I arrived prepared, armed with a renter’s profile, pay stubs and offer letters, credit reports, blank checks, and an artificially-inflated bank account. Together, my mother and I were ready to face a army of the nation’s most infamous kings and queens — the San Franciscan landlords.
A day before the apartment tours began, my company-provided Relocation “Specialist” cancelled our trip. Mr. Joey told me that, as a real estate agent in the city, his role involved one of two things; he either crushed dreams or fattened budgets.
My dream was ambitious — I already knew that but, I’m Type A, and I’m tenacious, and when I get my mind set on something, I can’t budge. I just can’t. I wanted to live in a studio in San Francisco. I envisioned the end result. I dreamt of the soft window lighting, the lull of an oddly comforting street noise, the charming quirkiness. Beauty in the flaws.
We searched. We moved nonstop. We met the cranky landlord of the $2,000 cracker box in Hayes Valley. He had RBF and told me that I didn’t make enough money. We met the precious, white-haired “substitute” landlord of the pristine re-do in the Marina. She offered us a ride to lunch. We met the hippie in the TenderNob, who greeted us with her laundry — and an overwhelming stench of pot. We texted the landlord of the studio on Fillmore, so frequently, in fact, that the viewing felt like a blind date. We met the owner of a spacious one-bedroom in Lower Haight, an angel of sorts, with an infectious smile and passion for music. He was a perfect match; the price tag, however, was not.
We saw the good, the bad, and the ugly. I was completely discouraged.
After a long week on the hunt, I sat in our hotel room, defeated. I scoured the Internet for articles, evidence, and pointers, searching for an answer.
I came across a blog that outlined tips for Craigslist-ing in San Francisco. The author encouraged renters to search for apartment ads without photos. Often, the author said, these ads are “from cute little grandmas or grandpas that don’t know how to use the Internet.” Thus far, I’d steered clear of the imageless ads. I’d assumed these ads were scams, and that I’d show up to the address location met by a strange man with and white van and free candy.
But, I decided to take the author’s advice to heart. I gave the Internet search another shot. Sure enough, I came across a listing for an apartment within my price range, and in a great location. Without photos. A gimmick, right? Has to be? The ad was intimidating:
No pets. No couples. We aren’t interested in your life story. We only care that you can pay rent. Don’t call after nine, the owners are old.
The rest is history.