How to Find San Francisco Apartments For Rent

If you plan on moving to San Francisco, hopefully you’ve already braced yourself for how expensive it is to live here. This means you’ll most likely be looking at San Francisco apartments for rent and you’ll need to manage your expectations accordingly. Here’s what $3,500 a month will get you, for example. In a city that’s just 47 square miles, you can also bet that there’s a fair amount of competition. Still, with the following guide to help you, finding the best apartments in San Francisco doesn’t have to be impossible.

Start Early

This can’t be stressed enough: you need to start looking for apartments here early. Begin at least a month before you anticipate moving. You won’t find many places here that are open in the future; most are ready for tenants right now. By starting a month early, you can get an idea of where you want to live, what your options will be, how much they’ll cost, etc. A month will also give you ample practice pitching yourself to landlords, which is vital.

Check Craigslist Often

One of the best places to find apartments in San Francisco is Craigslist, believe it or not. You’ll have far more luck on this site than even using websites dedicated to finding places to live here.

However, like we mentioned at the beginning, you’re definitely not the only person scouring listings for apartments in San Francisco, so you need to check Craigslist as often as possible. No joke, you should be looking there every hour if you can.

Remember, too, that it’s not just about finding an apartment, it’s about being the first one to sign on the dotted line. Even checking once an hour and reaching out to the person who posted a listing doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the place. Finding a place to live in this town is very much a numbers game.

Have Application Material Ready

In a lot of cities, this advice probably wouldn’t make sense. Most landlords are happy to find new tenants for their buildings. With apartments in San Francisco, though, landlords hold all the power and can literally interview potential tenants, so they can pick the right one.

That’s why you need to have your application materials at the ready. This means you need:

  • A cover letter that provides a short bio and includes a recent photo
  • Basic information they’ll need to do a background check (e.g. former landlords, desired move-in date, references, social security number, employers, etc.)
  • A copy of pay stubs or anything else that proves how much you make
  • Scores from the three major credit reporting companies

Not only will this help you cut in line before others interested in the same apartment, but this will also put you in good standing with the landlord. After all, if you’re this prepared, what’re the chances you’ll miss rent?

You Can Always Offer More

Another thing you may not think to do when looking at apartments in San Francisco is simply offer more money for the unit than the landlord is currently asking. Obviously, this city is expensive enough as it is, but if you really want a place, there’s no law against sweetening the pot, if you can afford it. Like we mentioned, though, this generally only works in one direction. You have almost no shot of negotiating with a landlord in this town, so don’t expect to somehow haggle them on the price.

Living in San Francisco offers innumerable benefits, but first you have to find a place to actually live. If you’re in the market for an apartment, the above advice should help you find one, despite how notoriously difficult this usually is.