Want an apartment close to school in the downtown San Francisco area? Be prepared for shocking prices, at least three or four times what you would expect to find in other big cities in the US and in Europe. San Francisco is the capital of the tech-industry, and continues to grow substantially even tough the housing market now is the most expensive in the United States. Getting an apartment in San Francisco is as pricy as getting an apartment in Manhattan. But maybe that is just natural, due to the fact that San Francisco now is about as densely populated as Manhattan.
Anyway, as a student you will probably need to share an apartment with a roommate, unless you have substantial financial resources at your disposal. That is what I am going to do. As I am not moving to San Francisco until late December, my roommate and I have still not secured us an apartment. Due to the very vibrant housing market, apartments are usually not published until about 40 days before your desired move-in date.
Here are some things that you should know about getting an apartment in SF as a foreign student;
- Housing in the “good” parts of town (there aren’t really many bad ones, tough one could argue that living in the middle of the Tenderloin might not be a very good idea) usually start at about $3000 for a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment. Add another $1000 to get yourself a 2 bedroom apartment.
- San Francisco is known for it’s diversity. Walking around the city feels like walking between cultures, countries and continents. Get to know the different neighborhoods, and use Google Maps or other engines to check what your commute to school will be like if you choose to live in that particular neighborhood.
- Ask your school for advise on what agencies or companies you should contact that they trust. Hult has their own list of preferred housing partners. When you’ve been accepted, you can explore them at myHult.
- Consider living in a “community” (an apartment building with lots of common areas and staff that can help you out when you have questions or need maintenance for your apartment). I have checked out many of these communities, and they usually have common areas with good views, BBQ-areas, lounges, fitness centers, and some even have swimming-pools. They are, however, a little more expensive.
- Zillow won’t help your search much, as their prices, especially with regards to apartment buildings and communities, are completely wrong. Also use strong caution when using platforms like Craigslist. The best thing is probably not to use any of those two platforms when searching for an apartment in SF.
- Private apartment owners usually are harder to deal with as an international student, as you won’t have any credit history or social security number to supply. The apartment buildings and communities are usually easier, as they have more knowledge about the situation for foreign students.
Good luck with your apartment search!