San Francisco Apartment Search

Just a little bit over a year ago, I came out here with my friend-turned-roommate to go apartment hunting for our first shared place in San Francisco. We made what seemed like a million appointments to various apartments throughout the city – from independently owned spots on the fringes of town to huge towers of name-brand places in the heart of the city. We filled out applications, shook hands with apartment managers and current tenants and debated about the merits of living in various sections of town.

In the end, our decision was an easy one. Due to a combination of bad credit, lack of employment /income proof and non-existent prior renting history, we were turned down by almost every place that we applied. In fact, there was only one place which accepted us – primarily due to my intense persuasion of the current tenant to put in a good word for us and my willingness to pay an exorbitant deposit and to practically sign in blood that I’d be a good tenant.

And in the end, it worked out. A year later, we’re still in the same basically-in-North-Beach apartment and I love it here just as much as I thought I would. Yes, it’s pricey. Yes, we’re crowded. Yes the bar fights which provide regular entertainment nearly every weekend night are not so entertaining. But I’m comfortable with where I’m at. And yet, as the end of the lease comes up, we debate a lot about whether or not to stay in this apartment.

I’ve been here long enough to see friends go through the apartment search. I’ve attended dozens of open houses and offered up my couch for between-places buddies and looked at the prices go up in various neighborhoods. Our credit’s better and our rental history is good. But I haven’t really figured out any more about San Francisco apartment hunting than I knew a year ago. So, I ask you – if we end up having to look for a new place, what are your best SF apartment search tips?

7 Comments so far

  1. this charming man (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 3:49 pm

    tips? be dilligent, willing to walk/bart/muni all over the place (i put in about 15miles on three google map pedometered here: above all be willing to pay an arm for decent space and an arm AND a leg for good space.

    that said, nowhere else i’d rather live.

  2. daniel (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 4:01 pm

    u have to love the neighborhood and/or the conveninent, it looks like if ure super cool u might want to room with ppl but im to antisocial for that

    otherwise it’s more of the same
    craigslist plus

    hope ur credit is good now

  3. anna (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 4:33 pm

    Tell everybody that you’re looking (good start with this post!). I got a gem of a place that way. Told a friend, and five minutes later she was on the phone to a friend that was moving, and we snuck in before it was listed. Walking the neighborhood- talking to people who are moving out with moving trucks, seeing signs in windows- that is a good thing. A friend recently found a place by making friends (not manipulatively, sincerely!) with the landlord of a unit he didn’t get, then he was called for a new unit coming up.

  4. Peter (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 9:16 pm

    agree with anna – get the word out. maybe put in the disclaimer that if you don’t find something, you don’t _have_ to move.

    reminds me of this:

  5. Elizabeth (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 9:56 pm

    I also agree with Anna. The best apartments never hit the market- they just pass from friend to friend (or friends of friends). Landlords & apartment managers love it- less work for them!

  6. Ty Graham (unregistered) on February 6th, 2007 @ 10:20 am

    I’m interested in finding an apartment in SF around april. Could anyone out there please help me find something under 1000 in the city? gigaboy20 at yahoo

  7. Joel S. (unregistered) on February 7th, 2007 @ 3:12 pm

    I am in this situation and am sad. I have perfect credit, perfect references, make a decent salary, have owned a home, and yet still haven’t gotten any of the places I’ve applied for. I’ve also looked at ton of scary-carpet dumps, and it gets very depressing. It is shocking what some landlords try to pass off as liveable. As great as Craig’s List is, it creates a very serious problem for apartment hunting. Anything decent that gets listed gets a million people showing up, and everyone but one gets nothing.

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