- START SEARCHING EARLY AND DON'T EXPECT TO FIND AN APARTMENT QUICKLY
My girlfriend and I went through the dreaded process of finding a new apartment this summer as well. And you know what worked? We started going to open houses a month early (considering our desired move-in date). But we didn't ask the agent about that unit, we asked about any upcoming units like it. This allowed us to get applications, submit, and get approved before the apartments were even listed. We moved into our top choice and for well below city average. We may have been lucky, it may have been our process, I think it was a bit of both.
- BE PREPARED
I feel so lucky for what I got in August! A 1/1 in Twin Peaks with Parking, newly renovated for $1700. Although I was one of 35 people who applied that day, and then it was narrowed down to 10 people. I would suggest just be yourself, bring as much paper as you can. I had a packed that consisted of a pre-filled out application I found online, a copy of both my credit score and report from 2 agencies a list of professional and person references and a list of every place I'd lived in the last 12 years(only 3). And then just talk up the landlord and be friendly. I did go tyhrough 3 months of semi looking and was turned down by 3 others places before I won this one.
- EXPLORE ALL OF SAN FRANCISCO - NOT JUST THE TRENDY NEIGHBORHOODS
I think maybe part of the issue here is that people are only considering "desirable" neighborhoods -- it may be foggy and further away than living in the Mission, but I've found living in the Sunset to be an ideal match (and I commute to Emeryville). I don't know if I lucked out in the process, I found my place in mid-March, but I pay $1450 for a one bedroom, with a huge living room and a parking spot. And I live by myself! Perhaps I did luck out with the timing since the months that've passed since I've signed my lease have only garnered higher rents. However, if perhaps people explored the lesser-known neighborhoods they'd realize there's still plenty of places to live IN the city that don't have such a demoralizing experience for the search.
Yeah, whenever I hear these sob stories about how "hard it is" to find affordable housing in "San Francisco" it usually becomes apparent what is meant by "San Francisco" is Mission, Noe/Hayes Valley, Lower Height - the "hipper" districts in town. Maybe if people widened their net a bit they'd learn that there's huge part of SF that's actually still pretty affordable, safe, and accessible - I mean Excelsior, Portola, Crocker Amazon, Mission Heights, Ingleside. Many who actually consider themselves "San Franciscans" have never set foot in these parts of town, and don't even know they're here. That's what get's really annoying about these kind of stories - they really don't take the entire city into account - just the "lifestyle" neighborhoods that (mostly) young, white, urban professionals feel entitled to.
There are plenty of other districts in San Francisco that are close to the freeway and have MUCH cheaper rent. I think if this couple were to expand their vision beyond Mission/Castro/Lower Haight, they could afford a really nice place. I only pay $1000/month for a great one-bedroom apartment (FULL one-bedroom with separate living room, kitchen, bath, and plenty of storage) in the Portola district (not Portola the street). I find parking easily, McLaren Park is nearby, and I literally live right next to the freeway. Sure it's not *The Mission* but I feel safer here, even if its on the other side of the 101 from Bayview.
- SEARCH THE ENTIRE BAY AREA
- Of course, looking for an apartment in SF is like looking for one in Manhattan or downtown Chicago; it is that exclusive, and that small. And median salaries in SF are way above the national median. My suggestion to a lot of these folks is that they look at the dozen or so cities surrounding SF, and set their expectations a little lower. Yes, the East Bay is expensive, but significantly less so. I own a 4 bedroom house in the East Bay hills with a view out past the Golden Gate, and our mortgage is the same as the median rental listed above. And I don't think that's overrated.
- OR MAYBE NOT...
Keep the transplants out of Oakland! They're inflating the market and driving the natives out; most of them are lame, pseudo-techy, hipsters who lack culture or manners. They're the same people who "rep Oakland hella hard" but don't volunteer at the park clean-ups or change their voting registration. I am an Oakland native who works in Tech, a cookie cutter version of my apartment in my building is going for $500 more than what I'm paying for mine, which is basically %150 of what it was before.
I lived here through the earthquake, the fire, the tech bubble, the crash, and now web 2.0. I saw what happened when everyone left after Clinton and Oakland suffered but was able to take care of things. We don't need a bunch of fair weather residents.
Regarding how broken our city government is, again, most people I meet who are temporary transplants do not ever change their voting registration and so we have a population who does not care to participate in government. Our cops are about as corrupt as New York's while our crime levels rival Philly and Detroit. We have our messes but we don't need people to move here in order to clean it up, they don't really do much anyway.