West Coast Blues

by lauren atkinson

I heard horror stories about apartment hunting in San Francisco and before actually seeing the city, I really just didn't believe any of them. However, after starting the search myself, I've learned that apartment hunting in the Bay Area is really hard. It's not only that I'm picky and didn't like any of the 10+ places I viewed, either. (That would be typical of me. . .) Apartment hunting requires a lot of effort. Landlords aren't jumping at YOU. They're being mobbed themselves by plenty of likely tenants.

Truth is, there's a lot of people and only so much housing. By a lot, I mean "the second-most densely populated major city in the United States." They've got people CRAMMED into a 46.9 square-mile area. It's getting to the point where homes that used to be spacious are now renovated into TINY studio apartments. 

It's not just the competition of it all that makes it difficult: The cost is insane. In San Francisco, I will be paying triple my current rent, more than enough to mortgage a home and get a loan on another car in my current city. 

If all that hasn't scared you off, make sure you jump at the chance to view an apartment even if your interest in the place is minimal: the next day, the place could be gone. I found that to be true more than once. If there are some traits you like, you may need to take the risk despite not having everything you wanted. 

As if I didn't have enough anxiety about moving across the country: making a move like this one requires trusting a lot of people you don't know. That's why another big thing to watch out for is the dishonesty of landlords and realtors. As with most things in life, if it seems like too spectacular an offer to be real life, it probably is. There were so many places listed as having reasonable cost with amazing square-footage, only to learn: advertisements aren't always true. 

I found the best success from walking. Yes, walking: Walking around areas you've heard good things about will make you aware of the area and help you decide if it is somewhere you would like to live. Plus, it gives you the ability to jot down addresses that look vacant for research later in the day. 

If you can, make apartment hunting a full-time gig. Spend a few days doing just that: hunting. I spent SO MUCH time on livelovely setting up alerts and favorites, making sure I was keeping up on which places were available and which ones had been rented out. 

All of that being said, apartment hunting takes great risks. However, in the end you could end up with something great. I've found a place that I think Jesse and I will be happy living with an amazing location.

There are many reservations I had before searching for a new place that have now been stilled. Now comes the fun part: packing, selling old stuff and organizing!

What are some horror stories about moving that you've heard? What things have you learned on your own while moving?