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Old 11-16-2008, 08:00 PM
3 posts, read 10,420 times
Reputation: 10


I am a 28 years old female who will be starting Graduate studies in Academy of Arts as an International Student starting January. I want to rent a place in San Francisco from where getting to the college everyday will not be too tideous, where I can feel safe and be in close vicnity to BART/Caltrain so that I can hit the Bay Area when I need to.

I have few limitations/criterias:
- I don't have a social security number, from being an international student
- I don't want to have to share bathroom/kitchen (my 6 years of doing so in London was not the best experience I had). That excludes wanting to go to a student housing provided by the school. Basically I want to rent a place of my own.
- I can't afford a place that will cost more than a $1000 a month (and of course cheaper the better!!!)
- My boyfriend will be moving in with me sometime in February. We both love to cook and eat inside. The size of the apartment won't really matter as long as there is a kitchen.

Based on these criterias, I have been doing my bit of research in craigslist. But without enough knowledge of the city, it is getting me more confused than informed. So here I am seeking answers from people who probably know San Francisco the best:

- Are you easily able to rent an apartment in San Francisco without Social Security Number or credit history? I was told that I can (even without a co-signer) by the school but my CL research is making me pessimistic. If I can rent an apartment without ss number, how is it possible and how do I go about researching for such opportunities?
- I would like to be as close to the school (Montegomery area) as possible. When I visited SF few years ago, Montegomery area looked to be rather business-oriented. Are there residential areas that are close by, safe and within my budget of $1000? What neighborhoods do I avoid in my search of apartments?
-I am probably sounding extremely picky right now, but the limited knowledge of neighborhoods, tight budget of an international student and utmost priority to safety and privacy are both conflictive to each other and anxiety-giving. Despite everything, I love the unique vibe of this city and its people and want to spend a few years here. Please HELP. Please also let me know of any suggestion that you may have.
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Old 11-17-2008, 01:22 AM
409 posts, read 1,792,891 times
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The school should have a host of off-campus housing listings. Academy of Art has a very large international student body so our SSN/Credit issues are not at all uncommon. The housing that the school itself offers is vastly overpriced, FYI.
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Old 11-17-2008, 12:30 PM
3 posts, read 10,420 times
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Thank you so much for your reply. I think my main issue here is that I am not yet in the country. But I trying to plan/arrange ahead so that I don't run into issues when I actually land in SF. I did look into the option of campus housing studio apartments that Academy of Art offers. Their estimated cost of renting one is $7100 per semester. Even if I break the cost down to 4 months, I am still looking at close to $1800 a month. Overpriced is an understatement here considering my budget of around $1000 a month. Even shared housing is ranged around $4000 a semester. Besides, I am not sure if they will let my boyfriend move in with me if I chose to stay in one of those housings.
My search at this point is to find a place that matches my price range in a safe SF neighborhood. I am not looking for anything fancy but some private space. I do find a place every now and then in craigslist that matches my needs, but my uncertainties lie on type of the neighborhood. What neighborhoods can I focus on or which neighborhoods should I avoid during my search?
I am really skeptic about contacting the landlords without knowing the exact procedures to rent for someone without social security, as I am under the impression that US is a country that runs on credit history. Do you know of any alternate arrangements that is common among people like me while renting a place?
I see a few listings that explicitly welcome international students to inquire. But all of these places are around USF or SFSU, which seem like a distance from the Academy of Art. Are these places conviniently accessible from Montgomery Area and rail services via public transporation?
Please advise. And thank you again for your help.
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Old 11-17-2008, 01:47 PM
Location: Northern California
3,708 posts, read 14,295,234 times
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I think the best you will be able to do for $1000 is to rent out a room in a home. Perhaps you could find a small studio apartment for that .The downtown area (Montgomery St. you mentioned) is mostly office buildings and commercial/retail with little housing. If you must live in SF, check out rentals in the Sunset and Richmond districts in the western part of the city. Public transit to downtown is very good and takes about 20 minutes or so. You can buy a monthly pass for unlimited use of busses and streetcars.
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Old 11-17-2008, 08:02 PM
409 posts, read 1,792,891 times
Reputation: 301
There are a good number of buildings that won't care about credit history. The apartment management companies do but they are not a monopoly. Unfortunately it's far easier to deal with them from afar and much easier to deal with the locals when here. I suggest finding a shared room situation for your first month. This will allow you to get to know the area and hit the streets on foot to find somewhere suitable. Check sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc in the "sublets/temporary" where you can do pretty well looking for a one-month type situation. If someone with a sublet wants a credit check you probably don't want to live with them anyhow!

1k/month isn't a ton but there are definitely studios you can get for that amount. Try the 600 block of taylor street.
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Old 11-18-2008, 12:45 PM
3 posts, read 10,420 times
Reputation: 10
Thank you all so much for your responses. These information do provide me with better grounds to pursue my hunt.
Humboldtrat, renting out a room in a house is just the thing I am trying to avoid at this point. I'm sure I can find a place among really nice landlords and get away from the issues I had to deal with in the past. But I consider such probability as being minimal, especially when I'm doing my hunt from overseas. But thank you for pointing out Sunset and Richmond districts. I do find a few listings in CL that belong to those neighborhoods.
If nothing else works, I think NorthernCalifornia has just suggested me a very viable idea of subletting a room temporarily. This, like you said, will give me more time and an opportunity to get a personal feel of rentals that are available.
You guys are fab. Thanks again for your suggestions. Please also be kind enough to let me know of anything else that you may think is suitable at this point.
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