26 Jun Housing – 4/12
Finding affordable housing isn’t easy and will probably require many hours scrolling through and refreshing pages on Craigslist. I managed to find a private room in a tiny apartment for $890 a month on 19th Avenue and Taraval street (perfect for getting to SFSU on the 28 bus), but as with many good things, it turned out to be too good to be true. The tenant had sublet me and 2 others rooms without telling the landlord (in hope that the landlord would keep the rent rates at the same level), which turned out to be a violation in her tenancy agreement – I was none the wiser, as I had assumed the person renting the room out to me was doing so legitimately, and rather naively, I didn’t think much of it. 9 months later, after suspiciously little contact with the landlord all year, the problem finally rears its head. The lead tenant decided to leave the U.S and go back to China, which meant that the landlord realized the other rooms were being sublet – we were told we had to be out in 2 weeks or we would forfeit our $1000 deposit which we had paid at the beginning of the year (the landlord having thought that the money was coming from the original tenants.)
This was a very stressful situation that could have been avoided. Unfortunately, to avoid the pressure of arriving without a permanent place to stay, I negotiated my ‘contract’ online in advance and paid the deposit before I had arrived in the country. This was a massive risk; it paid off for a little while, as I had landed an affordable private room in a great location. However, the stress at the end when we were getting kicked out definitely made the decision not worth it.
I would advise playing the field for a while and checking out as many rooms as you can – the high demand means that rooms go pretty quickly, so be prepared to have a fair bit of competition when applying. As someone who doesn’t deal with uncertainty particularly well, I opted to choose a place before really looking round properly. My friends and fellow exchange students stayed in a hostel for a couple of weeks, and managed to find a great house because of that little extra time to look around. This is definitely advisable. And when you find a place you like, READ THE TENANCY AGREEMENT VERY CAREFULLY, and don’t be afraid to ask the tenant/landlord about the fine print – because I can tell you from experience, last minute research on subtenancy contract law is not fun and is difficult to understand without guidance from a housing organisation.
There are many great areas to live in SF, but you will most likely want to live in the Sunset District/Parkside/ because of its proximity to SFSU and of course the beach, and the good transport links.