How to find affordable housing in San Francisco

Finding the right place to call home in a growing city like San Francisco can be challenging especially when the cost of living seems to soar with each passing year. At the heart of this challenge lies the concept of affordable housing. So, what exactly is affordable housing? It’s more than just a roof over your head that won’t break the bank; it’s a solution for countless residents to enjoy a comfortable life without the constant financial strain. In the same vein, just as one might seek out affordable movers San Francisco has to offer to ease the moving process, finding the right housing option becomes paramount. Why? Because in a place where every dollar counts, both moving and living affordably can make all the difference. So, let’s find affordable housing in San Francisco!

Location is connected to costs

Location is pivotal when hunting for affordable housing, especially in bustling cities like San Francisco. Choosing a residence close to work or essential amenities can significantly cut down on transportation expenses. Consider this: if you’re commuting an hour daily, you’re not only shelling out more on gas or public transport but also losing precious time.

Neighborhood in San Francisco
San Francisco is one of the more expensive cities to live in, but you can still find some affordable neighborhoods.

With the average cost of living per one person in San Francisco being a staggering $3,619—placing it in the top 0.1% of the most expensive cities worldwide as per livingcost.org—it’s clear that every expense counts. This sum encompasses rent, utilities, groceries, and other essentials. Hence, when weighing housing options or even considering a move within the city, seeking out local movers San Francisco residents rely on can offer affordability and efficiency.

Best neighborhoods to find affordable housing in San Francisco

A strategic location can be a game-changer in maintaining a balanced budget in this vibrant city. That’s why we have decided to reveal some of the most affordable neighborhoods to pay attention to when house-hunting. Some of them are:

  • Outer Sunset
  • Outer Richmond
  • Excelsior
  • Bayview
  • Tenderloin
  • Visitacion Valley

It’s crucial to remember that while these neighborhoods may offer cheaper options than others in San Francisco, “affordability” is relative. Always research current rental or home prices before making a decision. If you’re preparing for a move, consider booking affordable packing and moving services San Francisco companies provide to make your transition smoother.

To find affordable housing in the City by the Bay, consider both rent and living costs

In the quest for affordable housing in San Francisco, it’s essential to think about more than only rent, which based on Niche date is $2,130. While a rental fee is a significant expense, you cannot overlook other living costs such as utilities, transportation, and neighborhood amenities. Start by listing potential neighborhoods, then research average rents and associated expenses in each area. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the city’s Inclusionary Housing Program, often referred to as “Mixed Income” or “BMR” (Below Market Rate). This program offers eligible residents an opportunity to rent or buy homes at rates below the market average. By considering both rent and living expenses and leveraging programs like BMR, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision.

Real estate agent
There are many helpful rental programs in San Francisco, such as Plus Housing Programs.

Collect necessary documentation

Securing affordable housing in San Francisco necessitates thorough documentation. Ensure all provided details are accurate and up-to-date. Adhering to the rules isn’t just recommended—it’s imperative. Incorrect or incomplete information can delay or derail your application. So, the documents you need to collect before renting are:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of income
  • Credit report
  • Rental application
  • References
  • Rental history
  • Personal references
  • Background check
  • Bank statements
  • Pet references or vet records

Finding the ideal affordable housing aligns with understanding your budget. Once you pinpoint a suitable option, assess if you need external assistance, like grants or loans, to manage the rent.

BMR can help you to find affordable housing in San Francisco

Below-market-rate (BMR) homes are unique solutions in San Francisco’s affordable housing scene. Originating in 2002, post the initial tech boom, BMRs cater to varied income groups: rentals for the very low-income and condos available for purchase for those earning slightly more. Present in new constructions with ten or more units, they epitomize ‘inclusionary housing.’ But, who’s eligable? First-time buyers, those who haven’t owned a property in the past three years, and those with an income that meets specific thresholds. While families or partners can apply, their combined earnings, like the $92,250 cap for a Pacific Heights condo, play a crucial role. However, meeting the criteria isn’t sufficient. With the high demand, obtaining a BMR home often boils down to sheer luck.

Family trying to find affordable housing in San Francisco with help of real estate agent
With the help of the right agents and the Housing program, you can find affordable housing in San Francisco.

So, as you can see, BMR housing offers San Francisco homes at prices below typical rates. Designed to help moderate and low-income residents, these properties come with specific eligibility criteria. Interested individuals apply through a lottery system, ensuring a fair selection process.

Be aware of legal restrictions

Legal restrictions are pivotal when navigating the BMR housing landscape in San Francisco. One significant rule is the prohibition against renting out a BMR home. This stipulation ensures these affordable units cater to those genuinely in need rather than being turned into investment properties. Violating this or other BMR regulations can lead to severe consequences. For residents planning a move, understanding these guidelines is essential. And if the move is unexpected or rushed, services like those provided by last minute movers San Francisco offers can help streamline the transition while staying compliant with housing rules.

Discover San Francisco’s affordable housing treasures

Several resources are available and can help residents find affordable housing in San Francisco, including BMR units. Exploring city-hosted platforms, community organizations, and housing advocacy groups can unveil options tailored to individual needs. So, stay informed, and harness these resources to navigate the city’s competitive housing market effectively.



Cost of Living in San Francisco, CA: rent, food, transport. (2023, August 8). Livingcost.org. https://livingcost.org/cost/united-states/ca/san-francisco

Living in San Francisco. (n.d.). Niche. https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/san-francisco-san-francisco-ca/#real-estate

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