This past month being here has been crazy busy. I’ve been juggling between moving to my new apartment as well as the somewhat stressful team decision making over at work (more on that in a separate blog post).
For those who are not aware, finding a reasonably priced place to live in the Bay Area is pretty difficult. You can end up paying $1200/month for a converted living room (not ideal for someone that wants privacy), which is considered "cheap"; or you can pay $3000-$4000/month for a 1 bedroom in most of the newer apartment buildings in the city. These prices are just on the edge for those on an engineering salary, but for others, it is considered ridiculous
The city of San Francisco restricts the amount of new apartments and houses that can be built. Because there are so many people wanting to move there for work, demand is very high compared to supply — simple economics. It was a bit difficult to schedule housing tours until I was actually down in the Bay Area because I wasn’t sure what my schedule was going to be like, and a ton of the craigslist ads would have open houses the weekend right after they post the ad — these listings would definitely get snatched before I even flew down with the way the market is right now.
Luckily my company provides temporary stay to facilitate my housing search, which decreases the pressure and worries of finding both a temp and a permanent place.
Another worry I had was finding a suitable roommate. A lot of my future new grad friends were set on living in the Peninsula (that’s San Mateo to ~Mountain View), and I wanted to live in the city. I tried posting on craigslist and some Facebook groups, asked friends to ask their friends, but didn't get too far.
Finding a long term roommate became important to me after a fiasco I experienced in my most recent subleased place. I needed someone that was drama-free and could agree on certain budgets and neighborhood preferences.
Eventually I found a girl who seemed like a good fit - someone my age who would be working at the same company, had the same neighborhood preferences and price range. But I still never really met this girl, and I was skeptical whether she really committed to being roommates with me since she was very unresponsive through Messenger. I am used to people responding to me within at least a few hours. I know I should have approached with a Skype chat or something. Maybe she had other priorities, but she would often respond to me a day after I messaged, which made it hard to communicate with her.
Anyway, the time finally came for me to fly down. I ended up setting up a few housing appointments by myself since I was going to start work a few weeks before my potential roommate. Throughout this whole process I had kept an eye out on various Facebook housing groups (including the group created for employees (current, former, or future). I was very lucky to have also made an appointment for this particularly cheap room offering in Nob Hill with an existing roommate who is a current employee (at FB). It was quite a good deal, despite facing a busy street and the kitchen being awkwardly connected to the other bedroom. This girl was also quite down to earth and extremely responsive via Messenger.
I went with it and had to ditch my former potential roommate which I didn't feel good about, but I hadn’t even met in real life nor video chat yet. She didn’t seem overly upset and I figured I’d never run into her in the future anyways.
The process of commitment happened very fast. I saw the place on a Friday, and signed the lease on Tuesday. I’ve been going back and forth between my temp housing and this new apartment in the past month to take full advantage of both ends - short commute in the Peninsula on weekdays, accessibility and fun nights in SF for weekends.
Having two places is very confusing, however. You have to keep track of where certain personal belongings are, time and plan everything properly. I couldn’t sleep at my new place until I got my mattress delivered, though. More on that later. I left pretty much everything at my temp place until this past Sunday. I recently shipped my household goods (basically a bunch of clothes and miscellaneous items I didn’t immediately need) to work, and am slowly bringing that home as well.
Furnishing a completely empty room was also a tough one. I didn’t even have to furnish the whole apartment since my roommate is an existing tenant. It was just my room. My room is huge btw, it's the first time I've had a walk in closet large enough to bed another person.
The whole process has kept me occupied these past couple of weeks. It never even occurred to me that furnishing a home is important especially if you are planning to stay there long term. No more plastic drawers, Walmart mirrors, and cheap floor lamps I had in university. I now have a reason to go to places like Crate & Barrel, The Container Store, IKEA, Staples, and others.
After 5 years of impermanence during school and co-op terms, it's great to have a place I can call home for at least the next few years.