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Redwood City, Mountain View have some of country’s highest rents, says report

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Peninsula living peaks

A sign above a street. The sign has these words on it: Redwood City. Cool Caesar

The rental site Apartment Guide released two reports at the end of May, one compiling the cheapest cities to rent an apartment in the US and the other enumerating the most expensive.

It is probably not hard to guess which of the two the Bay Area had a strong showing on. Among the conclusions: Peninsula cities Mountain View and Redwood City have some of the most expensive apartment rents in the entire country, at least as this one rental platform reckons it.

Those communities, with a combined population of fewer than 200,000 people on the peninsula, jostled with San Francisco for some of the most expensive housing stock in the country in most categories, and in at least one of them actually beat out SF:

  • According to Apartment Guide, Redwood City is home to the least affordable studio apartments in the US, averaging more than $3,361 per month in asking rents. Comparatively, San Francisco came in second, with a studio median of $3,356 per month. Mountain View, surprisingly, didn’t make the top 50, but that’ll be the last time it pulls a no-show here.
  • For one bedroom apartments, the Redwood City outlook is not quite as dire; the city came in fourth on Apartment Guide’s single-bed rankings with a median of more than $3,974 per month, behind both SF (second place being NYC and averaging $3,854 per month) and Mountain View (third, and $3,828).
  • In two bedroom rankings, Redwood City again came in behind SF, landing in fifth place and asking more than $4,873 per month. San Francisco was fourth, with a median of $4,873. Mountain View peaked at seventh, asking more than $4,697.
  • Only for the three-bedroom listings did Redwood City fail to break the top five, and in fact wasn’t even in the top 50. Mountain View and SF landed in 11th and 15th places respectively.

How reliable are Apartment Guide’s numbers? The methodology for the report points out that “the rent information included in this article is based on May 2019 rental property inventory on”

So this is less an objective measure of how much it costs to rent in the Bay Area so much as how much it costs to try to find an apartment on this one platform. Although since most renters searching for a home comes to sites just like this that is not an insignificant consideration.

In terms of sample sizes, Apartment Guide currently lists 33 studios in Redwood City, 95 one bedrooms, and 78 two bedrooms.

For Mountain View the site draws from ads for 26 studios, 99 one bedrooms, and 89 two bedroom homes.

Comparing to other sites, while a lot of online rental platforms compile median price listings, many analyses simply lump smaller communities in with SF or San Jose or just ignore them altogether.

SF-based site Zumper does breakdown Bay Area cities more specifically, and ranked Redwood City as the Bay Area’s fourth most expensive places to rent in June, with one-bedroom apartments on the site averaging $2,950 per month. Mountain View came in second, with a median of $3,450.

San Francisco, of course, was the single priciest point, averaging $3,700 per month on Zumper.

The US Census estimates that in 2017 (the most recent year for which census data is available for these communities), Redwood City’s average rent across all types of properties was $1,956 per month, and Mountain View’s was just more than $2,100 per month.

But those are not market rents, and new renters will have a hard time finding comparable listings today.