As I mentioned previously, I got a jolt to start looking for a new place to live. In the days following that, I formally kicked off my search, digging through Craigslist for places within my desired price range and neighborhoods. The options weren’t super-plentiful, but I sent each and every one I was interested in a note telling them a little about myself, asking about availability and showings.
I got a response from probably half of those. That still lined up a nice weekend schedule of eight different showings, spaced apart enough to have time to get from one to another, but with large clusters of gaps that forced me to have to spend two full days in the city. Another hectic weekend after two spent traversing the world. (Aside: I swear I’ll get around to writing about that. It was a heck of an experience.)
To prepare for the search, I purchased a detailed credit report, printed out copies of my most recent pay stubs, a brief rental history reference sheet, and a photocopy of my driver’s license. I also entered in each of the showings onto my Google Calendar, complete with address, contact name and phone, and Craigslist posting link. As far as decreasing stress about the day goes, the latter was invaluable.
Off I went on Saturday. I saw some really nice places, met some really nice people, saw a few that were much too small even for me, saw some that were incredibly large for the price. Most of the showings were decently attended (one in particular was quite crowded); others were by appointment and were just me for that time. I took applications away from all of them. The day went okay, but the last viewing had me feeling barely a modicum of hope and I drove back home disheartened. I wasn’t sure this was really for me. I decided to fill out two of the applications when I got home, ruling out two as having deal-breaker qualities. The fourth application especially; why does anyone need my bank statements? No thanks.
On a side note, I spent my time in between the viewings between Golden Gate Park, Balboa, and Ocean Beach. It was a beautifully sunny day on the west side of the city.
That said, day two was better in every way. My viewings were more evenly spaced throughout the day and clustered geographically as to allow for sight-seeing between them. I went to some places I’d never been, including China and Baker Beaches, Sea Cliff, and the north side of the Richmond District. What a view those places have. Baker Beach especially, as that day the fog was isolated to the Golden Gate and from the sunny beach one could see the bridge towers busting out over the top of the clouds.
About the places themselves; they were much more desirable than those from the day before. They were larger, had more amenities, a better location, and cheaper prices. Also, as one would expect, much more crowded showings. I arrived at all very early, sometimes being the first one there; in minutes, there might have been upwards of ten people already. I typically spent no more than 15 minutes at each of these showings. After all, studios are pretty straightforward and simple. There’s not a whole lot to look into in detail within a single room.
The last place I went to was the most encouraging: a rectangularly shaped studio on the first floor of a row house in Central Sunset. An ideal space in a quiet, but beautiful neighborhood with decent access to public transit. For that one I had an appointment; at its conclusion I filled out an application on the spot and turned over the aforementioned prepared documents. I left that place feeling really good. A sunset over the ocean on a clear day as seen from the street I was looking to live on definitely helped.
When I got home, I proceeded to fill out a few more applications from the day, sending them off to prospective landlords via email. I was looking to track my progress, keep tabs on with whom I would follow-up, note the pros and cons of each place, et cetera. I was prepared to be in this for the long haul and I still had four weeks to work with before I was in trouble. If I did eight places per weekend, surely the odds of getting one of forty places would be in my favor, I thought.
And then I got the call. The last place I saw, the one I perhaps liked the most, was offered to me. I couldn’t believe it. My first weekend of searching wasn’t even over, but my search was. It was almost too easy.
The place is great. The location is great. I don’t have much by means of a kitchen, but I’ll manage. I have a backyard, private access, laundry units, plentiful storage options, and most importantly, it costs almost 25% less than I’d be paying were I to renew in Pleasanton. Hell yeah.
So, I went back there the next evening, performed some engineering measurements to prepare for my furniture’s eventual arrival, signed numerous documents, gifted over the majority of my savings, and went home with another major milestone looming on my life’s horizon.
It’s happening. I’m moving to San Francisco.