San Francisco Renters Are Working Through The Weekend And Still Barely Making Rent

The average renter in San Francisco had to work every weekday this year — and then some — just to earn enough to cover the city’s median rent

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 27, 2017 – San Francisco renters had to work overtime in 2017 just to earn enough money to cover rent, according to a new analysis from HotPads®. This doesn’t include time spent working to pay for other living expenses, like food and transportation.

In 2017, there were 260 workdays, but the typical San Francisco renter earning the median income had to work 265 days in order to have enough money to pay rent this year. The median annual income in San Francisco is $51,780, while the median monthly rent is $4,398 per month, or $52,770 per year. This means San Francisco renters are putting more money toward rent than they make in an entire year. Nationally, 13 percent of renters report living with roommates to offset these high costs.i

The trend is more pronounced for San Francisco renters making less than the city’s median income. For example, retail salespeople and baristas would have to work over 500 days per year in order to afford the median rental in San Francisco, and teachers would have to work 354 days. Software developers, on the other hand, work less than half the average time — just 112 days — to earn enough to pay rent for the year.

“There’s only so many hours in a year, and unfortunately, a lot of San Francisco renters are spending all of them working so they can afford to live in the city,” said Douglas Pope, co-founder and general manager of HotPads. “By dedicating so much of their income to rent, renters don’t have much room to afford other living expenses, let alone save for a rainy day. Renters looking for more affordable rents may need to migrate further away from the center of the city or consider doubling up with roommates or family.”

Financial experts recommend renters dedicate at most one-third of their monthly income toward a rental payment, but even renters who are comfortable spending half their paycheck on rent still have few options within the city.

Graphic designers who put half their paycheck (median annual income of $65,210) toward the median rent can afford to live alone in just three San Francisco neighborhoods: the Outer Mission, Downtown, and the Tenderloin. San Francisco’s software developers, however, can afford to live solo and pay the median rent in all but three neighborhoods — Sea Cliff, Corona Heights and Miraloma Park — if they put half their paycheck toward rent.

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 the most 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 Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends, 2017
ii Incomes in this analysis were determined using city-level data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
iii HotPads assumed a 40-hour workweek to calculate the hourly wage for a job category. For salaried workers, this is the equivalent hourly wage.
iv To calculate the yearly rent, HotPads took San Francisco’s current monthly median rent and multiplied it by 12.
v HotPads assumed eight-hour workdays to calculate the days worked to pay rent.
vi Income data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop” job category.

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