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Readers’ first San Francisco rent prices will make you cry

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Old-school rents revealed

Photo of SF apartment building, 1920s Art Deco number. Photo by star5112

Last week we asked readers to reveal how much they paid in rent for their first San Francisco apartment. Anticipating merely a handful of comments, your responses were as bountiful as they were jaw-dropping. Everything from an apartment on 18th Street across from the Dolores Park ($450/month!) to a one-bedroom at Turk and Divis ($250/month!) stunned. Especially when compared to today’s prices.

As San Francisco ranks among the most expensive places in the United States for renters—three of the city’s ZIP codes rank among the highest in the nation, behind Manhattan—it was nice to see rents from the halcyon days in Baghdad by the Bay.

One thing we noticed was that, before current rent prices saddled many with golden-handcuffs syndrome, working-class folks, ones who didn’t earn millions, were able to move within the city at will.

Here are a handful of your responses:

“1975. Hyde and Sutter. 6th floor Studio with built-in antique (lukewarm) refrigerator, 180 degree view over the city. Furnished it with treasures out of a dumpster on Larkin. $105.00 a month. Now goes for $2195.00.”George Reeds

“Moved into 1 bedroom /w parking in O. Richmond district in 2012 for $1450/month. It was the upper end of our budget...[a]fter 5 years of rent increases we’re now at a whopping $1540! I hear the going rate now is about $2500-$2800….dodged one there. Now I’m googling: "How to raise kids in a 1 bedroom apartment.” With VR, who needs a living room?”BornNRaisedCOL

“Early nineties: One bedroom @ Waller/Webster in a beautiful old building- working wood burning fireplace- $650/m (including electricity!) Read it and weep!”iluvnyc

“I moved to SF in the summer of ‘82 with $500 and a ’79 Honda Civic. Stayed with a friend on Church Street for a few weeks. Then house-sat for a friend’s mother in Cow Hollow for 5 weeks – a good thing since friends from France were on their way to visit for a month. That was a sweet 2-story 3-bedroom Victorian house with a sunny backyard.

“Next I found a job and a 2-bedroom lower-level flat in a postwar duplex on Uranus with garage parking and big views of the Castro, downtown, Bay, and Oakland Hills. The owner lived upstairs with his boyfriend. Rent: $800/month. Which meant, of course, that I had to find a roommate – who turned out to be disastrous. No prob: Out of the blue, I got a job offer in NY. When I came back in ’89, you could still find an apartment by driving or walking in your desired n’hood and looking for "for rent" signs.

“My bf and I found a beautifully maintained Edwardian flat on the steep block of Filbert for $1,500/month: 2-bedroom, huge working fireplace, big views of the Bay and Coit Tower, up-to-date kitchen. Moved into my current rented apartment in ‘94. But that’s another story . . .”kitkidizzee

“I paid $450/month for a studio in Mission-Dolores, 1998. (This is not a joke.) Not the greatest place, or so I thought at the time. I moved out after four months because I wanted to live with three friends in the Castro. UGH.”Brock Keeling

“1974 – $145 for a beautiful one bedroom apartment on pacific between Fillmore and Webster!! elevator had gate you had to to open and close. no bay view but all i had to do was walk to the corner and gaze at the most beautiful city. that was then. possibly 2340 Pacific? (those were the ’70s after all.)”cicinla

“Twin Peaks corner unit 2bd 2ba with a view, deck and a garage for 1 vehicle. Laundry in the building basement. Moved in 1993 rent was $950 top of the market then. Now, 24 years later [in] 2017, I pay $1320. Very blessed to have rent control which back then I didn’t even know to ask if it was.”Robyn326

“My first San Francisco apartment as an adult was a two bedroom flat on the corner of Page and Shrader in the Upper Haight. Two friends and I converted it into a three bedroom by making the living room a bedroom so the dining room became the living room and the kitchen became an eat-in kitchen. I took the faux bedroom because it seemed glamorous (glorious nonworking fireplace! Wainscoting!), and it cost me a whopping $600/month. I think the total was $1500 for the unit, but I paid a little more because I had the largest bedroom.

“That said, we had a total slumlord who had us move in with a promise to fix really serious problems—a broken window in one of the bedrooms, hardwood floors that were only partially finished—and those fixes never happened. Thankfully we didn’t have an actual lease (20001 was a much simpler time), so we were able to move out after four months.”Sally Kuchar

“My first apartment was $245 a month on Dorland Street off Dolores in 1977. A spacious one-bedroom with a large kitchen with many glass-fronted cabinets and a huge bathroom containing a linen cupboard with drawers underneath and completely tiled. Night-blooming jasmine grew on the hedges in the backyard and their scent permeated the place when I opened the windows in warm weather. I loved it.Carolyn Zaremba

“Late to the game. I rented a 2 bed 2 bath apartment on Post & Jones in 2007 for $2,370 a month. Felt expensive to me at the time but little did I know…”missionlandlord