Way OT: Any advice on finding an apartment in San Francisco?

Submitted by MGoChairman on April 29th, 2012 at 10:32 PM

Super OT, I know. Anyways, having finally graduated (somehow), I'm gonna be moving to SF in a few days to start work in a month. I figured on posting up in a hotel room for a few days, but anyone got any advice on how to make finding an apartment as painless as possible? I'd appreciate any info.

Edit: As posted below, snark aside, I've been going through Craigslist and combing through listings. It is a super competitive market though, and I am just hoping to get any potential advice that would put me ahead. 





April 29th, 2012 at 10:36 PM ^

There's a new site called Craigslist that may help you out.  It's got all sorts of stuff.  Even with the bad press, there's only a very minute chance that you will be stabbed and eaten by the guy who posted the apartment for rent.

OMG Shirtless

April 29th, 2012 at 10:38 PM ^

Some dude named Craig has a list of apartments in all of the big cities.  In Chicago, many of the big apartment companies use it rather than actually spending money on advertising or paying a broker.


April 29th, 2012 at 10:39 PM ^

Snark aside, I've been going through Craigslist. I was just wondering if there were any other avenues to consider. Apparently it's a super competitive market, so I'm hoping to get any advice that'll help put me ahead. 


April 29th, 2012 at 10:40 PM ^

I am sick of these posts. The occasional "Grad School= Big $$ or Big :(?" is fine, but this is just ridiculous. We are a sport community, not Dear Abby.  


April 29th, 2012 at 10:47 PM ^

I feel for you, MGoChair (I'm looking for an apartment in a different city out west in a month as well), but I'm not sure this is suitable board material.

Quick tip: Every single time, without exception, that someone posts something as "Way OT", it's a terrible thread. Don't be that guy (or girl, who am I to presuppose?)


April 29th, 2012 at 10:46 PM ^

You could start by calling your former future employer and telling them that San Francisco is too expensive and quite frankly not worth it to live there and try to find a job in Portland or Seattle. It doesn't matter what I sat anyway because this thread will likely be deleted before i hit "save".


April 29th, 2012 at 10:46 PM ^

First, you are so screwed.  Sorry.  Rents are through the roof what with Tweeter downtown, the Internets, and what have you.  Here are some tips:


1.  Get a package of prior rental referrals, your credit score, and a pay-stub, and bring it with you to look at places.


2.  Bring your checkbook with you and be prepared to put down a deposit on the spot when you finally find a place you like.  The place I live now I filled out the application on the spot, and cut a check, the first time I saw it.  And that was three years ago.


3.  Get your transportation situation figured out.  This is a bad place to drive.  Don't get a place and then try to figure out how you are going to get to work. 


4.  Don't live in SoMa.  It sucks. 

5.  Noe Valley and the Inner/Outer Sunset are the best bargains, but to live in Noe you almost have to drive.  Inner Sunet is on the N line, and the neigboorhood is not a bad place to live.  Outer Sunset is not as bad as it was when I lived there, but pretty much dead, and you can't even get a cab back there at night.  But it's cheap, and near the Park.


Welcome to the City! The best Michigan bar for games is the Blarney Stone, which is in the outer Richmond. 






April 29th, 2012 at 10:56 PM ^

What about the J Church and BART access at 24th and Mission? Good bus lines too (48 and 24 at least when I was there). But SFBlue is right—figure out how your transit works. I did the Castro to West Oakland bit every day for nearly two years and it really soured me on my time in SF.


April 30th, 2012 at 1:02 AM ^

Yeah, depending on where in Noe you live, J is an option, but it can be many blocks away.  I suppose the buses too, but I think it requires multiple transfers, which, eff that. 

It's funny how, wherever I live, I too come to loathe the morning commute, whether it's stop and go on the U.S. 10 for forty minutes, or something as simple as walking a half block, grabbing coffee, and then riding a train for fifteen minutes. 


April 29th, 2012 at 10:46 PM ^


It combines a number of different sources (including Craigsist) and maps it onto a Google map - you can even overlay walkability and crime scores to get a feel for the neighborhoods as well.


April 29th, 2012 at 10:51 PM ^

As in go to check out an apartment with your rental résumé in hand. I managed to move there in the midst of the dot com buildup in '99. It should include your contact info, previous rental addresses, landlord info (specific contact name is helpful), work history and contact info, education history (this explains holes in work history and perhaps several addresses), and personal references (names, relationship, duration of your relationship and their contact info). You may want to include info needed to conduct a credit check or at the very least have it readily available. I also brought along copies of my credit report.

Most importantly, be patient. Choose a neighborhood you like (as this will be your "living" space). I loved the central neighborhoods (Noe, Mission and Castro—typically more sun and less wind than elsewhere.

Good luck!


April 29th, 2012 at 10:56 PM ^

I currently live along the sf peninsula, and finding a place in the city is a nightmare right now. My friends who have recently looked for places have needed to show up with security deposit and credit report in hand. Use Craigslist or whatever, but don't bother inquiring until you're physically able to move into the place


April 29th, 2012 at 11:01 PM ^



They rate larger apartment buildings.

Drive around. People post signs.

I lived there for 17 years. Great place, excellent people . . . just need a package to watch Michigan games.

Fog drives the price of apartments. The closer you are to the ocean, the foggier it gets and the less expensive.

I would recommend talking to the HR people at your employer about any recommendations. Recommend you stay in the city as opposed to commuting from the East Bay (Oakland). Marina district, Cow Hollow, SOMA have the most people in their 20-30's. It is much cheaper with a roommate.

Good Hunting.


April 29th, 2012 at 11:31 PM ^

Everything is posted on CL...especially in The City.  

You need to be the first to arrive at an open house or have the first appt.  

Have application and credit report in hand with deposit check.  Tell them you love it even if your not quite sure.

You need to know the neighborhoods.  Each is completely different.  Some are for 20 year olds...some for 30.  Some are for all different walks of life.  Some are safe and some not so.  You won't know unless you read up or live here.

Parking is always difficult in most neighborhoods but some you might need an hour after work to find a spot each night (North Beach).


April 30th, 2012 at 12:09 AM ^

I'd think about shared housing if I were you. Pretty common here in Seattle. I'd imagine SF to be the same. Roommates can be a pain but I'd say go that route for a while until you get oriented and can take the time to figure things out.


April 30th, 2012 at 1:10 AM ^

I used to list items on Craigslist such as a brand new free 65 inch led tv, free Britney Spears Tickets and other random items as a prank for this summer construction job that I had.  I was rather surprised by the volume of phone calls that the office received.  On my last day of work, I put all of the work vans up for sale and people showed up at the office looking at the vans. The owner and secretary weren't too thrilled.  :D  I was so immature back then....



April 30th, 2012 at 1:36 AM ^

San Francisco. You're going to love it here!

0. Do you have a car? Parking is extremely tough in some neighborhoods, and having a garage or a nearby park might be essential.

1. Figure out how you're going to get to work. Go to http://www.sfmta.com/cms/home/sfmta.php, and try to plan your trip. Assume you will ride standing up unless you live near the beginning of the bus route, especially during rush hour.

2. imho, the Richmond area, Japantown, Pacific Heights/Nob Hill and north, Sunset, Treasure Island are all good places to live, with the Richmond area being the best overall. Treasure Island is a hidden gem you might want to check out.

3. BART(Bay area rapid transit) is a subway/rail system that connects most of the pennisula, with multiple stops in San Francisco, especially downtown. They're pretty fast, safe and conveniant, so if your work is within walking distance of one of the Bart stops, getting a place outside the city but near a Bart Station might be the smartest thing to do in the beginning. Berkeley, Emeryville, Colma, Daly City, and South San Francisco are all pretty nice. Just avoid Oakland! More than half my co workers, and the majority of people working in San Fran do this, 

4. If a place sounds too good to be true, google the neighborhood to see the crime rate or a crime map. Hunters Point should be avoided.

5. Sign for the least amount of time possible. A lot of the best places in San Francisco are spread through word of mouth, and your co workers are bound to know a few great apartments. As you get more tips, you should be ready to find a great long term place.

6. A lot of places in San Francisco are old. Stomp the floor or tap the walls to see how loud it might get.

7. San Francisco State University has 30,000 students and a lot of housing nearby. The traffic isn't as conveniant, but this area might be the best place to get a short lease as you hunt for better housing.



April 30th, 2012 at 1:40 AM ^

8. If you DO have a car, might be useful spend a day driving around the Richmond area, between Masonic and the pacific ocean, with the area on Geary street between Arguello~30th Avenue being the best. But pretty much the entire inner/outer richmond is a great place to live. Lots of elderly folk live in this area and don't use the Internet. They just have a old fashioned For Rent sign. Just jot down the numbers and give'em a call. Some of them may not speak english, but I found the prices were a bit lower than online. Sunset area is the same.


April 30th, 2012 at 2:04 AM ^

I would start by not living in San Francisco at first and gradually move your way in, even if it means sublets, and roommate situations.

This market right now is insane and it took me 4 months to find a place - and I got lucky,


April 30th, 2012 at 6:00 AM ^

I was going to suggest "foggier" neighborhoods, but I see that others have already covered that possibility.

Richmond / Sunset would (IMO) be no-brainer choices for the OP, 'cept that s/he is just finishing school and (presumably) an early 20-something.

Mr. Rager

April 30th, 2012 at 9:06 AM ^

On a side note - will be heading out to San Fran in July, any Mgobloggers here live in the city / area and are a registered card carrying citizen?  If any of you are.. I would greatly appreciate it.  

steve sharik

April 30th, 2012 at 9:47 AM ^

Some of you guys need to get over yourselves.  I much prefer these posts to all of the smart-ass dickhead posts.  After all, this is supposed to be a community of M fans, many of whom are alumni scattered all over the world, including SF.  Posting here is part of doing his homework b/c he's trying to get some inside dope.

I know "it's a sports board," but I think this is much more M community oriented than a post announcing Kirk Fucking Cousins being on the radio.  Who gives a rat's ass?

Feat of Clay

April 30th, 2012 at 10:23 AM ^

Are you a U-M grad?  Why not tap into the alumni network?  Maybe someone out there has a rental open or has some advice.  You're going to be joining the local alumni group anyway, right?  If you don't to seem like a pesky new grad begging for help, approach it like a introduction and add the fact that you're looking for housing as a "by the way" thing.   Go to the Alumni Association website and find it, it's called the U-M Club of Greater San Francisco.  The president of the club has a welcome note up and provides an email.  They have a facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/umclubsf 

There's also InCircle, although it's unclear to me how many people really USE InCircle.  You could also post a request on the new "Hail it Forward" app that the alumni association just launched.

The club has several cool events coming up, including the U-M Coaches Tour on May 22!  All the more reason to get hooked into the local alumni club quick.

Same advice even if you're NOT a U-M grad--SF is a big place, I'll bet many schools have pretty good alumni representation there.


April 30th, 2012 at 10:25 AM ^


I didn't read the whole thread, but from what I could tell quickly most people were telling you just to go to Craigslist and don't live in SF :) Everyone -- it's worse than NYC right now to find a place, hyper-competitive.

Congrats on graduating and choosing SF. It's awesome out here. I am moving out of a 3BR/1BA in North Beach that is great, two roommates are cool, and rent is cheap (leaving to move in with some UM friends). Let me know if you're interested.

I'd find a broker, you'll pay them a small fee but totally worth them doing the legwork for you in this market. It's insane.



April 30th, 2012 at 3:06 PM ^

No idea on where the find an apartment, but I highly recommend finding one that will enable you to eat at HRD! It's a great little place that only is open for lunch and breakfast,