San Francisco / Bay Area roommate-related facts and figures
* along a narrow peninsula of 43 hills
* extreme hilliness featuring elevations of nearly 1000 feet cause much local variability in fog, sunshine, and temperature
* can be extremely foggy
* really only 2 seasons, spring and fall - summers and winters are practically nonexistent
* arts and culture community here is large and exceptional
* one of the most ethnically diverse metros in the country
* very densely populated, producing a high cost of living, the highest in California
* many tourist attractions, including Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, and the wine country in the north
* popular professional sports teams
* many botanical gardens and arboretums
* excellent public transit system, including BART
* trolley system
* commuter rail hub
* large airline hub
* features the continent's only cable car system
* home to Menlo College, California College of Podiatric Medicine, College of Notre Dame, Dominican College of San Rafael, Lincoln University, New College of California, San Francisco Art Institute, California Institute of Integral Studies, Golden Gate University, San Francisco State University, Savbrook Institute, University of California, and the University of San Francisco
average roommate rent is $1100*
*1/2 the average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. Not just for those seeking roommates on this site, the overall average for San Francisco. While sharing a 2-bedroom apartment is obviously not the only possible roommate situation in San Francisco, it is the most common and a good general average.
Luxury accommodations, a central location, and/or a trendy neighborhood will tend to cost more.
If you find a housing share with 4 or more roommates, expect the rent to be a little less. (However, larger homes or apartments with 4 or more bedrooms occupied only by renting roommates are the exception.)
If you can't pay at least the average, you'll probably need more time, because you won't have as many options as someone willing to pay the going rate. You should also expect a less central location and fewer amenities. Similarly, if you have the place to share and plan to charge more, you should expect it to take longer to find someone willing to pay that.
~~~ Advice for Roommate Seekers with the PLACE to SHARE in San Francisco / Bay Area ~~~
Regarding the average roommate rent of $1100 in San Francisco
. . . we've had some exclaiming, "But you see, my place is really worth a lot more because it's better/safer/larger/more beautiful/has so many amenities! So I should charge a LOT more than average!"
We're certainly not saying you CAN'T do that. You can certainly try to charge as much as you like.
However, no matter how nice your place is, most room seekers still want to save money, not spend as much as possible.
What you're offering is actually "worth" in the minds of most is what the current roommate market in San Francisco will bear, or what you can get someone to pay to live there.
For most, this won't be much more than average.
If you think your place is extremely nice, many roommate seekers will probably agree!
This may mean you can charge a BIT more than average, and you'll probably get your "pick" of roommates.
However, if you're trying to charge a LOT more than the going rate for half a 2-bedroom share in San Francisco, most will automatically rule you out and stick to possibilities that are more typical price-wise, and more budget-friendly.
On average, more rent = more time. Less rent = more folks will be interested = less time.
If you're looking for help paying a very large mortgage, you'd more easily find eager roommates if you rented more than one room in your home, then charged each roommate less.
If you're someone who is offering part of a rental to share that may be overpriced, you may want to consider moving as well as sharing your current abode. (You could have profiles active for both situations, and just end up living wherever sounds most appealing.)
Lots of great details about your place . . .
. . . will really help. Our profiles make it as easy as possible, but you should still share some additional unique details.
Room seekers like information and appealing features. Neglecting to give them any will damage your response rate.
Don't sell yourself short!
Don't remind room seekers of their High School Vice Principal.
A lot of homeowners feel strongly that they want their property respected. No damages under any circumstances! This is understandable, and certainly not a problem in and of itself.
However, if "laying down the law" is ALL you have to say, to the total and complete exclusion of ANY other details or features, it can be unappealing.
You DO want to make your needs known and keep your place nice. We get that.
But if all you've got for room seekers is a litany of what they better NOT do or ELSE, with nothing friendly or appealing to balance that out . . . well . . . you'll seem like a stereotypical High School Vice Principal.
Potential roommates will not be lining up to see your place, no matter how nice or well-located it is. They'll usually pick folks that seem more relaxed.
If you've got a lot of rules, just get a little levity into the mix. Show them your non-High-School-V.P. side too.
~~~ Advice for Roommate Seekers Looking to MOVE in San Francisco ~~~
PETS, bringing them along as additional "roommates"
. . . will often narrow your options. Some places simply can't accept pets due to landlord rules or the allergies of existing residents. However, we're not suggesting you abandon yours!
What pet owners should do:
1. Start room seeking earlier to allow for the additional time it may take you.
2. Realize there may be an additional deposit required, and budget accordingly.
3. Emphasize good stuff about your pet in your profile and when talking to potential roommates.
Very well-behaved? Attended obedience school? Very low-maintenance, and/or you'll be consistently available for all your pet's needs? Get along with others very well? You'll do a great job cleaning up after your pet? You'll accept all responsibility for any damages your pet might cause?
Make it as easy as possible for potential roommates to understand your pet will not compromise their lifestyle or their abode in any important way, and/or that you'll fix it if it does.
"I won't be home much . . ."
. . . is not as effective for scoring reduced rent in as many situations as many room seekers seem to think. A notable exception might be those that already own their homes, and can be a little more flexible on the rent they charge. Then, a frequent traveler as a roommate may be appealing. It MAY even result in reduced rent.
However, for those looking to share their rental, it likely doesn't matter.
Fellow renters have a number of non-negotiable bills, and usually need to fill that roommate slot with someone that will shoulder them equally. Your potential non-presence may be appealing, but it won't change their financial situation.
This doesn't mean those looking for a reduced rent to be mostly absentee can't find it. It does mean you should understand this sort of roommate situation will be more unusual, and start looking earlier to allow for the additional time it may take you.
~~~ Advice for ALL ROOMMATE SEEKERS in San Francisco ~~~
Pay attention to our Roommate Behavior Ratings.
You DO want to determine how compatible you and a potential new roommate will be, BEFORE moving in.
You'll be happiest with roommates with higher percentage matches.
Better Roommate Behavior Ratings predict happier outcomes . . . instead of sob stories about roommates from hell. A little attention paid to compatibility NOW will save you major grief LATER.
Usually the best roommate for you is someone that's similar to you on some important Roommate Behavior Rating factors. You may be a very open-minded person. BUT, there's a difference between tolerating or even appreciating folks different from yourself out in the rest of the world -- and having those folks currently disco dancing in your living room when you're a light sleeper who needs to be at work in 3 hours.
Or, vice versa -- you need to disco dance in your living room until dawn but your cranky roommate constantly yells at you to turn it down. Then, extrapolate for practically any household situation: messiness, bill-paying, overnight guests, alcohol consumption, shared items, etc.
Our Roommate Behavior Ratings cover these things and more. If you can't be bothered to care now, you'll most likely WISH you had later . . . when you're spending a lot more time looking again much sooner than necessary, or suffering through a bad roommate choice.
Contact desirable roommates ASAP.
Check your email often and contact compatible roommates ASAP.
We keep our database as current as humanly possible, but each day you fail to respond to a good roommate match is a day less likely they will still be available.
Roommate seeking is a "you snooze, you lose" proposition! If you don't stay on the ball, your good roommate match may settle for someone else first.
Many also provide phone numbers, you may want to use those too.
Free your mind from tired demographic stereotypes.
Be as open-minded as you possibly manage on basic demographics like gender, age, and sexual orientation. Most of the time, basic demographic details do NOT affect the overall roommate experience as much as less experienced roommate seekers imagine they will.
Do NOT be so open-minded on actual roommate behaviors that are important to you, behaviors that might actually affect YOUR lifestyle and overall well-being.
But you will be better off if you avoid relying on tired, outdated stereotypes on the basic demographics.
For example, some claim they'd rather roommate with women because they're allegedly tidier. Whether or not that's true in any completely average way, those who've actually lived with multiple roommates of both genders usually report some very tidy men and some women whose impact on an apartment was like a small tornado.
If tidiness (or anything else, fill-in-the-blank here) is what you're after, look at that specific question on the profile.
Don't rely on stereotypes. They're often inaccurate and you don't have to rely on them with our Roommate Behavior Ratings.
Reconsider "youth" as a restriction.
Many roommate seekers insist they'll only consider those who are financially responsible, economically reliable, over the "party hearty" stage when at home, clean, responsible, mature, honest, respectful, independent, quiet, stable, trustworthy, without "drama," etc.
And THEN, after that lengthy list of maturity specifications . . . they also insist they only want to hear from those under 30.
Nope, not saying only those over 30 are "mature" in those ways. Not at all.
Also not saying absolutely everyone over 30 is "mature" in all those ways either.
But roommates under 30 that are mature? They're definitely going against stereotype.
If mature behavior is important to you, you'd do best to at least CONSIDER roommates in other age ranges too.
Meanwhile, considering a range certainly won't rule out roommates that are very young AND very mature. You'd just be expanding your possibilities and upping your chances of actually finding a compatible roommate in the near future.
If you want someone willing to live near kids appropriately, you'll do much better to consider all age ranges as well. Same goes for married couples looking to rent rooms.
Even if you're young or very "youthful" yourself, your entire social life doesn't have to revolve around your roommate, you know. Your social life -- as well as the rest of your life -- may prove less stressful if you and your roommates engage in any "youthful" hijinks primarily outside your home.
It may ultimately prove refreshing to come home from your night of carousing and NOT have to wonder why there's a young man you've never met before passed out on your sofa, or half a pineapple pizza in your tub.
Men, don't be creepy!
Extra especially if you'd like women to consider roommating with you. Dudes who want to be creepy should probably stick with other dudes. (More of an level playing field.)
Almost all female roommate seekers fear the possibility of a male roommate that would "hit on" them, make inappropriate sexual advances, unwanted sexual comments, etc.
In short, be CREEPY.
Most women have endured something like that sometime someplace, some situation where they were repeatedly exposed to some guy who was repeatedly expressing interest they repeatedly did not reciprocate.
That situation was uncomfortable and creepy.
Women on a roommate site want to avoid that interpersonal hell. If they wanted to be on a dating site, they'd be on a dating site ALREADY, there are certainly enough of them out there. Roommate seeking is entirely different, and they are hoping other roommate seekers will respect that.
Some women are so terrified of even the POSSIBILITY of getting stuck with a creepy male roommate that they will refuse in advance to roommate with ANY man.
Other women are a bit less terrified, and will at least CONSIDER roommating with a man, but will take that into consideration on a "case by case" basis.
Now then, if you're one of those guys who might like to be considered by a less fearful woman on that "case by case" basis . . . how might it look if you are heterosexual and say you ONLY want to live with women?
Or even worse, only SPECIFICALLY HETEROSEXUAL women?
What might a potential female roommate think when she reads that?
If you're really and truly not planning to "hit on" your roommate . . . why MUST she be female?
Or even furthermore, female AND heterosexual?
For many women, that just won't pass the "smell test."
Women willing to roommate with heterosexual men, even women who WANT to roommate with heterosexual men, will still have their Creep Detector on High Alert. Men should keep that in mind at all times.
Sometimes a guy will say something he considers lighthearted to a woman, just something he thinks will break the ice, etc. “We could share a room to save on expenses, heh heh heh.” That guy will imagine his casual joke was clearly harmless.
Meanwhile, that woman has already hit the delete button on that guy's profile.
He'll wonder why she never wrote him back. She'll not only never write him back, she'll now be wondering if ALL male roommates should ALWAYS be avoided.
So guys, don’t even go near creepy. Don't even drive by the ballpark of creepy. Stay far, far, FAR away.
Don't drop the ball with poor social skills.
Our detailed profiles make it as easy as humanly possible to describe yourself in a thorough, yet friendly way to other roommate seekers.
However, while we'll carry you as far as possible, we do have to hand off the social transaction when you make contact. You will have to complete the play from there.
If you "drop the ball" with your own social skills (or, rather, a lack thereof), you'll find it more difficult to score a roommate.
To put this another way, roommate seeking is certainly NOT the same thing as romantic "personals" or dating. (In fact, if we think YOU think roommate = date, we'll delete your profile.)
But while seduction isn't the goal, don't go entirely too far in the opposite direction either.
It IS still a personal interaction where you will be judged on roommate-related desirability.
You do need to try to be at least a LITTLE bit appealing.
If you fail to impress other roommate seekers that you'll be at least tolerable interpersonally, they'll pick someone else.
You'll likely be more successful if you "mind your manners."
Present yourself in as flattering a light as possible.
Be friendly, nice, and polite.
Profanity or other vulgar language may be perfectly acceptable to you, but understand it may NOT be to others.
Use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation to sound as intelligent, educated and sane as possible.
Make your initial communication as interesting and detailed as possible, something that would likely invite a response.
"hey i saw yer ad and im writing cuz i need a room," may not qualify as inviting for many.
First impressions mean a lot to many people. To the extent you do not make a good one, your response rate will suffer accordingly.
The cool friend = great roommate pitfall
. . . can be seriously bad news.
Why we have the Roommate Behavior Ratings, to help our subscribers keep reality in focus when choosing roommates.
You shouldn't roommate with anyone whose freetext repulses you. No way.
Nor should you roommate with anyone if you absolutely despise anything else on their profile. Certainly not.
But a lot of roommate seekers make the mistake of picking people who just sound "cool" or "fun" to them, someone with whom they think they'd like to barhop.
Unfortunately, cool friends don't necessarily = great roommates.
Behaviors you enjoy or tolerate in fun friends may NOT be the same ones you really need from a roommate. Many now ex-roommates found this out the hard way, and many friendships met harsh deaths as a direct result. Even if you'd be friends otherwise, if you're not compatible as roommates, it's not likely you'd end up friends anyway.
It's more likely you'll end up hating each other's guts.
Failure to pay the electric bill? Everyone's in the dark now?
That carefree lack of responsibility that's so hilarious in a non-cohabiting acquaintance can suddenly seem much less so when you're now also in the dark at the end of a long day.
You may party like there's no tomorrow when you actually choose to go out on the town, but require your homebase be more peaceful when you finally return and need a little sleep.
That friend you thought was such a riot during your last pubcrawl?
You may find them substantially less hysterical when they bring the party and all the party people home on a night you'd hoped to relax.
Or, conversely, if you want bring home whomever/whenever on whatever impulsive whim, a roommate with a conservative lifestyle is going to cramp yours.
The best roommate relationships work well due to ROOMMATE-related behavioral compatibility.
Many roommate relationships that work well as roommate relationships often eventually lead to good friendships as well.
If you and your new compatible roommate form a great friendship TOO, that'll just be bonus.
But if you don't get along AS roommates, the home life will eventually suck. And you'll end up hating your roommate. Really. A lot.
Pay attention to the Roommate Behavior Ratings, at least on the stuff you care about the most.
Tobacco smoking vs. roommate seeking in San Francisco
Smokers who insist on smoking indoors at the collective abode will usually take longer to be successfully matched.
True for those with places to share as well as those looking to move.
If you smoke and need a new roommate as quickly as possible, we recommend willingness to smoke outdoors only at the residence, if you think that's possible for you. (And also indicating that on your profile to get more matches.)
If not, please realize it will probably take longer, as you will have fewer options.
Some roommates will rule out ANY tobacco smoker, so smokers will never be matched with them.
But a larger group, including many non-smokers, won't care nearly as much if you're willing to keep the smoke outside only -- porches, balconies, yards, fire escapes, etc.
Make a roommate behavior agreement ahead of time.
Many inexperienced roommate seekers describe themselves as easy to get along with, chill, easygoing, laidback, etc., and looking for similar.
However, their views on exactly what that consists of are rarely shared by as many as they initially imagine.
Before finalizing any new roommate arrangement, have a detailed discussion about the issues most important to you.
We recommend our Roommate Behavior Ratings as a jumping off point.
Draw up a written agreement about conduct on those issues, have everyone sign a copy, and keep it handy.
This will lay the groundwork for getting along longer-term.
It's also a red flag if someone balks at making such an agreement, or if you have extreme difficulty working out what the collective rules should be.
It is a lot easier if you're compatible in advance on most roommate behavior issues, and that's the reason for our Roommate Behavior Ratings.
However, even if you are quite compatible, it's still best to make things extra clear before taking yourself off the roommate market.
Vague may seem like the easygoing way to be in the beginning, but in the end usually just leads to massive roommate-related misunderstandings.
It's also harder to justify dissatisfaction that one of your expectations was not specifically met if it turns out you never bothered to specifically state it.
Don't assume everyone is on the same page.
It's best to be clear on the important rules and expectations in advance, rather than get upset later about what was left vague.
~~~ Roommate Scams: How We Help You Avoid Them ~~~
How does RoomieMatch.com help you avoid internet roommate scammer scumbags?
Scammers, spammers, and scumbags specifically targeting roommate seekers are increasingly common.
Our actual human Scam Busters use their actual eyeballs and organic brains to review all roommate submissions.
MANY get tossed in the trash.
We don't rely on our subscribers as our only reviewers, waiting to see what trash they report AFTER wading through it themselves.
We take out the trash FOR our subscribers.
We collect a lot of data, not just our actual questions, but also information from the submitter's computer and location which can only be accessed by site owners. Unlike most roommate sites, we are paying attention to this information, and actually making use of it to decide which profiles are worth accepting and which are probable scams. We have experience distinguishing real roommate seekers from the scammers and spammers - since 1998.
You won't get that amount of attention anyplace else on the internet.
Meanwhile, all the screening we do against this ongoing internet roommate scourge saves you time and aggravation.
It would be extremely annoying and time-wasting to have to exchange several emails with one of these scumbags before you finally realized that he/she was, in fact, a useless time-wasting scumbag.
However, it is NOT difficult to avoid becoming the FINANCIAL victim of a scam.
Is it difficult to avoid wasting your own TIME with scammers, before you're able to figure out who is who?
YES. (If you don't use RoomieMatch.com)
Is it difficult to avoid losing MONEY to a scam, if you follow our RoomieMatch.com Anti-Scam Guidelines?
NO. Your own common sense coupled with our RoomieMatch.com Anti-Scam Guidelines should prevent that entirely.
RoomieMatch.com Anti-Scam Guidelines
IN GENERAL, we're not aware that any roommate seekers on RoomieMatch.com have ever fallen for any roommate scams. We work hard to keep our subscribers scam-free.
However, we're posting our RoomieMatch.com Anti-Scam Guidelines as a public service. No, nothing here is reason for widespread or undue panic, or non-specific worry. The vast majority of folks you could possibly meet from RoomieMatch.com are law-abiding citizens who are not out to illegally scam anyone.
This IS is a reminder that with roommate seeking and all of your other adult endeavors, you need to exercise good common sense. If your common sense is active and you follow our RoomieMatch.com Anti-Scam Guidelines, you will NOT be financially victimized.
If someone you don't know sends you a check/money order/cashier's check for a large amount of money, don't ever assume it cleared your bank as a valid payment until AFTER your bank assures you the deposit was good.
DO call your bank personally to make sure the scheduled amount actually cleared your account and was legitimately deposited.
Money orders and cashier's checks are forms of immediate payment AS LONG AS THEY ARE NOT FORGED.
If you're not extremely familiar with the issuing bank, assume you don't know what one of theirs would look like, no matter how "official-looking" it may appear.
In addition, sending a relative stranger large amounts of money unnecessarily or as an unnecessary and unrequested "overpayment" is very odd behavior in and of itself. If someone seems to be doing something a reasonable person would find suspicious, don't trust them immediately and completely, especially with large amounts of your own money.
This is good advice for roommate seeking and really, pretty much anything else in life. Your own adult common sense should kick in here!
More specifically, the details of the most common roommate scam: Someone contacts you with an interest in renting your room, and would like to secure the room from afar by sending payment in advance. Then they spin a "Tall Tale" about how they need to send a check/cashier's check/money order for hundreds of dollars MORE than the required amount. The alleged "reasons" for this extremely odd behavior vary, but all are equally "fishy" and should arouse suspicion in and of themselves. After you receive the "payment," you must immediately and with great urgency and speed (meaning, before your bank would be able to completely process the "deposit" and inform you it was bogus) refund them their "balance" by getting it back to them somehow. Probably, they'd like you to mail them one of your own legitimate checks back, or send them the "balance" via wire service, etc.
The big scam turns out to be that the payment they sent is FORGED, so the money you sent back as their "balance/refunded amount" just comes out of your own pocket. And then you never see or hear from this would-be roommate ever again.
If any potential roommate says anything vaguely like the above to you, tell them you don't want ANY form of payment that's for more than the amount required for first month's rent, deposit, etc. Not a dollar more than the minimum required to secure the room. Let them know as well that if they ignore your request and send more than the amount required anyway for any reason whatsoever, you'll not be able to refund them any balance until:
1. Your bank has assured you the payment cleared, and this applies to cashier's checks and money orders as well as personal checks AND
2. They can pick up their balance in person whenever they're ready to move in with you. You'll not be refunding any "balances" long distance, only in person.
If whomever is a legitimate room seeker, they should have no problem with either, and you can tell them RoomieMatch.com said so.
If they do have a problem and/or continue insisting upon some ridiculous scenario along the lines of that described above, let us know about it immediately and we'll delete their profile.
We are also CONSTANTLY on the lookout for this and any other suspicious behavior, but we'd appreciate your assistance as well if you notice something we somehow did not. By this we do mean someone on RoomieMatch.com, and we would need the email address of that subscriber and a copy of the email they sent you with the offending details.
(We don't need you to forward along the latest internet gossip about this, just specific details if you think someone in OUR database is attempting to do something illegitimate with any of our other subscribers.)
The scenario described above is the most common we've heard. However, it's certainly not the only one possible.
More generally, if anyone does any of the below while roommate seeking, that's suspicious behavior too:
1. unwillingness to meet with you face-to-face BEFORE any exchange of money takes place, even when you're willing to go out of your way to be available in person
2. odd-sounding stories about how they can’t give you a landline phone number local to where they say they are and/or talk to you on the phone other than on a non-local cell number
3. lack of references from anyplace you could verify as that number by looking it up in a commercial phone book or online equivalent
4. immediate willingness, residence sight unseen in person, to pay much more than the going rate for a room or willingness to charge much less than the going rate for a room for no apparent financially sound reason -- exceptions might be if they want you to provide a service in exchange for lowered rent, nannying, cleaning, etc. But anyone looking to hire you to perform an expensive service would certainly want to meet you in person first.
5. willingness to pay multiple months in advance for a room, sight unseen in person
6. insistence that you need to send them money remotely/from afar/wire/snail mail, etc., rather than a willingness to meet with you in person and accept payment then
7. communication must remain solely via email on free email services (yahoo, hotmail, etc.) or via cellphone numbers that can’t be looked up and verified as to location. Communication in the beginning via these mechanisms is fine, but at some point BEFORE you give them any money they should be willing to provide you with a more direct and verifiable contact method. If they’re not willing to do that, you shouldn’t be willing to give them any money.
8. insistence that they must pay you more money than required upfront, and you need to “refund” some of that with your own money. Or really, any indication of any desire to pay more money than that required upfront.
9. any suggestion that you need to give them money back and/or a place to stay before their check or money order has had time to clear your bank, extra especially if they want you to do this remotely/from afar.
10. anyone seeking your checking account number, credit card information, or social security number. That is NOT necessary.
11. anyone who seems to think your roommate transaction necessarily needs to involve the use of wire services to send money, or anything involving escrow. Wire services are a good way to send and receive money anonymously. In a roommate seeking situation, that really shouldn’t be necessary, so it's a scammer red flag.
Finally, while it's obvious we take anti-roommate-scamming very seriously, we still would NOT recommend blanket paranoia toward all roommates coming from outside San Francisco.
This has been the reaction of some to the roommate scam problem. While this reaction is understandable, it's still not rational or constructive.
Many students will be coming from outside San Francisco to seek advanced degrees. Many will then seek roommates. Those students might be the most intellectually sophisticated, respectful, and uncomplicated roommates you'd ever hope to find, in part due to all the time they'll need to spend studying. All that stuff we said above? Don't use any of that as an excuse to be a bigot toward roommate seekers not from San Francisco.
Do allow yourself to be worldly and open-minded. Other doesn't necessarily = bad.
Just hold them to our RoomieMatch.com Anti-Scam Guidelines, stringently!
If they don't fail them?
Then they didn't fail them.
But if anyone does fail them, let us know immediately.
We'll toss that trash right out.
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