Accommodation in San Francisco

Finding Accommodation, Flatsharing, Hostels in San Francisco

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Cost of Living

Living in the Bay Area means living in one of the richest regions in the United States. San Francisco's cost of living remains one of the highest in the country, due in part to the tight labor market and the high cost of housing, food and other consumer goods. Median household income was $62,024 in 2000, the highest in the nation, according to the Census Bureau. It is estimated that two working adults must earn $77,069, and a single adult must earn $53,075, just to get by. The 2008 cost of living index in San Francisco County is 180.2, with the average in the USA at 100 .

These costs can be somewhat augmented by the proximity to downtown and location within a neighborhood, as while as the condition and amenities of the apartment, but as a whole housing is very pricey within the city. The good news is that because of the high cost of owning a home in the Bay, there are many rentals available at all times and San Francisco has been listed as high as 2nd best place to live in the country by Money Magazine. Average rent for a studio apartment is $1,141, with the low price around $800 and the highs around $1,700. One to two bedrooms are usually between $1,700 to $2,700 and $2,300 to $4,000 for three-four bedroom apartments.

To get the area you want for a price you can live with a simple formula may be employed. Divide your monthly income (after tax) income by three. Not much more than a third of your income should go to rent to insure that you can pay for the cost of living. If this figure doesn't net you the desired lifestyle you still have options. Make more money, consider a different neighborhood, or consider a different living arrangement by taking a roommate.

To calculate these expenses, there are many cost of living calculators available:


San Francisco hosts a city of diverse people and neighborhoods. Each area has its own personality and atmosphere, from its residents, to its shops, to the "vibe" it gives off. Finding the right neighborhood is an adventure. Here is a primer of some of the distinctive communities:

  • The Castro: one of the city's most vibrant communities is it's highly active Gay community and this is their neighborhood. The Twin Peaks Bar announced the area's gay pride and it thrived, to the point that some fear the Stylish shops and bars have robbed the Castro of some of its power. Nonetheless, The area continues to blossom and has become a destination in itself.
  • Chinatown: this is an extremely popular tourist attraction as well as home to a large Chinese-American community.
  • Fisherman's Wharf: along with bus loads of tourists, tacky souvenir stores, and the wax museum, the Wharf features some of the best views in the city, fresh Dungeness crab, and the fascinating sea lions.
  • Golden Gate Park: the park itself is larger than New York's Central Park and the area around the park is full of peaceful, residential homes.
  • The Haight: once the home to the '60s hippie culture, this area is now a mix of exclusive boutiques, high-end vintage-clothing shops, second-hand stores, Internet cafés and hip restaurants. Like the shops, the people are a variety of business people, club kids, tourists, and miscellaneous 20-somethings.
  • Inner Sunset: Despite being in the worst area for weather, Inner Sunset is popular with locals. Low rent prices, a charming small town in the city feel, and a strong sense of community make this area special.
  • The Marina: about as preppy as its name implies, the people here are usually in their 20s or 30s, fit, and rocking the local singles scene.
  • The Mission: this Latin influenced spot has been gentrified and infiltrated by clever cafés, thrift shops and used-book stores and the college grad/artists/activist crowd that comes with it.
  • Nob Hill: one of the best known neighborhoods, Nob Hill features both the modern and the old-fashioned. Barber shops with striped poles are next to the latest hot restaurant. Luxurious historic buildings such as the Fairmont Hotel and the Flood Mansion preside over the quaint streets and genteel apartment buildings. Characters like Marian and Vivian Brown, the famous "San Francisco twins" known for their signature identical outfits, reside here.
  • North Beach: also known as San Francisco's Little Italy, this site overflows with nostalgic restorantes, cafes and Old World delicatessens. Mixed in is a dose of Beat movement followers looking for places characteristic of Kerouac and Ginsberg. Surprisingly, the area light up at night with some of the trendiest nightclubs and bars.
  • Pacific Heights: this ritzy neighborhood has blocks of Victorian mansions and picturesque views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Russian Hill: named for the seven Cyrillic-inscribed gravestones found at the top of the hill, this elegant neighborhood has lost what little Russian influence was there, but retained the name. A small French quarter has actually sprung up with unusual boutiques, antique shops, trendy restaurants and night spots.
  • SoMa: a mash-up of warehouses and nightspots and art spaces, SoMa sticks close to its namesake "South of the Slot" meaning "wrong sides of the tracks". This has to do with being on the "wrong side" of the Market Street cable car track when it was an industrial district of factories and Gold Rush immigrant workers.
  • The Tenderloin: In the sweet city of San Francisco, the Tenderloin, "is the bad part of town". Drug Dealers, prostitutes, and homeless abound, but the Tenderloin remains the lovable black sheep. The name comes from the days when policemen were paid more to work here, thereby affording the cops better cuts of meat. This area is funky and completely alive and has, as of yet, avoided the gentrification much of the city has already gone through.
  • Union Square: this green space has been recently redesigned as the main retail and cultural center, but has been criticized for the taking away of greenery. The area remains people-filled as it is also a hotspot for restaurants and theatre.
  • East Bay is literally across the water, but still has great neighborhoods within commuting distance to downtown. Albany & Solano Ave., Berkeley, Oakland, and more offer many rewards outside the downtown area.

To learn more about these neighborhoods and others, go to:

Finding Accommodation, Flatsharing

There are many different apartments and many different ways to search and rent one. Here are a couple of options:

BROKER: In general, using a broker is a great idea if you are arranging a rental from out-of-town, or have more money than time. The San Francisco market is competitive, and a broker can give you an edge in finding the right place. A broker is responsible for finding apartments that fit your criteria and making appointments to fit your schedule. They save you the trouble of filing through expired listings, and "ghost" apartments that have been placed simply to entice to working with an expensive broker. For this convenience, the agency will usually take about 10% commission on the annual rent of the apartment.

Brokers are easy to come by in the Yellow Pages, or City Search. However, it can save you thousands to have a good broker so pay attention to reviews by former customers and who recommends a company's service. Ask your friends and family if they have used a broker they could recommend. If you are employed with a company they may have a broker they work with and you may be able to use them by contacting your human resources department to use the broker your company uses.

ON-LINE LISTING: There are a variety of on-line forums and community listings in which people will list their places or larger companies offer their apartments. Most searches are free and the selection is massive. Some examples are:,,,, and shows ratings from real people to help you find a home you will love.

CLASSIFIED'S: The San Francisco Chronicle offers an extensive classified's section, as well as a section in print.

BULLETIN BOARDS: On college campuses, churches, grocery stores, schools, bus stops and outside community centers there are often boards available for posting local ads. This gives you an idea of the neighborhood as well as some useful leads on apartments.

DRIVING AROUND: Many places are listed by simply placing a sign in front of the apartment. Sometimes only a number is listed so it can be helpful to write notes about the place and call the number on your cell phone. If a building without signs seems promising and you are not in a rush to move, you can try to locate the superintendent and ask about future availabilities. Many buildings offer a waiting list for prospective tenants.


An important trait in any roommate situation is having boundaries and a clear understanding of what each roommate requires. To protect yourself against potential problems should the worst happen, try to arrange it so that your roommates co-sign the lease. This makes all the roommates responsible for whatever happens to the property. If the worst was to happen, such as your roommate losing their job and not being able to pay rent, they will be held financially responsible- not you.

Here are some other websites to find a roommate:

Update 2/01/2009


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Missing website
Hi there

My husband and I have recently moved to San Francisco and we've been directed to by several different San Franciscans. Thought you might like to include it in your website list.

By the way, we love your website, wish we'd found it before we moved !!


 Gary C. Dunn


Property caretaking - Rent free
The property caretaking field is growing and trustworthy people are in demand as caretakers and housesitters. Many people now own multiple homes and properties throughout the world. They often require the services of a housesitter or caretaker to look after their properties. A glance through the pages of The Caretaker Gazette reveals that, in many cases, property owners are seeking "mature" or "retired" singles and couples to fill these positions.
Housesitting and property caretaking can provide you with the opportunity to experience life in a different geographic locale and save money by living rent-free. While there are numerous positions available throughout the United States, more intrepid travelers opt to explore the caretaking lifestyle in another culture.
There are virtually no age limits when it comes to caretaking. More and more people are discovering that property caretaking can enable them to live in a variety of locales. They have found that it is a great way to get to know an area prior to making a long-term commitment.

To learn more about the property caretaking field, and all the rent-free housesitting assignments available worldwide, go to The Caretaker Gazette’s website at

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