All the crazy things happening in San Francisco because of its out-of-control housing prices

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

People are leaving San Francisco in droves as the cost of living reaches a new high.

A recent report from real-estate site Redfin revealed that San Francisco lost more residents than any other US city in the last quarter of 2017. The great migration is far from over. Last month, 49% of Bay Area residents said they would consider leaving California because of the cost of living, according to a survey of 500 residents by public-relations firm Edelman.

Here are all the crazy things happening because of the Bay Area’s insane housing prices:

This is how people outside the area imagine living in San Francisco.

Melia Robinson

And this is the reality.


The median-priced home in San Francisco sells for $US1.5 million, according to Paragon. It’s not uncommon for buyers to bid hundreds of thousands above asking and pay in all cash.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Source: Paragon

A million doesn’t get you much. In the ritzy Pacific Heights neighbourhood, you could buy a 697-square-foot home, and in the affordable Sunset District, you get 1,115 square feet.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Source: Paragon

A person who wants to buy property in the city needs a household income of $US303,000 to afford the 20% down payment on a $US1.5 million home, according to Paragon.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Source: Business Insider

Only about 12% of households in San Francisco can afford the median-priced home.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

In Silicon Valley, a recent survey showed that people who earn up to $US399,999 a year in income consider themselves middle class because they still can’t afford to buy homes.

Source: Palo Alto Weekly and Business Insider

People are going to extreme lengths in order to afford living in San Francisco.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

When Misa Gidding-Chatfield and Mike Kraft decided to move in together, they had two options: Buy a home for half a million dollars in the outskirts of the Bay Area (which would leave them with an hours-long commute into San Francisco) or live in the Bay on a boat.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Ten years after making the decision to live on a boat, the couple plans to reside at sea for the rest of their lives. The couple’s monthly expenses include payment on the boat’s mortgage (they have about $US150,000 left on their balance) and a $US900 slip fee to live aboard the boat.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Read more: San Francisco is so expensive that this couple decided to live on a boat – here’s what it’s like 10 years later

In 2014, Heather Stewart and Luke Iseman were spending $US2,200 a month on rent in San Francisco when they decided to downsize and live out of a tiny house of their own making.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Read more: This couple couldn’t afford to live in San Francisco, so they’re building tiny homes made from shipping containers

The couple bought a shipping container online for $US2,300, had it delivered to a vacant parking lot in the East Bay that they leased, and converted it into a tiny house.

Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

Stewart and Iseman makes a living as the pseudo-landlords of Boxouse, a maker space where amateur builders and hobbyists can construct the tiny homes of their dreams.

Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

Peter Berkowitz, an illustrator, spent $US400 a month to live in a homemade wooden crate in a friend’s San Francisco apartment. He described it as “cosy” in a 2016 interview.

Peter Berkowitz

Read more: This man built a bedroom ‘pod’ because San Francisco housing was too expensive

His pod contained a drop-leaf desk, a slanted backboard, and string lights. He was later evicted when San Francisco’s chief housing inspector deemed living in boxes illegal.

People are spending over $US1 million on the “earthquake shacks” built as temporary housing for the homeless after the 1906 fires.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Read more: San Francisco’s housing market is so dire that people are spending over $US1 million on the ‘earthquake shacks’ built after the 1906 fires

This earthquake shack in the Outer Mission was in desperate need of TLC when it sold 17% above asking price for $US408,000 in 2015. It received four all-cash offers in 10 days.

San Francisco Association of Realtors

Source: MarketWatch

The new owners remodeled and flipped the home for $US622,000 two years later.

Source: Zillow

The most expensive known earthquake shack is a Cole Valley home with a cosy 640 square feet of living space. It sold nearly $US100,000 over asking for the price of $US1.4 million in 2016.

Google Street View

Source: Fox News and

The Bay Area’s insane housing prices have caused people to flood the rental markets. San Francisco’s median two-bedroom rent of $US3,040 is above the national average of $US1,160.

Source: Apartment List

In an upscale San Francisco neighbourhood, 31 millennials squeeze into a 10-bedroom French Victorian mansion called Chateau Ubuntu. Rent starts at $US650 for a bunk bed.

In January, city officials issued a violation notice because the community, considered a three-family dwelling by the Planning Department, has too many tenants and is operating illegally.

Source: Instagram/goodmorningubuntu

Tenants live by a set of Burning Man-like values that prioritise living with intention and embracing community. According to the site, the group shares 1,330 hugs a week.

Read more: This 38-person commune shows the lengths millennials will go to live in San Francisco

An increasing number of middle-class workers and millennials are squeezing into apartments and homes with large numbers of people. This is called “co-living.”

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Co-living is often more affordable than traditional rentals because it comes with perks, like free internet, maid service, and new friends. Startups are capitalising on the trend.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

HubHaus puts millennials up in multimillion-dollar mansions near Silicon Valley tech companies. Members pay on average $US1,275 a month for a room at the homes.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Read more: Go inside the housing startup that puts millennials up in multimillion-dollar Silicon Valley mansions

WeWork, a startup that rents out shared workspaces, branched into co-living in 2016. Their “dorms for grown-ups” are intended for people moving to a city and looking for fast friends.


The company, which has a $US20 billion valuation, has two locations: one in New York and one in Crystal City, Virginia, outside DC. The average apartment is just 450 square feet.


Read more: Inside WeWork’s WeLive, where millennials squeeze into tiny apartments to take advantage of perks like Sunday dinner, daily happy hours, and morning yoga

Private bedrooms at WeLive start at $US1,200 a month. There’s also a $US125 amenities fee, which includes a monthly cleaning service, cable, internet, utilities, and laundry.


Some take home wherever they go. “Van life” is an increasingly popular lifestyle choice among tech workers and urban dwellers who want to avoid shelling out for rent.

Photos courtesy of Juliana Linder

Read more: San Francisco is so expensive that one couple decided to live in their van

Brandon, who asked to withhold his last name to maintain his privacy, moved into a 2006 Ford truck the same month he became a software engineer at Google in 2015.


Read more: A 23-year-old Google employee lives in a truck in the company’s parking lot and saves 90% of his income

Jason Roesslein, an engineer at Tesla, told us he paid off $US14,000 of student loans by living in a Dodge Sprinter van he bought off eBay for five months. He showered at Tesla’s gym.

Jason Roesslein

Read more: A 24-year-old Tesla engineer lived in a van for 5 months and paid off his $US14,000 of student loans

Other desperate renters are leaving for more affordable housing markets. San Francisco is experiencing a shortage of U-Haul moving vans, which has inflated the cost to rent one.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle and Business Insider

It costs $US2,000 to rent a truck going from Silicon Valley’s San Jose to Las Vegas, but it costs only $US100 the other way around, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle and Business Insider

Some people move away but keep their high-paying jobs in the Bay Area.

Tom Fowkes, a nurse living in Pennsylvania, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he commutes 2,600 miles to work in Oakland. Fowkes flies home about every two weeks.

Google Maps

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

The town of Bend, Oregon, is becoming a commuter town for a select few people, according to CNBC. Some people make the 10-hour drive, while others opt for the 70-minute flight.


Source: CNBC and Business Insider

San Francisco’s housing crisis has created a dire homelessness situation. There are about 7,500 people living on the street, and many more find shelter with friends and family.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Tent cities are spreading across San Francisco. As a result, the downtown area is more contaminated with needles, trash, and faeces than some of the world’s poorest slums.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Source: NBC Bay Area and Business Insider

Despite all this, there’s still demand for housing in San Francisco, and people will pay up.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

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