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San Francisco has highest rent prices in the world, claims housing startup

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UK-based Nested calculates per-foot cost in 87 cities

Rows of apartments on Nob Hill. Tupungato

Nested, a UK-based housing startup, published a report last week claiming that San Francisco has the most expensive rent prices in the world.

The company’s Rent Affordability Index (RAI) ranks 87 cities based on “current market listings for all locations,” from SF to Dubai to Zurich.

San Francisco has long had the highest rents in the country by almost every metric, but previous reports have declared the city more expensive than famously elite destinations abroad.


As usual, it’s all about the method: For example, when the Global Property Guide surveys median rents worldwide, places like Monte Carlo, where in 2014 it cost on average over $10,000/month for a home, shoot to number one.

When the Global Cities Business Alliance calculated the price of an apartment as a percentage of the average resident’s income in 2015, Beijing was the most expensive, and San Francisco ranked eighth.

Nested calculated the average rent per square foot in each city. Then they crunched how much it would cost for a single person to rent a 420-square-foot room at that price, or for a family of four to rent just under 800 square feet. (Those are the minimum living space requirements endorsed by the civic government of London.)

The startup ferreted out an average San Francisco of $4.95/square foot, which then factors to $2,077/month for 420 feet and $3,942/month for 800 or so.

That beats second place New York’s $4.75/foot. Third place Hong Kong is $3.83/foot. Famously expensive London’s cost is $2.86/foot, for 11th place. Beijing is $1.83/foot and ranks 29th on the list.

Although this is not a big enough data set from which to draw a conclusion, note that this figure is still bigger than every average on the Nested list except New York.

Torbak Hopper