10 Tips for Finding an Apartment in San Francisco

One of the toughest things to do in the midst of your other tasks is finding an adequate home in one of the most expensive cities. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around $3,500 a month coupled with a total cost of living that is 63% higher than the US average. According to Business Insider, the estimated cost of necessities (housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and other surprises) for a single individual is about $3,650 a month. Here are ten tips on how to survive the San Francisco real estate jungle so that you’re more empowered to work on financial freedom and can be in a position to give back to the community.

  1. Sit down and tally how much you’ll be earning on a monthly basis. There are some really cool tools out there that can help you estimate your pay check after taxes.
  2. Determine how much of your pay check you can use on rent. The recommended amount to spend is 33% of your monthly pay check. If you can afford to spend a little more go ahead but beware of spending your entire check on just housing, you’ll regret the extra square footage when you aren’t able to go out with your friends.
  3. Determine average cost of living in the city and the surrounding area. Most of San Francisco uses PG&E and there is ample data on the average costs. They also offer various packages based on your weekly consumption. Check out the local grocery stores and places you’ll most likely be visiting.
  4. Choose the neighborhood you want to live in. This is where tools such as Trulia come in handy. Make this choice based on a number of factors including access to food, commute time, and safety.
  5. Use a variety of online tools to help you figure out which places are available in the area that you chose. A few include: Trulia, Zillow, Apartments.com, Craigslist, Hotpads, and Walkscore. Each one will have different listings and different prices. Some are easier to use for some purposes than others.
  6. Look for housing with good access to public transportation or within walking distance of your place of work. Be a little careful in San Francisco though because some of the areas closer to the Bart station for example, are more dangerous.
  7. Plan on getting a roommate to split the cost of a 2-bedroom apartment. This will be much less expensive than paying for a one bedroom by yourself but this means you must be willing to give up some personal space.
  8. Schedule as many showings as you can muster within your search time window. The market in San Francisco is inundated with new movers and old movers. Increase your options.
  9. Show the realtor that you are serious with your first impression. For all of your showings, come prepared with a check and a filled out lease application. Most applications can be found online or by contacting the person you will meet. This will put you ahead of some of the others.
  10. Create a list of questions that you are prepared to ask at the showing. Questions can range from rent to security to the history of the apartment itself. Here is a list of some really good questions.

Note: No matter which community you choose it is important to give back. Consider volunteering at your local library or high school.

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