Accommodation in San Francisco

Colourful Victorian houses in San Francisco
As a city surrounded by water on three sides, San Francisco’s ability to provide accommodation is greatly limited by the same geography that makes it such an appealing destination.

Finding a house or apartment in San Francisco is one of the biggest hurdles expats face when moving to the city. Not only are rental costs exceptionally high, but supply often fails to meet demand.

That said, there are many housing options in the Bay Area, where expat accommodation can be found within a short distance of the thriving metropolis.

Cost of accommodation in San Francisco

The constricted and compact area for accommodation in San Francisco has given rise to apartment buildings and divided houses rather than free-standing houses. Detached houses are difficult to find and extremely expensive, although apartments can also be very pricey. 

Most expats in San Francisco prefer renting to buying property. Although, buying may be a good option for those that plan on settling down in the city, since mortgage payments are sometimes considerably less than the equivalent spent on monthly rent. 

Choosing where to live in San Francisco

Rents in San Francisco vary considerably between different neighbourhoods. Expats on a tight budget should avoid affluent parts of the city such as Russian Hill and instead look for more affordable housing in the inner Sunset district and Chinatown.

As can be expected, the cheapest housing options are not always located in the most central or trendy parts of San Francisco.

Other factors to consider when choosing where to search for a home in San Francisco include access to public transport and road links, distance from schools and work, facilities available in the area, and safety.

Finding accommodation in San Francisco

After deciding on a suitable neighbourhood, the best place to begin a search is online, using sites such as Craigslist. Local newspapers can also be a good source for apartment listings.

Aside from these traditional methods for searching for accommodation, expats can drive or walk around an appealing neighbourhood looking for ‘For Rent’ signs.

Expats should act fast when they find a suitable apartment. Because the rental market in San Francisco is so competitive, apartments are often snapped up within a few hours of being advertised. It is best to always be prepared with proof of a positive credit history as well as funds for the rental deposit so the lease can be signed straight away.

In many cases, if a number of people are interested in an apartment the landlord or agent will give it to the person who offers to pay the highest rent.

It is also worth bearing in mind that new apartments or those in historical buildings are likely to be more expensive.

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