San Francisco is a beautiful, world-class city, but it is no secret that it can be difficult to afford. Unless you are already established in the Bay Area, finding a place to live may be one of your biggest concerns as a postdoc. Here are some resources that may help.
Living on campus is often the best deal for postdocs, especially when you first come to the Bay Area. Besides the generally lower cost and obvious convenience of living on campus, you will also not be burdened with having to connect utilities or establish internet service; you won't have to sign a long lease or pay large deposits; and you won't have to worry about finding roommates on your own. Even if living in campus housing is not appealing to you for the long-term, you may still find it much easier to live in campus housing temporarily, at least until you get a feel for San Francisco and other Bay Area cities and neighborhoods. Explore the options for living on campus.
Campus Life Services at UCSF operates all campus housing facilities. Their website has many other resources for students and postdocs seeking housing including eligibility requirements, agreements and contracts, information about parking, renter's insurance, bicycle policy, accommodations for people with disabilities, and much more. The campus housing website should be your primary source of information about living on campus. International postdocs will especially want to look at the the section on housing resources for international students and scholars.
Housing Information Listserv
The Graduate Division hosts a housing information listserv moderated by members of the Graduate Students' Association, which may help you to find a housing situation on or off campus. This listserv was just established in 2014 and is gradually coming into wider use. To subscribe follow these directions exactly:
- Send a one-line email message from the email address you want to use to receive housing information.
- In the "To" field, enter: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Leave the "Subject" field blank! Do not enter any text here.
- In the body of the message, enter: subscribe housing-info yourfirstname yourlastname
(Obviously, substitute in your own first and last names.)
To post a housing or roommate opportunity to the listserv, just send an email with the relevant information to "email@example.com" and follow the prompts.
Please note: The housing-info listserv is offered as a convenience. UCSF makes no warranties as to any of the housing opportunities publicized on the listserv. The listserv is not sponsored by UCSF Housing Services. And a word of caution: Do not rent housing site unseen. To protect your identity, do not submit to credit or background checks until you have met the landlord or agent in person.
Off-Campus Housing and Commuting
If you can't find a place in San Francisco that you can afford, you may want to consider living in one of the other fine cities that make up the Bay Area. Many people fall in love with the unique character of these other areas, so you would be wise to keep an open mind about all options! Good public transportation systems (e.g. BART, CalTrain, and AC Transit) make it feasible for many students, postdocs, faculty, and staff to live outside the city, while still having reasonable commutes and keeping commuting costs down.
Things to bear in mind:
- There is a free UCSF shuttle from the 16th St Mission BART station to the UCSF Mission Bay campus.
- The CalTrain station on King Street is only about a 10-15 minute walk to Mission Bay.
- A wide system of bus services including Muni, AC Transit, SamTrans and others connect San Francisco with the greater Bay Area.
- There is also ferry service to San Francisco's Embarcadero from the East Bay cities of Alameda, Oakland, and Vallejo.
- Bicycles are allowed on BART, CalTrain, ferries, and many bus lines, and it's a short, flat ride from the Ferry Building to Mission Bay.
- UCSF also has a network you can tap into for car and vanpools.
- Visit 511.org and use the trip-planner to see what the transportation options and commute times might be like for you if you decide to live outside San Francisco.
- Free shuttles connect UCSF's main campuses and satellite locations.
- The most commonly used online resource for finding apartment rentals in the Bay Area is Craigslist.org. (Craigslist is not affiliated with UCSF in any way.) See also a list of other Bay Area housing-related websites.