Where Are the Cheaper Rents in SF?

May 16, 2013 at 6am

There's nothing more depressing than reading the news about apartment prices in San Francisco. Yeah, we get it, it's insanely expensive to live here, and it's not getting any cheaper. Most of us would rather lower our standards in roommates and street noise than deal with the renters' market ever again. But what happens when you really need to move?

We figured there has to be some good news out there somewhere in apartment-land, so after liking the map Zumper shared with the press a couple months ago about the average rent for a one-bedroom here, we asked the company if they had any new insights into the price of living spaces. They told us about these things called "cold pockets," which are not delicious, refrigerated pillows of dough and cheese like we assumed but rather microhoods that are cheaper than the neighborhoods around them.

Although cold pocket prices still aren't cheap (there's nothing here below $2000, and these are averages for one bedrooms), it's at least a relief to know these pockets exist.

Behold, San Francisco's cold pockets, and Zumper's notes about each of them.


SOMA


MARKET → 5th → BRANNAN → 13th

avg. monthly rent:
$2445

compared to:
$2565 (in SOMA)

avg. savings:
4.7% ($120)

SOMA is very hit or miss so one block can make a huge difference in price. The closer you get to the water, the more expensive prices tend to be. If you're willing to tough it out in Central SoMa and live near warehouses, garages, drug clinics, and SRO hotels, you'll get a decent value.

Pros:
Heart of some exciting nightlife, new construction apartments, and quick access to freeway.

Cons:
Lots of homeless, petty crime, dirty, and noisy.
Bi-maps_soma-final_050813

MARINA /
COW HOLLOW


LAGUNA → BAY → FILBERT → VAN NESS

avg. monthly rent:
$2800

compared to:
$3000 (in Marina/
Cow Hollow)

avg. savings:
6.7% ($200)

Marina/Cow Hollow tends to be pricey wherever you go, but the cheapest apartments can be found along the busy streets (Van Ness, Franklin, Gough), which also tend to be the outer border of the neighborhoods.

Pros:
Being far from the action doesn't mean compromising on safety or finding a nice apartment. Also, you're also always within a 10-min walk from the action.

Cons:
Unless you have double paned windows, you'll have to deal with constant traffic noise.
Bi-maps_marina-final_050913

HAYES
VALLEY


WEBSTER → MCALLISTER → FRANKLIN → FULTON

avg. monthly rent:
$2600

compared to:
$2800 (in Hayes
Valley)

avg. savings:
7.1% ($200)

This Northern pocket of Hayes Valley borders the Western Addition.

Pros:
Just a few blocks away from Hayes Street shops and restaurants, close to Civic Center performing arts and public transit.

Cons:
You'll be sharing some blocks with the projects, where the surrounding streets can get sketchy at night (shootings still happen around here).
Bi-maps_hayesvalley-final-spelling_052113-7

NOE
VALLEY


DIAMOND → 23rd → DIAMOND HEIGHTS BLVD → MARKET

avg. monthly rent:
$2400

compared to:
$2700
(in Noe Valley)

avg. savings:
11.1% ($300)

The pocket along the border of Diamond Heights may feel isolated to some, but commands awesome views of SF and street parking is less of a nightmare.

Pros:
Views, street parking, and more space for your dollar.

Cons:
Isolated from the neighborhood hot spots, closer to fog cover, and less transit friendly.
Bi-maps_noevalley-final_050913

NOB
HILL


CALIFORNIA ST → MASON ST → BROADWAY ST → STOCKTON

avg. monthly rent:
$2560

compared to:
$2995 (in Nob Hill)

avg. savings:
14.5% ($435)

The best deals in Nob Hill are closer to Chinatown, or as some locals refer to it, 'Chinatown Heights.' For professionals working downtown, this is the best way to get an affordable place close to work, in a nice neighborhood, and not compromise on safety or convenience.

Pro tip:
Stay west of Stockton St., where you can find nice, clean apartments and Nob Hill charm (cable car, tree lined streets, charming restaurants). East of Stockton some buildings begin looking like tenements. Be in good shape since you'll need to hike a steep hill to get to meet your friends in Russian Hill/Cow Hollow.
Bi-maps_nobhill-final_050913

RUSSIAN HILL / NORTH BEACH


VAN NESS → BAY ST → EMBARCADERO → JEFFERSON ST

avg. monthly rent:
$2660

compared to:
$3200 (Russian Hill/
North Beach)

avg. savings:
16.9% ($540)

Bi-maps_northbeach-final_050513

This pocket extends from the base of Russian Hill to the Embarcadero. Average prices are lower because there are very few luxury properties and doorman buildings than upper Russian Hill.

Pros:
You're within a couple blocks of the Bay and some apts have great water views for a good price.

Cons:
You're in a tourist hot spot and a bit isolated from the neighborhood bars and restaurants in central North Beach/Russian Hill where the locals congregate.

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