So you’ve decided that you’re moving to San Francisco, but as a recent arrival, how are you supposed to look for an apartment? Not to worry – there are plenty of ways to find apartments in the city.
From asking friends who live there and checking out all the websites that have options, to enlisting the help of rental agents, here are some tips for finding the perfect apartment for you.
Set a clear budget
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Don’t be tempted to go for the most expensive place you can find – that will only end up costing you more in the long run. Stick to areas where your salary can afford to live. There are a lot of great neighborhoods in the Bay Area that won’t break the bank.
Another thing to keep in mind when budgeting is to factor in costs like parking and utilities. Parking can be expensive in some parts of town, and utilities (like groceries) can be expensive too. Try to think about what things are most important to you when it comes to living costs, and make allowances for those things before settling on a budget.
Finally, don’t forget to take into account other expenses like security deposits, moving costs, and monthly bills. Not everything needs to fit into one budget – think about what’s important to you and figure out how much money you can spend each month without going overboard.
Make your list of non-negotiables
Once you’ve determined how much you can afford or would like to spend on rent, it’s time to focus on what you can’t live without. Factor in things like a safe address, easy access to public transportation and the ability to cook your own meals.
The good news is most short term rentals in the Bay Area tend to be located in walkable neighborhoods with plenty of grocery stores and restaurants nearby. There’s also no shortage of public transportation options here.
Finally, unless you want to eat out every night, having your own fully-furnished kitchen is a must for many renters.
List the questions to ask potential landlords
When you’re exploring your options for apartments in the Bay Area, it’s important to remember that not all landlords are created equal. Some may be more receptive to negotiations or be more knowledgeable about their properties.
Here are some questions to help guide your search:
- What’s the minimum lease term I can rent an apartment for?
- What’s the rental fee per month and how often does the rent generally adjust?
- How many units are there in this building?
- What amenities (i.e. pool, parking, club house) does the building offer?
- What is included in the monthly lease agreement (i.e. kitchen appliances, internet service)?
Request a showing
While showing an apartment is not mandatory, it can help you get a feel for the place and meet the landlords—plus, you can always decline if you’re not interested in the property.
When touring an apartment, be specific about what you need and don’t need in a rental. This will help the landlord tailor their presentation to fit your needs.
Also, ask lots of questions to get a sense of the landlord and the property. This includes asking about amenities (pools, parks, nearby stores), lease terms (month-to-month or year-long?), and repairs and maintenance updates (do they usually occur regularly, and who handles them?).
Get your documents in order
To find an apartment in the Bay Area, you will need to gather a variety of application materials. These documents include: your last year’s tax returns, rent receipts from the past year, passports or proof of identity, pay stubs and bank statements, and recent references from past landlords.
Having these documents ready helps to ease the process of verifying your income and credit history. It will also show that you are responsible and have been living in a designated area for a period of time.
Read the fine print
So you’ve found your ideal apartment, what next? Before signing that lease, make sure to read all the fine print. Some common contract clauses you may want to pay attention to include rent increases, move-in dates, and landlord rights. By being aware of these details up front, you can avoid any regrettable surprises down the road.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what to look for in an apartment and be able to find the perfect one for your needs. To recap, be sure to take into account things like location, size, price range, and amenities.
Also don’t forget to ask your friends, family, and online resources for feedback on apartments that interest you – everyone has different preferences and may have found something great right near them that they didn’t know about.
With a little effort, finding the perfect place to call home should not be too difficult! Good luck and welcome to San Francisco!