I just want an apartment by myself in San Francisco. Is this impossible?
October 10, 2011 7:16 AM   Subscribe

I just want an apartment by myself in San Francisco. Is this impossible?

I'm tired of relationships and I'm in my 30s - I don't want to deal with roommates or their drama. All I want is a tiny space to call home - I don't even care about decorating the damn walls anymore or my own kitchen and bathroom. Just want a space for a nice bed and that's it. Once upon a time these would have been the SRO (single residency occupation) but those seem to have been converted into crack housing units. I search for efficiency and in-laws, but finding an apartment is competitive here at the best of times. The last open house I went to literally had 15 people waiting for applications. I just want a room, and I don't want to fight over chore wheels and all of that madness.

I am in a hotel now (literally a bed, a bathroom and a couch) and I could live with that - but not the $80/night price. I have a job and could afford maybe $1000 a month tops, but that seems impossible in SF. It needs to be accessible via public transit, and I'm not wild about signing a lease for a year because I may need to move back to take are of elderly family.

Is there any solution here? Any magic words here? Something like the Webster Apartments (http://www.websterapartments.org/) in New York?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not from San Francisco, but I can tell you that Airbnb has quite a few entries which were within 120-200% of your price point - which would bring them into your price point with a long term discount.
posted by devnull at 7:28 AM on October 10, 2011

I think the standard answer to these questions is "you should live in Oakland". Depending on where your job is, this may not actually make your commute any longer than living in some of the cheaper parts of SF.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:47 AM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]

I don't know the SF market particularly well, but from what I understand from friends who live there it's definitely more competitive than Boston metro (which I know pretty well), and you definitely won't get a 1BR or studio for <$1000/month if you want public transport accessible or a decent neighborhood. Where I live, that's more like $1200-1600 depending on how nice a place it is. I think at that price point you're going to be hard pressed to find what you're looking for if you want to be in SF proper and near transportation and no lease.
posted by heresiarch at 7:57 AM on October 10, 2011

I occasionally peruse SF's padmapper out of curiosity (I live here). I think that your combined needs of $1000+near transit+no roommates+month-to-month is going to be impossible in San Francisco proper. East Bay, or be prepared to sign a 1-year lease, as the few $1000 places in SF that I've seen all have 1-year leases.
posted by rtha at 7:59 AM on October 10, 2011

I think the standard answer to these questions is "you should live in Oakland". Depending on where your job is, this may not actually make your commute any longer than living in some of the cheaper parts of SF.

Yeah, +1. You could probably find something in SF if you tried really hard (a tolerable part of Bayview, maybe?), but would save yourself a lot of heartache just finding something Bart-accessible across the bay.
posted by eugenen at 8:02 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

There's a lot of distance between $80/night and $1000/month. Are you sure you couldn't swing a little more for the right place? Do you really need to be near transit, or could you manage with a bike (way faster than muni under pretty much all circumstances)? Have you looked into sublets? Would you consider signing a lease if you were allowed to sublet the place if you need to move? What about finding something slightly nontraditional, like a room in a house that has a bathroom and a private entrance, and just not using the kitchen? Would you consider living in an inlaw apartment if you could have reduced rent in return for taking care of an elderly landlord or something like that. I think you can find something you can live with for MUCH less cash than you're burning in that hotel, if you keep your eyes open for unusual arrangements that might meet your needs. Be careful with oakland/bart. If you're taking bart and muni every day, you can burn $200 a month pretty easily, which be the difference between living in oakland and living in the city.
posted by juliapangolin at 8:40 AM on October 10, 2011

if you are willing to look at the east bay you could potentially get a studio in your price range. I highly doubt it in the city though, esp right now, the rental market is so tight & very competitive...like madcaptenor said, Oakland, near a bart station.

on preview, nthing....
posted by supermedusa at 8:56 AM on October 10, 2011

Agreed. It took me 3 months to find a place WITH roommates. It's not an easy town for finding apartments. You could try finding a place way out in the boonies if you're willing to ride your bike a lot. But honestly my commute was shorter when I lived in Oakland than it is now.
posted by OrangeDrink at 9:08 AM on October 10, 2011

Look in the Outer Sunset, Outer Richmond, Lakeview, Portola, Vis Valley, Bayview, etc. It can be done, but it takes a LOT of looking and some time to do it. I remember seeing some efficiency studios downtown in that price range as well--I guess this market's picked up a lot in the last two years when I was last apartment hunting. If you can get as high as $1100 a month, you've got a chance of finding something much more quickly.

If you don't have the time to find a place in your budget, then yes, you'll have to go to Oakland where there are a ton of studios in the $850/mo. range.
posted by smirkette at 9:09 AM on October 10, 2011

I lived in the Richmond and paid 1000 a month for a studio ten years ago. I think I could have done better if I'd had it more together to be assertive about finding a place. The Outer Richmond and Sunset are great and the Sunset was well-served by the N Judah when I lived there, which allowed for a good forty-five minutes of book reading each way. The Richmond's 38-Geary, again, when I lived there, had an express that could get you downtown in half an hour.

I loved those neighborhoods and felt like they were under appreciated. They were much lower key and you can run (or walk) along the beach in the morning (there was a nice bike trail along the Great Highway).

Like a tourist town in the off season, is how they always seemed to me. That's kind of a nice feeling in a big city.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:22 AM on October 10, 2011

Sure, it's possible. On $1000/month? Probably not. My boss secured his current apartment by offering more than asking price for it to jump ahead of other interested parties. The landlord turned him down, saying they were more interested in having someone dependable and reliable than an extra couple hundred dollars per month. So he offered to pay six months in advance. They accepted that and he wrote them a gigantic check.

I lived in the city (in the Richmond) with a roommate. We had two bedrooms and paid $900 each. My landlord loved us and actually asked me to stay when my roommate moved out, saying I could find another roommate. I wanted to live by myself though, and didn't want to be paying $1800/month for the place.

My boss's story is from last year and mine is from 2007. I no longer live in the city.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:48 AM on October 10, 2011

Your post doesn't sound like you'd be happy living in Oakland, but I can't imagine finding what you want in SF unless you can manage to be super competitive and pay six months rent in advance. Which you may not want to do, given your circumstances. I live in the Lakeside District in Oakland, and agree with everyone saying you could live alone here. It's 18 minutes from 19th street BART to Civic Center in the City, and we have lots of good bars and restaurants.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:01 AM on October 10, 2011

+1 for Oakland. I live on the south side of Lake Merritt - it's a 15 minute walk to the Bart, and then 15 on the train into downtown SF. I pay $940 including utilities for a one bedroom with a living room & full kitchen. It's a few blocks from the grocery store, and few blocks from the Lake.

It's certainly not San Francisco, but I found it to be a good trade-off for not having to live with a roommate.
posted by jenmakes at 3:47 PM on October 10, 2011

Possibly the Tenderloin. I had an awesome, top-floor, corner studio at the corner of Turk and Leavenworth in 2004-2005. However, when I got scabies(!) I moved out in about 2.5 seconds.

Your best bet is to be extremely proactive. Check craigslist obsessively, be prepared to call property management companies first thing in the morning, keep your details, references and paystubs within reach at all times, and be ready to write a deposit check at the drop of a hat.

Are you open to a shared bathroom?

A tiny place with a loft?

This sounds awesome.
posted by bendy at 9:33 PM on October 10, 2011

Oops, I meant to add that my Tenderloin studio was for $700/month.
posted by bendy at 9:35 PM on October 10, 2011

It might be worth looking into the various residence clubs in San Francisco, it'll probably be a bit more than you want to pay even for a shared bath but it's a low hassle way to live for a few months and much cheaper than a hotel plus you'll have less stuff to buy and probably get some meals thrown in. Just Google San Francisco Residence Club and you'll find a few of them.
posted by tomcooke at 2:36 AM on October 11, 2011

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