Apartment prices in the San Francisco Bay Area are notoriously high, and there is no end in sight as prices continue to rise. If you are moving to the area, there is not much you can do about the price of rental properties other than understand which areas offer more bang for their buck.
Based on affordability, the below list details some of the more desirable places to call home. This information is available thanks to the great folks over at Kwelia.com, who have put together one of the niftiest interactive maps that shows the average apartment rental price for each area of various cities all across the country. Read the below summary which lists the average price per square foot from Kwelia’s data, or visit their site for a detailed price heat map and further breakdowns of the below areas.
Most Expensive: Downtown - Even the Tanner Family had to cram 9+ people in their home, so don’t be surprised if your apartment search yields some super expensive or super tiny places. The northern and eastern portions of the city are the most expensive at $4.00-$6.00/ft². There are a few exceptions, however.
Affordable Pockets In The City - Find a little relief directly south of Chinatown ($3.99/ft²) and in a tiny little pocket around Myrtle/Polk Streets with average rental prices at $3.83/ft². The Haight Ashbury and Buena Vista Park areas will cost you about $3.85/ft². Living in Jordan Park will run you about $3.80/ft², and Presidio Heights is slightly less at $3.60/ft². In that same area, the housing around San Francisco University averages $3.51/ft². As you get further west of the city, prices dip a little bit. The least expensive section closer to downtown is on the western edge of town in Doelger city at around 2.95/ft², or on the far southwestern areas of Lands End Park ($3.01/ft²).
Most Affordable – Southern San Francisco and San Mateo County - As you head south of the city, prices get a bit more affordable. The areas around Glen Canyon Park ($3.00/ft²) and Mt. Davidson Park ($2.81/ft²) offer some rental price relief. Further and further south and once you get into San Mateo County, the deals get better and better. At $2.37/ft² the entire Brisbane area is the most affordable near the city. It is also a short distance to San Bruno Mountain State Park, so if you are looking for a quieter area of town, Brisbane is your spot. Just to the north of Brisbane, the Bay Shore area ($2.94/ft²) is a bit more expensive, but still much less than in the downtown parts of the city.
Broadmoor/South Daly City both look like appealing places to shop for housing with prices that range from $2.52/ft² to 2.84/ft², depending on which part of town you are looking. Want to be near the coast? Living in Edgemar won’t break the bank at $3.50/ft², and the Sharp Park area is priced even better at $3.07/ft². Living in South San Francisco will cost you somewhere in the $2.59/ft² - $2.80/ft² range. On the outskirts of the Airport, Southern San Bruno is averaging $2.48/ft² and Millbrae is at $2.65/ft² to 2.75/ft².
Outside the City - Venturing over Bay Bridge or Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco will also bring you into some more affordable housing options. If you don’t mind the commuting into the city, then the following areas can be attractive to newbies to the Bay Area looking to get their feet wet before crossing the bay.
North of the Golden Gate, Sausalito will cost you about $3.00/ft² and even further north, Mill Valley and Lakespur are in the $2.90/ft² to $3.25/ft² range.
We can’t complete this post without at least mentioning Oakland. The rental prices are the cheapest of all the places within 15 miles of San Francisco, but the crime rate is also the highest of any of those same areas. You can head north of Oakland to the Berkley area where prices range from $2.50/ft² to $3.50/ft, or stay in Alameda, where both the crime and rental places are on the low end ($2.33/ft² - $2.44/ft²).