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What $1,500 rents in San Francisco right now

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Five new rentals, from the Tenderloin to Parkside

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: $1,500.

Fact: $1,500 per month is just a few hundred less than the median rent across the city. But one look at ads within this price range illustrates the difference between what most people pay now and what most people would end up paying if they had to find a new apartment at market rates. In the Tenderloin, where semi-affordable housing stock barricades itself against market pressures, $1,500 nets a studio apartment on the top floor of a fourth floor building on Ellis Street, which comes with bay windows, a remodeled bathroom, and not much else. And atypical for the typically pet-friendly neighborhood: no pets allowed.

On the other hand, few go bargain hunting in Lower Pac Heights. Nevertheless, this listing promises an “amazing space and neighborhood” on Van Ness and Bush. The ad refers to this as a “1920s building,” but the city dates it to 1913. It’s also referred to as a “seriously kickass building”—no work if city records agree or not. The $1,495 per month asking price is on account of this being an SRO, with a communal kitchen and bathroom presently shared with two other units. No pets here, either.

Unfortunately, renting in San Francisco is all about compromises. In this case, an apartment for $1,500 per month means compromising on space—there’s only 200 square feet of it in this studio. It’s also not actually in San Francisco, despite being listed in Parkside; in fact, it’s a Colma unit trying to appeal to SF renters through its proximity to BART. “This private cozy studio is a fully renovated” unit attached to a house, but with a separate entryway. Again, no pets allowed here.

A bit north of Colma—and, yes, across the county line—is an in-law in the Outer Mission, which advertise itself with more roomy specs via a one-bed, one-bath unit built into the garage, measuring 500 square feet. The landlord specifically promises that “nothing in this unit is shared.” It comes with a full kitchen (rather than a kitchenette) and a separate entry. Notice the exposed sound insulation on the bedroom ceiling—at least you know it’s there. This is the cheapest of the lot at $1,350 per month. Once more with feeling: “no pets, no exceptions, no considerations, do not ask.”

And finally, an actual Parkside home inside an ochre building on 28th Avenue sports a “newly remodeled studio with private entrance [and] backyard” for $1,395 per month. The red-stained floors are quite fetching while the yard is drought-friendly and easy on the greenery. The unit comes with a granite counter top, wood cabinet, and stainless steel appliances. But it’s a complete shut-out for pet owners this time. Ruff.


Which rental would you choose?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Tenderloin Studio
    (112 votes)
  • 9%
    Lower Pac Heights SRO
    (31 votes)
  • 7%
    Colma Studio
    (23 votes)
  • 6%
    Outer Mission In-Law
    (21 votes)
  • 39%
    Parkside Studio
    (124 votes)
311 votes total Vote Now