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What $3,500 rents you in SF right now

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Five new rentals, from the Haight to Polk Gulch

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: $3,500.

What does Cole Valley offer in terms of unlikely architectural hybrids? This ad proposes a blend of Craftsman, Spanish, and classical architectural styles in a house from 1909, with a “spacious beautiful decorative garden” around the entryway, all of it located roughly one block from Buena Vista Park. The apartment is a simple one-bed, one-bath setup, with a slightly less simple $3,500 per month price tag attached. No dogs allowed here—nearby parks notwithstanding—but the owner allows cats.

And speaking of disparate styles, Mint Plaza continues to be the gift that keeps on giving in terms of industrial style. Here’s an unusual one-bed, one-bath condo that layers acid-stained floors, concrete walls, and translucent glass partitions. The kitchen throws in some glossy lacquered surfaces as well, in case there wasn’t already a wide enough variety of reflective finishes. The price tag is pretty glossy too: $3,500 per month—although, in truth, that’s almost modest by the plaza’s usual price standards. That high price buys admission for pets too.

Whereas there’s nothing singular about this competing one-bed, one-bath apartment on 24th Street in Potrero Hill. Here the pitch is as calculated to popular San Francisco sensibilities as possible: “Victorian apartment, pets are okay.” Music to a renter’s ears. All the wood paneling throughout the kitchen and dining room are a welcome sight, but the biggest takeaway here is a burning question: How much demand is there for an old-fashioned, non-updated kitchen? With renovation fever still burning away in the city, the kitchen and bathrooms are always the first (and often the only) things to go, to the point that a long-untouched specimen like this starts to seem like elusive quarry. You’ll need to pay $3,500 to cook anything up here, though.

As it turns out, all of the homes on today’s slate at this price are come with one bed and one bath, making the contest a matter of location and style—but that doesn’t mean that the actual specs are all the same from door to door. For example, on Oak Street in the Haight, this cottage measures a modest 600 square feet, but does have an extra story up top, as well as a handsomely appointed yard that’s mostly a red-brick patio. The lower floor is a little odd, with the kitchen on one side and stairs on the other leaving the de facto living room with the impression of being a foyer instead. And figuring out where to put your furniture seems a touch tricky—but at least it makes use of the space well. It’s $3,495 per month; pets are good here as well.

Last up, no guessing about the furnishings for this apartment in Polk Gulch (billed as Nob Hill in the ad—come on, this one’s not even close), as the offer is very specific about being furnished already. You’ve got 650 square feet, concrete interiors, and an acceptable view. But no pets allowed here. And the rent varies depending on the length of the lease; for anyone committing to a year, it comes to $3,490 per month.


Which rental would you choose?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Cole Valley Apartment
    (111 votes)
  • 11%
    Mint Plaza Loft
    (39 votes)
  • 17%
    Potrero Hill Apartment
    (62 votes)
  • 17%
    Haight Cottage
    (63 votes)
  • 21%
    Polk Gulch Apartment
    (77 votes)
352 votes total Vote Now