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Oakland and San Jose have some of country’s happiest renters

But San Francisco didn’t even crack the top ten

A photo of Oakland taken from the hills, facing San Francisco Jesse Richmond

According to rental site Zumper, Oakland and San Jose have some of the happiest renters in the United States. But San Francisco falls short of its East Bay and South Bay peers in the rose-colored leases department.

Which isn’t to say San Francisco’s performance on the site’s happiness scale was shabby; the city landed in 14th place out of 50 major U.S. cities. But by the same metrics, Oakland came in at No. 2 and San Jose landed at No. 4 nationwide.

Zumper’s survey doesn’t directly ask renters about their personal happiness levels; its metrics stem from the results of its annual renter survey (released in late 2018) and compared the results by city.

The six factors determining happiness were:

  1. The number of renters getting a good deal
  2. The number of renters who say they’re satisfied with their living situation
  3. The number of renters who have lived in the same place for at least five years
  4. The number of renters who are not planning to move in the next year
  5. The number of former residents who consider moving back
  6. The number of renters with at least one pet

Oakland finished high because it ranked near the top in the first three categories, coming in No. 8 for “good deal” and “satisfaction.” The Town also ranked No. 1 nationwide in apartment retention.

San Jose came in No. 18 for renters who think they’re getting good deals, but No. 6 and No. 2 for the other two key variables, respectively.

San Francisco, on the other hand, landed No. 3 for renter satisfaction, but only No. 24 for renters who think they’re getting a bargain and No. 35 for people who have lived in a home more than five years.

SF’s showing for the three least important metrics wasn’t so hot, including a dismal No. 47 for renters with pets. Doggone it.

Statistics almost always come with caveats; in this case, a Zumper spokesperson tells Curbed SF that the renter survey only had some 200 respondents from the Bay Area, which means that the sample size for the three cities is pretty small.

In 2018, Zumper competitor Apartment List asked renters to rank their cities on 11 different variables, including affordability, the weather, taxes, and local schools. In that survey, no Bay Area city cracked the top ten.

Earlier this year, Apartment List ranked major U.S. metros by how often renters from out of town show an interest in homes there; the Bay Area came in sixth nationwide.

The Bay Area ranked No. 3 in terms of renters shopping for homes out of town, but most renters favored potential destinations elsewhere in the Bay Area.

In 2017, Zumper asked renters to rate their cities overall on a scale of one to five, with five being the best. At the time, 38 percent of those polled gave Oakland a five, while only 4 percent gave the East Bay city one star.

Some 20 percent of San Jose renters ranked the city a five, and 36 percent gave it a four. Eight percent said just one.

And in SF, a whopping 49 percent of those polled gave the city highest marks, with another 31 percent ranking the city four out of five. A mere two percent gave the city a one.