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January 28, 2007

I See a Futon in My Future

Filed under Events

I flew to San Francisco this weekend to find a place to live. I took a bunch of pictures, which you can see here. For more background on my trip, keep reading.

The HR department at ILM gave me a few websites to help me find a place.

This one was good place to start. It describes the different neighborhoods. I narrowed my search down to Cow Hollow, Marina, Pacific Heights, Laurel Heights, and Inner Richmond.

Next, HR recommended Craig's List to find a place to live. They said I could use an apartment locator service, but I would have to pay the $800 fee they charged. They said most people do not use a locator service.

I know San Francisco is going to be more expensive than Dallas, so I wanted to try to minimize how much I spent on an apartment. I also did not want to have a long commute. The only way to satisfy those requirements is with a *really* small apartment.

The first apartment I looked at was in Pacific Heights. I couldn't take any pictures inside because a tenant still lived there. It is about a mile from ILM. It was about 350 square feet and rent was $935 a month. There was no stove, no dishwasher, and no washer/dryer connections. There were washers and dryers in the building that could be used for a fee. The room did have heat, but no A/C. It was basically a small room with a sink, mini fridge, hot plate, and a bathroom. It was going to be tough to fit in here, but I was willing to try.

I decided to see what the walk to ILM would be like. The apartment is on the side of a *steep* hill. I walked 3 blocks to the top of the hill and it almost killed me. I was totally out of breath. Walking down the hill was nearly as bad because you could easily slip on the sidewalk and would tumble for quite a while.

The hills were a deal-breaker for me. Trying to drive a car with a manual transmission up these hills would be brutal when you come to a stop sign. I can't imagine trying to ride a bike up the hill. The neighborhood was nice, but mostly residential with very little retail or restaurants.

The next place I went to was in Inner Richmond. The apartment seemed huge in comparison to the Pacific Heights location, even though it was only 560 square feet. It cost $1250. It had no A/C (which isn't needed) or heat, so I'd have to buy a heater. There was no parking provided, but there was plenty of parking on the streets.

For about $50/year, the city will give you a sticker with a letter on it. The letter represents the neighborhood you are from. If you don't have one of these stickers, you can only park for 2-3 hours. With a neighborhood sticker, you can leave your car overnight, as long as you move it on street cleaning days.

The Inner Richmond apartment had two rooms and a storage area that was only about 4 feet high, but as large as one of the other rooms. There was no W/D, so you had to take you clothes to a laundromat. I liked this place better than the first. The neighborhood had more restaurants and shops than Pacific Heights, but I felt out of place because it was most much older people and families.

After walking around all day Friday, I decided that the Marina/Cow Hollow area was the place I wanted to live. It was almost completely flat. It is at most a mile from ILM. It is packed with cool restaurants, bars, and shops. And it is mostly single people around my age....actually it is mostly single *females* around my age. Not sure why, but there seems to be 10 girls for every guy I saw....I'm not complaining.

Friday night I used Craig's List to find about 10 different apartments in Marina/Cow Hollow. Several of the places I called were already sold.

The first place I went to Saturday morning had a great location. It is one block from the main drag in the Marina, Chestnut street. It is also about 8 blocks from my job, and about 4 blocks from the ocean. But the kicker is that it has a parking space...and parking is very difficult in the Marina/Cow Hollow area. It has no dishwasher. It does have heat (no A/C), and coin-operated W/D available in the garage. It is about 550 square feet and cost $1500/month with the included parking space.

When I arrived, there were 3 girls that were also checking the place out. Everybody was interested. After I was done looking, I told the owner that I was interested and he said for me to look at another place and call him at noon if I was still interested.

I walked away to check out another apartment. It didn't have a parking spot and I decided that sealed it...I wanted a parking spot so I could come and go as I please. I headed back to the apartment and there were about 4 more girls checking out the place. The owner said he would be with me after he was done showing the girls.

The last girl was newly hired by Google and said she was *very* interested in the place. She was going to check some other places and then come back.

I told the owner I wanted the place. He is a really nice older guy that has lived in San Francisco his entire life. I told him I was returning to Texas the next morning, so I wanted to get as much done now as I could. He said we could go to his office to get a credit report done on me now.

His office is at the Olympic Club, where he is also a member. The blue jeans and t-shirt I had on did not meet the requirements to enter the Olympic Club, so my landlord let me wear his sweat pants and a sweater that allowed me to enter.

He let me do my own credit report on his computer via Free Credit Report. I had never used a credit service before. This one does give you a free report, but if you don't cancel, you automatically pay $12/month for credit monitoring to let you know when you report changes dramatically. The only way to cancel is to call their customer service...you can't do it via the web or email (even though you use the web to set it up). When you try to cancel, the rep will give you lots of reason why you shouldn't cancel and offer you cheaper versions. I said, "I want the one that requires no money from me."...and that finally did it. So beware...I can see how they make it super easy to get a report and super difficult to cancel.

My landlord took me to lunch at the Olympic Club restaurant and he got the bill...very nice. I can't remember ever having a landlord that payed for my lunch and let me wear his clothes. And no, he wasn't gay...he has a wife and is a genuinely nice guy.

I asked my landlord about the odd guy/girl ratio in the Marina. He said I was the only guy to look at the apartment that day. He said his apartment is almost all independent women that work downtown in the financial district. He said that when he goes out to eat in restaurants in the area, there are 40+ girls and usually less than 5 guys. I don't know how I'm going to manage in this place.

So I got a place! It is close to work, has parking, and easy access to a very hip part of town. I can't wait to move in! Now that I know what I can't bring with me, I have to sell a bunch of stuff on eBay (couch, night stand, TV, washer/dryer, etc.) really quick!

Comments (18)

I see a restraining order in your future.

If you're not used to dealing with extremely limited space, you may want to check out IKEA for some ideas. I'm not sure what to call them besides "model homes," but the new IKEA near us has these displays for small space areas - Living in 235sq feet, 600sq feet, etc. In our store there are about five such displays, ranging from 235 to 1000, I think.

Even if you aren't in the market to buy anything they may give you some layout/storage ideas. The ones we've seen are really well done.

The Dallas/Frisco IKEA has the same setup. I remember looking at the "Living in 235 sq ft" display and thinking, "They have to be joking...nobody lives like that!" Now I'm planning on going back and taking notes! I think I'll be doing a lot of IKEA shopping in the next few weeks.


All very interesting...SF looks so much cleaner than NYC...are the pictures deceptive? $1500/month...ouch.

Most of my pics were from very nice areas of San Fran that were very clean. I have no doubt that other areas are not as nice. But I think the pictures are accurate.

I think the only discrepancy I have with the pictures is how tough the hill are. The pictures are not as dramatic as I'd like them to be. My calves *hurt* today...and all I did is walk up and down about 2-3 hills over two days.

Also, it was *really* foggy, and I could see more detail than the camera was picking up.

Mike Schriever:

You must love your job. I've always wondered why people wanted to go to California and lower their standard of living. Have you figured how much more you have to make out there to equal what you have in Texas? All the single women might more than offset the expense. Good luck on the hunting.

> Have you figured how much more
> you have to make out there to equal
> what you have in Texas?

Not yet...there is a state income tax and everything is generally a bit more pricey than what I'm used to in Dallas. I think the biggest difference is $$$ spent on housing. For my apartment, I'm paying 50% more than I did in Dallas and getting a smaller place with no laundry or dishwasher or A/C...but I *should* spend less on gas because I can walk everywhere. Plus, I don't have to pay for the big trip to vacation in San Francisco anymore. :)


Good stuff. Sounds like you did well to get a place so quickly especially with what appears to be a high demand for real estate there. It's crazy to think $900+ buys 350 sq ft there, but I'm sure that's simply because the market supports that kind of price. Hooray for free market economy.

And the whole apartment building full of independent women... sounds like the setting of a no-plot late-night Cinemax movie. I'm SO there.

Dave, in the immortal words of the knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:

"You have chosen...wisely."


Dave it all looks great. What a neat place to live - when we come visit you we'll bring a tent! Congratulations again. The break from the regular ol flat Texas will be nice - buy a bunch of bananas.

MoFo Chill:

Just to be safe you might want to assume that the girl/guy ratio is more like 6 or 7 to 1 instead of 10:1. Still pretty favorable for a single guy like you. Calleise and I have talked about another San Francisco vacation - whenever we make it out there again we'll be sure to let you know!


Given the description of your location,
maybe there is a Segway in your future
(providing it hasn't been outlawed there).

It does seem like an ideal environment for them, but I didn't see a single one.

A quick search of the internets brings up this link...they are indeed banned!

There *is* a Segway tour of San Fran. Here's what its FAQ says about Segway's in San Fran...

Where can I ride the Segway? Can I go on the Golden Gate Bridge or "crooked"Lombard Street? What about those San Francisco hills?

The San Francisco Segway tours stays on the "flat parts" of the City. The Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Street are better explored on foot. Segways are allowed on most San Francisco streets, multi use bike-running-walking trails and designated bike pathways. We do travel on a few smaller hills on our route. Segways are illegal on sidewalks in San Francisco. San Francisco is one of the few cities in the world with an ordinance banning Segway riding on sidewalks. Sausalito tours follow the same rules as our San Francisco operation. We strongly stress that all Segway riders courteously "Share the Road" with other vehicles, bikes and pedestrians. It is the Segway rider’s responsibility to yield to pedestrians. Pedestrians have the right-of way.

Cousin Patti:

Congrats on your new job. Spoke to Cousin Bob last week and he has a new job and new home too. We should talk more. Bob and I were thinking about Thanksgiving in New Orleans but San Fran sounds better!

Andrew Abraham:

Hey Dave,
The place looks tight, should be a pretty good time livin' in Cali. Can you send me a link to some of your ebay stuff if you haven't gotten rid of it all yet. I'm in the market for some new equipment for my house this summer. maybe you cut me a deal...huh...huh...? thanks man-good luck


Hey, if you ever meet George, could you tell him to please release an anamorphic DVD version of the original theatrical releases of the original Star Wars trilogy? (don't get a rat's arse about the new series). Anything so I never have to see Greedo shoot first!!

John V.:

Very nice location. Seems there are a lot of restaurants, shopping, and pubs/bars in the area. Does the Marina area have a neighborhood feel?

I know here in Boston I enjoyed living in the city because of the neighborhoods. I think my studios were about the same size as yours at around 500-600 sq. foot (though SF definitely more expensive!). Having more living space here in the 'burbs is great, though I would trade the extra space to return to the city. So consider the Marina your backyard, and have fun!

Yeah, the Marina has a neighborhood feel. Everything you need is in a 4 block area. It is nice to be able to walk everywhere.


Hey Dave! Congrats on ILM and San Fran!

You have now given me another reason to fly to the "mother ship" in San Jose for work and drive up there to visit you.
Although I should definitely not plan to stay overnight unless I can sleep standing up huh? ;-)

This is awesome and exciting. I can't imagine what it would be like to go to work right next to the Golden Gate for ILM. Not to mention the Presidio is a sweet place on it's own.

Once you get familiar with your new coworkers you can run lines from the movie "The Presidio" in your Sean Connery accent. "I'm only going to use my thumb..."

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