Housing Information for Exchange Students
Temporary Housing after Arriving San Francisco:
OIP is not able to assist students in finding temporary housing. We recommend that you reserve temporary accommodations before you arrive in San Francisco. First and foremost, you should have a specific destination when you arrive. If you do not have a friend or relative in the area to stay with, booking a hostel or hotel in advance is the best option.
A list of short term housing is available at SF State Housing’s website. Please note the University is not associated with any of these temporary housing options, nor does the University take responsibility for any of the businesses or referrals listed here. OIP cannot make any recommendations nor can reservations be made on your behalf.
If you are interested in living on-campus, it is imperative that you apply as early as possible, as space is limited and the demand is high. On-Campus housing information can be found at the SF State Housing website.
You do not need to wait until you are admitted to apply for on campus housing. As long as you have a SF State student ID and password you will be able to complete the online housing application.
If wish to live off campus, visit SF State Housing's Off-Campus Housing resources. New students who join the SF State new students' Facebook group will be able to post messages regarding housing. Students can meet other students who are looking for housing or roommates at orientation. It may take anywhere from 1-3 weeks on average searching for off-campus permanent housing.
San Francisco houses and apartments come in various architectural styles (Victorian, modern, etc.), many sizes (studios, 1-2-3 bedrooms, etc.) and also come unfurnished or furnished. There are a number of options for living situations, such as:
- Sharing an apartment or house with roommates of your choice
- Renting an apartment by yourself
- Renting a room from tenants in an established household with shared common areas
- Renting a room with an American family
Housing Hunting Tips:
Trust your gut
If you meet a landlord or roommate and s/he seems untrustworthy, asks you for bizarre documents that you would be uncomfortable providing, or gives you a general bad feeling, then do not rent that apartment or room.
Typically, your instincts in those situations are correct.
Like many big cities, San Francisco has landlords that may not be reliable. Although you have plenty of rights and protections as a tenant, we do not want you to have an unpleasant living experience or tense relations with roommates or landlords while you're here.
Although we understand what a stressful time your first few weeks in San Francisco can be between orientation, the beginning of the semester, and house-hunting, don’t feel compelled to take the very first apartment you see. You will get a feel for things after you see a few places and can determine what a quality apartment at a reasonable price in the Bay Area looks like.
Get everything in writing!
In order to protect yourself from scams or less-than-honest landlords or master tenants, it is a good idea to document all the details of your living situation as soon as an agreement is reached. For example, if your landlord or new roommate (master tenant) quotes you a monthly rent which includes the cost for water and utilities, have them write up a contract stating the conditions of the lease for each of you to sign before you move in.
San Francisco Tenants' Union
The San Francisco Tenants' Union is a community organization that exists as a resource for tenants to educate themselves about their rights concerning such issues as security deposits, evictions, landlord harassment, roommates, repairs, and rent increases, etc. More information about this Union is available on their website: http://www.sftu.org
Understand the neighborhood in San Francisco
The best way to determine the neighborhood for you is to spend some time there. Get a meal, go to a café, and walk or bike around to get a sense of that neighborhood before committing to anything.
San Francisco Neighborhood Guide: http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/
Advice from current International students:
"Get to San Francisco a week before orientation to start looking for housing because looking during orientation week can be stressful."
"Find a cheap hostel to stay in so you can stay there for a while if you do not find housing."
"Find a house in a well-connected area (in terms of public transportation)."
"Make sure you find housing you are really comfortable with and feel at home in—that is important! I was terribly home sick until I moved; now, I don’t want to leave!"
"Start looking for home before you get to San Francisco."
"Look for housing early, and do not despair if it does not go well in a week; every day brings better opportunities."
"Live with roommates, not on your own."