Bay Area rents, lag nation, remain under pre-pandemic levels

San Francisco’s rents are 17% lower than in March 2020 as NYC toppled it as the most expensive city to rent


Bay Area rents remain below pre-pandemic levels, lagging the rest of the nation.

The median rent for a one-bedroom in San Francisco stands at $2,910, 17 percent below March 2020, according to rental platform Zumper. Oakland rents dropped 14% to $2,070. San Jose rents are down 5 percent to $2,420.

In New York, by comparison, rents jumped 30 percent to $3,620 in the past year alone. One reason the Bay Area is lagging: rents were far higher before Covid, according to Zumper’s Jeff Andrews.

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“The Bay Area is obviously more dependent on the tech sector, and the tech sector is more likely to have adopted permanent or flexible work-from-home policies than other sectors of the economy,” Andrews said in a statement. “Coupled with the fact that Bay Area rents were so much more expensive than other metros prior to the pandemic, this has kept these cities from returning to their pre-pandemic rent prices.”

Whether Bay Area rentals can recover depends on the ability of companies to lure workers back to the area after months of working at home, Andrews said. “There’s a chance that in 5 years we may look back on the pandemic as an event that permanently lowered rent in the Bay Area’s major cities,” he said.

San Francisco’s return to office push has been less successful than other cities. Security company Kastle said about 29 percent of offices were occupied as of mid-March, least of the nine metropolitan areas tracked by the company. A Bay Area Council survey found that while 70 percent of about 200 employers planned to bring workers back to the office, just 15 percent expected they would be in the office five days a week.

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