SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The San Francisco Bay Area is the most expensive place to live in America for renters, even topping the New York metropolitan area, according to a new report released by affordable housing advocates on Thursday.

Renters nationwide are facing exorbitant rent increases, with the median rent of a two-bedroom apartment increasing nearly 18% between 2021 and 2022.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition released its annual report, Out of Reach, with data showing a consistent upward trends in rental prices. In California, a person must earn $39.01 in hourly wages to afford a 2-bedroom apartment, according to the report.

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to four of the 10 most expensive jurisdictions in the country:

  • San Francisco-San Francisco County-San Mateo County-Marin County: $61.50
  • Santa Cruz-Watsonville: $60.35
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara: $55.15
  • Oakland-Fremont: $43.73

Researchers calculated the numbers based on full-time hourly wages that workers must earn to afford a decent rental home at Fair Market Rent while spending no more than 30% of their income on housing costs.

The report compared the San Francisco Bay Area’s cost of rental housing to the New York metropolitan area by merging rental prices for San Francisco County with San Mateo County and Marin County, and comparing that to New York County combined with Bronx, Queens, Kings, Richmond, Rockland, and Putnam counties.

Two-bedroom apartments in San Francisco’s metropolitan area required a $61.50 hourly wage, far more than New York’s $40.

(Data courtesy NLIHC)

In addition to looking at hard numbers, the housing coalition’s researchers interviewed tenants who are currently in limbo. One woman, identified as Nicole, said she has no choice but to find a new place to live because her landlord doubled her rent. “I’m a nervous wreck. I’m afraid. I’m scared. And all I can do is just say a prayer every day that we wake up and are still living inside.”

“I’m a nervous wreck. I’m afraid. I’m scared. And all I can do is just say a prayer every day that we wake up and are still living inside.”


“Behind these numbers are real people, who despite working multiple jobs, are struggling to make ends meet,” said Maxine Waters, NLIHC chairwoman.

“Even while California and other states across the country have raised their minimum wages -– in California, the minimum wage is now $15 an hour — the cost of housing continues to far outpace income growth,” Waters said.

A person earning minimum wage in California would have to work 104 hours per week to afford a 2-bedroom rental home at fair market rent. That’s the equivalent of someone working 2.6 full time jobs, the report states.

“Tenants interviewed for this report noted that they avoided car maintenance, pulled their children out of daycare, and stopped paying for car insurance because their full-time jobs were inadequate to make ends meet,” the report states. “Stable, affordable housing is a prerequisite for basic well-being, and no person
should live in danger of losing their home.”

In California, there is a shortage of nearly 1 million rental homes that are affordable and available to the
state’s lowest-income families, according to NLIHC.

(Data courtesy NLIHC)

The National Low Income Housing Coalition also has an interactive map that allows you to plug in a zip code to get the two-bedroom housing wage for a given area.