Housing Culture in San Francisco

San Francisco has character, style, and personality. The city's rich culture makes it a popular place to live.

It’s also the second most densely populated U.S. city after New York City. San Francisco is small, 7 by 7 miles, and located on a peninsula. This makes it difficult to expand housing.

Let's break housing culture in San Francisco down:

1. Posting typically happens 1 month prior (June for July, July for August, etc.). Ex: If you plan to move into your apartment on August 1st, you should begin your search in late June/by July 1st. If you start your search too early, you probably aren't going to find any listings for your ideal move-in date.

2. The style of San Francisco homes are older and come with history. Some homes may or may not have been remodeled recently. Amenities such as dishwashers or central heat are not the norm in the city. The idea of a private bathroom is also not common in the area.

3. Landlords in the city tend to be 3-generation homeowners looking to rent out their investments as an add-on job. There are also owners who make this their top priority and are very involved with the process. There are pros and cons to each. Get a sense of the person and situation, then decide what is right for you.

5. Landlords will not “hold” an apartment. If the space is open, the money is immediately needed to secure it.

6. San Francisco honors rent control for rental units with a certificate of occupancy before June 13, 1979.

7. Leases are typically 12 months. If you are looking for a space for less than 12 months we recommend subletting. Subletting usually will have 3 month and 6 month leases.

Popular Neighborhoods for USF Students

A majority of our off-campus students reside in:

  • Outer Richmond
  • Inner Richmond
  • Outer Sunset
  • Inner Sunset
  • Panhandle
  • Cole Valley
  • Laurel Heights

Map of San Francisco

Average Off-Campus Rent Prices

Due to the attraction of living in the city, physical limitations of the area, and a limit of a housing, the rent prices are above the national average.

  • Shared rental spaces: Entire apartment shared with two or more people (living with roommates)
    • Shared bedroom in a shared space: ~$800-$1,100/month
    • Private bedroom in a Shared Space:
      • Undergrad ~$1,150/$1,200 - $1,300/month (but can go higher)
      • Grad $1,400 - $1,600 *typically live with less people/larger space
  • Studio Apartment: $1,900 - $2,200/month
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment: ~$3,200 - $3,600/month
  • 2 Bedroom Apartment: ~varies a lot $3,000 - $3,800 & up

Types of Units

  • Private apartment = your own unit
  • Private bedrooms in a shared space (house/apartment/condo/flat) = your own room
  • Shared bedrooms in a shared space = (you share the room with another)
  • Co Living Options (think upscale residence hall) = shared common space and room occupancy varies