San Luis Obispo ranked number one for unaffordable rental costs

July 21, 2020


City of San Luis Obispo residents pay the most in rent, proportional to their income, in the United States, according to a recent study by Insurify.

The study found that 43.43 percent of renters in SLO are spending more than 50 percent of their gross household income on rent. The average rent in SLO is $1,459 while more than 30 percent of the population falls under the poverty line, according to the study.

Two cities in San Luis Obispo County made the more affordable list. In Paso Robles, only 13.49 percent of renters pay more than 50 percent of their household income on rent, followed by Atascadero at 14.18 percent.

Researchers took the estimated number of renters paying 50 percent or more of their household income on gross rent in the past 12 months and compared it to the total number of renters, in cities with a population of over 50,000, to calculate their results. The study garnered median gross rental costs and the percent of the population falling below the poverty line from the American Community Survey’s most recent calculations and the U.S. Census Bureau.

If a family’s total income is less than their designated poverty threshold, they are considered to be under the poverty line.

Of SLO’s 46,997 residents, 32.4 percent fall under the poverty line, according to Data USA.

Of those, Hispanics appear to be disproportionately impacted: they are 3.2 percent of SLO’s overall population, and 13.6 percent of city residents who are living below the poverty line.

Poverty level by race in SLO in 2017:

White: 84.19 percent of the population, and 72.1 percent of people in SLO living below the poverty line
Asian: 5.80 percent of the population, and 5.3 percent of people in SLO living below the poverty line
Hispanic: 3.20 percent of the population, and 13.6 percent of people in SLO living below the poverty line
Black or African American: 2.20 percent of the population, and 2.45 percent of people in SLO living below the poverty line

With an 11.2 percent unemployment rate in San Luis Obispo County, propelled primarily by the coronavirus pandemic, many residents are having difficulty paying their rents. In SLO County, renters impacted by the pandemic, are protected from eviction until 90 days after Gov. Gavin Newsom lifts the COVID-19 State of Emergency.

County officials recommend those unable to pay their rent on time, because of the pandemic, work with their landlords on a repayment plan.


Seems a little fishy that almost all the towns in “the study” are college towns. Even after the Paradise fire Chico students can split up homes with individual rooms for $575 ish ….


“work with their landlords on a repayment plan” ……any examples out there?


So what? Congratulations to those property owners—mostly through inheritance—who are able to ask $3,100 a MONTH for a 1,400 square foot cottage and only pay about $3,000 a YEAR in Prop-13 taxes.

It’s no wonder the top 10% of Americans own 84% of the nation’s wealth.


You do not know that most people who own rental property inherited it. Please provided us proof!


Do you have any idea of high those rents would be if Prop 13 was not passed? And that if it was not passed retired people would be moving out of their homes due to lack of affordability? Do you realize that these people who rent these homes might be living on fixed income and between the hidden taxation cost of inflation and the other taxes they pay they may living just an average middle class existence?And have you looked at the California state budget lately? I would bet there are billions of dollars that could be returned to the communities to make them a better place to live.


Too bad the article does not mention what the average accommodation is that goes along with the average rent of $1459 per month. From personal experience, a one bedroom apartment in Pacific Beach San Diego goes for around $1500. A three bedroom, single family home in Rowland Heights goes for about $2100. Seems to me that the 1459 isn’t out of line with typical rents. Seems the real problem is the lack of good paying jobs in the SLO area. I expect that there are 6 figure incomes at the college and throughout city government but not much else. There was an aerospace company in town (Lockheed?) but I see they are now gone. I wonder why they left? Most everything else are service jobs which aren’t high paying jobs because they are low skill. What are the city leaders doing to attract good, decent paying jobs to the area? Probably nothing. They probably think attacking the issue from the other direction is the only way to proceed considering California’s anti business bent.


I can tell you that there are very few six figure jobs at the college or in city/county government. I do agree that the city and the state’s unreasonable regulations is a very big deterrent. Along with groups like Mother’s For Peace (who are not very peaceful) forcing the shutdown of one of the county’s largest employers (Diablo Canyon) and one of the most generous companies in the county.


Good point!

Jorge Estrada

This is a completely BS survey and only provides bogus data to justifies protecting the pay for government employees. The reality is that housing in SLO is still much more affordable than other areas in this climate zone. The problem is we don’t have the clutter of people to run up the pay scales. More people, crime, time in vehicle, etc. or less people, higher rents and lower pay? Your choice, this is nothing new as the supply vs demand is an old school business consideration yet we are still under market. So when the crap hits the fan, there is an economic disaster and all of your friends are moving to Idaho, take the vast funds you have been saving and buy, buy, buy, while at the same time you are selling them your real-estate in Idaho. This is how it is done but sadly most Americans are not socially engineered to do this.


Affordable? How many rentals does old Jorge have? I’ll bet more than 3. Any takers?

Jorge Estrada

Etiquette 101,

You can count your money, you can count your friends, but you never count your friends money.


Mayor Heidi Harmon’s Instagram post 3 weeks ago today:

“Did you know the City of SLO has more affordable housing than the entire county combined?” – If you live here, you know that’s an absolute joke.


“If you live here, you know that’s an absolute joke.”

If you live here, you know that Heidi Harmon is an absolute joke.


And yet she stomped her opponent in the last election like a partially burnt American flag at a downtown protest.

coronet blue

i wonder how she will do without all the college students in town to vote for her.


Then get her and her buddies out of office. You couldn’t do any worse than what is in there now.


Remember she is not required to provide you with proof. She has been and always will be a joke. That’s what happens when you elect someone whose only real job was doing sing along’s for children at a local record store.


I agree with Stew, which I often do. Some of our top paid government employees make too much money compared to their contribution to our county economy. For example, Jeff Armstrong over at Cal Poly. His compensation dwarfs any county or city employee by 200k. Meanwhile his university brings over 21,000 students into a city that has 46,000 taxpayers. Only 7% of Cal Poly students are county residents, that leaves 15,000 people to find a place to live every year. Of course there will be carpet baggers who will disagree with my assertion of the statistical facts. Like the the management group that owns most of the college bars downtown or the landlords putting a grad student in their garage for $1800 a month. Perhaps the most ironic part of this dilemma is that BLM marchers continually march on our only freeway in our county, while every major racism incident in recent years has happened at Cal Poly. I challenge any naysayers to justify Jeff Armstrong’s salary.


For all of you who constantly assume that these people make too much I suggest you spend time doing there jobs. Clay Bertram do you live on your job site? Do you have to deal with problems 24/7 even when you are suppose to be on vacation? No Clay you do not. President Armstrong does. Maybe you should base your posts on verifiable information instead of assumptions. Have you ever considered that some of those racist incidents were carried out by people wanting to make it look like the school was filled with racists? Antifa is now masquerading as members of BLM. The liberal left has continued to point any faults they see on the right, but when its one of their own they ignore it. Remember the blackface Governor that admitted that it was him in the picture, has anyone wondered why he’s still in office? If he was a conservative Governor he would be gone by now. Jussie Smollett who filed a false police report alleging that he was attacked by two white men and was never held accountable or how about the lovely lefty city of Berkeley which was founded by a slave owner (he owned three and even had them baptized because he believed they would be better servants). The residents of the really dirty city of Berkeley want to tear down all the statues that they believe were slave owners. I think it’s time for name change!


Whoa little doggie! First you lambast people for making assumptions then you turn around and make them about me? I am self-employed and have been most of my life. I do happen to live where I work but, my house didn’t come with the job, I had to earn the money to pay for it. I regularly take work on vacation and never complain about it. Here’s a verifiable fact for you: Cal Poly is the least diversified public university in California. Use your Google machine to verify that. I find it difficult to believe there is some conspiracy to make the whitest university in the state look racist, for decades. The tin foil might be a bit snug?


mtasseff Please address the Policies, events and arguments, not the person.

Nether the Governor, Smollett are wanting to buy a house in slo, Antifa and blm are not buying a home here.


I moved here in 1980 from PA. Thought the housing prices were outrageous then, and wages low. I heard about the “SLO tax”, and “Look where you get to live.” I’m still willing to hang in there and do what it takes to live here and put the effort in to achieve it.


Hello copperdog, IMHO good decision, look at it this way, say you can get mortgage/equity opportunity cost rate of return of 3.75%; taxes at 1.2% of value per Prop 13 plus bonded indebtedness; maintenance say 1% of value ($7,500 per year on house worth $750T); insurance say 0.2% of value ($1,500 per year on house worth $750,000). Question: Will you annual value increase more than 3.75%+1.2%+1%+0.2% = 6.15% per year? If so, excluding income tax effects which increase the return, your house is free. Note: I did a long term study of a home in Goleta 1966 to 2012 and came up with annual appreciation of 7.25%. Calculated a similar 8.25% long term annual appreciation rate on another case study home in Vancouver, B.C., another limited growth, high aesthetics community. My conclusion was that a home in a beautiful community, healthy lifestyle, highly restricted growth will have a positive rate of return relative to the cost to keep the home.


Mazin, the fact that your post has been downvoted, is quite indicative of the state of the USA right now. Facts, math, and science are very out of fashion right now.


sunshine haircut


Yep rents are way out of proportion in SLO county .. Don’t even start to add up how much section 8 and all the other housing assistance programs in SLO county are paying out .Heck even the SLO County Human Resources employee has had section 8 housing assistance for 14 years and she makes 80+K a year