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Renting a single room in San Francisco averages $2,000, report says

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Trulia starts advertising single room rentals, finds that the price can still pinch

Rows of apartments in San Francisco. Alexander Demyanenko

In January, a San Francisco software engineer spent two months tracking 8,000 Craigslist ads to conclude that the price of renting a single room in San Francisco averages about $1,350/month, at least during the winter downtime.

But beyond that, relatively little data exists for how much a single-room rents for, even though a huge number of San Franciscans have always made ends meet through such arrangements.

The real estate site Trulia, which recently began listing single rooms and roommates, finally added some new numbers to the mix, albeit in a roundabout way.


In a study titled “Rooms For Rent,” the site concluded that the average San Francisco renter would save about $1,027/month splitting a two-bedroom home with a roommate (or $1,184/month by going in on a three-bedroom place with two other people) instead of opting to rent a single-bed home.

The results are not particularly surprising, of course: It’s always been cheaper to live with roommates, which is why anyone does it in the first place.

The reported SF savings were higher than in any of the other 25 cities surveyed, but so too were the rents to begin with. The margin in Oakland is about $940/month.

Note that the Trulia baseline $3,000 rent for a single apartment and the reported savings with roommates also reveal the average rent on a single room: $1,973/month in a two bed place and $2,092/month for three, or a rough median in the $2,000 range citywide.

Obviously that’s quite a lot more than the January figure of $1,350/month, but note that even the woman who calculated that one suspected it was a bit on the low side at the time.

Rather than comb thousands of ads, Trulia employed the ingeniously simple method of taking the average rent of a two bedroom home and just dividing it in half.

Trulia’s rents do tend to be lower than those listed on some other sites. While they calculate the average price of a single bedroom at $3,000, on other sites such units average $3,200-$3,400 in recent months.