Flat hunting is stressful in any city but when you are living 5,000 miles and an eight hour time difference away from your desired flat it becomes quite a challenge!
As I am sure you know, San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, with house prices in the bay area in the million dollar mark. The city used to be reasonable priced, but as the large tech companies set up their bases in the wondrous Silicon Valley, the demand for everything was heightened. Many locals were forced out of their beloved city as they could not stretch their wages to pay for the increased prices.
According to payscale.com, the average salary is $86,270 and the cost of living is 80.3% above the national average, meaning that living on your own in this part of the world is a struggle unless you’re a tech mogul. Luckily and coincidently for us, one of our friends from England was offered a job in SF in August, meaning that we luckily had another couple to share with. As he moved out, Adam was over there on a working trip and they managed to schedule a few appointments to look at flats.
As with any major city, there are desirable and not so desirable areas to live. As stereotypes go: the wealthier live in Presidio on the west coast of the west coast and the poorer in the Tenderloin. The middle areas you learn about along the way. It is hard to get a grasp of areas without seeing them I think, with this city there are so many amazing things to see but you do have to put up with the bad. When deciding on an area to live, we firstly looked at the available flats in the city. There are so many hilarious stereotyping maps of the city, so check these out for an honest opinion!
We found a letting agency called Equity Residential who let properties in Boston, New York City, Washington DC, Seattle, San Francisco and Southern California and from viewing their properties in SF alone, you can see that they are experts. When checking today, they have 53 properties available to rent in SF and the surrounding areas alone. The boys easily made an appointment and looked around two apartment blocks and couldn’t believe the standard of flats over here! Both included a games room, gym, communal areas, dog washing facilities, roof top areas and were all finished to the highest of standards! They were both close to each other in the Design District. When looking at that area on the stereotyping maps I mentioned earlier, many of them talk about the biggest visiting point of the area…the round about. It is one of possibly two roundabouts featured in the whole city, so is quite a talking point! It is seen as a lovely area and the majority of the expensive furniture shops reside there, raising the clientele that walk the streets.
Now, there is one thing that I feel like you need to be prepared for when first renting a flat in this city – it is not a cheap process. As with moving into a new place in any city, there are a lot of costs to pay up front, so just be prepared. Once we had decided on an apartment, filled out an application and signed a contract, it was time for payment.
We were told initially that we would have to pay two months rent up front as a deposit. This was because we didn’t have a credit footprint in the States yet, so they needed that as a precaution. However, as our flatmate was already working in SF at the time and had a social security number and proof of income there, this was reduced.
We were talked through the application process by the friendly team and considering we were moving countries, they made it all very easy as they were only a phone call away to answer any question we had (and we had a lot!).
Unlike with the UK, we had to pay renter’s insurance which was around $100. On the flip side though, you don’t have to pay Council Tax (thank goodness) and bills are a lot cheaper, so it is all relative.
From the first time of seeing the apartment block we were in love. You can tell that they have spent a lot of money on making everything perfect and it shows. The reception area looks so much better than our flat does at the moment! We were in awe. The staff cannot do any more for you; they always greet you with a smile and organise activities for the residents, which are a lovely way to meet your neighbours.
Overall, the whole process has been a joy. Now we just have to furnish our flat as it came completely empty. I will be posting pictures soon as we begin to make our flat a home.
Photo credit from Equity Residential Website