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Tips for Living in San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco is famous for its row houses and the Golden Gate Bridge. It has come to prominence thanks to the thriving Big Tech and biotech industries. That’s why many continue to move to the city. However, it is a major change for those not used to the culture or the community’s quirks. Here are the top tips for living in San Francisco.

Find a Place to Live

San Francisco is one of the most expensive housing markets in the United States. Before the coronavirus outbreak and government-mandated shutdown, the average rent was 3,700 dollars for a one-bedroom apartment in the city. After the devastating economic effects of the government-ordered shutdown, San Francisco single bedroom rents fell roughly ten percent to 3,200 dollars a month.

Granted, this is what you’d pay to rent a luxury home in the Inland Empire or twice what you’d pay to rent a single-family home anywhere in the heartland. This is why there is such an affordable housing crisis in San Francisco. Even with tech companies embracing remote work and tech workers moving to lower-cost areas due to the coronavirus, it may take a long time for San Francisco rents to hit LA’s level. (LA rent for a one-bedroom is around 1,400 dollars a month.)

So where can you find an affordable apartment in San Francisco, relatively speaking? One option is cohousing. It is similar to a dorm or even a European-style hostel.

In some facilities, you get a bed, a desk, and a secure place to store your stuff. In others, it is like sharing a dorm room with a roommate. The shared laundry, bathroom and eating space lower your overall rent. These living arrangements tend to be geared toward contractors in the tech industry and newcomers to the area.

Another option is sharing a bedroom in an apartment. While you’re giving up privacy, you’re cutting your rent in half. Finding an affordable apartment in San Francisco that you can afford by yourself requires diligent research.

You might be renting a converted basement, garage or former mother-in-law suite. Or you’ll find something as soon as it hits the market. But expect to spend weeks researching options and having to act fast when it becomes available.

This is why you want to secure housing before you move to San Francisco. Otherwise, you’ll be renting a privacy box in someone’s living room or a tent in the backyard for a thousand dollars a month. Be careful about renting something based on just an online ad, because there are many scammers. They may take your money using someone else’s photos.

Learn about All Your Transportation Options

If you think it is hard to find a place to live, wait until you have to find a place to park. Furthermore, San Francisco’s high housing costs mean few residents can afford to maintain a car, though some live in them. The solution is a patchwork of transportation options.

While San Francisco is the tech capital of the world, you can’t be certain that you’ll be able to catch a ride-share to work and back. However, you can take buses, cable cars and even the historic streetcars using your Muni card. Just pay a flat fee (less than a hundred dollars a month) to ride all you want. This will at least get you almost everywhere you want to be in downtown. It also connects you to major employers in Palo Alto and San Jose.

A Clipper Card only works on certain transit systems like the Caltrain. Having prepaid cards like this also helps you save time since you don’t have to buy a ticket every time you want to take public transit.

San Francisco pioneered bike-sharing programs, and the city is a haven for those who want to get around by bike. Just make sure you can make it up the steep hills before you plan on taking a bike everywhere.


There’s an App for That, No Matter What “That” Is

San Francisco is the heart of Silicon Valley. That’s why there is an app for whatever you want and need to do, no matter what it may be. Forget checking the weather. Check for available ride-share bikes and scooters via an app. Is there poop on the sidewalk the city needs to clean up?

That’s what the SnapCrap app is for. Use OuterSpatial to find outdoor activities from walking clubs to recommended biking trails to outdoor yoga. Use Routesy to find your way through San Francisco’s complicated network of public transit systems. Find out about BART, CalTrain and San Francisco Muni ride near you in real-time.

Experience the Weird and Unusual

Let’s be honest – the tourists hit the Golden Gate Bridge and may visit Alcatraz. They may visit the shore, but it is locals who visit the Wave Organ. Many people pass through the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, while residents visit off-beat locations like the Gregangelo Museum or Peephole Cinema.

Tourists and locals alike visit Japantown, while locals hit the Mission and drive past the Flintstone House. See the parrots in Telegraph Hill. San Francisco has a steady stream of concerts and shows. Locals watch events like the big wheel Easter Sunday race.

Know the Rules

California is tenant-friendly, and that is even more true of San Francisco. For example, if you end up living in an illegal unit, you still get eviction protections. If your apartment has a premium view that’s reflected in the rent, you can go to the Rent Board to ask for the rent to be reduced if something subsequently blocks that view.

If you’re evicted for a just cause like a landlord who will be moving into the unit, you will often receive several thousand dollars from the landlord. This is in addition to your deposit, on which you should receive interest after living there at least a year. However, this isn’t true if you’re being evicted for non-payment of rent or intentionally damaging the property.

You wouldn’t get a relocation payment if you lived in subsidized housing, either. If you have to move out due to a natural disaster like a fire or flood, you have the right to move in after repairs are made to the unit.

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