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San Francisco is now the 3rd priciest place to rent in the country, falling behind Boston

Salesforce tower peeks out behind O&M Apartments at 800 Indiana St. on Jan. 11, 2018, in the Dogpatch neighborhood. | Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

We’re number three! 

This month, San Francisco took on the dubious distinction of third place among the most expensive rental markets in the country, falling behind Boston and New York City as the costliest place to rent. 

With median rents hovering at $3,020 for a one-bedroom, San Francisco still costs an arm and a leg compared to much of the country: Nationwide rents were less than half that last month, at $1,491 according to Zumper, a rental platform.  

Nonetheless, depressed rents are a striking trend in a city where the cost of living skyrocketed for years before the Covid pandemic triggered an exodus of young professionals who realized they could Zoom into work calls from pretty much anywhere.

San Francisco’s population declined by 58,764 between April 2020 and July 2021, according to census data.

Though they’re up about 8% from this time last year, rents in San Francisco still haven’t bounced back to the pre-pandemic days when a typical one-bedroom could easily set you back $3,500 a month or more. 

By contrast, rents in Boston shot up 6% last month to $3,060. 

There’s less incentive to rent in the city as SF’s downtown remains notably empty compared to other U.S. cities—especially for tech workers, many of whom prefer remote work, at least part-time.

Office vacancy rates rose to 24% in San Francisco in the third quarter, a historic high and a worrying sign for local officials scrambling to gauge the impact of empty downtown buildings on the city’s $14 billion budget. 

“Now—with a turbulent, unpredictable economy causing fear of recession—migrations are slowing, occupancy rates are falling and rent prices are following suit,” said Zumper CEO Anthemos Georgiades in a statement.

Annie Gaus can be reached at