Posted Jul 23, 2012

Control Your Rent, San Francisco: Live With Three Roommates to Save 54%

Living alone in San Francisco these days means one of two things: you have a great job, or decades old rent control.

To help those unable–or unwilling–to spring for a private pad, we analyzed over 37,000 San Francisco apartment listings posted between February and May 2012 to find out how many roommates you’ll need to minimize your rent, and where those apartments are located.


– Save 54% on rent by living with three roommates: Median price per bedroom drops to $892 in four-bedroom houses, 54% less than a one-bedroom ($1,950).

– Studios are the cheapest way to live alone (if you’re able to find one): The median price for studios in San Francisco is $1,495.

– Four-bedroom and studio apartments are cheapest options, but relatively few are posted each month.

Between February and May 2012, over 12,000 apartments per month were listed on our apartment search website, Lovely. Here’s a breakdown of those listings by median price per bedroom and volume:

The cheapest way to live alone is in a (tiny) studio…if you’re able to find one.

While by no means a bargain compared to other cities, studios are the cheapest option for living alone in San Francisco at $1,495/month. Compare that to one-bedroom apartments which boat a median price of $1,950, significantly more expensive for the bedroom separation and additional space.

If having roommates is absolutely out of the question (and you’re able to pony up enough pennies to cover rent), there’s still the challenge of finding a studio due to low availability: only 9% of all rental listings were for studios (~1,100 studios per month).

Tip: Learn helpful tips and tricks in our Survival Guide to San Francisco Apartment Hunting, such as why you should focus your apartment search between 9am and 5pm.

Save 54% per bedroom with a four-bedroom apartment

Everybody knows that living with roommates is a good way to save money on rent, but by how much? It turns out that four-bedroom homes offer the cheapest rent per bedroom. With median price per bedroom dipping to $892, that’s a full 54% less than a one-bedroom apartment.

Since living with three roommates isn’t for everybody, there are still opportunities to save money without starting an unofficial co-op. Compared to a one-bedroom apartment, you can save almost 32% by getting a two-bedroom (and a roommate). Going in one a three-bedroom with two of your friends brings rent down a whopping 44%.

Like studios, four-bedroom apartments are also hard to come by

We aren’t sure what’s harder: finding three friends (or randos) you’re comfortable signing a lease with, or finding an available four-bedroom to rent. Between February and May, only 3% of all San Francisco apartment listings were for four-bedroom units.

Tip: Many three-bedroom units have extra rooms (such as a living room or dining room) that can be converted into a fourth bedroom without sacrificing a common space. But, be sure to ask the landlord for permission before attempting this!

Price per bedroom increases in homes larger than four bedrooms

Interestingly, there isn’t a rule stating, “the more rooms, the lower the median price per bedroom.” For units with greater than four bedrooms, the median price per bedroom actually increased. Several factors likely contribute to this, including only having a minuscule number of homes of this size available on the market–less than one percent of all listings–as well as many of these larger homes being lavish mansions commanding premium prices.

Where you should be looking: neighborhoods with lowest rents and greatest availability:

Whether you’re looking for a studio, a four-bedroom, or something in-between, check out our infographic for a list of the neighborhoods with the highest number of listings per month:



Lovely Alerts

Get new blog posts delivered right to your inbox.


4 responses to “Control Your Rent, San Francisco: Live With Three Roommates to Save 54%”

  1. Røde says:

    Been there, done that. After 2 years in a rent-controlled Mission 4 BR apartment, living with 4 other roomies, I couldn’t be more sick of the crowded space with no living room. Bedrooms in our new 2 BR apartment might be $200 more a month, but it’s worth every penny to have a common space, more room, and less people! Hopefully, another 2 years from now, our rent won’t seem so bad either — because new leases will have doubled again, and we’ll still be paying 2012-rent!

    • Blake P. says:

      I definitely agree. Having shared plenty of apartments over the years I can definitely say I’ve outgrown the roommate scene. I’d rather go with a studio and get less space (but still save compared to a 1bd) than have a bunch of roommates. On the other hand I have several friends who live with multiple roommates.

  2. This really sounds to be an amazing info in regards to the apartments in the city.

  3.  This sounds to be really amazing and great piece of info for the real estate owners.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *