First time I moved to San Francisco, I didn’t have an apartment (or a job for that matter). Living in a hostel wasn’t something I was looking forward to.
If I were traveling in San Francisco, staying in a hostel would be my first choice. But since I knew I was going to look for an apartment, I wanted to find an opportunity to get a feel of the different neighborhoods in San Francisco.
Why I Chose to Use AirBnb instead
AirBnb seemed to offer an alternative option for people like me. Not really traveling, but not ready to commit to an area either. Too poor for a proper hotel, too private for Couchsurfing.
My ‘residential’ hotel experience in the Mission
The first place I stayed in was a ‘residential’ hotel in the Mission district. It was an old building. The rooms were tiny but filled with personality. There was no kitchen, but the room came with a sink and a microwave. The room was so tiny that I could use the sink while sitting on the bed.
Every evening other residents would gather in the enclosed patio to drink wine and smoke. The owner was into everything French and the vibe was rather bohemian if I can say so myself. Breakfast was included and it was a time to meet and get to know the other residents as well.
Finally the size of the room and the general vibe of the area (it was close to the ghetto 16th and Mission plaza) made me look somewhere else.
Don’t get me wrong though, the Mission District is a vibrant area filled with restaurants and galleries. It’s home to San Francisco’s hispanic population which means if you like Latin food – this is where you need to go.
Unfortunately, rental price in the good part of Mission was higher than I could afford. So I learned that I wasn’t quite ready to live there.
A Victorian home in the hippy (Haight Ashbury) district
We found a place right on the main street of Haight Ashbury district. The apartment complex is located above the stores lining up the main street. There was a cafe right underneath us where homeless people would have a gathering in the evenings when the stores are closed.
The apartment itself was really nice. It has a kitchen and we share a bathroom with the owner of the apartment. Haight Ashbury is known as the birthplace of the 60’s hippie movement and it’s trying hard to cling to the past. There’s a large population of panhandlers in the area. That, by itself, is fine. It’s just a part of living in San Francisco in general. But it also means waking up in wee hours in the morning because of fights on the street, or drunken wailing and guitar singing.
The large selection of coffeeshops and unique stores make for a nice atmosphere to walk around though.
Living in a shared housing gave me an opportunity to learn about the pros and cons of each SF neighborhood. It also gave me a local perspective on many things as well as tips on restaurants, underground festivals/events, and other local matters.
As of a matter of fact, my landlord in the Mission hotel provided me with helpful tips on how to find an apartment in San Francisco.
So, for those considering looking to move to San Francisco, a house sharing experience (like AirBnb, wimdu, roomarama, etc) is something I highly recommend.