25,000 for a 2 Bedroom … in a Building That’s Falling Over
That’s right; if you want to live in Millennium Tower but need more space then you’re looking at about $25,000 per month in rent. That’s for the penthouse. It’s only $23,000 for a regular two-bedroom on the 57th floor. According to a recent Craigslist ad, some of the opulence you’ll get for that penthouse price includes:
- 24-carat gold plated door hinges and switch plates and even toilet levers
- Marble and granite details from the best sources in Italy, Greece, and India
- Hidden remote-controlled flat screen TV
- Sound insulation
Plus, of course, you get access to all of the Millennium Tower’s amenities. In addition to those already mentioned, they also include a wine tasting room and cellar, a children’s play room, and a large lap pool.
10. $5200 for a Regular 2-Bedroom
Maybe you’re an average renter who can’t afford $25,000 per month to live in the lap of luxury. If you’re looking for a two-bedroom, it’s a safe bet to expect that you’ll pay over $4000. In fact, average San Francisco rent prices for two-bedrooms are closer to $5000. Curbed did a roundup of what’s available for $5200 per month in the city this year. If you’re willing to live pretty far away from the city center, you can get three bedrooms, but plan on a two-bedroom at that price in the city.