Posted Aug 16, 2012
Getting Your Head In The Game: How to Prepare For Apartment Hunting In San Francisco
The best way to approach apartment hunting in San Francisco is to think of it like job hunting. The best way to be prepared for an interview is to understand the company you want to work for inside and out. The same thinking applies to your apartment search.
Before you even think about attending open houses, do your research. Try to get a feel for rental prices in various neighborhoods (even those you aren’t currently considering living in).
Don’t kid yourself. The rental market in San Francisco is insane. Insane as in: remember that part in Harry Potter when they have to do some crazy competition underwater? It’s kind of like that. Once you accept this, it will be easier to develop realistic expectations about your apartment hunt.
Realistic expectations = greater likelihood of happiness with your results.
Now don’t get me wrong, the message isn’t that you should settle for the first one bedroom walk up in the Tenderloin that comes your way. However, it is important to think about certain aspects of your living space you’re willing to compromise on. Is a parking space necessary? Don’t settle. But if there are two laundromats on your block (or you have friends with a washing machine), not having an in-unit washer and dryer may not be the end of the world.
Keep an open mind about neighborhoods. Ever hear the expression “beggars can’t be choosers”? Well, they said that about people apartment hunting in San Francisco. Everyone wants to live in the cute trendy neighborhoods, and rental prices reflect that.
While Hayes Valley seems to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, the Lower Haight, just a hop, skip, and jump away, has a lot of character for a (relatively) lower cost.
Game time. Give yourself enough time to hunt. It could take one month or longer to find an apartment, and being able to attend open houses is critical. Consider staying with friends or getting temporary housing through Airbnb. Here’s where apartment hunting becomes a job search.
Treat every open house like a job interview. Show up early, come prepared, and dress to impress. Use the tools found here to get organized for your search and present yourself to landlords as the best possible candidate. Keep in touch with the landlord through a follow up phone call or email. Pro-tip: if a landlord likes you, they’ll sometimes let you know about other properties they have that have not yet hit the market.
TLDR: Apartment hunting in San Francisco is a bitch. To achieve success you need to keep an open mind, do your homework, and bring your A game.