A recent real estate report showed one-bedroom rent prices in SF have fallen 11.8 percent — eclipsing last month’s record-breaking 9 percent drop — as more locals pack their bags. We decided to catch up with a few of them to ask why they’re leaving (or have already left) the City by the Bay.
San Franciscans are leaving Dodge in droves as unemployment rates climb and notable tech companies (Facebook, Twitter, Square) adopt evergreen work-from-home models. One product of this local “tech exodus” — another anecdotal nicety being easier street parking — is that for the first time in over a decade, SF is home to a renter’s market. And a recently released Zumper National Rent Report reemphasized that point, showing double-digit rent declines in the seven-by-seven — the largest observed in any U.S. city and the heftiest ever recorded for SF by the real estate listing company.
Though for some, the choice to box their things and go wasn’t only financially based. It was simply that the pandemic allowed them to realize the lifestyles they crave ceased meshing with what San Francisco could offer.
“Overall, there were a few lifestyle reasons that factored into my decision to move away,” says Charlotte Boyd, a former San Francisco Evernote employee who recently moved back to her hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, to SFist in an email. “Even with making well over $100K a year, I felt that I had few long term options for a lifestyle that fits with me as I grew — I would never be able to purchase a home or live by myself even with a comfortable salary.”
Her plight is well justified. Regardless of “pandemic pricings” — in our research, we came across a Zillow listing for a home in Bayview-Hunters Point that slashed another $100K off its already lowered asking price in June — the average cost for a home in San Francisco still sits north of $1M.
So, if you factor in a standard 4 percent fixed interest rate, a monthly payment on a 30-year mortgage (which are bemoaned by tax advisors) would total near $4,774. And that payment alone is, per neuvoo, over 80 percent of a monthly paycheck for someone making a salary on-par with Boyd’s; many financial experts believe you should never spend more than 30 percent of your income on housing to have a good quality of life.
But the far-fetched idea of homeownership isn’t the only reason Boyd decamped the Bay Area for a metro that totes a cost of living 3 percent lower than the national average. She, like many of her friends who have also recently moved away from SF, wanted a more “comfortable life.”
“From a community standpoint, I had a good number of my friends move also to live a more comfortable lifestyle which made me reconsider my surroundings,” Boyd adds. “There was such little creativity or time to do anything other than sleep, commute, work, repeat.”
It was a comparable Oprah aha moment realized by a second source close to SFist – who chose to remain anonymous – when she was laid off from a local marketing firm. The said departed San Franciscan used that bout of unemployment as the catalyst to reframe what she wanted in life (like “warmer weather”), ultimately pointing her move to another, albeit less expensive startup hub: Austin, Texas.
Ironically, these more spacious and affordable towns could see rent increases as people escaping costlier cities move in.
The report — which aggregated data from over a million active listings across the country and calculated the median asking rents for the top 100 metro areas by population, per Zumper’s research methodology — states that as the pandemic persists, there could well be an increased demand for rentals in “neighboring, less expensive areas” across the nation.
While those regions might be considered comparatively “less expensive,” it seems working in them hasn’t affected some people’s incomes, including Boyd’s.
“I’m currently doing marketing consulting for [three] different small companies in town and making just under what I was making in San Francisco,” she continues, just before closing with a resonate, straight-to-the-heart line: “I finally have my time back, and I don’t know if I ever would’ve gotten it if I was still in San Francisco.”
Good news! Earlier today, the Superior Court REJECTED the request of the SF Apartment Association and SF Realtors Association for a temporary restraining order against our COVID-related eviction protection law.
— Dean Preston (@DeanPreston) July 2, 2020
Last month, the Board of Supervisors extended the City’s COVID-19 eviction ban indefinitely — helping slow the hourglasses for thousands of San Franciscans as they meditate on what their next moves entail. (A joint request by the SF Apartment Association and SF Realtors Association to place a temporary restraining order on that ban was recently rejected.)
For more information on both current and past Zumper rent reports, visit zumper.com/blog/category/rent-reports to see just how rental prices have shifted in the Bay Area over the years.
Image: Aman Kumar