San Francisco Renters Wanting to Live Alone Have to Live 65 Miles Outside the City

Dixon, Calif. is the closest affordable city for single renters making San Francisco’s median income

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 13, 2018 – Renters who make San Francisco’s median income and want to live alone need to look at least 65 miles outside the city for affordable housing, according to a new HotPads® analysis.

In the city of San Francisco, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $3,380 a month. That means renters who make San Francisco’s median income ($51,780 a year)i and want to live in a one-bedroom apartment would need to spend about 78 percent of their income on rent, far beyond the 30 percent recommended by experts.

Staying within the guidelines of 30 percent of income going toward rent, the closest option for renters who want to live alone is Dixon, Calif., over a 65-mile drive northeast of San Francisco. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Dixon is $1,150 a month. The 65-mile drive from Dixon to San Francisco can take between an hour and an hour and twenty minutes without traffic, one way.

“Living alone is a dream for many renters, but San Francisco’s rent prices make it difficult for the typical renter to afford such a luxury without blowing their budget,” said Douglas Pope, co-founder and general manager of HotPads. “The nearest place renters making the median income can afford to live alone is closer to Sacramento than it is to San Francisco. This means renters who prioritize having an apartment to themselves may need to make significant tradeoffs when choosing a location, which can include grappling with a long commute.”

While living alone within San Francisco’s city limits is unaffordable for anyone making the city’s median income, some neighborhoods in the city are slightly more affordable than others. Single renters determined to live alone within city limits can find the most affordable neighborhoods near the central area of the city, west of the urban core.

Many of the most affordable neighborhoods for single renters – including the Tenderloin, Downtown, Nob Hill and Lower Pacific Heights – are just west of the Financial District, making them convenient for commuters looking for an affordable rental close to work and nightlife in SoMa. However, even in the Tenderloin, where the median rent for a one-bedroom is $2,464 a month, renters making the city’s median income can still expect to spend over 57 percent of their paycheck on rent.

For singles who want to live alone and enjoy the outdoors, neighborhoods bordering the west side of Golden Gate Park, like Inner Sunset, Haight-Ashbury, and Inner Richmond, are also slightly more affordable than the city of San Francisco as a whole. Renters in these neighborhoods can expect to spend about two-thirds of their income on a one-bedroom apartment.

HotPads is a Zillow Group-owned apartment and home search platform for renters in urban areas across the United States. For more information on San Francisco’s rental market, visit


HotPads is an efficient rental search platform for urban areas across the United States, with features designed for competitive markets such as map-based search, real-time notifications and detailed information on landlords and property managers that help renters spend less time searching and more time feeling excited about their next home.

Launched in 2005, HotPads is based in San Francisco and is owned and operated by Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z and ZG).

HotPads is a registered trademark of Zillow, Inc.

i Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual income for the city of San Francisco
ii Based on the city of San Francisco’s median income from the Bureau of Labor Statistics ($51,780 annually)
iii Based on the city of San Francisco’s median income from the Bureau of Labor Statistics ($51,780 annually)

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