Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

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Dr awkwarD
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Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Dr awkwarD » Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:55 am

Hey guys-

I'm making plans to move from St. Louis, out to the SF Bay Area this summer (right before the burn, in fact).

Anyone have any advice for moving out to the Bay Area? What neighborhoods should I be looking in for housing? Any other words of wisdom?

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Eric » Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:26 am

Dr awkwarD wrote:Anyone have any advice for moving out to the Bay Area? What neighborhoods should I be looking in for housing?
Do you have a job you're moving out here for, or are you moving out & looking for a job? It will make a difference in where you can afford to live. This is one of the most ridiculously overheated and expensive areas in the country (seriously: I just saw an add for a "1 bedroom" in SF that's 225 sq feet - and laid out like a maze at that, with windows that look out at a wall about 2-3' away, listing for $1750 a month). The further you are from SF, the less expensive the housing (going east). Anywhere near a tech bus stop is expensive, anywhere near a BART station, even in the east bay, is getting that way.

What are you looking for in a neighborhood? That will make it a lot easier to figure out what areas might work for you.
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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Dr awkwarD » Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:43 am

I'm in IT (like everyone else in the area, it seems), and I hope to have a job before I get there.

What am I looking for? Somewhere safe that's either close to stuff, or close to a means to get to stuff.

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Eric » Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:10 pm

The market is so tight landlords want proof you can pay, so having a job set up in advance (if possible) would make the move easier. Depending on salary, you have your choice of areas. SF is always popular, Oakland is becoming more-so as people driven out by SF's rents are moving there (it's always had a lively, but more hidden, scene - it's way less hidden now), Berkeley is always lively with the university, pretty much anywhere has charm (well, maybe not Daly City...). Like any urban area, the variations within cities is huge - even in a compact one like SF, so you can probably find an area that fits your needs.

You're either going to want to spend some time out here house-hunting before you move, or, if you have a good-size cash war-chest built up for it, aim for a corporate-owned building as opposed to a small landlord rented building. The corporate ones tend to have openings & are easier to get in to - they are also going to be more expensive. The smaller building will have more "character", but I have friends who live here who have spent months trying to find one in their price-range.

In SF, apartments built pre-1979 are rent controlled, which means they can charge market rate for a new tenant, but then that tenants annual rent can only increase by a percentage set by SF's rent board (this year it's 1%, last year it was 1.9%). If you're going to be here long-term, an older building is a much better bet for you (I've been in my 1912 apartment for 20+ years - I'd have to leave the city if we lost it)

As you've noticed, rent is the big thing. Everything else is easy. :D
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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by ariwithpurplehair » Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:11 pm

I would suggest Oakland in terms of affordable housing that is close to public transit and exciting stuff, but I'm not sure if you have a car or not. Either way, Oakland is very centrally located and cheaper than San Francisco or Berkeley. Plus it's pretty awesome. :) There are a lot of different neighborhoods in Oakland, some which are very nice --some less so.

A lot of it does depends on where you would get a job. If you end up working in the South Bay, you probably want to live down there, though again, it depends on the car. If you work anywhere else in the Bay area (aside from Marin) the car thing matters less.

Overall, the bay is pretty expensive no matter where you go. However, it is a great place to live. If you want to be able to get around via BART and not spend as much on rent, Oakland or South Berkeley are probably your best bets.

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Dr awkwarD » Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:20 pm

Thanks for the advice, guys.

I do have a car, so that's not too big of a deal. Also, I've been saving up, so I've got a few thousand dollars socked away for moving expenses, etc.

The hardest thing to gauge (as an outsider) is the pros and cons of San Francisco vs Oakland. From what I've gathered from talking to people, it's super-expensive to live in SF, but Oakland is kind of janky. I don't want to get stuck living in a lousy area.
Eric wrote: In SF, apartments built pre-1979 are rent controlled, which means they can charge market rate for a new tenant, but then that tenants annual rent can only increase by a percentage set by SF's rent board (this year it's 1%, last year it was 1.9%). If you're going to be here long-term, an older building is a much better bet for you (I've been in my 1912 apartment for 20+ years - I'd have to leave the city if we lost it)
This seems like great advice, which I didn't know about. Any tips on where one might find an older building with sane rent?

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by ariwithpurplehair » Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:33 pm

There are some very nice areas of Oakland. Rockridge, Montclair, Claremont, Piedmont, and parts of Lake Merritt or Jack London Square come to mind right off the bat.

Rent controlled apartments are really difficult to find. Not impossible--but I wouldn't move out here with the expectation of finding one.

If you have a car there are a lot of other options though. Contra Costa County (Lafayette/Orinda etc) is also very nice, though Oakland and Berkeley are more exciting.

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by trilobyte » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:23 pm

Best advice I could give is to do some actual research on sites that specialize in the kind of information you're looking for. On its best day, this isn't much of a real estate board or neighborhood guide, and those types of resources already exist on the internet. SF and Oakland are both very big cities, with lots of really great neighborhoods as well as some very sketchy ones as well. Sure, Oakland's cheaper, but coming from St. Louis it will be incredibly expensive. Not just rent, but everything.

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by MacGlenver » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:34 pm

trilobyte wrote:Best advice I could give is to do some actual research on sites that specialize in the kind of information you're looking for. On its best day, this isn't much of a real estate board or neighborhood guide, and those types of resources already exist on the internet. SF and Oakland are both very big cities, with lots of really great neighborhoods as well as some very sketchy ones as well. Sure, Oakland's cheaper, but coming from St. Louis it will be incredibly expensive. Not just rent, but everything.
Agreed on all counts. I moved from Atlanta 8 months ago and my rent doubled, despite having half the amenities. Craigslist seems to be the primary apartment hunting location. I got lucky and had a place I could take over from a friend, but you will not likely be as lucky. Try to apartment hunt from St. Louis and you'll start to understand how hard it is. I had people laugh at me when I called from Atlanta and tried to put in an application 1 day after the ad was posted. Try to have a reasonably long-term place you can stay before finding your own apartment... you'll need it. Dont know if that means getting a motel, camping somewhere, etc, but it's gonna take you a while, more than likely.
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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Dr awkwarD » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:43 pm

trilobyte wrote:Best advice I could give is to do some actual research on sites that specialize in the kind of information you're looking for. On its best day, this isn't much of a real estate board or neighborhood guide, and those types of resources already exist on the internet. SF and Oakland are both very big cities, with lots of really great neighborhoods as well as some very sketchy ones as well. Sure, Oakland's cheaper, but coming from St. Louis it will be incredibly expensive. Not just rent, but everything.
I know there are sites that specialize in this, but I thought I'd ask here since I figured that 1) there are a lot of folks from the Bay Area here and 2) there are a lot of COOL folks from the Bay Area here.

It's hard to get a feel for the kind of area that I'd want to live in from reading online, and it's still kind of hard to get a feel for the neighborhoods from visiting them. Places have souls that are hard to gauge until you live there. I was just trying to get a pulse on "where Burners would want to live"

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Dr Helix » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:19 pm

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by ariwithpurplehair » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:48 pm

You also might want to consider some of those cool Bay Area Burners here may come from or enjoy being in places you consider "janky." Everyone is different.

Just a thought,--the majority of the neighborhoods I suggested in the last post are somewhat to relatively affluent. It seemed like that was what you were looking for? It really does depend on your budget, and like I mentioned, your job and the location. People are right though, the bay is very expensive compared to the rest of the country.

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by TT120 » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:52 pm

This might help. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :twisted:

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by theCryptofishist » Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:26 pm

Actually, in San Francisco a car is a liability. I think there are fewer parking spaces than cars. (Garages, is why.) Berkeley, Oakland, you'll have to be sure to move it on street sweeping days. For a lot of places, you may end up selling what you have, joining one of the car share services, using public transit, and doing that once a year rental to the desert.
You might also want to spend some time thinking about what "COOL" means. Live music? Parties? Project builds? Fishing for mercury tainted fish once a month?
Pick three things and there's probably a neighborhood that does all three.
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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Aurelia » Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:42 pm

don't sell your car.

Go North !

anywhere over the Golden Gate Bridge..the further away from S.F. the less expensive.

xoA.

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Eric » Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:01 pm

aserendipity wrote:anywhere over the Golden Gate Bridge..the further away from S.F. the less expensive.
You would have to go north of Novato for it to be even relatively inexpensive - and then you have to think of commute time (rush hour traffic from Marin is a pain), fees to cross the bridge daily (depending on where you work), how much you're paying for gas (the Bay Area has some of the highest prices country)...

There are a ton of factors, and no easy answers - though you will pay less rent the further you are from SF/ Silicon Valley, there are tons of other things involving money to think about (see above)
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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Aurelia » Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:07 pm

not true !!!!!

and then there is the possibility of finding a room, a room in a large house that could use your help
or a sublet

xoA.

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Wrath » Thu May 01, 2014 9:55 am

theCryptofishist wrote:Actually, in San Francisco a car is a liability.
When my better half moved in with me she brought her car. In three years it has been broken into twice. Both times items were in plain view inside the car. Although since I assume it happens often getting the window fixed was quick & (relatively) cheap. If you follow the same rules for bears while camping (i.e. nothing the crackhead can see or smell) your car should be fine. Having to move your car because of street cleaning can be a pain if you want it to be. I just plan to run certain errands on that day at that time (& reward myself with donuts). Just be sure to get your California plates as soon as possible. Out of state plates will make your car a target.

I love living downtown. Being a easy walk away from the subway means getting to the park is just about as simple as getting to the airport. There are three grocery stores within a block & majors like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods not much farther.

Part of me wants to get a warehouse in the East Bay. Right now all of my burning projects are done out in the Central Valley or Reno. Putting in work means planning to go out of town. Riding a bicycle ten minutes brings LOTS of the Bay Area closer thanks to BART & Caltrain.

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Eric » Thu May 01, 2014 12:48 pm

aserendipity wrote:not true !!!!!

and then there is the possibility of finding a room, a room in a large house that could use your help
or a sublet
Yup. There's also the possibility of someone adopting you and giving you their home that's been in the family for 100 years. Just because something is "possible" doesn't mean it's likely or going to happen without some serious leg-work.

It took my best friend 4 months to find a room in a flat he could rent (as opposed to the monthly-move sublets he'd been doing since losing his last place), I know other people who've been looking for rooms for months. There are a lot of people looking for those rooms, just like there are a lot of people with the money to pay $2300 for the tiny one bedroom in my building that rented out the day before the ad went on Craigslist. The housing market in the Bay Area is extremely tight right now, and being realistic about that gets anyone moving here prepared for the work that's going to be involved in finding a place to live (unless you have a job where you make enough to move into large, generally newer, corporate owned apartments).

All that said, the OP could be one of those people who just lucks into the perfect apartment the first day he's here. It's happened before - but, just like the playa, hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Eric » Thu May 01, 2014 12:55 pm

Wrath wrote:I love living downtown. Being a easy walk away from the subway means getting to the park is just about as simple as getting to the airport. There are three grocery stores within a block & majors like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods not much farther.

From this description, and the mention of Tenderloin Heights, you are fairly close to my 'hood. Howdy neighbor!
(psst: if you haven't been there, Golden Veggie Market on California & Polk has great prices on things like coconut water, and is generally cheaper than Whole Foods [who isn't] for basic canned goods. It's one of my main playa-preparation stores)
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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by trilobyte » Thu May 01, 2014 1:08 pm

"where burners want to live" = anywhere they can fucking afford it, with huge points for having an easy commute. A bad commute around SF can be 1-2 hours each way, which is less fun than it sounds. Burners live in pretty much every part of the city itself and all the surrounding areas, and there's usually no shortage of fun things to do within fairly easy range all throughout the year.

If living and working in the city, I agree with Fishy and Wrath that a car is more of a liability than a convenience (you'll almost certainly have to pay a premium for parking permits or monthly rates for lots/garages, plus meters and whatnot). We've got a cargo van and go through the hassle, but for getting around in town we mostly use mass transit. If you're in one of the outlying areas then parking isn't as painful, and you'll need it to get around.

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Lonesomebri » Thu May 01, 2014 1:35 pm

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Krokodyle » Thu May 01, 2014 2:01 pm

Best of luck to you if you decide to make the SF plunge. I've been here for twenty years, and over the years I've seen the city through it's ups and downs, but right now the rental market is insane. Both me and my GF ride muni a lot, but we also have cars, and it's generally been fine, though we do have to do the weekly 'move the car for streetcleaning' dance. It'll depend on where in the city you end up living. Some areas are much more car friendly. My current apartment in the TenderNob is pretty nice, but parking is kooky (I used to pay $180 a month to park at the Japantown parking lot, but now I just park it in the North Panhandle area and move it for street cleaning).

But everyone here is correct in one way or the other. There ARE very nice places to live all over the Bay Area (some not so nice), and your commute to your new job is something you'll need to consider (personally, I'm willing to accept the higher rent in order to avoid dealing with traffic, tolls, and time spent, but some people don't have that luxury).

In any case, best of luck again to you. It'll be a challenge, no matter what you end up doing.
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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by Aurelia » Thu May 01, 2014 2:18 pm

Yes, leg work is important

and the possibles are only available for the seekers

the knowers stay in

rvs

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Re: Advice: Moving to the Bay Area

Post by marbles » Fri May 16, 2014 2:26 pm

couchsurfing.org, sign up, meet like minded folks, crash couches for cheap until you figure it out. Who knows you may crash a couch with a roomate moving out, that has happened to a few cs buddys I have. It is such a great resource if you dont know anyone there. good luck with the move! you wont regret it! :mrgreen:

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