Department of Numbers

California Residential Rent and Rental Statistics

The median monthly gross residential rent in California was $1,311 in 2015 according to the Census ACS survey.1 Average gross rent was $1,377 in 2015. The median rent more accurately depicts rental rates in the middle of the distribution of rents and is thus preferred in the analysis below. 2016 California median and average rent data will be released in September of 2017.

Data is also available below for California rental vacancy rates, California rent as a percent of median income and the fraction of renters in California.

Show dollars as: Nominal Real

Real Gross Rent in California (2015 dollars)2

2015 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US Median Gross Rent $959 +3.12% +8.24%
California Median Gross Rent $1,311 +3.88% +8.98%

California Real Gross Rent Trends

At $1,311, real median gross rent in California was at its highest level in 2015 since the series began in 2005. At $1,377, real average gross rent in California was at its highest level in 2015 since the series began in 2005.

Real Gross Rent in California: Median, Average, US Median

Lower quartile, median and upper quartile real gross rent

Real Gross Rent History for California

Date US Median California Median California Average
2015 $959 $1,311 $1,377
2014 $930 $1,262 $1,327
2013 $898 $1,215 $1,280
2012 $886 $1,203 $1,262
2011 $887 $1,195 $1,246
2010 $901 $1,225 $1,279
2009 $905 $1,241 $1,294
2008 $920 $1,267 $1,325
2007 $874 $1,194 $1,254
2006 $883 $1,191 $1,247
2005 $858 $1,147 $1,202

California Rental Vacancy Rate

The rental vacancy rate is the fraction of homes for rent that are not occupied.3 In 2015 the rental vacancy rate for California was 3.33% according to Census ACS data.

Rental Vacancy Rate in California

2015 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US 5.85% -0.47% -0.92%
California 3.33% -0.57% -1.18%

Trends in California Rental Vacancy Rate

The rental vacancy rate in California peaked in 2010 at 5.86%. Since then it has fallen by 2.53% to 3.33%. Data records for this series originated in 2005.

Rental Vacancy Rate: California, US

Rental vacancy rate in California

Historical Rental Vacancy Rate data for California

Date US California
2015 5.85% 3.33%
2014 6.32% 3.90%
2013 6.49% 4.22%
2012 6.77% 4.51%
2011 7.40% 4.94%
2010 8.17% 5.86%
2009 8.43% 5.76%
2008 7.86% 4.71%
2007 7.87% 4.72%
2006 7.70% 4.67%
2005 7.74% 4.61%

California Rent as a Fraction of Income

Using median household income data for California, we can calculate the fraction of income the median household would use to pay rent at the median monthly gross rent rate. For California, median monthly gross rent as a fraction of median household income was 24.39% in 2015 according to the ACS.

California Median Annual Rent as a Fraction of Median Household Income

2015 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US 20.63% -0.26% -0.02%
California 24.39% -0.18% -0.30%

Trends in California Rent as a Fraction of Income

The fraction of median California household income required to pay median monthly gross rent peaked in 2012 (relative to the 2005 series origin) at 24.69%. Since then it has fallen by 0.30% to 24.39%.

Fraction of Income towards Rent: California, US

Percent of median household income going towards median monthly gross rent in California

Historical Data for Annual Rent as a Fraction of Income in California

Date US California
2015 20.63% 24.39%
2014 20.89% 24.57%
2013 20.78% 24.40%
2012 20.65% 24.69%
2011 20.70% 24.59%
2010 20.50% 24.18%
2009 20.12% 23.52%
2008 19.00% 22.32%
2007 18.66% 21.58%
2006 18.90% 21.80%
2005 18.89% 21.77%

Renter Fraction in California

You can calculate the renter fraction in California in at least two ways: by housing units or by population. I've gone with the housing units measure here. This measure looks at the number of renting households in California as a fraction of total California households. In 2015 46.41% of households were renters according to Census ACS data.

California Fraction of Renters by Household Units

2015 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US 36.97% +0.07% +0.88%
California 46.41% +0.14% +0.44%

Trends in the California Renter Fraction

At 46.41%, the 2015 household based renter fraction in California was at its highest level. The origin year for the series is 2005.

Fraction of Renting Households: California, US

Fraction of renters in California

History of California Renter Fraction

Date US California
2015 36.97% 46.41%
2014 36.90% 46.27%
2013 36.50% 46.21%
2012 36.09% 45.97%
2011 35.42% 45.12%
2010 34.65% 44.36%
2009 34.13% 43.43%
2008 33.36% 42.95%
2007 32.80% 42.00%
2006 32.73% 41.55%
2005 33.10% 41.56%

1. Gross rent is defined as contract rent plus the estimated average monthly cost of utilities (electricity, gas, water, and sewer) and fuel (oil, coal, kerosene, wood, etc.). Because some rentals include utilities and others don't, gross rent is a way of normalizing the variability.

2. Real dollars are calculated using the CPI-U less shelter series.

3. The rental vacancy rate is computed by dividing the number of vacant units for rent by the sum of the renter-occupied units, vacant units that are for rent, and vacant units that have been rented but not yet occupied.