how to bay area apartment search from a distance in 2022?
March 11, 2022 3:50 PM   Subscribe

A friend in the East Bay is getting out of an abusive relationship and needs to move out of the home they co-own with their ex by the end of this month. They're in the middle of an overwhelmingly difficult time; I'm doing my best to help from afar, but it's been a while since I apartment-searched, and I live out of state. What do I need to know about the current rental market in the Bay Area? Lots more details inside.

Cannot stress how little capacity my friend has for this housing search--it's been a really tough time. I'd like to help with online searching and contacting landlords/rental companies, and I can probably get there in person to help with viewings and/or the physical move later this month.

Is Craigslist still a good resource for housing? Where else should I look? (Is it even reasonable for a second party to make initial contact, ask questions, and potentially view apartments and then share the info with the person who will actually live there later? Like I said, it's been a long time since I apartment-searched).

Also wondering if there are there any housing resources for single parents that we may be overlooking. Friend has been in touch with a Contra Costa County-based DV resource center and found the emotional support helpful, but doesn't qualify for the housing assistance.

Details on what they need in case it helps:
-At least two bedrooms (or space workable as such, i.e. one bedroom + defined office space) so kid can nap and parent can work behind closed doors. Their work involves confidential online meetings so the closed door is a must.
-Can afford rent around $2100, potentially up to $2500, but less is much better.
-Willing to share a home with kid-friendly roommates as long as the kind of private space described above is available
-In a perfect world, would like to stay in the Danville/San Ramon area, but totally open to other parts of Contra Costa County and Alameda counties.

Greatly appreciate any advice on where/how to start.
posted by adastra to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Craigslist, yes; also Zillow... you could also contact the mgmnt offices of rental complexes to be put on a wait list.
I’m familiar with only the north bay, but The rental market is extremely tight and a 2 bed unit anywhere in the Bay Area for your price is extremely rare; the going rates are closer to $3000 and up.
posted by TDIpod at 4:10 PM on March 11


Craiglist is okay, but will take a lot of weeding through scams. I start by sorting from lowest to highest price, and scroll past anything under $1000, to try and filter those out at least a bit. I like ApartmentList, it has tinder-style yes/no/maybe ratings to help you narrow down a list of places to call. There's also Zumper, which tends to have both apartment complexes and in-law unit type places.

$2500 will be tough for a 2 bedroom; the average price of a studio in the bay area is $2100. I would strongly consider looking for places where she can set up the living room as a place for kiddo to nap, while she works in the bedroom. Or even a walk in closet set up as a tiny office while kid sleeps in the bedroom, keep clothes in a wardrobe or in the linen closet.

Danville/SR is a high income area, with low rental inventory and high rents. If she's willing to go a little further south, Livermore and Union City/Fremont/Milpitas are all more affordable and are a reverse commute to SR. The other direction (into SR from the north) will be horrible for traffic. My daily drive from Fremont to SR was about 40 minutes.

It will be fine for you to do all the inquiries and legwork. Nobody has ever cared about me or who I was during the entire touring process--they only cared when it was time to do the credit check.

You're a good friend!
posted by assenav at 4:29 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


This is so nice of you! I agree that there are a lot of Craigslist scams and it can be hard to spot them from afar. It might be safer to go with a big corporate-owned apartment complex where you can check out their website and it's obvious that it's a real deal. Those places also usually have multiple openings at once.
posted by radioamy at 4:47 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Sorry to hear this. It's good of you to support them through these challenges. This sounds like short-term support would be best, so they can have a safe space before making larger decisions on rentals. What city are they in and how old are their kids? The East Bay market varies a lot, and if the children are school-aged, proximity to their current school may be a big factor.

Have you considered these hotlines (at bottom of article) or this DV group?

Zillow is more reliable than Craigslist. Given the circumstances, it may be better to just go for a 1 month Airbnb, vrbo, or Extended Stay in the short term.
posted by hampanda at 5:11 PM on March 11


Response by poster: won't threadsit but coming back to add: kid is a toddler so school proximity isn't an issue yet. They're willing to go farther from where they are now but within an hour's drive of Danville would be best for custody arrangement. A 1BR with a walk-in closet or kitchen nook to use as a home office set-up is definitely reasonable, and I realize more likely given Bay Area rents.

We have Airbnb &etc. in mind for the short term if needed, as well as a handfull of friends who can host them for a short time. Great suggestion!
posted by adastra at 5:24 PM on March 11


A quick Zillow search with these parameters reveals that 2-bedroom rentals are achievable in Concord and Pleasant Hill at this price range, and even one in Walnut Creek. Many people are a bit leery of the Monument Corridor/Meadow Homes area of Concord, but I live here and love it.
posted by rekrap at 5:27 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


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