Your early-month, just-paid-the-rent blues can take some consolation in the fact that it could be worse. You could be paying rent in the East Bay suburb of San Ramon. Believe it or not, the latest Census Bureau information shows that the Contra Costa County city of San Ramon has the highest rent in the country — and San Francisco’s average rent is only the 37th highest of any U.S. city.
This surprising finding comes from a Bloomberg analysis called Wow, California Housing Is Expensive. Author Justin Fox tabulated the data from the 2016 U.S. Census American Community Survey and the Census’ American FactFinder database. We should note this is 2016 data, so the rent landscape may have shifted somewhat since then. On top of that, the analysis only includes cities with a population of 65,000 or more.
U.S. cities with the highest rents (median gross rent, ACS 2016) pic.twitter.com/aUcnC6N1PX
— Justin Fox (@foxjust) February 21, 2018
“When I posted a version of the above list on Twitter last week, it kind of blew up,” Fox writes of his analysis embedded above. “Most of the responses came from young Californians LOLing and LMAOing about how expensive their state is. And yeah, it really is expensive: 27 of the nation’s 28 top cities for median rent, 35 of the top 50, and 68 of the top 100 are in the Golden State.”
“Others expressed disbelief that San Francisco or New York — or some other city with a higher profile than San Ramon — didn’t rank in the top 20,” he continues. “They have something of a point: As indicated in the above table, only 28.5 percent of San Ramon residents live in rental housing, and a lot of those rentals are in large single-family homes. Its median rent isn’t perfectly comparable to that of bigger, more tightly packed cities such as San Francisco or even Sunnyvale.”
San Ramon’s average monthly rent is listed as $2,358, the highest in the nation, and San Francisco’s average rent of $1,784 puts us way down at 37th on the list. Do take into account that this analysis only includes occupied houses and apartments, not those currently on the market. This may be skewing the averages downward.
But Fox’s analysis is still quite detailed and fascinating, and he also breaks it down by cities with the highest one-bedroom rents, and the highest rents among the very largest U.S. cities. When counting only the 100 largest cities in the country, San Francisco has the fifth most-expensive rent in the nation.
But even when counting only the largest cities, the Bay Area still has other big cities with more expensive rent. Fremont has an average monthly rent of $2,168, and San Jose’s is $1,919 per month.
Other cities with whoppingly expensive rent include Sunnyvale (No. 2 in the nation at $2,331), Palo Alto (No. 3 at $2,319), Pleasanton (No. 4 at $2,294), and Santa Clara (No. 5 at $2,280). So if you consider Silicon Valley to be part of the Bay Area, then we do indeed have the five highest-rent cities in the United States.