To afford a market-rate one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, you need to earn $29.83 an hour, or $62,046 annually, according to a new report out this month from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Add a second bedroom and your household hourly wage needs to hit $37.62 ($78,249 annually), the highest for any metro region in the country.
Things don’t get better in other parts of the Bay Area: San Mateo, Santa Clara and Marin join San Francisco atop the charts as four of the six most expensive counties in America. Oakland-Fremont, Santa Cruz-Watsonville and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara join San Francisco in the top 10 most expensive metro regions.
This report also contains dismal news for minimum-wage workers in California. Those earning the state minimum wage of $8 an hour would need to work 130 hours a week (there are 168 hours in a week total) to afford a market-rate two-bedroom in California based on the statewide real estate average. Though the minimum wage is higher in many California cities, including San Francisco and San Jose, there is still a wide gap between what minimum-wage workers earn and what they need for housing.
A campaign to raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour failed to gather enough financial support to get on this year’s ballot. KQED’s Do Now project recently asked people across the country how much they think minimum wage should be.
If you look at what people in the Bay Area are actually earning, the picture is a bit less grim. The average renter in San Francisco, for example, earned $31.45 an hour – well above the $10.74 minimum wage. At that rate, it would take 1.2 full-time jobs to afford a two-bedroom in the city. Factor in a roommate or partner to split the rent with, and things look a bit more manageable – at least for those at or above the average.
In the San Jose metro region, the average renter is even better off, earning $32.99 an hour, but only $31.71 is needed for a market-rate two-bedroom.
Meanwhile, if all of these wage levels seem out of reach, we’ll leave you with a glimpse of all the cheaper places you could live. Hint: Can anybody give us a ride to Idaho?