A very interesting report issued by the US Census Bureau today ranks the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area as the most expensive residential rental market of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States. The report finds the median gross rent as of 2011 to be $1,460 as compared to the national median gross rent of $871, down $10 since the last report was issued for the year 2009. Four of the top five gross rent metro areas are in California, and all of the California metros experienced a decline in median gross rents over the two year period. Additionally, the report finds that the SJ-SV-SC metro has the lowest rental vacancy rate of the 50 metros, at 2.71%. This is not surprising, since the vacancy rate and median gross rent are usually linked. It all adds up to Silicon Valley having the greatest housing demand in the nation.
On the flip side, the report finds that approximately 39.15% of residents in our metro area spend at least 35% of their income on rent. That number is the third lowest percentage of the 50 metro areas, and below the national average of 44.32%. However bad the housing market is, the average regional income is even higher, here. [Update – I just realized this may not be true – it may just be a reflection of the next stat]
Finally, the report finds the SJ-SV-SC has a rental percentage of 43.05% of total housing, definitely on the high side of the national average of 35.42%. We rent more and own homes less than the national average. That one is more difficult to explain – it may be a reflection of the more transient nature of our workforce (we move around a lot and change jobs more frequently), it may be a reflection of long-term housing construction trends in Northern California, or it may reflect other factors.
So to sum it all up, a greater percentage of Silicon Valley residents rent than nationally, our renters pay the highest rents of national populated metro areas, but their rents are a smaller percentage of their total income than nationally, and there are much fewer rental vacancies than the national average.