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To Afford a Median Apartment, SF Renters Need to Earn Seven Times the Minimum Wage

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The average person living in the Bay Area would need to make $59.72 per hour as a single earner to afford a median rental, according to new research from real estate website Zillow (or two adults would need to make $29.86 per hour). That figure takes into account areas in San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin counties, as well as the city itself. Zillow also assumed that the average renter would spend about 30 percent of income on housing. In San Francisco itself, where Zillow's estimate of the median rent is $3,949, a worker would need to make $79 per hour, or $152,960 per year, to not spend more than 30 percent of income on rent. For a single earner, that's more than seven times the current minimum wage of $10.74 per hour, and more than five times the $15 minimum wage that will go into effect in 2018. (At the $15/hour rate with two breadwinners, both workers would still need to make more than two and a half times the minimum wage in 2018.)

According to Zillow, it's not really affordable to rent anywhere in the Bay Area. Pittsburg had the lowest prices, but with an estimated median rent of $1,743 per month, it would still take $69,720 per year or $35 per hour to afford rent as a single earner.

Outside the city, the necessary income for a single earner shoots well above San Francisco's in pricey suburbs like Tiburon ($146/hour), Woodside ($166/hour), and Belvedere ($170/hour). In the most expensive area, Atherton, a renter would spend $9,634 on the median unit every month and would need to make $385,360 a year or a whopping $193 an hour to afford the rent. That sounds insane, truly, but numbers like that tend to lose meaning in areas without much rental housing stock. A quick Craigslist search turns up just a handful of rental listings near Atherton, and they're entire homes listed for $4,000 (and even $12,500), not apartments.

Zillow's median rents are a bit higher than what we've seen before; Lovely's third-quarter rental report, for instance, placed SF's median rent at $3,488, which undercuts Zillow's estimate by more than $450. Unlike Lovely's estimate, which is based on existing rental listings through their website, Zillow's "Rent Zestimates" take into account real listings as well as home attributes to estimate rental prices on all homes, including those not currently for rent. (That also explains how it's even possible to estimate a median rent for a place like Atherton.)

Things only get a little better in Oakland, where the annual income residents need to afford the median rent is $93,240, or $23/hour per earner in a two-income household.

· Renting on Minimum Wage? Better Ask for a Raise [Zillow]
· Rent Index Methodology [Zillow]
· It's Official: Bay Area Rents Are Absolutely Crushing New York's [Curbed SF]