City Guide / San Francisco

How to Find an Apartment in San Francisco

By Landing | Apr 6, 2020
Homes in San Francisco

If you’re apartment hunting in SF, there are so many facets to consider in this city. Each neighborhood seems to come with its own list of quirks and charms. The weather varies from district to district. And the average rent seems to fluctuate from one street to the next.

Moving to San Francisco is an exciting endeavor where you’ll become familiar with cute cable cars and days spent in Golden Gate Park. So, let’s take a closer look at things to keep in mind when you’re wondering how to find an apartment in San Francisco. Wherever you’re coming from, and wherever you’re moving, we’re certain you’ll love calling this magnetic and majestic city your home. If you’re looking for furnished apartments in San Francisco, our San Francisco rental guide will help steer you in the right direction. 

Set your budget

One of the first tips with our San Francisco rental guide is to set your average rent budget. Rental budgets are different for everyone, but generally have to do with the amount of income your household brings in every month and how much your monthly expenses are. If you have a student loan or a car payment, equate this into your budget. If your income fluctuates because you’re a freelance worker, tally up the last six months and see how much you’re bringing in on average per month. 

It’s important that you don’t drain your entire monthly income once you subtract your expenses — but you also want to be in a place that makes you happy (especially if you plan on working from home).

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Write out your expectations

When apartment hunting in SF, it’s important to start by writing out your expectations. If you’ll be living with a roommate or partner, this is a good thing to do together. One of you might want to be next to a coffee shop or close to public transit — while it might be more important for the other to be near Golden Gate Park or place for recreation. Write out how many rooms you’d like, the square footage, the amenities provided, and what your ideal expectations for the interior would look like (some of us love dark wood cabinets— others love sleek, white kitchens). 

Being clear with your expectations from the beginning will help align your expectations with your reality so that you don’t set yourself up for disappointment when the real house-hunting begins.  

Find the right neighborhood for you

One of the best parts of renting in San Francisco is the abundance of neighborhoods. Some of the best places to live in San Francisco can be found if you know which type of neighborhood you’d like to be in.  If you prefer to be near the beach, you can live in the Sunset District, while those of us who thrive on the energy of being near downtown San Francisco might choose Nob Hill. 

If you’ve never been to San Francisco before moving there, make sure to do your research and your reading. You can find out so much about a place by taking a virtual tour around the neighborhood or reading reviews of the local bars and restaurants. Once you find your neighborhood of choice, make a list with your next top two San Francisco neighborhoods. Now you’ve narrowed it down to three — and the hunt can begin.

Pick the right season

Apartment hunting in different seasons can yield different results. Sometimes, rents in winter can be cheaper, as there aren’t as many people moving in and out of the city. Summertime can bring an influx of families moving when school is out. In addition to picking the season based on budget and availability, it’s also good to keep your mood in mind. If you love the cold weather, you might be happier bundling up to do your apartment search then you would be during a hot summer day (or vice versa). 

It’s a seemingly small detail but searching by season is one of the best ways to find apartments in the Bay Area. Remember that finding a new home is incredibly personal and different for everyone.

Think of commuting

When considering how to find an apartment in San Francisco, it’s crucial that you take commuting and public transit into account. If you work from home, commuting might not be too big of a deal. You can walk to your local library or coffee shop or be close enough to venture to some of the coworking spaces in San Francisco

On the other hand, if you’re getting on the BART, Caltrain, or Muni public transportation systems every day, it’s important to track how close you are to a station. Waking up an hour earlier every morning to get to the station can be a big life change if you’re not used to it — of course, the commute is nothing a good book can’t fix. As a rule of thumb, make sure to take a look and see how far your commute will be and what those logistics will look like for you on a day to day basis. 

Consider weather and safety

In San Francisco, the weather can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. If you’re on the coast, you might get enveloped in that quintessential lingering San Francisco fog. It’s beautiful, indeed, but if the sunshine is more your style, you might consider a place like the Mission District or Potrero Hill. 

For an SF sunshine tip, The Mission District, in particular, is the place where people suntan in their bathing suits at Dolores Park. Grab some ice cream and bring your beach towel and you’ll be set. Like the weather, it’s good to remember that safety can vary from area to area as well. Rest assured that San Francisco is a safe place, but like any city, it’s important to pay attention and keep your wits about you. Just as it is with all parts of the country, keeping safety in mind when you’re figuring out the best way to find apartments in the Bay Area is a good idea.


Walkability is another huge component to consider when you’re figuring out how to find an apartment in San Francisco. Because the geography of San Francisco varies, not every area is going to offer the same things in terms of walkability. Some of San Francisco’s locations, like the restaurant-clad streets of the Marina District, are flat and long, filled with plenty to eat and drink. Others, like the gorgeous winding roads of Pacific Heights, put you on top of the world — but may mean that you need to take a longer stroll to get to your favorite restaurant. 

Walkability is different for everyone. Is it more important for you to walk to food, bars, shopping, and entertainment or to the local park where you can play basketball? Maybe walkability isn’t an issue at all — and you’re more inclined to hop onto public transportation and get to wherever you need to go. 

Choose a rental platform

Choosing your rental platform is one of the most important parts of our San Francisco rental guide. These days, you have plenty of ways that you can go about getting your next apartment. You can opt for the old fashioned way, by searching for “For Rent” signs that are hung up in windows and keeping an eye out for flyers on bulletin boards. You can also use popular online services to help guide you to your next new spot. 

If you’re looking for something easy and stress-free, where you can forego the mess that comes along with paper applications, try Landing’s furnished apartments in San Francisco. The process of finding an apartment is 100% online. Say goodbye to paper applications and restrictive leases. You can easily find a fully-furnished apartment with flexible leasing today. Every landing comes fully furnished with everything you need — and then some — which means if all you want to do is move right in, you can. 

Going through the traditional (and sometimes painstakingly long) process of finding a rental isn’t for everyone, especially in San Francisco Bay. If you’re coming to the area for work or looking to rent something with no strings attached, we have you covered. Just bring your laptop and your toothbrush and settle right in. 

Settle in San Francisco

Whether you’re on the lookout for a long term lease or an upscale rental where you can move right in — we hope our San Francisco rental guide has given you some insight into the San Francisco neighborhoods we know and love. 

At Landing, we’re big advocates of San Francisco. We love the food, the culture, the kindness, and the iconic landmarks. If you need any help at all finding your dream home away from home, or would like to hear more about places to rent in San Francisco, feel free to contact us today. 

We help everyone from digital nomads to corporate professionals find the next spot to put down roots (even if those roots are temporary) and we’d love to do the same for you. We’re wishing you the best of luck on your house hunt ahead.


Ted may be the world's slowest typist and struggle to hold a pen, but he has mastered how to pursue a more flexible lifestyle throughout his airborne adventures around the U.S. Whether you're looking for more information before migrating to a new city or want to find an easier way to rent a nest—erm, apartment—Ted will always be here to share his best advice for where to live and how to thrive.