A new report from apartment finding app Zumper found that the median price of a one-bedroom in Mountain View is higher than any other city in the Bay Area. City officials say data on Mountain View’s rent-controlled units adds some important context.
Zumper’s San Francisco Metro Area Report, released Feb. 6, analyzed active listings in January 2023 across Bay Area cities to show the most and least expensive places to rent a one-bedroom apartment.
According to the report, Mountain View is ranked as the most expensive city, with a median rent of $3,130 for a one-bedroom apartment, more than $1,000 higher than the state median. Mountain View was the only city to break the $3,000 barrier, with San Francisco coming in second at $2,950 for a one-bedroom apartment, and Milpitas in third at $2,930.
The report also found that Mountain View’s rent prices are among the fastest growing in the Bay Area. Mountain View’s rent climbed a whopping 23.7% in the past year, coming in second only to Santa Clara, which increased by 24.1%. The report found that Mountain View also had the largest monthly rental growth rate in the Bay Area, up 6.1% from the previous month.
But Mountain View city officials said that median rent only tells part of the story. The city keeps track of average rent, rather than median, which is important because the majority of the city’s rental housing stock are units fully covered by the city’s rent control laws, city officials said.
“Comparing average rent versus median rent is not an apples to apples comparison,” Mountain View Chief Public Information Officer Lenka Wright told the Voice.
According to city data, the average rent for all one-bedroom apartments in Mountain View is $2,816. For units that are fully covered by the city’s rent control law, it’s $2,313. For those partially covered, it’s $3,633. And for newly built units, which aren’t covered at all, it’s $3,826.
The city's 2018-19 Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act report states that 71% of the city’s rental housing stock falls into that first category, fully covered units, which have the lowest average rent among one-bedroom apartments in the city.
“Based on this data, the median rent (the rent that is the midpoint between the lowest and highest rental unit) of a one-bedroom rental in Mountain View is likely less than the average rent of $2,816,” Wright said.
Tenants and landlords can check whether their unit is covered using the city's Rent Stabilization Program database.
Wright added that both Zumper and city data use asking rents, which is what the property owner lists the rent to be.
“However, concessions or discounts may be provided, which can result in actual rents being lower than asking rents," Wright said.
One thing Zumper’s report shows unequivocally is the growing divide between the cost of living on the Peninsula versus the East Bay. The least expensive Bay Area cities to rent a one-bedroom apartment, according to Zumper’s list, are Vallejo, Antioch and Richmond, all cities on the other side of the bay. Meanwhile, seven of the 10 most expensive cities on Zumper’s list are on the Peninsula.