Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, a regular column exploring what you can rent for a set dollar amount in different neighborhoods. Is one person’s studio another person’s townhouse? Today’s price: $1,700.
Technically, these studios at 1515 Sutter only start at $1,700 per month (topping out around $1,800) and the general ad does not enumerate precisely what the difference is between greater and lesser units. Nevertheless, renters are assured these photos are of a “typical unit”—tidy but very small—and that the deal includes “eat-in kitchen,” “built-in bookcase,” and “walk-in closet,” but not much else. The ad also promises a “fantastic area,” which is true enough—Japantown remains one of San Francisco’s most woefully underrated neighborhoods. No pets allowed here, though.
Of course, for studio living on the cheap—or as close to affordable as renting in SF gets these days—the nearby Tenderloin remains a reliable go-to. Here it’s $1,645 per month for a “cozy studio” on Hyde Street near Ellis, with loft bed, hardwood floor, track lighting, and the note that “there are excellent bike lanes and the terrain is flat as a pancake”—one of the Tenderloin laurels nobody ever bothers to bring up much. The lobby on the old building is a knockout too; the loft bed is awkwardly placed, but at least this home does offer another special amenity common to the Tenderloin: cats and dogs both allowed.
A full bedroom for $,1700 per month in today’s market means going south, all the way down to Balboa Park (deemed Excelsior in the ad, possibly banking on that southernmost neighborhood’s reputation as still a holdout for housing deals even after years of escalating prices). This “beautiful new one-bedroom plus one-bath with backyard” apartment sits a little south of the park itself, promising privacy and “super close to different bus lines and Balboa Bart station.” The landlord does not allow pets and the ad even specifies that only single tenants living alone need apply. Note that such prohibitions are actually illegal in SF.
San Francisco’s ADU (accessory dwelling unit) laws have yielded two competing in-law options, one sheltered by the charming barn-red facade of a house in Silver Terrace on Bridgeview Drive. The place is only 275 square feet and is supposedly a full-one bed, one-bath home, but the ad (confusingly) deems it a studio and no bedroom appears to be visible in the photos, so it seems what we have here is a failure to communicate. Nevertheless, the place promises a “private entrance” and ”access to the backyard, laundry room, and patio,” plus natural light via the skylight. Note that the kitchenette does not include a stove, so it’s hotplate living here for $1,650 per month. The ad doesn’t mention pets, but hopefully that yard won’t go without canine or feline appreciation.
Finally, this Sunset in-law is a studio—no ambiguity about it this time—on 35th Avenue for $1,700 per month. “This apartment is bright, freshly painted and has new carpet,” the landlord promises—and not much else. Note the weirdly narrow bathroom door, which is odd but at least kind of cute. Sadly, no dogs and no cats is the rule here.
Which rental would you choose?
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Balboa Park Apartment
Silver Terrace In-Law