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What $2,000 rents you in SF right now

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Five new rentals, from Excelsior to Japantown

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 is another person’s townhouse? Today’s price: $2,000.

For an idea of just how long this apartment in the Western Addition has been searching for new tenants, the ad still says “AMC Van Ness Theatre one block” away. That still stings a little bit. This apartment in a “landmark 1869 Victorian building”—the building is indeed listed on the National Register of Historic Places—ends up somewhat confusingly billed as a “studio/junior one bedroom with low clearance loft.” Which is it? Well, it depends on the standards employed; if an overhead loft space that’s less than four feet tall qualifies as a bedroom, then this could perhaps fairly be called a junior-one-bedroom apartment. If not, then it’s just a studio with a very elaborate staircase to the storage area. Either way the price is $1,840 per month, and “owner not considering pets.”

Most in-laws in the Sunset are new additions or spaces converted out of former garages or basements. But this “quiet in-law studio” appears to have a little more history behind it judging from the intrusion of a decommissioned fireplace the unit, which has been not only sealed up but also painted over the same shade of cranberry-red as the rest of the home (sans the minty green kitchen tile), mantlepiece and all. The ad promises “hardwood floors, windows to the garden area, [and] small kitchen with counter-top,” but not a lot else for all of $1,950 per month. Note that that price nets just 300 square feet here; no cats allowed, but dogs are in the clear.

For a little more room to stretch out in-law style, the Excelsior offers a 550-square-foot unit that packs two beds and one bath into the space. What’s the catch? Well, it’s $1,950 per month, but of course, by San Francisco standards, that’s not so bad, painful though it may be to hear. The real catch is that the ad loudly cautions “PLEASE NOTE THERE IS NO LIVING ROOM, DINING ROOM, OR ANY ADDITIONAL ROOMS”—caps in original, obviously. In fact, there’s not even an oven or stovetop in the kitchen, so when this landlord promises two bedrooms and one bath, they really mean it—two bedrooms, one bath, and not much else.

By comparison, this Richmond studio is short on details—even the ad is abbreviated, consisting of two scant sentences, one of them offering “beautiful studio apartment, conveniently located in Richmond District,” and the home itself consists of only 300 square feet, all of it featuring wall-to-wall tiled floors, and not even a mention of pets. Actually, combining this home—which is essentially one room—with the previous one might net a single reasonably appointed home. But that would presumably run up the rent, which is already $2,000 per month.

Finally, the exact same $2,000 per month also nets a “spacious studio near Fillmore”—which is right on the westernmost edge of Japantown, a street-facing studio on the top floor of a three-story building. In this case “spacious” means about 500 square feet, almost all of it marked by deep blue carpeting. No pets allowed, except service animals.


Which rental would you choose?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Western Addition Loft
    (79 votes)
  • 2%
    Sunset In-Law
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    Excelsior In-Law
    (5 votes)
  • 3%
    Richmond Studio
    (12 votes)
  • 68%
    Japantown Studio
    (223 votes)
327 votes total Vote Now