San Francisco Budgeting Housing Options

Pacific Tradewinds

San Francisco Budgeting Housing Options

Living in a tent

Hostels are always the best option for budget travelers visiting San Francisco, but what happens if you want to stay awhile. Since most hostels have a maximum stay of 14 days, you will need to look for housing which is a more permanent option.

Unfortunately, it can be very challenging to find housing in San Francisco, especially for a non-local.

Here are some tips:

Create a "Rental Resume".

What is this you ask? Housing is very competitive in San Francisco and there are more renters than apartments. This means landlords can pick and chose the best tenant for their property. Landlords want a tenant that pays rent on time and has as few calls for service as possible. In San Francisco, if you have a blocked toilet you are perfectly within your rights to call the landlord to have them plunge the toilet for you. However, they really don't want to have to plunge their tenant's Sh*t. Your rental resume is an opportunity to tell them you are quite capable of plunging your own toilet, thank you. You can tell them about your cleaning habits, party habits, whether you are a smoker or non-smoker (hint: you want to be a non-smoker in San Francisco), an anticipated work schedule, etc. Providing all this information is voluntary. Landlords are restricted from asking certain questions but you can freely offer the sort of information they need to help them pick you among the many who apply. On the Rental Resume, you will also want to include previous landlord references so they can call and make sure you were a good tenant.

Consider Residential Hotels Some residential hotels are actually cheaper than hostels and you get your own room with a shared bath. Think boarding house. If you decide to go with a residential hotel, it pays to shop around as the quality in residential hotels vary A LOT. Be prepared to walk from hotel to hotel and ask to see the room. If they don't want to show you around, consider yourself warned.

Connect with like-minded communities as soon as possible

There's a lot of word of mouth when it comes to finding housing. Look online for groups you can connect with and see if they can offer you some advice. If you are a musician you very well may find other musicians who are looking for a housemate and want to jam with you. Likewise, computer nerds like to hang out with other computer nerds. If you are a hacker, meet with the folks at NoiseBridge and ask them for housing advice, BUT do not plan to sleep there. They don't like that.

Scour Craigslist Here you can find alternative housing arrangments. Short-term housesits, closets for sub-lease, even tents in the backyard. What you decide to go for depends on your comfort level. Word of warning though: Never send any money before meeting with the landlord in person and seeing the apartment or room you will be renting in person.

Scour Airbnb

Use the filters on Airbnb to look for long-term housing options. Sometimes you will find unusual housing situations. Sometimes I've seen rooms for $10/night in Oakland on Airbnb.

Explore house hacking options
I can't speak to the safety of house hacking, but I've met people who fly "under-the-radar" and secretly sleep in rehearsal studios, small commercial storefronts even storage units. All of these options are usually cheaper than apartments. You can meet these sorts of people at NoiseBridge.

Explore Housesitting Options

There are a number of websites that you can find house-sitting arrangements. In these situations, you will usually water plants, feed pets, and provide security and peace of mind for the homeowner in exchange for a free stay. It's important to be professional and put the homeowner's mind at ease, as some homeowners are concerned about horror stories like the housesitter turning into a squatter, or worse, the housesitter renting out the homeowners house on Airbnb.

Long term in Hostels Check-out all the hostels. There are many hostels that are cheaper than ours. I've heard some do work-exchange but this almost always needs to be arranged in person.

Book Now