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Median price to rent a single room in San Francisco: $1,350

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Combing Craigslist turns up single-room price that exceeds entire apartments almost anywhere in America

Looking up at stacks of bay windows beneath a San Francisco house converted into flats. Iryna Korshak

The constant ups and downs of rent on houses or apartments in San Francisco attracts a lot of attention, but scores of local renters have their eye on an even more nebulous number: The price of a single room.

Katie Hempenius, a software engineer with Fitbit, was trying to find a new roommate for her home in SoMa last year, but wasn’t having any luck on Craigslist.

She deduced that perhaps her asking price wasn’t competitive. But when she tried to find the median price of a single room in San Francisco for comparison’s sake, there wasn’t any resource from which to draw.

“I said, why in the world does this not exist already?” Hempenius told Curbed SF.

So she spent six weeks between December 2016 and January 2017 tracking the price of over 8,000 Craigslist ads (doubles not included) in 36 neighborhoods.

The single most averagely priced neighborhood in SF: Bernal Heights, where one room costs $1,345/month
Stephen Sommerhalter

There are no surprises in terms of which neighborhoods charge the most for just a single room: Hempenius found the Marina most expensive, at $1,780/month, with Potrero Hill and Pacific Heights not far behind.

Treasure Island proved the cheapest at $975/month, but the sample size out there probably isn’t that great, so it might be better to regard Ingleside ($995/month) as the most attainable pickings, followed by the FiDi and Forest Hill.

Citywide, the price for a room of one’s own was $1,350/month, while doubling up with at least one other person cut the price to $800/month.

That’s about 40 percent of the price of a single bedroom home at market rates this month.

It’s also more than the price of an entire single bedroom home in 80 of the largest 100 cities in America on a site like Zumper, and more than the price of a two bed home in 73 cities.

Treasure Island ranks cheapest, but there’s not much to go around.
Albrecht Conz

Do the numbers check out? Well, looking at Craigslist today, of 88 posted ads for single rooms, the average price comes out to $1,358.

Obviously that sample size isn’t nearly as valuable as the one nearly 1,000 times larger that Hempenius used. But the fact that it provides essentially the exact same number is pretty striking.

For her part, Hempenius was surprised that the numbers weren’t higher. “I know a lot of people are paying more,” she says, noting that even maybe her own rent is not as great of a deal as she previously thought.

But she also cautions that the six weeks were over a traditional winter downtime period and one with a lot of holidays. Come summer, prices will as always climb higher still.