Finding an apartment is even harder than they said

Back in June I attended O’Reilly Velocity in San Jose and on the first night amidst all the great Ignite talks, there was one titled “How to find a place to live in San Francisco“.  As with most Ignite talks, it was fast paced, witty and actually offered some meaningful (if slightly sarcastic) advice on the topic. His summary: bring every piece of info about yourself and a deposit check and just pray you get the place, not exactly uplifting, but I figured this was hyperbole for the sake of entertainment on the presenter’s part. By that point both my employer and I knew I was moving out here and my girlfriend and I had started the daily ritual of combing through apartment listings on craigslist to imagine our lives out here.

Fast forward to July, my girlfriend and I have been constantly trolling craigslist and we’re finally ready to pack it up and make the move happen.  We have temporary residence with relatives outside San Francisco proper, but that’s temporary.  So we start putting open houses on the calendar, and we’re both excited at the prospect of finding our dream apartment in our dream city. Oh to be young(er) and naive(also -er)!

Turns out, there’s a LOT of other people also trying to get apartments around here!  We were early for a few different showings and each time, the place was rented within 15minutes.  We started to become a big dejected.  Looking at apartments we didn’t like was becoming a necessity because at least the possibility of a home was there, even if it wasn’t perfect.  I think the lowest moment was after we’d been looking for about 10 days, been to a couple of showings in one day and all of them were in big, uncharming buildings with crappy hallways and they had all been cattle calls.  50+ people showed for a 15min look at an apartment in the Valencia corridor in the Mission.  All had checkbooks and pre-filled applications.  The place was probably rented before we event made it up to the apartment to look.

A few days later we see an *amazing* apartment come up on craigslist.  We email minutes after its posted (as did almost 100 other people we later found out).  But we were the first, and the man leasing the flat turned out to be rather principled and fair!  So we saw the apartment (bringing of course, all our credit history, pay stubs, bank info, mortgage statements, DNA profile, family criminal history, proof of residency, proof of whateveryouwantjustgiveusthisapartmentplease). It was worth it, we were prepared and on the cusp of full-throttle desperation we convinced the owner to allow us, our two cats and our rabbit to all move in starting in September!

So a few weeks and a lot of awful apartments and one glimmer of hope at the end of it all can lead you to your dream apartment in San Francisco, but patience and hard work are probably the only real tips other than be prepared I can offer.  Good luck, it’s a jungle out there.


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