Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Apartment 2.0

It's been a full year since our move to the west coast (can you believe it?!?!) and the first thing on our To Do list for this year was to find affordable housing. While we loved the convenience of our apartment in SOMA - where we could roll out of bed at 8:15 and still make the 8:19 train to the peninsula without breaking a sweat - we needed to find a place we could actually afford.

So, in mid-June we began our apartment search: pouring over the listings on Craigslist each day, attending open houses each evening. It was an incredibly painful process as everybody else in San Francisco appeared to be looking for housing at the same time we were. The owner of one Craigslist posting placed a follow up ad to ask people to stop contacting him: he had 68 emails and 160 phone calls inquiring about the apartment within 24 hours of posting it.

The search quickly became overwhelming. We shifted our search from neighborhood to neighborhood to try to find an affordable (ha!) place with a commute that wasn't prohibitive. We looked in Potrero Hill but kept reading scary articles in the newspaper about certain parts of that neighborhood (everyone says it's up and coming but at present it seems to be more coming than up); we looked in our old neighborhood, SOMA, but couldn't find anything we could afford; we explored Glen Park but couldn't find anything nice enough to offset the 2 hours commute each way; and finally we found Noe Valley, which we immediate loved.

Noe Valley sits amid the hills in the heart of the city. Everywhere you look there are huge, beautiful Victorian houses and gorgeous views of the city. 24th Street is lined with cute independently owned shops (24th Street Cheese Company, Noe Valley Bakery & Bread Company, Noe Knit, Phoenix Books) and the Noe Valley Farmers' Market sets up between Sanchez St. and Noe St. every Saturday.

We attended every open house in the area for two weeks and turned in applications for a handful of them, but kept losing out to doctors and lawyers and other rich 20-somethings with stable jobs and huge bank accounts (I overheard someone on the train last year say that San Francisco is where thirty year olds go to retire - I don't know if he was quoting it from elsewhere but it has stuck with me ever since).

Finally, just as we were growing desperate - we had to vacate our apartment in two weeks and had guests coming before then - we found a jewel of an apartment, applied and were accepted the next day! Not only was it less expensive than most of the apartments we were looking at, but we instantly felt at home there.

With a little help from our friends (thanks again Lily, Mike, Eric, Adam and Suzanne!), we moved in on July 4th and have spent the last two weeks getting settled in to our new apartment and exploring our new neighborhood.

Our apartment (the lower half of a Victorian built in 1899) was built on top of a giant rock atop a steep hill so we have great views from our deck and living room windows. The hills can be a bit painful at times, especially after a long day of work, but we are trying to look at the positive side of things and expect that doing the hills seven days a week will soon get us in the best shape of our lives.

We were hoping to spend as much time as possible on the deck - watching the sun rise over our morning coffee, watching it set in the evenings - but the foggy season hit San Francisco right around the time we moved in and there is a thick, creeping mist that has been sitting over the city for the last ten days. Still, we've been told that the fog should lift in the next few weeks and summertime in San Francisco will begin.

I'll upload some photos of our new place now - we hope to add pictures of the neighborhood soon.

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