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244 Apartments for rent in San Francisco, CA

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Last updated September 25 at 6:47AM
Kirkham Heights
1555 5th Ave
San Francisco, CA
Updated September 23 at 7:25AM
1 Bedroom
$2,675
2 Bedrooms
$3,175
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City Guide
San Francisco
Finding an Apartment in "The City"

The vacancy rate in San Francisco is a miniscule 2%, with a whopping 65% of the city being renter-occupied as opposed to homeowners. Take some of the following tips to heart and you’ll have a much better shot at finding a spot for your extensive record collection.

How much will it cost? Prices vary greatly depending on what neighborhood you’re looking at, but it’s not uncommon to see 1 bedroom units for $2000. Lucky for you, the city does have rent control laws in place for apartments built before 1979 (most were), so you won’t have to worry about dramatic annual spikes if you do end up in one of those buildings. If your place is newer, be sure to ask about their history of rent increases, as 20% rent hikes after the first year have been known to ruin many's mood.

When to rent: Winter is the quietest season for renting, while Spring and Summer are busy. But be prepared; finding an apartment in San Francisco will be a challenge—a challenge that could take weeks, months or hours. Hours? Yes, hours. You should be prepared to plunk down your money as soon as you start physically looking at places, because odds are if you like it, someone else will too, and they’ll snatch it up while you’re home “sleeping on it.” Don’t sleep on it.

What you need: Be prepared to raise your game. With the competition for places being über stiff, you’d be wise to treat your apartment search like a job search (and a job search in today's economy, at that). When you get an appointment with a landlord, be on time. Be friendly. Be professional. Have your documents ready. Remember that 3-ring binder? Yeah, get that and put inside of it your credit report, rental application, letter of employment (or your 2 most recent pay stubs), references, and if you’re bringing a pet, you might need a “pet resume”—something to show the management that your precious parakeet has had all her shots and doesn’t have a record of biting people’s earlobes off. Of course, have your checkbook ready too because you’ll need to be ready to act quickly. A security deposit paid on the spot speaks volumes.

San Francisco Neighborhoods

There’s no shortage of quality and quaint neighborhoods here. We’ll do our best to break some of the biggest nabes down for you here, but for in depth neighborhood overviews.

Bernal Heights: Next to the Mission (see below), Bernal Heights has parks and restaurants.

Castro: Remember Milk with Sean Penn? This is the ‘hood where Harvey Milk made history. It’s close to the Haight, close to the Mission, and there’s loads of great shopping and eating.

Chinatown: A famous downtown community jam-packed with shops, restaurants, vendors and history.

Cole Valley: Just a couple of blocks south of Haight-Ashbury, Cole Valley is a popular place with some very nice living options. Cole Valley is one of the smaller hoods in SF so only a few blocks worth of rentals will place you in this area.

Cow Hollow: Area near The Presidio & the Marina. It’s pretty much just the Marina.

Civic Center-Tenderloin: Neighborhood contains an array of restaurants, along with City Hall.

Financial District: The central business district of San Francisco and where the city gets its beautiful skyline from.

Haight-Asbury: It’s flat here, so great for walking and biking and you’re close Golden Gate Park & the Panhandle for a handful of sunny SF days. Upper Haight is a bit cooler temperature-wise (and more shopping/touristy heavy) than Lower Haight, which is just down the street past Buena Vista Park and Divisadero.

Hayes Valley: Somewhat of an unsung gem, this area boasts great restaurants and culture. Hayes Valley is fairly centrally located among the other hoods mentioned, so it would make for a nice walk to the Mission or Haight.

Hunters Point/Bayview: Located in the southeastern part of the city, this is where you’ll find the 49ers playing at Candlestick Park.

Marina District: Marina is a neighborhood with a great view of the bay and great food.

Mission District: Here you’ll find murals, great food, and some rad thrift, antique and used bookstores. If you can, look for a spot near Dolores Park as this is one of the choicest hangouts in the city and boasts one of the best views around.

Nob Hill-Russian Hill: These hilly, cable car-loving neighborhoods offer spectacular apartments and views. Some blocks lack the Victorian charm of many parts of the city, so if you're adamant about crown molding and vaulted ceilings you might want to take a gander at Google Street View before touring for yourself. Nob & Russian Hill offer big blocks of residential living, it’s a great spot to consider.

Noe Valley: Another primarily residential area.

North Beach: One of the classic San Francisco neighborhoods, you’ll find lots of restaurants, boutiques and tourists here. Washington Square Park is always packed on Saturdays, Sundays, and, well, most days. If you can find a spot, it’s a great choice.

Pacific Heights: There are many Victorian homes here, and Lower Pacific Heights can be a great find with convenient access to the park, Fillmore Street shopping & dining, and Japantown.

Richmond District: A residential area. It’s foggy here, but it’s less expensive than elsewhere.

Sunset District: Home to lots of parks and an increasing amount of surfers. Outer Sunset also has plenty of rental deals. Oh, and fog. The Sunset district is on the westernmost edge of San Francisco. Unlike elsewhere in SF, if you’re moving here (or the Richmond), you’ll probably want a car.

SoMA (South of Market): This is the perfect place to live if you work downtown. Filled with museums, hotels, and plenty of great restaurants, here you’ll find many loft style apartments, an eclectic energy, and baseball’s Giants. SoMA is home to many industrial and warehouse buildings & newer high-rise apartment complexes.

Western Addition: Home to the musically rich Fillmore neighborhood, this area also contains Japantown and has no shortage of Victorian homes. It’s primarily residential, but there are corner stores galore.

Life in San Francisco

It’s not “San Fran”, and don’t you dare call it “Frisco”

  • San Franciscans are a unique breed, and one that’s very protective of their home turf. “San Francisco” is just that, and nicknames of any variety (with the exception of “The City” and “SF”) are a dead giveaway for tourists. Also, Gough Street is pronounced “GOFF”, & and that “L” in Polk Street, that’s not just sittin’ there for kicks.
  • Because the city is just 7 miles by 7 miles, you’ll learn the streets well and in SF it’s common to use cross streets (as opposed to exact addresses) as a navigational means. Speaking of navigation...

The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Muni

  • Public transportation is a major way of life here and there’re many options. Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway) combines it all: light rail, subway, bus, trolley, carrier pigeon, you name it. Learn your neighborhood, ask around, and you’ll soon find the best combo of public transit. Be sure to order & fill a Clipper card online (or get one at a local Walgreens), as this is the form of payment most easily accepted on Muni vehicles.
  • For drivers, traffic can be an issue depending on where you live. If you plan on commuting to Silicon Valley, you’ll want to rent in the southeast section to ease your freeway access & minimize your drive time. Make sure to get an apartment with an assigned parking spot, too, as street spots are rare and parking tickets are not.
  • If you’re a fan of repeatedly putting one front in front of the other, you’ll love San Francisco; Walkscore.com ranked it America’s most walkable city in 2008. If you’re a fan of bicycles, great; you’ll have plenty of company with fellow commuters who pedal their way to work. If you’re a fan of forgetting to put your car in park – a very weird thing to be a fan of, we might add – then rethink your move here. Lots of hills mean lots of opportunities for things to roll down them.
  • For the true 21st century dudes and dudettes, check out Zip Car if you’re not planning on owning, but would still like to get behind the wheel occasionally, and be sure to download the “Transporter” app to your iPhone for real-time updates on Muni & BART arrivals.

In San Francisco, you’ll be treated to one of the world’s greatest cities, full of culture, history, open minds, and spectacular food. Congratulations on your move and best of luck finding that perfect pad!

Rent Report
San Francisco

September 2017 San Francisco Rent Report

Welcome to the September 2017 San Francisco Rent Report. San Francisco rents increased over the past month. In this report, we'll evaluate trends in the San Francisco rental market, including comparisons to cities throughout the metro, state, and nation.

San Francisco rents increased significantly over the past month

San Francisco rents have increased 0.5% over the past month, and are up marginally by 0.8% in comparison to the same time last year. Currently, median rents in San Francisco stand at $2,440 for a one-bedroom apartment and $3,070 for a two-bedroom. This is the third straight month that the city has seen rent increases after a decline in May. San Francisco's year-over-year rent growth lags the state average of 4.5%, as well as the national average of 3.0%.

Rents rising across the San Francisco Metro

Throughout the past year, rent increases have been occurring not just in the city of San Francisco, but across the entire metro. Of the largest 10 cities that we have data for in the San Francisco metro, 9 of them have seen prices rise. Here's a look at how rents compare across some of the largest cities in the metro.

  • Concord has seen the fastest rent growth in the metro, with a year-over-year increase of 6.3%. The median two-bedroom there costs $2,960, while one-bedrooms go for $2,360.
  • Over the past month, Berkeley has seen the biggest rent drop in the metro, with a decline of 2.2%. Median two-bedrooms there cost $2,690, while one-bedrooms go for $2,140.
  • San Mateo has the most expensive rents of the largest cities in the San Francisco metro, with a two-bedroom median of $4,300; rents increased 0.1% over the past month and 1.5% over the past year.
  • Hayward has the least expensive rents in the San Francisco metro, with a two-bedroom median of $2,660; rents grew 1.0% over the past month and 2.9% over the past year.

Similar cities nationwide show more affordable rents compared to San Francisco

Rent growth in San Francisco has been relatively stable over the past year - some other large cities have seen more substantial increases; in contrast, rents in a few cities have actually declined. Compared to most similar cities across the country, San Francisco is less affordable for renters.

  • Other cities across the state have seen rents increase, with California as a whole logging rent growth of 4.5% over the past year. For example, rents have grown by 5.0% in Los Angeles, 4.6% in San Diego, and 2.2% in San Jose.
  • San Francisco's median two-bedroom rent of $3,070 is above the national average of $1,160. Nationwide, rents have grown by 3.0% over the past year compared to the 0.8% increase in San Francisco.
  • While rents in San Francisco remained moderately stable this year, similar cities saw increases, including Seattle (+5.4%), Los Angeles (+5.0%), and Phoenix (+4.9%); note that median 2BR rents in these cities go for $1,710, $1,740, and $1,020 respectively.
  • Renters will generally find more expensive prices in San Francisco than most other large cities. For example, Phoenix has a median 2BR rent of $1,020, where San Francisco is nearly three times that price.

For more information check out our national report. You can also access our full data for cities and counties across the U.S. at this link.
City Median 1BR price Median 2BR price M/M price change Y/Y price change
San Francisco $2,440 $3,070 0.5% 0.8%
Fremont $2,890 $3,630 1.5% 3.2%
Hayward $2,120 $2,660 1.0% 2.9%
Concord $2,360 $2,960 -0.3% 6.3%
Berkeley $2,140 $2,690 -2.2% -0.1%
San Mateo $3,430 $4,300 0.1% 1.5%
Redwood City $2,700 $3,390 -0.4% 1.1%
San Ramon $2,970 $3,730 0.7% 2.0%
Pleasanton $2,940 $3,690 -2.0% 4.8%
Union City $2,730 $3,430 0.7% 4.3%
See more

Methodology - Recent Updates:

Data from private listing sites, including our own, tends to skew toward luxury apartments, which introduces sample bias when estimates are calculated directly from these listings. To address these limitations, we’ve recently made major updates to our methodology, which we believe have greatly improved the accuracy and reliability of our estimates.

Read more about our new methodology below, or see a more detailed post here.

Methodology:

Apartment List is committed to making our rent estimates the best and most accurate available. To do this, we start with reliable median rent statistics from the Census Bureau, then extrapolate them forward to the current month using a growth rate calculated from our listing data. In doing so, we use a same-unit analysis similar to Case-Shiller’s approach, comparing only units that are available across both time periods to provide an accurate picture of rent growth in cities across the country.

Our approach corrects for the sample bias inherent in other private sources, producing results that are much closer to statistics published by the Census Bureau and HUD. Our methodology also allows us to construct a picture of rent growth over an extended period of time, with estimates that are updated each month.

Read more about our methodology here.

About Rent Reports:

Apartment List publishes monthly reports on rental trends for hundreds of cities across the U.S. We intend these reports to be a source of reliable information that help renters and policymakers make sound decisions, and we invest significant time and effort in gathering and analyzing rent data. Our work is covered regularly by journalists across the country.

We are continuously working to improve our methodology and data, with the goal of providing renters with the information that they need to make the best decisions.

San Francisco Renter Confidence Survey
National study of renter confidence in the economy, homeownership, and cities
Here's how San Francisco ranks on:
A- Overall satisfaction
B- Safety and crime rate
A+ Jobs and career opportunities
A- Recreational activities
F Affordability
F Quality of schools
A- Weather
B Commute time
C- State and local taxes
A- Public transit
C Pet-friendliness
Best Worst
Full data available when viewing on a non-mobile device.
Overview of Findings

Apartment List has released results for San Francisco from the second annual Apartment List Renter Satisfaction Survey. The survey, which drew on responses from over 30,000 renters, provides insight into what states and cities must do to meet the needs of the 105 million American renters nationwide.

“Compared to other California cities, San Francisco did quite well overall,” says Andrew Woo, Director of Data Science at Apartment List. “Many categories had average or above average scores, with others commanding more attention.”

Key findings in San Francisco include the following:

  • San Francisco renters give their city an A- overall for satisfaction.
  • The highest-rated category for the city was local jobs and career opportunities (A+).
  • Other highly rated categories included access to public transit (A-), weather (A-), and access to parks (A-).
  • SF renters are reasonably satisfied with safety (B-) and commute times (B).
  • The largest causes for dissatisfaction were quality of local schools (F) and affordability/cost of living (F). With rents rising especially on coastal cities, it comes as no surprise that cost of living is a major concern here.
  • Within the group of San Francisco renters, millennials are very satisfied, with this particular subset group giving the city an A-.
  • San Francisco was right on par with other California cities like San Diego (A-), but has much more satisfied renters than other cities like Los Angeles (C), Sacramento (C-), and San Jose (C-).
  • The top rated cities nationwide for renter satisfaction included Arlington, VA; Lincoln, NE; Pasadena, CA; Boston, MA; and Madison, WI. The lowest rated cities included Newark, NJ; Bronx, NY; Bridgeport, CT; Baltimore, MD; and Salinas, CA.

Renters say:

  • “San Francisco has a great combination of a beautiful city, well paying jobs, and access to the outdoors. It's expensive, but worth it. My neighborhood Cole Valley, is convenient and safe, with beautiful Victorian homes and is right next to the park.” —Anon.
  • “The weather couldn't be any better; same with the people here.” —Sari S.
  • “The rent is astronomically high. The apartment I live in is less than 1K sq. feet, has not been updated in at least 20 years, and multiple things barely work.” —Kylie B.
  • “Safety is a huge issue that is not being dealt with…Housing is completely unaffordable and there is no value. The food and entertainment options are pretty good though.” —Jenna B.