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San Francisco is expensive — and rents are the highest in the world, study says

From Bay Area to Sacramento region: ‘My house back home is $2 million dollars’

Recent homebuyer Marie Diaz inspects her new home in El Dorado Hills on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Diaz is one of many who are selling their Bay Area homes for more affordable homes in the Sacramento area.
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Recent homebuyer Marie Diaz inspects her new home in El Dorado Hills on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Diaz is one of many who are selling their Bay Area homes for more affordable homes in the Sacramento area.

It's universally acknowledged that San Francisco is expensive — but are its rents the most expensive in the world?

Yes — according to a new study from financial advice site Walletwyse.

The study took crowd-sourced data from Numbeo, a site that looks at cost-of living statistics, to find average monthly rent in 540 cities around the world. San Francisco came in first, with an average rent of $3,500. Hamilton, Bermuda, took second with an average rent of $3,400, according to the study.

Manhattan was third, but San Jose and Oakland — both Bay Area cities — came in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Cerro Gordo, an old mining town, was recently put on the market for $925,000.

Aaron Ansel, the chief growth officer at Walletwyse who put the chart together, told SFGate that San Francisco is up at the top of the list because Numbeo's data looks at people living not only in the city center, but in the greater metropolitan area.

And while in other cities, rent costs go down farther out from the city, that's not the case in San Francisco.

"You go 30 miles in any direction, and you're still within that zone," Ansel told SFGate. "Whereas a lot of these big cities are high price points surrounded by normal price points, San Francisco is an ultra-high price point surrounded by more high price points."

But Curbed San Francisco noted that the $3,500 figure was too high to accurately represent the city's median market rent — which is closer to $1,600 a month, according to U.S. Census data.

However, that lower figure is due in part to rent control and other arrangements that a renter new to the city wouldn't have access to, according to Curbed.

Curbed also pointed out that, by looking at Numbeo's data, "it's impossible to tell from the outside whether or not it's a representative sample" of rents in the city.

And, of course, it's not just rent that's through the roof.

San Francisco County tops with a median home price of $1.6 million and $333,270 minimum qualifying income, followed closely by San Mateo and Santa Clara counties just to the south of the city, according to the California Association of Realtors.

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