Renting a House in San Francisco



San Francisco is no different from the other hot destinations abroad where the demand for housing is too high and the availability in the market is almost never enough. Expatriates who are about to relocate to this city should expect high rental costs and cut-throat competition among fellow ‘home-hunters’. 

Expatriates are allowed to acquire a property in San Francisco, but it won’t have any bearing on their application for residency. Purchasing a home is also not advisable for those on short term assignments because of the properties in almost half of the total number of neighbourhoods already cost a minimum of $1million or 60% to 80% higher than the average asking price; an amount that is not practical to shell out for temporary accommodation. Renting can be the most sensible option for foreign assignees and given the high costs, it is important to ask their employer if they are covered by any housing type of housing assistance. 

Finding Accommodation 

When looking for accommodation abroad, one must always remember that the closer the property is to the city centre, the more expensive the price gets. Expats should also refrain from relocating without doing any research about their new host city. Some of the best ways to search for a house/apartment in San Francisco is thru online which can be done a few weeks before flying in. 

Those who are willing to pay can also hire the service of a local broker. Aside from their familiarity with the neighbourhoods, real estate agents have direct contact with property owners which can significantly speed up the search. The minimum service fee of an agent in San Francisco is usually half of the monthly rent of the chosen accommodation. 


Home Search Services in United States in San Francisco

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According to California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), there are two types of rental agreement that are considered binding in San Francisco. These types of contracts can be in verbal or written form and will act as a legal agreement between the landlord and the tenant: 

  • Periodic Rental Agreement – With this type of contract, the landlord will set a particular period which will be the basis of the validity of the agreement with the tenant. One example is the ’30-day agreement’ where the rental pay should be made on a monthly basis. Periodic Rental Agreement expires every time the tenant pays and will be renewed once the next payment is done. 
  • Lease – Is also known as the long-term agreement. A typical lease in San Francisco is a minimum of one year where the tenant is legally required to pay every month to the length of the contract expires. After 12 months, expats have the option to switch to the periodic rental agreement based on their desired duration of stay.

Types of Housing 


  • The small space in the central cities of San Francisco is the reason behind the many apartment buildings and growing construction of several high-rise condominiums. According to the July 2016 article posted by Bloomberg, studio type and single-room units have recently become more in demand compared to the two-three bedroom flats. It means that this kind of housing along with the condos are more appealing to single expats or young couples who do not need too much space. 


  • Single-detached homes are rare in the city centre, and those who would want to live in a larger space should be willing to consider the outskirts of San Francisco. Though there are two to three bedroom apartments in the metropolitan, the houses in the suburbs are more worth the price because most have four to five bedrooms as well as gardens and front lawns. There are the areas of Moraga and Lafayette where expats will find ranch-style residences that also have swimming pools and are blessed with vast outdoors spaces.