I moved to San Francisco right out of college and have lived there for 7 years. To me San Francisco is the perfect city, great weather (its always cardigan weather!), incredible food, interesting + artsy people, and the best shops I've ever been to. I love the Bay Area and plan on living there forever or at least until it falls into the ocean.
Here are my 5 Tips for Apartment Hunting in San Francisco and below you’ll find the story of how we got our apartment against the odds (there were 40 other applicants!)
1. Craigslist. There are two ways to find an apartment in San Francisco: Craigslist and Word of Mouth. Craigslist was invented here and is THE place to look. Everyone uses it for everything. What I like to do is figure out the neighborhoods I want to look in and then search in “Map” mode. Other Craiglist search tips:
-Pay attention to the listings that are vague or without photos. It is usually some nice old lady trying rent her awesome apartment on “that newfangled internet website.” Usually everyone ignores these listings so you have an even better chance. Our landlord didn’t even list the storage, backyard, parking or laundry! I had another friend who went to a listing that said “no parking” and when she asked about it, the landlord said “I guess we can make room for your car.” Sometimes the agency managed apartments are less flexible.
– Search for keywords like “view”, “sunroom”, “Mid Century Modern”, “Victorian” or “Dolores Park” without using the neighborhood search feature. You can find cool apartments that were mis-categorized and it helps you find cool houses in neighborhoods you would not have considered.
-If a listing has a phone number write it down. I had a friend who called a number two weeks after the listing was posted and they said “well that one is rented but I have one opening up next week.”
2. Word of Mouth. Everyone knows the best apartments are handed down from friend to friend as people leave the city. Ask everyone you know, post on Facebook, Twitter, etc. that you are looking. I’ve had great luck with this.
3. Keep in Mind Transportation – The big issue with living in San Francisco is the commute. I lived in the Haight when I first moved to San Francisco which only has bus service and my commute to the Ferry Building took an hour. Later I moved one neighborhood over to Duboce Triangle (near the Muni Metro trains) and my commute was cut down to 20 minutes door to door. Certain neighborhoods like the Marina are so great but the commute downtown can be tricky because of the bus systems. (Sometimes there are some nice express bus options but usually those are crowded.) Just realize some neighborhoods are much more ideal to live in than others for commute times. Same goes with bikes. Certain neighborhoods are better to live in if you plan on biking a lot (watch out for those San Francisco hills!)
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Few people would disagree that hunting for an apartment is the worst. I’m now on my eighth city apartment so I’m pretty opionionated about what’s important to me. The first thing I look for is something within my budget but after that my deal breaker list goes like this (in order of importance:)
1. Location: Must be in a fun location, with a fast commute. We don’t get out as much with kids so it is important to live in a fun neighborhood, the easier it is to go out the more you’ll do it.
2. Light: I lived in a cheap but dark apartment for three years and will never again. Natural light is higher on my list than a large apartment or laundry! My mood depends on it.
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We San Franciscans love to love our city. So, I can’t think of a better party than one that’s centered around our favorite town. Like my other party closet parties, this one can put together in under an hour with a limited number of supplies. From your stash, you’ll need butcher paper, paint, a strand of white bistro lights, and a pretty tablecloth. Then, follow our DIY instructions (below) for painting a quick sketch of the Golden Gate Bridge as a party backdrop. After that, you’ll just need to run to the store to pick up a few simple flowers and a delicious pie.
Materials: Butcher Paper, Tape, Paint, Paintbrush
Cut off three large pieces of butcher paper and tape them together at the back. Attach the paper to a wall to make painting easier. Sketch out your image roughly with a pencil, then paint over in loose, broad strokes. Don’t worry about detail, just get the general shape across.
The hardest thing about living in San Francisco is that people are always leaving you. Our good friends Christian and Brooke are moving away and Brooke mentioned she wanted to do some sort of special party for their friends. We talked it through and decided on doing a 20 person pop up dinner party on the beach under the Golden Gate Bridge. I have never done a dinner party outside for that many people (see my first dinner right here) so I called in for reinforcements. I asked my genius friend Andrea Pimental to do the food and so I just had to worry about logistics (ie: carrying tables and 20 chairs, and dinnerware all the way down to the beach.) It was a pretty epic party and a really special night. The weather was beautiful, the food was amazing, and it consoled our broken hearts a little to be able to toast our friends and say goodbye.
We held the party at Kirby Cove. We rented a picnic spot for the day which gives you permits for four cars. We had guests park at the top and then shuttled people back and forth down to the beach. Brooke’s sister Kelly chose the tablecloth to match the Golden Gate Bridge (it was perfect) and did the flowers and Brooke and Colleen made these photobooth favors for all the guests. They were little boxes with macarons and then they copied a photobooth photo they had and tied it around with twine. So clever, right?
Read more for more details and photos.
When visitors come to town one of my favorite places to take them is the Fortune Cookie Factory on Ross Alley. Did you know that Fortune Cookies were invented in San Francisco? It’s off the beaten path in a little Chinatown alleyway. It’s in a lot of guidebooks so there is usually a tourist or two there but for the most part it is pretty empty. It isn’t well marked and if you didn’t have the address you could easily walk right by. Inside is three or four Fortune Cookie machines. The machine smooshes the little flat cookies and then they are taken off while they are still hot and folded with the fortune inside. Once they cool they stay in their shape. It’s really cool to see. I like to bring my own fortunes and they make them there on the spot for just a few dollars. Even if you don’t plan ahead they usually have slips there so you can hand write your own on the spot. If you can’t make it to Chinatown this site lets you order some online (from another vendor.)