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The median two-bedroom apartment in S.F. now costs $5,000 a month

A median two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco now rents at $5,000 a month, one-third pricier than the runner-up New York City, according to the rental website Zumper.

The dubious – and cringeworthy – milestone makes a San Francisco two-bedroom nearly twice as expensive as other major cities like Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago. The cost of a two-bedroom in the city grew by 19 percent year over year.

A San Francisco one-bedroom costs $3,620, also the most expensive in the country.

Certainly, San Francisco's housing crisis is complex – spinning out of control in part due to a history of underbuilding and a slew of high-paid jobs. As Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) real estate executive Jay Bechtel said this week, “Younger engineers will do anything to stay in San Francisco.” (The third-most expensive city in the country is Google’s headquarters, Mountain View, according to Zumper.)

But San Francisco is an outlier for another reason: The gap between a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom is much wider than any other city. Anecdotally, that pricing underscores a mismatch in the market where more and more people need to pile in three or four people in a two bedroom in order to make it work.

I bring this up because it applies to me. A few of us in the San Francisco Business Times newsroom wrote about how the city's high cost of living affected us. I wrote:

"In the past two years, I’ve lived in the three most expensive cities in the country – Washington D.C., New York City and San Francisco. I’ve lived in a makeshift, curtained-off den-turned-bedroom each time. I’ve paid on average about $1,000 a month in rent in each of these apartments, never farther than a few blocks from the nearest Metro, subway or BART stop. I don’t have a car, so my transportation costs are close to nil. If you live in a big city and don’t have rent-control, subsidized housing or a big salary, tradeoffs are key. As a 24-year-old, I’m willing to have roommates and cut down on square footage and privacy. That way, I get to live near bars and restaurants and cut down on my commute while not giving half my salary to rent. As I get older, those tradeoffs may change. A bedroom door would seem almost luxurious at this point."

The Bay Area’s other two major cities – San Jose and Oakland – saw two-bedroom prices rise by 20 and 18 percent year over year, respectively. Those cities were the fourth and sixth most expensive cities to rent in the country with two-bedroom rents at $2,790 and $2,340, respectively.

Those annual increases in rent far surpass any other city by Zumper’s calculations, besides San Diego and Denver, where rents overall are still much lower.

The top 10 most expensive neighborhoods to rent a one-bedroom in San Francisco are:

  1. Financial District - $4,270
  2. Mission Bay/Dogpatch - $3,900
  3. Pacific Heights - $3,850
  4. South Beach - $3,760
  5. Russian Hill - $3,750
  6. Potrero Hill - $3,740
  7. SOMA - $3,720
  8. Marina - $3,700
  9. Lower Haight - $3,600
  10. Civic Center - $3,590

Credit: Cory Weinberg