The Victorian houses of Alamo Square
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This week, the real estate listings website Redfin published a startling statistic. In the entire city of San Francisco, not one home or apartment is available on the market for under $220,000, which the site says is affordable for a typical teacher in the city. Statewide, just 17 percent of homes for sale are affordable for teachers. With the tech industry booming and the Google Bus quickly becoming a cultural icon, it's not a surprise that San Francisco faces an affordability crisis. But how can it have become so dramatic? The answers boil down to two factors: San Francisco's hot real estate market and dwindling income for city teachers.

First, the real estate market. This is pretty straightforward. San Francisco is the single least-affordable housing market in the country, according to the real estate website Trulia (TRLA). As Trulia's chart shows, the median sales price has more than doubled since 2000 and is up 11.5 percent just in the past year.


Now, on to the teachers. If you look at Redfin's data, you'll see that San Francisco has the second-lowest median salary of teachers for any county in California. That's despite having a higher cost of living than other areas in the state and a thriving private sector, thanks to the knowledge economy.

Redfin used data from 2012, and I've pulled stats for the city that included the 2012-2013 school year, when the average teacher's pay rose about $4,000. (Like many cities in the state, San Francisco boosted some education spending last year, in part because districts had more revenue from a new statewide tax voters approved in 2012.) When you take inflation into account, even with that boost San Francisco's teachers earned 12 percent less in 2013 than they did in 2002.


Why are teachers paid so much less than elsewhere in the state? One clue could be that San Francisco's high costs and mediocre school districts cause families to flee the city. Indeed less than 11 percent of city residents are between 5 and 20 years old, compared with 20 percent of the population nationally. The big drop-off in San Francisco's younger residents generally happened in the 1970s and has fallen more slowly since, but the share is down about 10 percent over the past decade.



Having fewer residents with kids may make taxpayers place less value on funding education, which could lead to relative pay reductions (as opposed to just hiring fewer teachers). This is a cyclical problem: Families leave the city, in part, because of poor schools, which tends to reduce investment and the allocation of resources to improve the district.

Whether the affordability squeeze in San Francisco ever eases will partly depend on whether the housing market cools off-and whether the wealth pouring into the city ever translates to higher pay for middle class workers, including the city's teachers.

Weise is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York. Follow her on Twitter @kyweise.

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544 Comments

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noqozofapid

Boo hoo.. if they can't afford it, buy elsewhere and commute in... that's what most people who work in big cities do anyways!
Why do teachers feel entitled to expensive homes? Cripes

March 05 2014 at 10:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
createidea

There's Not One Home for Sale in San Francisco That an Average Teacher Can Afford....

So what ?

Who gives a S_ _T about them or any other public sector worker.

March 03 2014 at 1:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dumbneasy

But, San Francisco has no average teachers. San Francisco has whacko left-leaning, environmental, pro-union, politically correct teachers who would rather live in their own fictional utopian world than get ahead in life. They are anything but normal, avearage teachers.

March 03 2014 at 11:46 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
weilunion

They stole paradise and put up high rises and gentrfied the whole city. SF is their Paris on the West Coast. We workers are little more than 'marks' for their debt plans and the decimation of our cities, towns and states.

No one can afford rent or to buy a house in SF. the Silicon Valey boyz and Wall St have stolen our city

March 03 2014 at 10:59 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Wonderful One

Title should read " There's no home in SF that ANYONE can afford!!!"
Ridiculously high prices, rents are insane, just totally un affordable. I left in 2001, it was bad then and worse now. At least I can afford to live in Dallas!

March 03 2014 at 10:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Socho Ekon

Oh boo hoo...... tell a developer to start throwing up 100 floor apartment buildings and let the invisible hand do what it does.... this is just a cry baby effort to get paid more.

March 03 2014 at 10:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Socho Ekon's comment
vanvorous

Nice idea but it wont happen because you cant throw a dead cat without hitting a house on the National Historical Register in SF which cant be modified much less torn down for new construction. Then there are the draconian permitting regs for anything NOT on the register that effectively prevents new construction in SF. Fact is that SF is completely gentrified for upper class and lower class long residency rent controlled buildings...

March 03 2014 at 10:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
landskp4u

Teachers work 9.5 months a year (180 days to be exact), so yes, it might be difficult to make 12 months of mortgage payments on 9.5 months of salary. The math makes perfect sense to me .I have to work 250 days a year. (5 days x 50 weeks). So, they can either get a career working 12 months a year or get a summer/second job. I appreciate what they are doing for our children, but don't complain about your salary being 75% of the rest of us if you only work 75% as much. I'd love to have your year round health benefit package also.

March 03 2014 at 10:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to landskp4u's comment
Socho Ekon

they get unemployment benefits... so they get paid year around.

March 03 2014 at 10:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Socho Ekon's comment
Daniel Carey

a. if they "got a career working 12 months a year," they wouldn't BE teachers, numbskull... and I suspect you get 16 or 17 paid holidays in your 12-month job, in addition to your current 2 wks vacation, which I also suspect will increase with time. The reality is that when you crunch the numbers and add in required professional development, teachers work the same as anybody else. The urban myth that they only work 75% is just that... but nice try.

March 11 2014 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
brucehud

Old News,

City Police Officers cannot afford to live in the City but risk their Life for it, this has been the norm for 40 years.

March 03 2014 at 10:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to brucehud's comment
Socho Ekon

if it isn't broke, then don't fix it

March 03 2014 at 10:37 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
weilunion

Sure, they are dupd too. They work to protect the one percent's property but like slaves, they too live in the slave quarters. When they wake up, if they do, then they will join us.

They must say: We refuse the role assigned to us: we will not be trained as police dogs.

Conservatism is a synonym for rottenness and ugliness.

March 03 2014 at 11:03 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bdonate764

Why are there poor schools ? They are poor because of poor parenting. Too many students
(using the word loosely) come to school not to learn but to disrupt classes. Why ? The principals fear the parents so the good students suffer. "I want to study but "they" won't let me" We must crack down on discipline and show that there is punishment for errant behavior.
Goodbye being a teacher these days. The good old days were better in many ways.

March 03 2014 at 10:11 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to bdonate764's comment
Socho Ekon

this isn't Sunday, save the social sermon...

March 03 2014 at 10:38 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
weilunion

They are poor because they have been defunded for thirty or more years. Meanwhile, the government the rulers tell you to hate, they love! For they use it as their piggy bank for bailouts, subsidies and to enrich themselves.

The bourgeoisie has no other pleasure than to degrade all pleasures.

March 03 2014 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to weilunion's comment
Glenn Long

dickens.cider, that is a myth brought on by some very powerful people who only want to exploit the available money from taxpayers. Think Pearson and charter school corporations. Read this and you will see that U.S. students are performing much better than previously thought. http://phys.org/news/2013-01-poor-international-student.html

March 11 2014 at 7:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
skillman46

Californians are one of the most innovative people this planet has ever known. Hollywood and Silicon Valley have world impact not to mention dominance . This massively creative model has yet to be replicated anywhere in the world. The wealth created by these two industries alone has not been seen anywhere in the world either. I guess this is the price of progress. I'm sure the teachers will figure something out since they're the ones who helped create the thinking process which has aided in the process that has created this massive explosion of wealth.

March 03 2014 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to skillman46's comment
Socho Ekon

I hope you didn't pick up your grammar in California.

March 03 2014 at 10:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply