In an area long recognized for its high cost of living, San Mateo wears the crown as the most expensive for renters, according to a recent report.
Online rental database Apartmentlist.com claims renters in San Mateo face the highest rates of all the major Bay Area cities and the monthly fees are thousands more than the median costs in comparable markets across the nation.
To compound the frustration for those scratching out sizable checks when the calendar turns another month, trends indicate the cost of living continues to rise — as rents jumped by 1.5 percent from this time last year.
While the growth rate lags behind the rest of the state by a few percentage points, that may come as little consolation to those paying the city’s median rental price of $3,400 for a one-bedroom unit and $4,300 for a two-bedroom unit, according to the rent report.
Despite acknowledging the report’s figures skew upwards toward luxury apartments, those who generated the most recent data plainly state the high-priced reality that many locally face.
“Rent growth in San Mateo has been relatively stable over the past year — some other large cities have seen more substantial increases; in contrast, rents in a few cities have actually declined,” according to the report. “Compared to most large cities across the country, San Mateo is less affordable for renters.”
For perspective regionally, the monthly cost of a one-bedroom unit in San Mateo is about $1,000 more than San Francisco; $700 more than Redwood City; and $500 more than Pleasanton, according to the report.
The gulf between San Mateo and other major cities across the nation is even more striking for two-bedroom units, as the monthly median floats at $1,700 in Seattle; $1,400 in Austin and $1,000 in Dallas, according to the report. San Mateo’s median rent for a two-bedroom unit is $3,140 more than the national median, according to the report.
ApartmentList experts have said previously San Mateo’s rates may be higher per unit because larger cities offer a wide range of prices distributed across many neighborhoods, while locally there are fewer cost fluctuations and more consolidated costs.
Online rental database Zillow offered a similar sky-high rate in San Mateo, pinning the median rent across the city at $3,850, according to the company’s most recent report.
RentCafe, another online rent trend track website, declared San Mateo the fourth most expensive market in the nation according to average rent — behind major metropolitan areas such as Boston, Manhattan and San Francisco. The report also found local rates grew by 1.5 percent from this time last year.
Renters in San Mateo getting more bang for their buck may attribute to the high cost as well, as the rents locally may pay for more space offered in a two-bedroom unit than a similar listing in a metropolitan high-rise.
Real estate expertise firm Marcus and Millichap attributes these astronomical prices to the skyrocketing cost of buying a home in the Bay Area, combined with the region’s ever-humming economic engine.
With the mighty demand to live near work comes cranes and work crews, according the Marcus and Millichap report showing an uptick in development of new housing projects.
“Peninsula projects dominate pipeline; mid-rise buildings most prominent,” according to the Marcus and Millichap report. “Amid incredibly tight vacancy, builders are rapidly increasing construction to the highest point since the late 1990s.”
During the boom, San Mateo has been spotlighted by builders, according to the Marcus and Millichap report.
“San Mateo assets have garnered significant attention as construction heats up on the Peninsula,” according to the report. “Assets near corporate campuses with upgrade potential receive multiple offers.”
ApartmentList experts have said increasing the available housing stock would be the most efficient way to offer renters some relief, as the demand outpaces supply locally by such a substantial margin.
In a report released last month, ApartmentList analysts suggested the metropolitan area between San Jose and San Francisco is the nation’s most undersupplied housing market when compared to available jobs.
While the issue is not unique to the Bay Area, the housing imbalance report implores local officials to approve more building under an effort to make desirable regions more affordable.
“In recent years, the majority of the nation’s biggest metros have not been building enough new housing, and that situation is compounded by the fact that in many of these metros, jobs are being added to the core cities, while the housing that is produced is being built in outlying suburbs,” according to the report.
While many cities may need to do their part in addressing affordability concerns, the most recent ApartmentList report indicates the local prices should remain higher than many other places.
“Renters will generally find more expensive prices in San Mateo than most large cities,” according to the report.
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