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San Francisco rent: $1,500 nets you 316 square feet

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Of 30 cities surveyed, SF comes in 27th place for renter value

A Dutch angle shot of colorful houses in San Francisco. Photo by Michael Warwick

Curbed Comparisons examines what’s available to renters for a set price in our ever more expensive city, but it turns out that formula can scale up to a worldwide context.

Last week RENTCafe employed data firm Yardi Matrix to examine how much space renters can expect for a set price—$1,500/month—in 30 cities worldwide, including San Francisco.

That the City by the Bay fared poorly in terms of value relative to cities overseas and elsewhere in America comes as little surprise.

Yardi Matrix estimated that such a sum can net an apartment just 316 square feet on average in San Francisco.

That puts SF in 27th place in terms of RENTCafe’s value per dollar rankings, ahead of only Zurich, London and New York City’s Manhattan. Even famously dense rental markets like Hong Kong, Geneva, and Paris beat out SF on the same table.

To calculate median rent prices and apartment sizes—and thus the theoretical price/size range for each city—RENTCafe relied on sources like the Institute for Urban Strategies Power City Index and information from real estate brokerages in each country.

Some context should come along with these findings: Of the 30 cities, Istanbul, Turkey yields the best value, coming up with a nearly 1,900-square-foot home for the humble $1,500/month price

Istanbul (not Constantinople).
Photo by Ufuk Eral Photography

However, in 2013 the Turkish government reported the “average annual equivalent household disposable income” in Istanbul was some 16,126 Turkish Lira—the equivalent of less than $4,600 annually in U.S. currency.

The U.S. sum of $1,500 is worth more than 5,326 Turkish Lira at present exchange rates. So that 1,900-square-foot apartment in Augusta Antonina is not the bargain it sounds like in North American terms.

For the curious, Craigslist presently lists 16 San Francisco rentals at $1,500/month. The smallest is an in-law apartment still under construction in a 180-square-foot space.