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Old 06-04-2012, 03:54 AM
 
121 posts, read 210,066 times
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Greetings. I currently live in Indiana and plan to move to the Bay Area in Sept/Oct time frame. I'd like to live in SF or a very nearby hood (like Rockridge), relying on public transit and biking (no car). I'm by myself and am open to any type of renting (my own apt, roommates-apt, roommates-house, etc). I've read that if you want your own place, it's pretty much impossible to find a place to live without visiting the open houses and applying in person (if you disagree, please post your thoughts). My questions are:

1. Does the above apply to joining an apt or house as a new roommate?

2. If I wanted my own place, should I fly out here for a few days and pack in as many open houses as possible? Or better to come out here for a month on a sublease to look for something more permanent (this, of course, complicates the moving of my belongings)? Any visit is a personal expense - no help from company.

I'm wondering if any of you faced the same situation - moved from another location and needed to find housing before arriving. If so, how did you handle it and what would you recommend?
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:11 PM
 
Location: San Francisco, CA
506 posts, read 1,154,683 times
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I moved here from Chicago last winter. My husband and I rented our own place, we have a cat, and we're both self-employed. So this was about as complicated as it could get! (I suppose I could have had a pair of big dogs, but that would be impossible for anyone...)

Anyway.

We did a bunch of research about neighborhoods, then flew out a few months prior to the planned move. We visited the areas we were interested in, and specifically the big apartment buildings or complexes in those neighborhoods. (Not all areas have such things.) Met with sales agents, saw model units, asked questions, picked up brochures and paperwork to apply. If you do this, take a lot of pictures and make notes. It'll all turn into a blur once you get home. Even check out places that have no vacancies if they look interesting to you -- there's churn all the time, and you can sometimes get on a waiting list. The big complexes take applications online, the smaller buildings take applications by mail.

A month or so before you move, see what vacancies are available in the various buildings, and start applying, starting with the places you liked best, of course. The individual apartments available won't be the same vacancies you saw when you visited, but if you generally know the building, the neighborhood, and the management, you aren't taking a huge risk.

Note: these apartments are a little more expensive than the ones rented by individual landlords. They also tend to have more amenities.

I don't know if it's possible to get a roommate remotely. There was one woman who posted here a while ago, trying that route. Wound up (likely) being scammed, backed out, moved here anyway, lived in a boat for a while, then a hostel, and we haven't heard from her in a few months...
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:22 PM
 
13,711 posts, read 9,233,267 times
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Most landlords/managers want to meet you face to face before renting to you. There are real estate agents who, for a fee, will offer to fight for you and attend open houses for you. I'm skeptical of their effectiveness. Roommate situation is even more so - would you accept some dude who you've never met to live in the same house as you do? So yes, it's very hard to secure a place remotely.

Best way is as you said - find a temporary place you can rest your head in and then go hunting for your more permanent place.

.
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:23 PM
 
Location: South Korea
5,242 posts, read 13,078,817 times
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Rentals move very fast in the Bay Area. If you need to get a place lined up, honestly I would not consider San Francisco. The market is crazy there right now and unless you're super rich it will take a long time to find a rental or roommates there because you'll be competing with so many other people. You don't want to spend 2 months or more going to open houses trying to find an apartment you can afford, when you just need a roof over your head. Roommate rentals are generally done in an open house fashion as well, where you schedule an appointment with them and go "interview"--often they have a bunch of people do it one after the other, like a cattle call. But you'll find that when you reply to San Francisco roommate ads on craigslist, 95% of the time people won't get back to you because they are so swamped with responders.

So I'd look at the East Bay where the market should be easier and there will be less competition, though you will probably see more now. I'd look at Berkeley for roommate rentals and Oakland for apartment rentals. Just keep in mind that Berkeley will have waves of college students coming in when semesters end.

Now you just have to figure out the logistics of getting a place and getting your stuff here. Because things move quickly here I think it would be risky to expect to come here for a few days, rent a place, then be able to go back to IN and drive your stuff out in a U-Haul or whatever a month later when you're ready.

What I would do is get your stuff in IN ready to go, then come out to the Bay Area and stay somewhere for a week--maybe look for places to stay on AirBnB or even couchsurfing--and look at places in the East Bay. Pack in as many viewings as you can. Then when you find a place you like, ask to put down a deposit and take it on the spot, and ask what the latest date you can move in is--often landlords will let you take a couple of weeks before you move in and start paying rent. Roommates will want money sooner, if that is the case and you really want a place but need to go back to IN and get your stuff, then just pay the month's rent and eat the cost of paying rent for a place you won't be just so you can claim it and know you're set for a roof over your head.

Of course, coming with your stuff in the first place and putting it temporarily in storage while you look for a place would be the easiest solution. You didn't say how you wanted to get your stuff there.
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:25 PM
 
Location: South Korea
5,242 posts, read 13,078,817 times
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Also you can do temporary sublets, like where someone moves out of an apartment and either the landlord or the roommates need someone to move in and pay the remaining rent for a few months until the lease was up or when a new person is moving in. You could do that, take a 1 or 2 or 3 month place and spend the time looking for a place of your own. Craigslist has a temporary sublets section.
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:35 PM
 
554 posts, read 1,154,877 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Isebiel View Post
I moved here from Chicago last winter. My husband and I rented our own place, we have a cat, and we're both self-employed. So this was about as complicated as it could get! (I suppose I could have had a pair of big dogs, but that would be impossible for anyone...)

Anyway.

Made me smile. We may be looking for a place, moving with two kids, one who is in school, four dogs (small), a cat.

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Old 06-04-2012, 06:56 PM
 
121 posts, read 210,066 times
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Many thanks for all the thoughtful replies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayorhaggar View Post
So I'd look at the East Bay where the market should be easier and there will be less competition, though you will probably see more now. I'd look at Berkeley for roommate rentals and Oakland for apartment rentals. Just keep in mind that Berkeley will have waves of college students coming in when semesters end.
I was beginning to lean this way as well. My goal is to move to the area ASAP. Once I get here, I'll have time to explore and adjust.

Quote:
What I would do is get your stuff in IN ready to go, then come out to the Bay Area and stay somewhere for a week--maybe look for places to stay on AirBnB or even couchsurfing--and look at places in the East Bay. Pack in as many viewings as you can.
This sounds reasonable. I have a good friend in the area and may be able to stay with him for a week.

Quote:
Then when you find a place you like, ask to put down a deposit and take it on the spot
This will be the most challenging part for me, as I'm not good at making quick decisions based on intuition. But I may have to just bite the bullet and try it out. I probably won't make this decision on the first few places I see - those will become the baseline of my comparisons. As I see more, it'll be easier to make the call.
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Old 06-04-2012, 08:55 PM
 
Location: South Korea
5,242 posts, read 13,078,817 times
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Yeah just go see a few viewings and you'll get a handle on what apartments are like. But if you want a place you'll need to try and take it on the spot, even in the East Bay if you try calling back a couple days later it will probably be taken. But you'll have more leeway than in SF where you need to be hyperaggressive.
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Old 06-04-2012, 09:00 PM
 
10,624 posts, read 26,736,582 times
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When we moved back to the Bay Area recently we used ABF relocubes to move our stuff (as they can just sit in storage until you have them delivered, plus they're a fairly low-cost moving option to begin with) and rented a temporary place for a month. I would HIGHLY recommend setting up some sort of short-term housing (beyond a hotel) for at least a month, as it can take a long time to find a place. (Prior to that my husband had been in SF staying with a friend and looking for rentals, but was having no luck finding anything). Be prepared to move into a place immediately (or at least pay for it immediately), but you'll be far less stressed if you don't have a (or as much of a) ticking clock hanging over your head.

And yes, you'll have to be ready to make decision on the spot. Keep in mind that just putting in an application doesn't mean anything; odds are you won't get the place anyway, and if you do and you have cold feet, you're not obligated to rent the place if you haven't yet signed the lease (although if you get picky you risk not finding any place at all).

I agree that if you want to find a place fast you should look outside of the city itself. Once we gave up on SF we found a place much quicker, and we like it just as well (and the price is much lower!).
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:48 PM
 
121 posts, read 210,066 times
Reputation: 77
A few more questions about how things work:

1. At what point does one submit an application (and fee, presumably)? Is it customary for everyone who comes to the open house submit an app, or only the one(s) chosen by the landlord? Does the landlord usually choose only one, or more applicants at a time? Basically, I'm trying to figure out whether it's necessary to pay an application fee for the places that don't work out (most likely b/c they picked someone else).

2. Can anyone come to an open house, or do you need an appointment?
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