Finding a place to live in San Francisco

One question we often get from out-of-area students is how to find an affordable place to live in San Francisco. Here are a couple of suggestions.

  • Local Connections: If you know anyone who lives in the area, ask them if they know of any available rooms, or if their connections might know of any.
  • Alumni Networks: Ask the regional coordinator for your school’s alumni network to send out a note to the alumni in the Bay Area; alumni are often eager to help out a current student.
  • Craigslist: Look at the Housing section on This is the largest database of available rooms in the Bay Area.
  • Padmapper: Although most listings are pulled directly from Craigslist, Padmapper is much more user-friendly since you can browse them on a map.
  • Homestays: Homestays are arrangements where a student lives in a local family’s home for anywhere between several weeks and several months. These are typically arranged by third party organizations such as San Francisco Homestay, and rates can be as low as about $900 per month plus a one-time placement fee.
  • SFDPH Staff: Staff in the Office of AIDS and beyond sometimes know of relatively inexpensive rooms that are available. They also may be willing to host a scholar on a temporary basis while the scholar is looking for a more permanent living situation.

One important thing to keep in mind is that rooms go very fast in San Francisco. If you have a lead from a personal connection or through Craigslist, follow it immediately!

Also, beware of scams on Craigslist. If it seems too good to be true, it almost certainly isn’t real. And if someone asks you to wire you money in another country, that is definitely not a good sign! That being said, most postings on Craigslist are legitimate, and it’s a great resource.