San Francisco rent prices down 31% as residents leave for more space, cheaper housing amid pandemic

ByMatt Boone KGO logo
Sunday, October 18, 2020
SF rent prices down 31% as residents leave for better value
A new report on Bay Area housing prices reveals an obvious trend: people are fleeing the high-priced San Francisco city lifestyle for less expensive locations.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A new report on housing prices in the Bay Area released Tuesday reveals an obvious trend: people are fleeing high-priced San Francisco for less expensive locations.

According to, the average price for a studio apartment in San Francisco has gone down 31% compared to last September.

That number represents the largest rent price drop for any county in the country, according to

The monthly price for a one-bedroom in San Francisco has also gone down.

RELATED: San Francisco sees record-breaking drop in rent prices amid pandemic, according to Zumper data

This is the largest year-over-year drop in the price of rent the city has ever seen, according to data collected by apartment rental site Zumper.

The average price is now $2,873, down 24.2% compared to last September.

Housing prices in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, the heart of Silicon Valley, also took a dip in value.

The average price of a one-bedroom went down 12.5% and 12% respectively year over year.

Lisa Choi has been a resident of San Francisco for 20 years.

She recently decided to give up her apartment in the city for a less-urban environment, and is packing up her belongings for her next move.

"I wanted more space, more nature and to be in the outdoors," Choi explains, "So I'm leaving the city."

While Choi had been yearning for more space before the pandemic hit, it accelerated her search to find something else.

"I love San Francisco," Choi says, "but I'm not much of a city girl anymore."

Choi plans to move to the North Bay where she can still work remotely, with the added bonus of a large backyard.

The flight of people from the Peninsula has been felt in other parts of the Bay Area in the form of stagnant or rising home prices.

RELATED: How is COVID-19 impacting Bay Area housing? Expert weighs in

The coronavirus has upended every part of our lives, including where we live. Some people are leaving cities for other parts of the state, others are moving back home to live with their parents, and others are finding life in an RV is the way to go.

David Stark with the Bay East Association of Realtors explains the contrasting trends are a result of differing lifestyle preferences.

"While pressure for rental units in San Francisco may be down in some sectors, pressure for home ownership has increased," Starks says, "especially in suburbs in the East Bay."

"We may not see the big drops in the outlying suburbs," he explains, "because the demand in these areas is still high."

Some of that may be due to the people leaving San Francisco and Silicon Valley, but Stark says the housing market in California is still suffering from a longstanding lack of housing.

"We have decades of job growth in the SF Bay Area, but we don't have decades of new housing opportunity creation," Stark explains, "and we are still dealing with that during COVID-19."

Rental prices in some areas have been increasing, including Sacramento, which has been featured's top 10 list for biggest rent hikes.

RELATED: Planning groups get creative as demand for affordable Bay Area housing rises

Compared to September last year, the average monthly rent for a studio in Sacramento has gone up 16.2% to $1,400. And a one-bedroom is up 10.1% to $1,415 per month.

Former San Francisco resident Hayes Hyde moved out of her apartment in May to a Sacramento home she bought in Sacramento in 2016 as an investment property.

"Everyone is coming here," Hyde laughed.

Now that Hyde's job is entirely remote, the Sacramento home is now her primary residence.

"There's a lot more space to move around, you're not stuck in traffic, people bike everywhere," Hyde says. "So I'm not surprised at all."

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