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The 19 Bay Area cities with higher rents than SF

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Sunnyvale took the unenviable number-one spot in 2018

Gate over a street reading “Murphy Historic Avenue.” The street as a lot of trees bordering it.
Entrance to the Murphy Historic Avenue in downtown Sunnyvale,
Photo by Shutterstock

Although San Francisco frequently makes headlines for having some of the highest market-rate rents in the United States—and even the entire world—census data reveals that the city has some of the lowest median rents in the Bay Area.

Since more than 60 percent of San Francisco renters have rent control, stats about the current prices of apartments don’t reflect what the majority of SF renters pay month to month.

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released new data via its American Community Survey, showing that the cost of living—and the cost of housing—in San Francisco indeed went up between 2017 and 2018.

But comparing SF to the rest of the region, the city’s median rent figures still rank lower than many neighboring communities, particularly in Silicon Valley. In all, 19 Bay Area cities pay higher actual median rents than San Francisco.

Here’s how prices break down across the region for 2018 and, for comparison’s sake, for 2017. (Note that the census has not yet released 2018 data for some of the Bay Area’s most populous cities, hence their names are not on the list yet.)


  • Sunnyvale: $2,580 for 2018 ($2,147 for 2017)
  • Mountain View: $2,509 ($2,103)
  • Palo Alto: $2,423 ($2,379)
  • Redwood City: $2,395 ($1,956)
  • San Mateo: $2,389 ($2,041)
  • Fremont: $2,381 ($2,028)
  • Milpitas: $2,377 ($2,099)
  • San Ramon: $2,360 ($2,152)
  • Pleasanton: $2,332 ($2,140)
  • Santa Clara: $2,305 ($2,096)
  • Union City: $2,300 ($2,300)
  • Daly City: $2,234 ($2,234)
  • Livermore: $2,210 ($1,768)
  • Walnut Creek: $2,202 ($1,803)
  • Marin City, $2,167 ($2,094)
  • South San Francisco, $2,165 ($1,974)
  • San Jose: $2,161 ($1,822)
  • Alameda: $1,909 ($1,607)
  • Hayward: $1,889 ($1,562)
  • San Francisco: $1,880 ($1,836)
  • Antioch: $1,817 ($1,562)
  • Pittsburg: $1,799 ($1,517)
  • San Leandro: $1,789 ($1,392)
  • Vacaville: $1,751 ($1,470)
  • Berkeley: $1,724 ($1,523)
  • Concord: $1,696 ($1,459)
  • Santa Rosa: $1,657 ($1,432)
  • Napa: $1,661 ($1,546)
  • Fairfield: $1,631 ($1,445)
  • Richmond: $1,572 ($1,329)
  • Vallejo: $1,544 ($1,301)
  • Oakland: $1,498 ($1,255)