First of all, this isn't San Francisco. South City doesn't even border The City, so don't think you need to promise your firstborn to a landlord just to look at 1 bedroom apartments. With that said, you'll find your fair share of commuters here, so apartment rentals can be somewhat pricy in desirable areas. Below are the three basic commandments for your apartment search in South San Francisco:
Know Thy Neighborhoods Median monthly rent in South San Francisco varies widely by neighborhood. Not-so-nice areas of town may cost half the price as some of the wealthier neighborhoods. It's important to know the areas to figure out what you can afford.
Thou Shalt Have Basic Rental Paperwork You'll find some competition for apartment rentals in desirable areas, so do some prep work before looking for your home. References and proof of income are standard requirements. You should also know what's on your credit report and address any negative information accordingly. If you have a pet, previous rental references become highly important. Get someone to vouch for your pooch so your landlord can sleep at nights.
Thou Shalt Be Patient Do to its close proximity to San Francisco, inexpensive apartment rentals in good neighborhoods are highly prized. However, if you hone your patience and your rental applications, your time will come. Plan on spending about a month looking for the place of your dreams. However, if you must move right away, reputable apartment complexes within the city offer instant approvals and fast move-ins.
When looking for an apartment for rent in South San Francisco, it's helpful to understand the city layout. West of Highway 101 is the downtown area sharing land with oodles of residential neighborhoods. Go east of the highway and you'll find office parks and industrial areas. Look south towards the airport for plenty of apartment complexes and businesses catering to travelers. Of course, that all could change in the next few years. South City has a city-wide plan to make this formerly working-class area into a middle- and upper-class haven. Luxury condominiums and apartment complexes are already common sights in some neighborhoods.
Avalon/Southwood/Brentwood: Covering almost 500 acres, Avalon is a mixed-use neighborhood with two schools and a park. In Avalon, you can enjoy single family living or rub elbows with neighbors in one of the approximately 800 apartments in the area. Seniors looking for somewhere to spend their golden years should consider this neighborhood, which has non-profit managed 1-bedroom apartments for fixed-income residents. $$
Baden: Looking for a bungalow with some charm? With the oldest houses in the city, Baden has the real deal for architecture lovers. It's also close to the South San Francisco High School, making it one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city. $$$$
Mayfair Village: Near industrial and warehouse properties, Mayfair Village offers inexpensive (and bare-bones) living for those just moving into the city. $$
Paradise Valley/Terraby/Peck's Lot: By far the least developed area of the city, Paradise Valley recently built 293 homes and townhouses as part of the city's urban plan. If you'd like to experience rural living, this is the place for you. However, if you want a grocery store in your neighborhood, look elsewhere. $$
Sunshine Gardens: If you're looking for an apartment complex in South San Francisco, try Sunshine Gardens. Although there's still plenty of single-family homes, there's also lots of multi-family dwellings available in the area. $$$
Winston-Serra: Made up of the Buri Buri and Winston-Serra subdivisions, this neighborhood is the city's largest. Don't make the mistake of thinking you're stuck in the suburbs, however. You'll be minutes away from several shopping centers, schools and stores on Felipe Avenue. $$$
Westborough: Westborough offers breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay, but you'll pay for the privilege to view them. The vibrant Asian community has revitalized the area and made the dining choices plentiful and delish. While it's clearly a desirable location, Westborough development has been hindered by its close proximity to the San Adreas fault. $$$$$
Even though South San Francisco isn't a tourist destination, it's still a vibrant city with amazing shops, restaurants and cultural opportunities. Make friends with the locals to learn about the best places in South City, and soon you'll be giving advice yourself. Here's a few places, tips and words of wisdom to get you started:
Hikers, bikers and other health nuts should take advantage of the walkways and trails near the San Francisco Bay. If you're interested in aviation, it's also a great spot to watch the planes land at the nearby airport.
Eat at Bertolucci's at least once. This internationally-known Italian restaurant is almost as old as the city itself. Although it's less popular than it was during the ‘60s and ‘70s, it's still worth a taste.
Don't ditch your car. Even though the BART offers good public transportation, driving is still easier in many parts of the city. Keeping a vehicle also allows you to consider neighborhoods outside the city center.
Orange Memorial Park is the heart of the city. Tennis courts, skate parks, indoor pools and other recreational areas are all immaculately maintained for the city's residents. Not an athlete? Try the farmer's market in the park that offers fresh, local produce from May through October. Or bring Fido to enjoy the adjacent dog park during the annual "Day in the Park" in September.
Learn to love Sign Hill. Sure, proclaiming South San Francisco as "The Industrial City" probably isn't as cool as it once was. Still, it's the most recognizable part of the city. The surrounding park is now open to hikers, so you can take a selfie with those historic concrete letters.
Moving to South San Francisco is a great way to take advantage of the weather of Northern California without the hassles of living in an international city. Start your apartment search now, and you could be decorating your new place in just a few weeks.