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How to Find Temporary Housing in San Francisco

April 28, 2015
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You’ve lined up a new job, booked your flight and packed your suitcases, and you’re ready to move to the city of your dreams. But what if you still haven’t landed that perfect first apartment in San Francisco? Your employer might have included temporary housing as part of a relocation package, if you got one. If not, consider finding a short-term place to crash while you search for a long-term home.

A good place to start is with word-of-mouth, or on social media: Maybe a friend or fellow alumnus who lives in San Francisco needs a short-term roommate. Craigslist’s “sublets/temporary” listings are another old favorite, and don’t forget to check posts in the “rooms & shares” section, too. Even though it’s usually for longer-term renters, people who post there might be willing to take on a roommate for a month or two.


Learn more in our Recent Grad’s Guide to San Francisco.


Newer on the scene than Craigslist, but already a favorite among globetrotters, Airbnb is also a good option for people on the hunt for short-term rentals in their home cities. You’ll get the chance to live like a San Franciscan as you settle into your new life. And if you stay in a shared apartment, you might also meet people to explore the city with.

Airbnb users can rent rooms or entire apartments for a period of weeks or months, if the owner of the apartment (or host, in Airbnb-speak) is open to it. When you search for available places on the website, keep an eye out for weekly or monthly costs listed in the “Prices” section of an apartment’s profile.

Vacation rentals

Beyond Airbnb, there are plenty of other websites for new residents looking for homey accommodations instead of traditional hotels. HomeAway and VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) are popular, and you can use to search listings from multiple vacation rental sites, the way Kayak works for airlines. HomeAway lets you send a message to the host before officially requesting to book, so you can check if your length of stay fits with the homeowner’s schedule.

As is true with any online service, take care not to share personal information, like your credit card or Social Security number, before communicating with the host directly. You might not be able to view the apartment in person before you get to San Francisco, but it’s a good idea to verify that you’ll get what you paid for once you arrive.

Student and corporate housing

Open to more of a hotel feel? Check out corporate or student housing. San Francisco is a major business destination, so there are lots of places for out-of-towners to stay if they’re working in the city for longer than a few nights. Similar options exist for interns and students spending a semester in San Francisco.

Companies like Latitude 38 Housing Services lease private or shared rooms in apartment buildings and townhouses, with utilities and furnishings included. You’ll pay $550 a month for a bed in a shared room at the company’s 1080 Folsom St. building in the centrally located South of Market neighborhood, and a private room there costs $1,150. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the same neighborhood is $3,359 a month, according to an August 2014 study by Priceonomics.

Extended-stay hotels like Execustay and Extended Stay America offer more traditional hotel rooms at weekly rates. Their rooms often include full kitchens, and you can generally snag one in San Francisco for under $200 a night.

Communal living spaces

If you’re heading to San Francisco to work in tech — or you’re interested in learning more about it — look into tech-savvy communes. Companies like Campus run properties where like-minded San Franciscans live communally, without some of the inconveniences of roommate living. Campus screens applicants, provides all kitchen and household supplies and makes sure the house is cleaned each week.

The commitment is month-to-month, so you’re not locked in to a lease, and you have the option to stay only until you find a permanent place. Rooms can range from $1,070 for a 105-square-foot room in a shared house in Bernal Heights to $3,010 for a bigger, top-floor room in a house in Diamond Heights. In Campus’ case, only the common areas are furnished, so you could be on the hook for bedroom furniture. And there’s a pretty extensive application process, including an open house to meet your potential roommates, so it’s a more labor-intensive way to find temporary housing in San Francisco.

What’s next?

Think about how important it is for you to meet new people while you’re living in a temporary place. Communal living or a shared room from Craigslist or Airbnb can be good choices if you want to make friends in your new city. Otherwise, a short-term rental in a one-bedroom vacation home or in corporate housing will do the trick. Once you have a place to crash, you’ll be on your way to finding a long-term space to call home.

Brianna McGurran is a staff writer covering education and life after college for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter.

Image via iStock.