Guide to Living in San Francisco
A beginner’s guide to navigating San Francisco, the housing market, and everything in between
San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94133
Housing Office
[email protected]
SFAI assumes no responsibility for accommodations or services listed within this guide.
The information contained within this publication is subject to change.
Welcome to San Francisco!
1 Planning Ahead
2 When You Arrive
3 Short-Term Housing Options
4 Before You Start Searching
5 Where to Look
6 When You Find a Place
7 Neighborhoods
8 Apps to Make Life Easier
9 Things to do for Fun in SF
San Francisco Art Institute students have the best of both worlds— independent, real-life experience in the city and SFAI as the hub of their creative and social life.
SFAI is not only where you attend classes–it is where students come to immerse themselves in art. In fact, most students will arrive in the morning and then stay all
day and into the evening. SFAI is open 24 hours a day. At any time of the day or night, students might be involved in discussions, working in the studios,
collaborating on projects or exhibitions, or just hanging out.
Now that you’re planning to move to San Francisco, you are encouraged to consider the realities of the competitive housing market in the San Francisco Bay Area.
It takes time, planning and perseverance to find housing that meets your individual needs.
You should plan ahead to ensure that you have a temporary place to stay when you get here. Once here, it is important to establish a strategy. This housing guide
directs you through the process of finding a suitable place to live. If you do some preliminary research before arriving in San Francisco and follow the steps
suggested, your experience will be a positive one.
Planning Ahead
If you are coming to San Francisco from outside the Bay Area, we recommend that you make a reservation at a hotel, youth hostel, or residence before you arrive.
Hostels are usually the cheapest alternative, averaging $29 to $130 per night. Also parking averages around $25 per night. Space is somewhat limited and tends to fill
up fast with international students and travelers. Linens and towels are not usually provided, so plan accordingly.
Several hotels in the city provide weekly and monthly rates and provide linens, towels, and sometimes maid service. Residences, which are similar to dormitories,
also offer weekly and monthly rates with the added benefit of dining and kitchen facilities. As with hostels, residences tend to fill up quickly so it is advantageous to
book your reservation early. To be on the safe side, reserve your space for 2–3 weeks if possible. This will give you a home base from which to begin your housing
search. See pg. 3 for a list of short-term housing options.
If possible, allow yourself a minimum of one month to locate permanent housing. Of course, you may not need that much time to find something. It could be as
soon as one week or as long as a couple of months. One month should provide you with a reasonable amount of time to locate a permanent place to live.
You will need a credit report if you intend to look for your own place and to sign a lease. However, if you intend to search only for a shared apartment or flat, a
rental résumé should be sufficient. Rental résumés combine your employment history and tenant history, and include your financial information and references.
As with an employment résumé, you should focus on the positive and let the landlord know you will be a conscientious tenant. If two people are looking for a place
together, the résumé should include information about both of them. Also, make sure your phone number is listed in a prominent place. For a free credit report,
visit or For a small fee, you can also contact the credit reporting agencies directly: Experian (888.397.3742),
Equifax Options(800.829.4577), or Trans Union (800.322.8228). Otherwise, you can wait until you arrive in San Francisco and get a credit report through a
roommate- or apartment-listing agency.
Many times the information on a credit report is inaccurate, so review it carefully. If you find an error, contact the credit-reporting agency immediately and have the
issue addressed before you present the report to a prospective landlord.
Please read before starting your apartment search in SF!
The search for an apartment in San Francisco and the bay area can at first be a daunting one. Despite its high prices and
competitive markets, SF has never been more desirable due to the boom of the startup industry. With a little guidance,
however, it is possible to find housing that fits your budget, and that’s just what this guide is designed to do. After making our
way through the waves of apartment hunting tips we have compiled the 5 areas hunters repeatedly say you need to be
prepared for. This is a great take away page but each area will be explained in more detail throughout this guide.
Remember: Treat your apartment search like a job search. Go in prepared, dressed for the position, and ready to say yes if the right offer comes along. The SF
apartment market isn’t impossible but it is competitive, so make sure you give yourself every advantage before you walk into those apartment doors. Persistence is
the key: keep checking, keep searching, and keep calling.
Before you arrive in SF think about everything you would want in your ideal place to live. Then think about the most minimal accommodations you could live with.
Then prepare for something in the middle. Things like carpet or hardwood floors, appliances, square footage, roommates, furniture, deposit amounts, utilities, lease
lengths, noise levels, wall colors, neighborhood amenities are just a few of the things you should already have in mind before you even book your flight. All of these
considerations also increase and decrease the cost of your rent so be ready to say what you can and can live without. Be ready for a long search process, likely one
that will require you to attend several open houses or meet several landlords before you find the best place for you. This might mean finding temporary housing
through services like airbnb until you can snag that perfect landing spot (we have recommendations for short-term accommodations on pages 4 and 5 below). It’s
also a good idea to prepare a budget of what your entire housing cost will be and take into account all aspects of living in SF including cost of living, not just your
These two areas are key when moving into a new city. Transportation to and from school should be taken into consideration and added to your expected budget.
The cost of BART and Muni can vary depending on location. Amenities such as parking spaces should be considered if you are bringing a vehicle (please note that
SF is not the most car-friendly city if you don’t have a designated parking space). Location is also just as important to your search. The districts in SF vary widely and
will increase or decrease the cost of your expected rent. Think about where you would feel
comfortable living including the diversity of the neighborhood and the amount of foot traffic in the area. Reading can only get you so far though, so walk around the
areas you are interested in when you arrive and explore different listings to compare locations.
It may seem simple enough but every apartment hunting guide includes a detailed section on craigslist and its benefits. Making the site work for you is the key. You
want to check the site every day and research has shown most listings are posted between 10am and 4pm. This is usually the time when most searchers are at work
so check during these rush times. Also most listings last an average of 10 days, in demand neighborhoods last less than a week, so you must be quick and have
everything ready when an opportunity arises. Many times you will be in a candidate pool of over 30 renters replying to most posts so also post advertisements that
you are looking and what you are looking for. You can search craigslist using the map feature and find housing in your desired neighborhood. Lastly use keyword
searches like “view” “utilities” “pet friendly” to narrow your searches.
Also be aware of potential scam ads, never pay anything without meeting in person and never pay any app fees without meeting with a landlord first.
Now that you have an idea of your place, you have called some listings and are ready to view apartments it’s time to get prepared. Most hunters advise
creating a portfolio or renters packet. This will include a letter about yourself with pictures and why you are a reliable renter. It will have your credit score listed and
employment profile showing you can afford to pay the cost of housing for your location. You should also have potential first and last month’s rent and deposit ready
before you see apartments. Many candidates can offer on the spot and if you need time to get funds it can mean someone else takes your place.
This is where the job interview kicks in. Dress professionally for all open houses and meetings with renters. Promote your safe renting qualities including past rental
experiences, employment and credit scores. Also get to know your landlord and ask who they want as an ideal candidate and show them how you match those
qualities. Selling yourself can be over the phone on cold calls, online in email responses, or in person. Have your packets ready and supply them to anyone
interested in you as a tenant. Finally be ready to make the deal. A lease is a commitment so those who are ready have the best chance of finding their perfect
Get the real scoop:
Seek out advice and reviews from San Francisco residents that have gone through the process. Use websites like to research areas and
locations, to get an idea for travel and commutes on foot, and blog sites like or for real locals’ views on
renting in the city.
As you begin to make contact with potential landlords or roommates, it is important to have a number for them to reach you. Timeliness is an essential part of the
search; if you are out of contact, you may lose a place. Consider getting a mobile phone when you arrive if you don’t already have one. The major phone carriers are
Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, search these carriers to find locations to buy cell phones in SF. You can also search for temporary go phones which you can
use until you sign a larger contact with one of the companies mentioned above
Check out some housing listings online before visiting. See pg. 5 for a list of websites and agencies.
While you are staying in a temporary facility and looking for a permanent place to live, it is important that you leave any pets at home. Most short-term housing
options do not allow pets. Also, it is more difficult to find landlords who accept pets.
We strongly suggest that students abstain from bringing cars to SF. Parking on the street is difficult throughout SF and most rentals do not come with a parking space
or garage. There is no student parking on campus and adjacent street parking is restricted to two hours, with a $60 ticket for violations. There are several cooperative
car services in SF such as CityCarShare (, or ZipCar ( which offer hybrid or fuel- efficient cars that you can use as needed. If
you decide to bring your car and a parking space is not included in your rental, ask the landlord if you need a residential parking permit to park on the street.
For inquiries regarding residential parking permits, contact The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency at 415.701.4500, or
Some East Bay neighborhoods also require permits— ask your prospective landlord. A California driver’s license with the address of your rental on it is required for
the permit.
There are several shuttle companies that go to San Francisco and the East Bay from the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International
Airport. Their prices range from $10 to $60. Shuttles are more direct and faster than buses, and they drop you off downtown near hotels, at BART, Muni, or
directly at your residence.
SUPER SHUTTLE - - 800.258.3826
AIRPORT EXPRESS -415.775.5121
BAYPORTER EXPRESS - - 415-467-1800
BART trains connect directly from SFO and via shuttle from Oakland airport throughout the Bay area; it costs less than a shuttle. Visit
BART connects to Muni, a comprehensive system of buses that run throughout the city. Transfer from BART to Muni at select SF stations by purchasing a transfer
pass. For more information visit
Clipper Card
The clipper card is the service public transportation riders use to pay for MUNI and BART services. The card acts as a way to hold cash so riders don’t have to use
cash or buy tickets for each ride. The reader is available on each transportation type. Visit to look into where to buy the card and signing up
for an unlimited monthly pass once the card is registered.
Every 30 minutes a SamTrans bus leaves from SFO. Use bus 292 if you
have luggage; Express Bus Kx if you only have carry-ons. Both of these buses
serve the Trans Bay Terminal at 1st and Mission Streets. Bus Bx runs from
Colma Bart station to the airport every 15 minutes.
Information: 800.660.4287
If you have a lot of luggage, you may want to take a taxicab. Many taxicabs
do not accept credit cards; if you intend to charge your fare, inquire before
selecting a cab. You can catch taxis outside of the airport baggage claim.
From SFO to downtown San Francisco, fares range from $50 to $60.
Taxi Apps
Cellphone users can use taxi apps to hail taxis if they are having trouble
tracking one down. Some require users to register while some are free to
use. Some popular services to search for in your app store are. Flywheel,
Hailo, Taxi Mojo, Get Taxi, and Taxi Magic
DeSoto Cab
Luxor Cab
Yellow Cab Co-op 415.333.3333
These services allow you to have your own private driver in San Francisco. Just download the associated apps and enter payment information and you are on your
For detailed transportation information for the San Francisco Bay area, call 511 from within San Francisco or the East Bay. You can also check
The Oakland International Airport is less crowded than SFO. Travel to San Francisco by exiting the air terminal and catching a special AirBART shuttle to the
coliseum BART station. Board the northbound BART train, paying an additional fare of around $3.85. Each passenger must have his or her own ticket. You should
board any train marked “SF”(San Francisco), “Daly City,” or “Millbrae.”
Short-Term Housing Options
If you don’t have friends or family in the Bay Area to stay with when you first arrive, you have a range of accommodations to choose from depending on your
budget. Listed below are several of San Francisco's best hostels based on quality and price. There are numerous hostels throughout the city, some of which have
websites and can be found online.
Web Resources:
USA Hostels - - 711 Post Street -San Francisco, CA 94109 - 415.440.5600
Hostelling International - - 415.474.5721
Adelaide Hostel 5 Isadora Duncan Lane - San Francisco, CA 94102 - 1.877.359.1915
Green Tortoise Hostel - 494 Broadway Street - San Francisco, CA 94133 - 415.834.1000
Residence clubs offer private rooms with maid service and some meals in a common dining room. Other amenities may include wake-up calls and message services,
television lounge, reading room and library, and coin-operated laundry. Each residence below has a website that lists its specific amenities and rooms, along with
rates ranging from weekly to monthly.
USA Student Residences - 711 Post Street - San Francisco, CA 94109 - 415.440.5600
Kenmore Residence Club - 1570 Sutter Street - San Francisco, CA 94109 - 415.776.5815
Monroe Residence Club - 1870 Sacramento Street - San Francisco, CA 941093529- 415.474.6200
The Cable Car Court 1499 California Street (near Larkin) - San Francisco, CA
94109 - 415.346.5219
The Hub - 580 O’Farrell Street @ Leavenworth St. - Contact -Jenni Pestoni - 415-839-5167
Paramount Housing: - 4 locations - 415-773-2070
The Spaulding: 240 O’Farrell St. @ Mason St.
The Herbert: 161 Powell St. @ O’Farrell St.
The Biltmore: 735 Taylor St. @ Bush St.
The Park: 325 Sutter St. @ Grant St.
San Francisco has hundreds of hotels, some of which offer extended-stay rates. For additional hotel listings, an Internet search for a specific location in the city will
provide numerous results for every price range.
Park Hotel - 325 Sutter Street - 415.956.0445
The Marina Motel - 2576 Lombard Street- San Francisco, CA 94123 - 415.921.9406
Holiday Inn-Fisherman’s Wharf - 1300 Columbus Avenue - San Francisco, CA 94133 - 1.800.942.7348
Hyatt-Fisherman’s Wharf 555 North Point Street, - San Francisco, CA94133 - 415.563.1234
Hotel Des Arts - 447 Bush Street - San Francisco, CA 94108 - 415.956.3232
San Remo Hotel - 2237 Mason Street - San Francisco, California 415.776.8688
Before You Start Searching
Most people looking for housing in San Francisco use one of two approaches: either they share a room or
apartment or they look for a vacant place. When considering which would work best for you, it's important to
first consider your rental history and finances. Have you rented before and do you have references? Do you have good credit? Can you afford to pay a security
deposit and both the first and last month’s rent? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” it may be better for you to look for a roommate or consider having
someone (a parent or a relative) co-sign the lease on your behalf. When you move into a place that already has a tenant, it is less likely that you will need to furnish a
credit report or sign a lease. This is appealing if you do not want a long-term commitment and if you have not established good credit and/or rental history.
With either option, it is strongly recommended that you join a listing service; they have already done much of the legwork for you. Note that living with others can
lower housing expenses. When calculating your financial means, be sure to include the cost of renting or purchasing furniture (if needed) plus utilities. Treat the
housing search like a job search: be persistent, have your financial situation in order, and be ready to pay on the spot.
Landlords use the following rule: your take-home income (not your gross) should be at least three times your rent. If you will be receiving financial aid, you may
want to submit a copy of your award letter as proof you can afford the rent. If your parent/family has better credit and more substantial income than you, you might
consider having them co-sign the lease.
Begin your search using the widest criteria possible. Start by visiting various neighborhoods before narrowing your choices. Once you have narrowed down your
choice of neighborhoods, you should spend some time walking in them and looking for “for rent” signs in windows. You should note how far from campus the
neighborhood is and how long your commute will be. Also, take inventory of the kinds of shops and restaurants that are in the immediate area. Does it seem like a
place where you want to live?
• Do I want to live alone or would I prefer to share space and living expenses?
• What is the rental price range I can afford?
• If utilities aren’t included, what will they cost?
• How close do I prefer to be to campus?
• Do I prefer a furnished apartment?
• What kind of neighborhood do I want to live in?
• How much time and money can I afford for transportation?
• What amenities are important to me? (e.g. washer/dryer, parking, pets, etc.)
Be honest and open about your needs and concerns. Discuss your personal habits (smoking, types of entertainment you prefer, how often you have guests over, how
you spend your time at home), and talk candidly about your schedule: Are you a night owl? Will you be working late? Do you get up early? Finally, make sure you
talk about how utilities are divided (gas and electricity, cable, etc.), what the average costs are, and how common space is used/shared. Be prepared to advertise
yourself much like an online dating profile. Sites like are a good start. Don’t be surprised if you’re invited to interview with potential
roommates, attend social parties with other candidates or even test run nights in the apartment. Just be yourself, and the roommate you would want to have.
Roommate Finding Resources
Several units in the same building with a common entrance, each having at least one bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom.
Smaller than a studio, kitchen is usually very small or part of the living area.
Rental that includes basic furniture, such as a bed, dresser, sofa, etc.
A studio apartment with a sleeping alcove.
Large open combined studio and living space, usually in a converted warehouse building; may have private or shared kitchen and bathroom.
Situation in which you become a roommate in an apartment or flat that is already rented.
Three-room unit consisting of a combined living room and bedroom, a kitchen, and a bathroom.
Apartment/studio/room that has been vacated for a designated period of time, sometimes furnished. You should be clear as to the stipulations before you move in
so that you know how long you can stay before you must look for another place.
*Be careful of descriptive words like “Vintage” which can mean old or outdated, “Cozy” which can mean very small and lack of space for any of your items, and
“great for roommates” which can mean several rooms are converted to bedrooms instead of actual bedrooms. Also neighborhood descriptions like “vibrant” can
mean high foot traffic and more youth inhabitants.
Where to Look
New and current students can subscribe to this free housing-information board. The board allows members to send
and to receive new and archived information on housing—whether it is to all members or to a single person. It is most
active at the beginning and at the end of each semester when current and new students are looking for housing. This is
also a good place to find potential roommates who are also SFAI students. You can access the Housing Board at:
Free internet access is available at SFAI's 800 Chestnut Street campus in the Library and in the Student Affairs Office, and much of the campus has free wireless
access as well. The following websites offer listings of both vacant and shared housing options as well as sublets: – Excellent! - Excellent! - Excellent! – Excellent! – Excellent! - Excellent!
Search by area and apartment type.
This is a google street view site with housing in mind, the best place to start to get a visual of SF housing.
Other useful Guides to Living in San Francisco
Storage Options
Shipping and Moving
Two of the larger schools in the Bay Area post housing listings to their websites. There is no fee to look
at listings. This is a great place to begin your search, as they have listings with students in mind.
SF Bay Guardian
SF Weekly
East Bay Express
The print versions come out on Wednesday or Thursday and can be found at corner stores, markets, and newspaper dispensers.
Once you are in the city, make it known to fellow students and acquaintances that you are looking for housing. Having as many networks as possible can benefit you
in the long run.
Once you select a neighborhood, visit the local grocery, corner store, and Laundromat to check out their bulletin boards. One good place to try is Rainbow Grocery,
located at 1745 Folsom Street, 415.863.0620.
USCA is a private, nonprofit housing alternative in Berkeley owned and operated by its student members. As a student enrolled in nine or more units at SFAI you
are eligible to apply for space in the co-op, but SFAI does not manage this housing option. Fees are around $3,000 per semester, depending on the facility and rates
are subject to change. There is a $60 application fee, $50 of which is refundable if you choose not to live in the co-op. If you choose to live in the co-op, BART can
get you to San Francisco within 30 minutes, with an additional 15-minute bus ride to the SFAI Chestnut Campus. For more information and an application, contact
USCA, 2424 Ridge Road, Berkeley, CA 94709; 510.848.1936,
San Francisco has a large number of apartment and roommate listing services. These services provide you with listings of vacancies and shared housing. Upon
receiving the information, you can call landlords or tenants to set up appointments for viewing units or meeting potential roommates. Agencies offer different search
strategies at different prices, but what it boils down to is that you pay a fee for the services provided. As a general rule, the more convenient the service is for you, the
greater the cost. For example, it costs more if you opt to have daily listings faxed or emailed to you as opposed to visiting the business location in person every day.
When shopping for the agency that best suits you, consider if they provide apartment listings, listings from roommates in need of an additional roommate, or both.
Visit their web pages to learn more about them.
Mosser –
Hill and Company –
Rentals in SF -
Most property management services are free, although some charge a fee. Many of these services operate on a percentage of your future rent and most are not
willing to work for less the $2,000 per month budget so be mindful these are not for modest budgets. If you are looking for a vacant apartment or a flat, property
management services are good sources for supplementing your search. These services generally have an information line that lists available properties with
information on how to view the units. Sometimes you will have to make an appointment to view a unit; other times you can simply pick up a key from their office
with a refundable key deposit.
Better Property Management - - 44 Gough St #202 - San Francisco, CA (415) 861-9981
Hill & Co. Real Estate - - 1880 Lombard Street - 415.921.6000
Trinity Management Services - 1188 Mission St., Box B - 415.433.3333
Gaetani Real Estate - - 4444 Geary Blvd. #100 - San Francisco, CA 94118 - 415.668.1202
Property Management Systems- - 305 Valencia St - San Francisco, CA - (415) 661-3860
West Coast Property Management - - 714 Van Ness Ave - San Francisco, CA - (415) 885-6970
Five Star Property Management - - 524 Union St #237 - San Francisco, CA - (415) 602-7011
Azari Property Management - - 521 Gough St - San Francisco, CA - (415) 772-1977
FirstService Residential - - 50 California St #3550 - San Francisco, CA - (877) 391-3955
Greystar San Francisco Office - - 221 Main Street - San Francisco, CA - (888) 656-3181
When You Find a Place
When viewing a rental unit, be prepared to inspect for problems or damages. Take note of how well the property has been cared for and how the landlord responds
to your questions, concerns, or requirements. If the law requires the landlord to repair the problems, inquire when the landlord intends to make the repairs. If the
landlord is not required to make the repairs, write a detailed description of the problems and ask the landlord to sign the description. If possible, take photographs.
By doing this, you will document the fact that the problems were there when you moved in. In addition, after you move from the rental unit, the signed written
description and any supporting photographs will help reduce disputes over the landlord using the security deposit to repair these problems.
• Ask about the number of immediate neighbors in the building. Are they noisy?
• Inquire if there are rodent or pest problems
• Do they accept pets?
• Check the condition of kitchen appliances and for leaks in the bathroom
• Ask about maintenance upkeep
• Are laundry facilities available?
• Is parking easy?
• Check for the number of electrical outlets / grounded plugs and fire extinguishers / smoke alarms
• Is there accessible lighting inside and outside the entrance?
• Are there sufficient locks on the windows and doors?
• Visit the neighborhood both in the day and in the evening to determine whether you feel safe
• Cracks in the walls
• Leaks
• Improper ventilation and lighting
• Defects in wiring and fixtures
• Damage to flooring and carpeting
• Damage to furnishings and window coverings
• Broken appliances
• Bugs or rodents
• Make sure the doors and windows are secure and locks work
You and your landlord will enter into a lease or a periodic rental agreement (month-to-month). Unless the written agreement states otherwise, the rental period is
the amount of time between rental payments. The tenancy expires at the end of each period for which rent has been paid and is renewed with the next payment of
rent. In a periodic rental agreement, your tenancy expires at the end of the month; you renew your tenancy with the payment of rent. The rental agreement will spell
out the amount of time that a landlord must give the tenant for such changes as raising the rent or ending the rental agreement. Likewise, the rental agreement will
indicate the required length of notice that the tenant must give before moving out. The length of time between your required rent payments is important, as generally
it determines the required length of notice a landlord must give you before raising the rent, changing other terms of tenancy, lawfully ending the rental agreement, or
how much notice you must give the landlord before moving out.
A lease usually creates a longer rental term than a periodic rental agreement. Most residential leases are for six months to a year, even though rent usually is paid
monthly. If you have a lease, your rent cannot be raised while the lease is in effect, unless the agreement provides for such
an increase.
The landlord cannot evict you during the period of the lease except for certain reasons, such as failure to pay rent or
damaging the property. A lease may be difficult for you to break, especially if the landlord cannot find another tenant to take
over the lease. Before you sign any lease agreement, read it carefully and make sure you understand the terms of the lease. If
you have questions about any conditions in the lease, take the document to someone who is qualified to give legal advice.
The rental agreement should contain the following:
• Period of tenancy
• Due date for rent
• Late charges and fees
• Whether or not pets are allowed
• The number of tenants allowed
• Included utilities
• Whether or not extermination is part of regular maintenance
• Whether or not a security deposit is required
• Security deposit amount
• Persons responsible for maintenance and repairs
Never sign an agreement if you do not understand the terms or conditions or if you think a term or condition is unfair. You may wish to discuss the agreement with
an attorney or legal aid service prior to signing. Always ask for a copy of the completed agreement after you and the landlord have signed, and keep the copy in a
safe place.
If you agree to rent an apartment but are not going to move in immediately, the landlord may ask you for a holding deposit. This is a cash deposit to hold the unit,
usually for a stated amount of time, until you pay the first month's rent and any security deposits. If you change your mind about moving in, the landlord may be
able to keep your deposit. Ask the following questions before paying any deposit:
• If I decide to rent the unit, will the holding deposit be applied to the first month's rent?
• May I have a deposit receipt?
• Is any part of the holding deposit refundable if I change my mind about renting?
As a general rule, if you change your mind (for whatever reason), none of the deposit is refunded. If you and the landlord agree that all or part of the deposit will be
refunded, make sure that these terms are in writing.
Your status as a tenant affords you certain rights. There are certain things that a landlord cannot do:
• Evict you without first going to court
• Turn off your utilities or services
• Lock you out of your apartment or house
• Harass you
• Enter your apartment without your permission
A landlord may ask about information that reflects your ability to pay rent; however, combined federal, state, and local laws prevent landlords from discriminating
against classes of people because of race, gender, etc. Questions or concerns about discrimination should be directed to the State of California’s Fair Employment
and Housing Department at 1.800.223.3212 or
For laws, advice, arbitration, and information in regard to renter’s rights, write or call San Francisco Rent Board, 25 Van Ness Avenue, #320, San Francisco, CA
94102; 415.252.4602 or visit If your unit falls under the protection of rent control, you may call the Rent Board and file a petition. Other helpful
resources in San Francisco include San Francisco Small Claims Court, Building Inspector, San Francisco Housing Inspection Division, and the San Francisco
Health Department.
Before you commit to renting a housing unit, you should clearly
understand the responsibilities involved with each of the following
terms. They should be explicitly identified in your lease. Compare
any lease you are considering signing with applicable tenantlandlord laws. As you are reading through your lease, make sure
the following items are addressed within the document. If some
things are not addressed, be sure to ask the landlord about his or
her policy regarding these items. You may also request that such
items be added to the lease.
Due date
Penalty for late payment
Reduction for advance payment
Price changes
Conditions for price changes
Security/damage deposit
-Conditions for return
-Date for return
• Planned improvements/special work
• Property owner name and address
• Name and address of property manager
• Ability to sublet
• Conditions for sublet
• Conditions for terminating lease
• Parking
• Location
• Limitations
• Additional costs
• Utilities (i.e., gas, electric, phone, water)
• Pet-related charges/deposit
• Overnight or weekend guests
• Furnishings
• Cleaning
• Smoking
• Noise
• Storage
• Pets
• Alterations (e.g., picture hanging, painting)
• Conduct
• Parties
• Waterbeds
Dates (be exact)
• Requirements for moving notification or renewal
• Number of occupants (min. and max.)
• Damages
• Responsibility for damages
• Assessment of damages
• Responsibility for repairs
• Conditions for changes of agreement
• Process for changing agreement
• Provision of facilities
• Ability for tenant to install machines
• When?
• By whom (e.g., landlord, inspectors)?
• Use of rental inventory
• Letter of compliance
• Notification of inspection
• Cleaning
• Responsibility
• Frequency
• Equipment provided
• Complete a thorough inventory of your apartment
(take pictures of the unit upon move in)
• Give a copy of your inspection form to the landlord
• Purchase renter’s insurance
• Consider purchasing additional fire safety equipment (fire extinguisher, smoke detectors)
• Always get a written receipt from your landlord when you pay rent or deposits
A security deposit is an amount given to the landlord to guarantee that you will fulfill the terms of the rental agreement and that you will leave the unit in good
condition. Almost all landlords in San Francisco charge a security deposit. It might be labeled “last month’s rent,” “security deposit,” or “cleaning deposit,” or may
combine the last month’s rent plus a specific amount for security in the event of damage to the unit.
Regardless of what the security deposit is called, state law limits the amount a landlord can charge. The total amount cannot be more than the amount of two
month’s rent for an unfurnished rental unit or three month’s rent for a furnished unit. The landlord will typically require you to pay this amount in addition to first
month’s rent. The law allows landlords to retain part or all of your deposit under certain
These circumstances include compensation for the following: outstanding rent; cleaning the
rental unit after you move out, if the unit was not left as clean as when you moved in; replacing
or restoring furniture, furnishings, keys, or other items belonging to your landlord, exclusive of
ordinary wear and tear.
Make sure that your rental agreement clearly states that the landlord received a security
deposit from you and accurately reflects how much you paid. Within three weeks after you
move, your landlord must either (a) send you a full refund of the security deposit or (b) send
you an itemized statement that lists reasons for and amounts of any deductions from the
deposit. Security deposit refunds also must include any unpaid interest.
Pacific Gas & Electric- - 800.743.5000
Telecommunications Carriers
For information comparing Internet, wireless, long distance telephone, and cable plan rates, go
According to state law, a rental unit must be fit to live in, or “habitable.” The landlord,
therefore, is responsible for repairing conditions that seriously affect the rental unit’s
habitability as well as tenants’ health and safety. For less serious repairs, the rental agreement
may state that the landlord or the tenant is responsible for maintaining a particular item. Basic requirements that the landlord must normally meet include the
• Roofs and walls must not leak
• Doors and windows must not be broken
• Plumbing and gas must work
• Hand cold water must be provided
• Sewer and septic system must be operational
• Heater must work and be safe
• Floors, stairways, and railings must be
• Lights and wiring must work and be safe
• There must be enough cans and bins with
covers for trash
When you first move in, the rental unit must
be clean, with no trash, rodents, or other
animals or pests. If you believe your rental unit
needs repairs and that the repairs are the
landlord's responsibility, you should notify
your landlord by both a telephone call and a
letter. Keep a copy of the letter for your
records. In most situations, you should allow
your landlord thirty days to make the repair
for which he or she is responsible. If the
landlord does not make the repairs, and does
not have a reasonable justification for not
doing so, you may have several remedies. You
may wish to contact an attorney, a legal aid
society, or the city building inspector for
assistance with remedies.
Department of Building Inspection - 1660 Mission Street, San
Francisco CA 94103 - 415.558.6088
Here is a brief introduction to the eclectic
neighborhoods of San Francisco and the East
Bay. We’ve kept it brief on purpose in the
hope that you will check them out on your own
to get a sense of their individual characteristics.
To help you become oriented to the layout of
the city’s neighborhoods, refer to the links
provided. Please keep in mind that the Bay
Area is predominantly urban; neighborhoods change from block to block, and it is important that you investigate any potential living site carefully.
Walk the neighborhood both during the day and night. If you will be using public transportation, check the street lighting and nighttime activity in the area. If you
are uncertain about a particular area, consult with the Student Affairs Office before signing any formal agreement.
Here are some handy links to SF MAPS
Maps of the Fog in SF
The San Francisco Area
As with any city the major districts grow and change with the demographic of the city. The areas listed below are some of the larger neighborhoods, but there are
many other districts and in between areas that should also be considered. Check out a more in-depth look at the
neighborhoods in the 7x7 grid of SF.
Nestled in the area around Castro and Market streets, this largely gay neighborhood has specialty shops, the Castro Theater, and Victorian architecture that give it
the air of an independent small town. Above the Castro is Twin Peaks, with a view of the entire city.
Chinatown is located in a densely populated area between North Beach and the Financial District (bordered by Kearny and Powell on one end and Vallejo and
Bush on the other). Open-air markets abound and the restaurants serve the best Chinese food outside China.
Civic Center
If you are looking for the freedom of a month-to- month lease, the many rooms available in the area offer an inexpensive alternative to standard rentals; Civic Center
also offers some of the lower housing costs in San Francisco. The area centers around Van Ness Avenue, Market Street, and City Hall.
Just south of the Golden Gate Park panhandle, Haight-Ashbury became a cultural icon in the 60s. Although most vestiges of the 60s have been eliminated, the
neighborhood retains a youthful orientation that many students like.
Lower Haight/Western Addition
This one-time family neighborhood has been steadily attracting a younger population. The neighborhood has an active nightlife and an increasing number of cafes,
restaurants, and bookstores. Rents are fairly reasonable, especially in the Western Addition
Full of young professionals, restaurants, and chic boutiques, this neighborhood tends towards the more expensive. Its proximity to campus and recreation areas of
the Presidio and the Marina Green make it worth checking out.
The Mission
South of Market Street and east of the Castro, the Mission is practically a separate city. Largely Latino, the Mission is also home to artists and musicians of every
ethnic heritage. Elaborate murals depict
the area’s culture and history, and there’s a
staggering array of restaurants, cafes, shops,
and galleries.
Nob Hill
Nob Hill is primarily residential with lots of
corner stores and some good housing
prices. Buildings are normally quite large
and apartments are usually smaller and not
suitable for more than two or three people.
This neighborhood is within walking
distance of SFAI. This is a very urban
environment near Downtown shopping,
Chinatown, and North Beach.
Noe Valley
West of The Mission and south of the
Castro is Noe Valley. The neighborhood’s
many refurbished row houses make it
especially good for people who want to set
up households. Like the Castro, Noe
Valley has a small-town atmosphere, with a
farmer's market every Saturday morning.
You can still sense that this was once
farming territory.
North Beach
Bound by Broadway, Columbus, and the
Embarcadero, this is San Francisco’s oldest
neighborhood. Much of the old world
flavor endures, along with remnants of the
coffee-house- addicted Beat Generation of the 50s. North Beach is one of the neighborhoods closest to the Chestnut Street campus.
Potrero Hill
The Potrero Hill district has a village-like atmosphere. It is bordered on the east and west by Potrero Avenue and Third Street, and on the north and south by
Division and Cesar Chavez. Some parts of this neighborhood offer views of the bay. Studios and live-work space can be found in this area. The SFAI Graduate
Center is located in the nearby Dogpatch neighborhood at 2565 Third Street.
The Presidio
Once one of the nation’s oldest army bases, today the Presidio’s pleasant neighborhoods include tree- lined streets, beaches, and natural habitat in a historic setting
near the Golden Gate Bridge. Information on rentals within the Presidio can be found online at:
Richmond District
From Arguello to Sea cliff and south to Golden Gate Park, this might be one of the city’s best bets for finding affordable housing and an easygoing lifestyle. “The
Avenues” are home to many city dwellers, and offer convenient shops, restaurants, and express bus service downtown. This is still largely a family neighborhood. If
you need a break from noise, traffic, and all-night raving, this is the place for you.
Russian Hill
This desirable neighborhood is home to SFAI's Chestnut Street campus. It’s close to everything— restaurants, shops, and beaches — but is one of the most expensive
neighborhoods in the city.
South of Market (SOMA)
The industrial area between Market Street and China Basin has undergone a phenomenal renaissance. Warehouses have been transformed into showplaces,
galleries, and live-work lofts, and there are many restaurants and nightlife.
Sunset - Inner and Outer
Inner Sunset: from UCSF west to 19th Avenue and south to Taraval
Outer Sunset: from 19th Avenue west to the ocean and south to Taraval
Like the Richmond, the Sunset is a quieter part of town, with most of the shops and eating spots located around Irving Street, near the park. This area is one of the
city’s largest residential districts, and you can still find houses at somewhat reasonable rates. There is easy access to Golden Gate Park, Stern Grove, and the ocean
from this part of town. Some clever city planner named the streets out here alphabetically, from Anza to Wawona.
Telegraph Hill
The hill next to Russian Hill is home to the historic Coit Tower. There are lots of hidden pathways and gardens and beautiful views of the bay and Alcatraz. Close
to shops and restaurants in North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf, this neighborhood feels like its own village. Full of long-time residents, apartments don’t often
come available in this desirable neighborhood— but because of its proximity to campus, it's worth looking here.
The Tenderloin is bounded on the north by Post Street, on the east by Taylor and 6th Street, on the South by Mission Street and on the West by Van Ness and 9th
Street. Nestled between successful commercial areas and high-priced residential areas, the neighborhood has historically resisted gentrification. Although it isn't the
most desirable neighborhood, it has some of the most affordable rentals in the city.
Treasure Island
This artificial island in the San Francisco Bay was originally home to the 1939 Golden Gate exposition and later served as a naval base. While today much of
Treasure Island awaits redevelopment, the island’s apartments are available at affordable rates. It is also worth noting that bus service runs 24 hours a day to and
from the Island to the Trans Bay Terminal in San Francisco. Information on Treasure Island housing can be found at:
The East Bay
The East Bay includes Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, Alameda, and other communities. These areas have large
populations of students from surrounding colleges, including California College of the Arts (CCA), Mills College,
UC Berkeley, and several community colleges. Rents are lower than in San Francisco, and there are lots of cafes,
clubs, alternative galleries, regional parks, and other opportunities for recreation. The East Bay is connected to San
Francisco by a toll bridge, BART, Caltrans buses, and a ferry. It takes 40–80 minutes to get to the Chestnut campus
from the East Bay on public transportation. BART and the ferry accommodate bicycles.
If you drive across the Bay Bridge, your commute is about 20–90 minutes, depending on traffic. Remember that
commuting can cost anywhere from $40–$150 or more per month depending on where you live and what forms of
transportation you use.
Fastrak Information
For drivers who commute via the eight Bay Area bridges on a regular basis, Fastrak is an electronic toll collection
program that allows you to drive nonstop through the toll plazas. Your toll is automatically collected from your
prepaid account. For information, visit
Apps to Make your Life Easier
Spro – for advanced coffee makers, recipes
Affogato – look up coffee recipes by type and by machine you own
Art of Coffee – make those cool swirly designs in your own home
Cafetraveler sf – the best cafes in SF
Seamless/Spoon Rocket – Food delivery to your door.
Eat 24 – Order food at any time of the day
Munchery – Gourmet and Organic Meals
Tablehopper – book a table at any location in the city
Saucey – Get drinks delivered right to your door
Google Maps – easiest way to get around the city
Wikitude – point your phone camera in any direction at it will tell you everything about the location
San Francisco Way – one stop shop for what’s around you in SF
Hopstop – Muni and Bart directions to any place you want to go in the city
Routsey – Muni and Bart directions to any place you want to go in the city – Official SF Gov transportation Website
Sfpark – a map of SF with every parking garage and meter listed
ParkMe – reserve parking spaces from your phone – find the best open spots anywhere in the city
Yahoo Weather App – Find out just how cold it will be today
SF Climates – Living in different parts of SF can be like living in different countries. Find out the weather in each district
Swackett – An app that tell you what to wear based on the weather report for the day
Minutely – Most up to date weather when you need to know exactly what the temperature is
Instacart – Grocery shopping online
Redlaser – find out all the places that item is on sale just by scanning
Snaptell - phone scanner for more informed shopping
Google Express – buy anything and have it delivered to your door that day
Postmates – people around you delivering items that you want right now
Scoutmob – local deals reported by locals in your area
Mint – budgeting and account manager
Level Money – find how much spendable cash you have each month
SnipSnap – coupon and savings app
RetailmeNot – coupon and savings app
Decide – get ratings and reviews for items so others decide for you
Goodzer – a personal shopping assistant in your phone
Art Apps – find the best street art in the city
Sfarts Apps – Apps that allow you to draw works of art on your phone
Artset, Inkist, ASKetch
Zombies, Run 2! – put virtual zombies on your trail as you run through the city
Runkeeper – track your running routes and find the best routes to run in the city
Mapmyrun – track your running routes and find the best routes to run in the city
Hot5 – 5 minute workout routines you can do anywhere
Gympact – a personal trainer in your phone
Walkscore App – Best places to walk in the city
Golden Gate Park Field Guide – Find out about all the beautiful parks SF has to offer
Transit and Trails – Track those trails and how to get to them
Studying – study aides for all students
Studious – your mother in your phone, reminds you of classes, tests, and absences
Study Blue – track tests and provides study tips and exercises
Things to do for fun in San Francisco
Free Museum Days
Asian Art Museum - First Sunday
Bay Area Discovery Museum - First Wednesdays
Cartoon Art Museum - First Tuesdays
de Young Museum - First Tuesdays
Legion of Honor - First Tuesdays
S.F. Museum of Modern Art (S.F. MOMA) - First Tuesdays
Yerba Buena Center Galleries - First Tuesdays
Web Resources for Fun!
Hipmunk - App
Yplan - App
Sosh - App
A Year Calendar of Fun Festivals and Events in the Bay Area
Festivals and Special Events
By: Katie Petrucci
The following events are held on an annual basis and are updated throughout the year. All dates and locations are subject to change and should be confirmed with
sponsors before making travel plans.
Bay Area Brew Festival - The event will feature dozens of international and domestic beers and San Francisco’s best food trucks.
San Francisco Dine About Town™ - Bi-annual event featuring fine restaurants all over the city offering prix fixe lunches and dinners for special prices.
24th Anniversary of the Sea Lions’ Arrival at Pier 39 - Pier 39 commemorates the 24th anniversary of the sea lions' arrival for the Bay Area herring supply.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration- San Francisco honors the civil rights leader at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Yerba Buena Gardens.
San Francisco Boat Show - Showcasing hundreds of boats for sale on land and in water, plus dozens of exhibits.
San Francisco Sketchfest - Nationally recognized comedy festival that mixes national headliners, local favorites and the best up-and-coming groups from throughout
North America for a month of sketch, improv, stand-up and alternative comedy.
Noir City 12: San Francisco Film Noir Festival - Dedicated to noir philosophy, attitude and style in films, books, art and music, the festival is the largest of its kind in
the U.S. and promises “ultra rare films and very special guests.”
Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show - More than 2,000 dogs and 175-plus breeds vie for “Best in Show” and compete in dog agility demonstrations daily.
The Zinfandel Experience (ZAP)- Zinfandel, often called America’s heritage wine, is the draw here. Savor the flavors of this authentically American varietal and
experience its distinctly classic personality at four extraordinary events.
Chinese New Year Parade and Celebration - The festivities ushering in the Year of the Horse include a Chinese New Year Flower Fair, Miss Chinatown USA
Pageant and the Chinatown Community Street Fair. It's all built around a fantastic parade from Market and Second Street to Columbus Avenue.
Vietnamese Tet Festival - The 18th annual Vietnamese Lunar New Year Festival celebrates Vietnamese culture with a Tet Festival queen, food, music, colorful
pageantry and plenty of firecrackers in Little Saigon.
Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon & 5K - One of the most scenic half marathons ever features a course throughout Golden Gate Park and along the
Pacific Ocean with both starts and finishes together in the park.
Union Street Has a Crush on You Valentine Wine Walk- This annual tasting event will include restaurants and merchants offering wine samples, finger foods and
special treats.
Black Choreographers Festival: Here & Now - All-community event offering performances, mentoring, master classes, symposia and special events celebration
African American art and culture.
San Francisco Independent Film Festival - The 15th annual film festival screens the best of independent films and videos from the Bay Area and beyond.
San Francisco Beer Week - Local craft beer legacy and culture celebrated with as many as 150 events including beer dinners, cheese and beer pairing events; meet
the brewer evenings, demonstrations, music and films from Monterey to Sacramento and beyond.
KNBR/Giants Winter Fanfest - Fans can go "behind the scenes" and tour the Giants Clubhouse and Dugout as well as participate in an array of interactive games
and displays on the Promenade and Club levels. Members of the Giants team will be on hand to sign autographs, pose for photos and participate in Q&A sessions.
Tulipmania Festival - Thousands of brilliantly colored tulips from all over the world coupled with free, guided tours.
Chinese New Year’s Treasure Hunt - Largest and most popular treasure hunt of its kind in the United States; inventive clues and unique, little-known treasure spots
draw thousands of spirited participants who return year after year for this fun-filled event.
Noise Pop - San Francisco’s premier independent music, film and art festival is a full-scale cultural happening, which also includes gallery art shows, a music-themed
film festival, an indie-designer trunk sale and educational panels.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade - One of San Francisco's largest annual parades and one of the longest-running parades in the U.S. is celebrated with live music, dance,
beverages and traditional Irish cuisine. The 162nd annual parade starts at 11:30 a.m.
Emerald Across The Bay 12K Race - The largest run ever to cross the Golden Gate Bridge ends with a world-class post-race party at Fisherman's Wharf.
Bouquets to Art - Annual event celebrates the beauty of flowers combined with fine art. Extravagant floral arrangements from some of California's top designers and
lectures by several world-renowned floral designers.
Macy’s Flower Show - This annual floral tribute is a spring tradition; the two-week celebration includes guest speakers and special in-store events.
Union Street Spring Celebration & Easter Parade - More than 30,000 people turn out for “the biggest little parade in San Francisco,” which features children’s
activities, alfresco dining, the Easter Bunny, a petting zoo and flowers from local garden clubs.
Opening Day – San Francisco Giants - The San Francisco Giants open their 13th season at AT&T Park, with a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cherry Blossom Festival - This is the 46th annual festival, one of California’s most prominent celebrations of Asian traditions. Two consecutive weekends of
performances, crafts, food, martial arts and exhibitions.
Earth Day - International entertainers, keynote speakers, earth friendly exhibitors, eco educational workshops, interactive art installations, organic food and drink,
youth empowerment activities, holistic health and leading members from various indigenous communities and much more.
San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF)- The 57th annual event is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation. Since its inception in
1957, the SFIFF has hosted hundreds of prominent guests from Spike Lee to Bette Davis and presented almost 7,000 films from more than 120 countries to nearly
two million filmgoers.
San Francisco Decorator Showcase - With more than 30 years of excellence in design and the decorative arts and 20,000 visitors annually, this event is nationally
recognized as one of the premier showcase houses in the country.
Opening Day on the Bay - Kick off sailing season on San Francisco Bay with a festive boat parade and the blessing of the fleet.
Yerba Buena Gardens Festival - The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival encompasses nearly 100 artistic, cultural and community events from May through October in
Yerba Buena Gardens. Events include popular and operatic music series, cultural festivals, dance performances, international music concerts, visual art exhibits,
theater and spoken word performances.
Cinco de Mayo - Bring a picnic basket and enjoy music, kid’s activities, entertainment, food, arts and crafts all day. Family-friendly, alcohol free.
Uncorked – The San Francisco Wine Festival - Enjoy tastings from a variety of Bay Area wineries and experience the ambience of the waterfront and entertainment
throughout Ghirardelli Square and along Beach Street.
Bay to Breakers - Since 1912, tens of thousands of people have gathered in San Francisco to see the world's largest footrace unfold as more than 70,000 costumeclad runners and walkers push off at 8 am.
Carnaval - Celebrating its 36th anniversary San Francisco's version of Mardi Gras, one of its largest annual public events, features exotic Carnaval dancers with a
mixture of Latino, jazz, samba, Caribbean influences. Festive parade on Sunday morning draws upon a broad cultural pageantry.
Alcatraz Challenge Swim - The 1.5 mile swim course begins near Alcatraz Island and finishes at the East Beach of Crissy Field located in the Golden Gate National
Recreation Area’s Presidio Park.
San Francisco International Beer Festival - Sample more than 300 incredible beers from some of the best craft brewers in the world as well as a variety of offerings
from some of San Francisco’s best restaurants. Must be 21 or over to enter.
How Weird Street Faire - Billed as a “street fair for the 21st century,” the event includes nine stages of music over seven city blocks; food and vendors from around
the world, and educational booths.
San Francisco Silent Film Festival - The San Francisco Silent Film Festival presents silent films accompanied by live music. This festival promotes silent film as art
and historical record.
San Francisco Jazz Festival - One of San Francisco's biggest and best musical festivals features local, national and international jazz artist performances at new
SFJAZZ Center.
San Francisco Dine About Town™ - Bi-annual event featuring restaurants all over the city offering prix fixe lunches and dinners for special prices.
Haight Ashbury Street Fair - Music, arts, crafts and food are the mainstay of this event celebrating the cultural history and diversity of one of San Francisco's most
internationally celebrated neighborhoods – The Haight-Ashbury district.
North Beach Festival - San Francisco's oldest street fair delights with juried arts and crafts, live entertainment, pizza toss, kids fun zone with face painting, animal
blessings and other surprises. Presented by the North Beach Business Association. Validated parking is available.
Stern Grove Festival - The Stern Grove Festival celebrates its 77th season of free Sunday concerts featuring renowned music and dance groups set in a beautiful
outdoor amphitheater in the heart of San Francisco.
Frameline 38, San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival - Legendary showcase of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender cinema screens groundbreaking
documentaries, features, touching short films and cinematic classics.
San Francisco Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Pride Celebration Parade- San Francisco's annual celebration of lesbian and gay pride culminates with a festive
parade from the Embarcadero to the Civic Center.
Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon - The 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz, 18-mile bike ride and eight-mile run through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area with a
finish at Marina Green draws some 2,000 triathletes/relay teams annually.
13th San Francisco Documentary Film Festival (DocFest)- These documentaries, while exploring fun and lighthearted subject matter, often uncover serious truths.
Fourth of July Waterfront Festival - Dazzling fireworks, local bands, food, arts and crafts ignite this annual waterfront party. Fireworks begin around 9:30 p.m. Dress
Fillmore Street Jazz Festival- Three stages of continuous jazz performances, more than 300 artists’ booths and international food courts with some of the best food
and beverages that San Francisco has to offer.
Salsa Festival on The Fillmore- Celebrating its second year, Salsa Festival on The Fillmore closes off three city blocks for free concerts and outdoor dancing. Each
night will begin with a free concert and salsa lesson at the Fillmore Center Plaza.
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival - Films from American and international filmmakers showcase the diversity and vitality of Jewish culture. The festival is the first,
oldest and most prestigious celebration of its kind in the world.
The Renegade Craft Fair- The best makers of handmade goods from the Bay Area and beyond assemble for this free-to-attend marketplace for indie-craft culture
featuring interactive workshops.
J-POP Summit Festival - This pop culture-themed street fair in the heart of Japantown draws some 65,000 attendees; 2013 events include the inauguration of a fullfledged Japanese film festival. A variety of other pop-inspired attractions include fashion shows, live art performances, celebrity appearances and concerts by some of
Japan’s hottest bands.
Up Your Alley Fair - Similar to September’s Folsom Street Fair, which is the climax of Leather Pride Week, this event has a more local appeal for leatherfolk and
draws some 12,000+ attendees.
SF Chefs. Food. Wine.- Chefs, wine and spirits are celebrated in this interactive urban food and wine festival featuring local talent and regional ingredients in a series
of tastings, classes, dinners and events all centered around the Grand Tasting Tent in legendary Union Square.
AfroSolo Arts Festival - Featuring celebrity and emerging African American artists in various performances such as theater, dance, music, spoken word and visual
San Francisco Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K Run/Walk - Enjoy the amazing city of San Francisco by taking part in one of the world's great marathons. The
USAT&F Certified course is a "best of San Francisco" tour and includes a loop over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Nihonmachi Street Fair - A celebration of the Asian and Pacific communities in the Bay Area, with an emphasis on the nonprofit organizations that provide vital
services. Live musical and cultural performances, Asian artisans, food, information tables, exhibits, and Children's World.
Jerry Day - The Excelsior District celebrates native son and Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia with an outdoor concert and family fun.
San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival - This huge event in Golden Gate Park has upped the ante on music festivals going green and “leveraged San
Francisco’s food, wine, technology and activism cultures, “according to Rolling Stone, “for a one-of-a-kind world-class experience.”
34TH America’s Cup Louis Vuitton Cup Final - Up to seven days of racing for the Louis Vuitton Cup final; equal course access will be granted to the Defender;
possible reserve day on August 31.
Noe Valley Wine Walk - Merchants offer wine samples, finger foods and special treats; attendees who wish to sample purchase tasting wristband prior to event and
receive wine glass and map with all tasting locations.
Sausalito Art Festival - Sausalito’s yearly art festival has been showcasing stars from the contemporary art world since 1952. Browse fine art and crafts along the
beautiful bay shore.
San Francisco Shakespeare Festival- Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” is this summer’s fresh take in the fresh air of the Bard’s best at 2 p.m.; for other performance
locations, visit website.
Red Bull Youth America’s Cup - Four days of racing for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup; Challenger and Defender course access.
San Francisco Symphony’s Opening Night Gala- The San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas open the orchestra’s season with an Opening Gala
San Francisco Fringe Festival - The 22nd annual festival is a marathon of 40-plus shows with low price tickets and a wide variety of alternative, classical, comedy,
cabaret and new theater open to all performers on a non-curated basis.
San Francisco Opera Opening Gala - The season begins with the annual opening night gala, Opera Ball.
34TH America’s Cup Finals- Finals include super yacht regatta and two races as scheduled between Defender and Challenger.
San Francisco Opera in the Park- Enjoy this outdoor venue and free admission to an opera concert featuring arias and ensembles by the stars of the San Francisco
Opera and the Opera Orchestra, beginning at 1:30 p.m.
San Francisco Dance Film Festival- Presents not only the best dance films from around the world, but also to host a public forum with professionals from the field
of dance, music, filmmaking, technology/media, education and visual arts.
Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival - Discover unique chocolate desserts and delicacies from Ghirardelli and beyond at this annual chocolate celebration.
San Francisco International Dragon Boat Festival - Nearly 100 dragon boat teams and 2,500 paddlers from across North America will race the 500-meter course;
festival also features entertainment and children’s activities.
Autumn Moon Festival - This event features multicultural entertainment, traditional lion and dragon dances, arts and crafts, lantern village, moon cakes and
children's activities.
Oktoberfest By The Bay - Bringing Munich’s autumn beer festival to the Bay, Oktoberfest features non-stop singing, dancing, music, German food and beverages.
Sausalito Floating Homes Tour - Self-guided tours include access to dozens of the most unique homes in the world; docents are onboard to describe Sausalito’s
incredible waterfront style and to answer questions.
Polk Street Blues Festival- Two main stages, a merchant marketplace, arts and crafts, gourmet food booths and much more are all a part of this annual homage to
San Francisco’s blues roots.
Folsom Street Fair - The “daddy of all leather celebrations,” the Folsom Street Fair is the largest leather, alternative and fetish street fair in the world drawing some
400,000 attendees annually, dressed in leather, rubber, uniforms, drag or very little at all. The Giant Race- The Giant Race features a half marathon, 10K, and 5K
distances that all lead through San Francisco’s historic streets and finish on the field at AT&T Park – home of the San Francisco Giants.
ArtSpan/SF Open Studios- San Francisco’s most exciting artists open their doors to the public and reveal their latest projects, how they work and what’s for sale.
Mill Valley Film Festival- Presented by the California Film Institute, the Mill Valley Film Festival celebrates the best in independent and world cinema; founded in
1978 it has established an impressive track record for launching new films and filmmakers.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass- This free celebration of music in the park includes a who’s who of top entertainment.
Castro Street Fair - Arts and crafts booths, live entertainment, dancing and music are all part of the fun at this gay-friendly street festival.
Union Street Wine Walk - Restaurants and merchants along Union Street offer hors d’oeuvres and wine samples; attendees who wish to sample purchase tasting
wristband prior to event and receive wine glass and map with all tasting locations
Fleet Week San Francisco- Fleet Week is the Bay Area’s opportunity to honor the nation’s men and women of the Navy and marine services. Navy ship tours and
air show.
Litquake - A San Francisco literary festival showcases hundreds of the Bay Area’s finest writers for a week of readings, discussions, films, cross-media happenings
and more.
San Francisco Italian Heritage Parade and Festival- The city celebrates its Italian heritage with a lively parade through North Beach with food, music, entertainment
and celebrities.
Potrero Hill Festival - The Potrero Hill Festival returns with a full day of fun, food, music and community activities. There will be special activities for the kids,
including a puppet show and a petting zoo.
Treasure Island Music Festival- Internationally renowned artists gather for a spectacular two-day, outdoor concert festival featuring electronic music and indie pop,
local designers, artists, food and beverage. The two festival stages are erected on Treasure Island offering amazing views of the bay and the San Francisco skyline.
Nike Women’s Marathon- Nike celebrates the 10th year of the Nike Women's Marathon with 20,000 women racing together through the streets of San Francisco to
raise funds and awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Fiesta on the Hill - For more than two decades this neighborhood street fair has drawn more than 15,000 people to this family-friendly event featuring pony rides, a
petting zoo, pumpkin patch, local artists and live music.
San Francisco Fall Antiques Show - The oldest continuously operating international antiques show on the West Coast. The show includes 60 distinguished antiques
dealers from America and Europe selling a broad range of antique merchandise.
American Indian Film Festival- The world’s oldest festival dedicated to films by and about Native Americans showcases new and exciting work.
3RD I Film Festival South Asian Film Festival : Bollywood and Beyond- Committed to promoting diverse images of South Asians through independent film, from
art-house classics to documentary films.
San Francisco Green Festival - This joint project of Green America and Global Exchange brings individuals, businesses and investors together to work cooperatively
on positive social and economic solutions for communities and the environment. This is one of the largest and most authentic sustainability events in the world.
San Francisco World Music Festival - Music festival showcases the musical diversity from the Bay Area and around the globe by presenting high quality world music
performances by master artists both locally and overseas, and from traditional to contemporary explorations.
Embarcadero Center Building Lighting Ceremony - Bring the family to stroll through a holiday fair, enjoy live entertainment and witness the lighting of the
Embarcadero Center’s dramatic office towers which illuminate the San Francisco skyline with 17,000 lights throughout the season.
San Francisco Hip-Hop Dance Festival - Micaya, local teacher, choreographer and producer presents hip hop dance companies from around the world at this
award-winning, multi-cultural dance festival.
Ghirardelli Square Tree Lighting Ceremony - Ghirardelli’s magical square comes alive with colorful performers, music and a 50-foot Christmas tree lighting up the
Tree Lighting Celebration at Pier 39 - Engage in fun for the whole family with interactive exhibits, holiday sing alongs and more. Pier 39's majestic tree, adorned with
glistening ornaments and twinkling lights will be lit at 5:30 p.m. in the Entrance Plaza; festivities begin at noon.
Turkey Trail Trot- This invigorating fun run or walk has become a popular Thanksgiving Day tradition.
San Francisco International Automobile Show - Featuring the world’s major manufacturers displaying their 2015 model cars, SUV’s, trucks and vans...almost 800
vehicles in all.
Union Square Tree Lighting Ceremony - The annual illumination of Macy’s Great Tree includes more than 1,500 ornaments adorning the tree.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair - The Dickens Christmas Fair revives the tradition of an old English Victorian Christmas with theaters, a music hall, dance
parties, taverns, shops, stalls, food, street vendors and period costumes.
San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker - "Nutcracker" performed by America's oldest ballet company presents Tchaikovsky's beloved family classic every year.
Light the Menorah- Ghirardelli Square lights a nine-foot menorah and celebrates with music and good company.
Santacon- San Francisco's annual, citywide pub-craw where participants dress up like Santa Claus.
Levis Stadium Fight Hunger Bowl- Enjoy the color and excitement of high impact college football as two of the country's top teams clash at the Kraft Fight Hunger
Bowl; dates and more details will be announced in April.
Run Wild for a Child 5K and 10K - This 10K run and 5K run/walk, where participants often dress in costumes, benefits San Francisco Firefighters Toy program.
Noe Valley Holiday Wine Walk - Merchants offer wine samples, finger foods and special treats; attendees who wish to sample purchase tasting wristband prior to
event and receive wine glass and map with all tasting locations.
Union Street Fantasy of Lights- Costumed characters, Santa, merchant open houses and activities for children launch the holiday season along this famous street in
San Francisco, 3 to 9 p.m.
Parol Lantern Festival and Parade- Grand pageantry of more than 1,000 glowing lanterns; annual Parol celebration has become a must-see holiday event. Bay Area
Filipino community gathers for the eleventh annual celebration of holiday spirit, hope, unity, and pride. It’s a family fun-filled evening of dancing lights, music,
games, and prizes, 5 to 8 p.m.
The Renegade Craft Fair- The best makers of handmade goods from the Bay Area and beyond assemble for this free-to-attend marketplace for indie-craft culture
featuring interactive workshops.
Kung Pao Kosher Comedy™- Jewish comedy on Christmas in a Chinese restaurant, featuring comedians, a dinner show, a Cocktail Show with dim sum, and
Yiddish proverbs in the fortune cookies. Partial proceeds benefit two local organizations each year.
We hope this guide was able to help in the process of getting started in the search for housing and transitions to the Bay Area. This is a wonderful place to live but
the most important thing to remember in searching is patience. It won’t be an immediate process but once you find the place you can call home you can start
exploring and be well on your way to becoming a local.
San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94133
Student Affairs Office
415.749.4525 [email protected]
SFAI assumes no responsibility for accommodations or services listed within this guide.
The information contained within this publication is subject to change.

Guide to Living in San Francisco