Study: Gay Mecca San Francisco Has Highest Rent on Earth

San Francisco's LGBT Population, and its Rent, Is Higher Than Ever

San Francisco, the California city that has long been a haven for LGBT people, may have the highest rents on Earth, at least according to the financial site Walltwyse.  

Since the days of the 19th-century gold rush and, later, as a discharge spot for navy sailors, San Francisco has long served as the de facto gay capital of the U.S.; it was home to early out politician Harvey Milk, the destination of one of the first Pride parades, and the site of fierce AIDS activism.

Now, the city that has long been regarded as a refuge is awash in tech money and increasingly out-of-reach for newcomers.

The Bay Area has always been notorious for its obscene cost of living, with San Francisco serving as one of its worst offenders. But a chart released by Aaron Ansel, chief growth officer at Walltwyse, ranks San Francisco as the city with the highest rent in the world today.

Ansel ranked the average rents of 540 cities around the world using Numbeo, which is a website that uses an index to calculate statistics on the cost of living in various cities, based on how expensive it is to rent a one-bedroom apartment and a three-bedroom apartment in and outside a city’s center.

San Francisco is at the top of Ansel’s chart, with an average rent of $3,500 a month. Hamilton, Bermuda comes in second with an average rent of $3,400, with Manhattan in third at $3,050, with San Jose, Calif., in fourth with $2,500.

Ansel says that the most significant factor that differentiates San Francisco from other cities with notoriously high average rents is that the city’s rent average does not tend to lower as you travel further to the edge of the metropolis. Instead, S.F. rent stays consistently high throughout the city as a whole — the city is quite compact, at approximately 46 square miles — but rents are extremely high even in neighboring cities.

"I think the big difference when you look at cost of living for a place like the Bay Area is that in most high cost cities like New York, if you go far enough out, you run into a drop in price," Ansel told SF Gate. "The San Francisco Bay Area is not like that. You go 30 miles in any direction and you're still within that zone. 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."

A Gallup poll from 2015 revealed that the San Francisco metropolitan area has the highest percentage LGBT adults among the top 50 U.S. metropolitan areas, with 6.2 percent of adults identifying as LGBT.

Meanwhile, the Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles, reported in 2012 that LGBT people are more likely to live in poverty than heterosexual people. The same study revealed that almost half of the LGBT population identifies as women, and nearly one-in-five members of same-sex couples in the United States are people of color — two groups that already statistically struggle to receive incomes equal to or higher than that of cisgender, heterosexual white men.

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