Unless you’ve looked for a place to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can’t possibly wrap your mind around how expensive it is. For reference, a decent-looking, 750 square foot one-bedroom in Mountain View, California is about $3300 a month. And that’s renting, on the low end of the spectrum. It’s insane, really.
Recently an old friend and I started looking for places together in the East Bay Area. While it’s about 45 minutes east of the city, and far enough from all of the tech-industry hustle and bustle, it’s still quite pricey for the amount of real estate you’re getting. It got me thinking: are there any secret hacks to finding a cute, but affordable, spot?
Here’s what I’ve found to help, in my self-proclaimed experience.
1) Do your research. There are so many sites out there to scour, it can be overwhelming. That being said, sometimes you may find the same apartment listed on Craigslist for a better deal than you would on a site like Zillow. I think it’s important to exhaust all of your options, on all of the sites, to make sure you’re really getting the best bang for your buck. Once you’ve found something promising, take a screenshot of the listing to make sure they’re honoring the price they listed online.
2) Make a list of 5-7 places you want to check out. It’s nice to have a starting point when you set out to search for places. Make a list of 5-7 places that both you and your roommate agree on, and go there first. Weigh the pros and cons of each, and take notes while you’re touring the properties.
3) Set a hard financial limit. This one is a no-brainer. My future roomie and I sat down and set a price-range that we were each comfortable with, with a limit of what we’re each able to pay. This makes it easy to narrow down the search, and walk away from places outside of your price range.
4) Figure out your deal breakers. For me, I refuse to live anywhere that hasn’t been renovated or without an in-unit washer and dryer. Those are my hard no, deal breakers. Beyond that, I’d prefer something with hardwood floors and a walk-in closet— but I’m willing to compromise for the right price. Sit down with your potential roommate and figure out each of your deal breakers, so that you both can feel comfortable with where you’ll be living.
5) Be willing to drive around and scope out neighborhoods. After you check out the places on your pre-made list, take a drive around the surrounding areas. You may find a hidden gem that wasn’t listed online, that fits your list of requirements.