Moving to San Francisco

Your bags are packed. You have said your goodbyes. Your plane ticket is in hand. You are moving to the beautiful city of San Francisco, in the Golden State of California, baby!

Moving to a new city brings about a myriad of emotions. Who knew you could be excited, scared, nervous, intimidated,lonely, and full of hope all at once? But we are here to make this new transition a little easier, with a wealth of knowledge to help you move to the city of your dreams. We want to help you make San Francisco feel like home, and we have a bunch of tips and tricks to get you feeling settled as soon as possible!

Tip 1: Housing is everything.

Your home needs to feel like a home. Even if you are only renting a short stay apartment in San Francisco, you need to make sure that after a long day, coming back to that place feels like coming home. There are a number of ways you can accomplish making your place feel like home, no matter what your budget.

1. Location, location, location!

Location is everything. You want to live in a place that is convenient, safe, and fun! Seek out a building that is in a neighborhood you like and feel safe in. When you are looking at a building, make sure you take at least ten minutes to walk around the neighborhood. See if you can spot a cafe that you love, a restaurant that looks delicious, and convenient grocery stores or gyms near by. Ease of accessibility to public transportation is also of huge importance. If your building is right by a BART stop, getting around the city will be so much easier.

Here are a few neighborhoods and properties you should look into for housing in a great location:

North Beach.

Also known as Little Italy, North Beach is a hip and young neighborhood filled with unbeatable Italian cuisine. Living in North Beach means a fresh cappuccino every morning, a myriad of authentic Italian restaurants and cafes where you can become a regular, close nightlife and great late-night food, close and convenient to popular areas of the city, and a quiet, safe, and beautiful surrounding area.

In North Beach, 371 Columbus is a newly renovated shared-housing building. A bed in a quad may only be $595 a month, but at this property, you get much more than you pay for. 371 Columbus is located right above a cozy Italian deli with the best cappuccino you have ever tried. That cheap quad boasts a gorgeous panoramic window overlooking the park at Peter and Paul Church, wood floors, white walls, plenty of storage space, and a mini fridge. The building has excellent access to public transportation, great Wifi, and a clean kitchen area. With the unbeatable price, gorgeous view, and stellar location, it is almost too good to be true!

Similarly, 524 Columbus shares all of the Italian charm of the neighborhood it resides within. With quirky patterned bedspreads and rustic furniture pieces, it is just as safe, comfortable, and friendly as the charming family-owned B&B’s in the Italian countryside. All of the rooms have brand new carpets, a sink, a vanity, a bed, and storage. It is located right in the center of North Beach, walking distance from the Financial District, Chinatown, and Nob Hill. Best of all, it is completely affordable, with rooms starting at only $745/month.

Union Square/ Lower Nob Hill.

Iconic, famous, picturesque, and oh so convenient, Union Square is where you imagine living when you picture moving to San Francisco. Well guess what, you can!

Our property, Balmoral, is pretty much across the street from Bank of America and Cisco in Lower Nob Hill, right by Union Square. It is beautifully furnished with modern furniture pieces and artwork hung on the walls, and even better, the community is unbeatable. The community at the building gets together for holiday celebrations, Friday night potlucks, and movie nights every week.


SoMa stands for ‘South of Market’, because the area is right underneath one of the most bustling and happening parts of town. SoMa is only walking distance away from AT&T Park, SF Museum of Modern Art, and the Ferry Building, the Westfield San Francisco Centre, among other major attractions. It is also close to a number of bars, clubs, cafes, and restaurants, and allows easy accessibility to public transportation like BART and Muni. Living in SoMa, you get the best of both worlds: You are only walking distance from the water, Financial District, and many of San Francisco’s top attractions, but the neighborhood is still removed enough that you get all of the peace and quiet your heart desires.

We offer a number of properties in SoMa. Panoramic is a modern and gorgeous building, aptly named because this brand new, state of the art micro-unit property features amazing panoramic views of San Francisco! It offers brand new efficiency studios and three bedroom units with great amenities and common areas. Even better, it has 24-hour security, so it definitely checks that safety box!

Folsom Residences, on the other hand, showcases the more quirky side of San Francisco spaces, with a number of beautiful art deco inspired common spaces, and all of the amenities, bells, and whistles you could dream of, and a reasonable price!

2. Finding a Roommate.

Finding a good roommate can make or break your living situation in a new city. Don’t just look on Craigslist. Ask your friends and family if they know anyone in the city, and ask for an introduction. Reach out to those people and ask if they or anyone they know are looking for housing. Rooming with a friend of a friend is a much better guarantee that your roommate will be someone you like than leaving it up to chance.

If you don’t know anyone in the city, try series like or to find people looking for roommates in your city. Take your time to browse their profiles and read their information, reach out on the site or via facebook, and really try to get to know them before you commit to anything. Chances are, you’ll end up meeting someone you have a lot in common with, and this person will not only make your living situation absolutely amazing, but can easily become your
first new friend in an unfamiliar city.

3. Decorate to Make it a Home.

This is something that can not be stressed enough: If  you do not settle in to your new place, it will never feel like home. You will never feel like your new city is permanent if you indefinitely live out of your suitcase, and without a feeling of permanence, you will never feel the urgency to be active or put effort into making new friends, which will greatly impact your time in that city. So unpack! Decorate! Settle in! Get comfortable!

Even if you are in a tiny one-bedrooms, or a quad with three unfamiliar roommates, there are so many ways to make your space cozy and comfortable. Buy some plants, string up twinkle lights, hang up your favorite band poster, or purchase some decorative pillows. Color-coordinate your closet and organize your kitchen in a way that makes cooking fun for you. Really try to put in the effort that first few weeks to really make your space feel like your own. If you need inspiration or tips for how to decorate your small space to make it feel like a home, check out the amazing articles on interior decorating on a budget and for small spaces here on our blog!

Tip 2: Finding Your ‘Spot’ and Becoming a Regular

One of the best ways to feel at home in a new city is to find places that make you feel at home. That spot may be the cozy cafe that reminds you of your hometown’s rainy weather, where you can settle into a comfy nook and drink your favorite coffee concoction. Maybe that place is a restaurant that serves authentic cultural cuisine just like your mama made, where you can eat your way to a little less homesick. Maybe that spot is a place where you can explore and pursue your passion, find comfort in the familiar and routine of practicing something you love. Or maybe your spot will be something new altogether, a sunny garden patch or a sandy corner of the beach that for whatever reason brings you inexplicable amounts of joy.

The first step is to get out there and explore. Get the “lay of the land”. Start with your neighborhood – what is right around your corner? Ask your landlord and other tenants for recommendations, or go for a walk around the block and take your time to stop in to a spot that catches your eye. Do some googling, and don’t be afraid to ask around!

Once you have found it, the next step is to become a regular! The more you go back, the more likely it is that you will get to know employees, regular customers, or people with similar likes and interests who come to the same spot. Becoming a regular is a great way to meet people and make friends, all in a place that makes you feel comfortable and at home.

Tip 3: Making Friends

One of the most intimidating parts of moving to a new city is making new friends. Coming from a place where you had your family and a community of friends that you spent years building, creating a new community out of scratch is a daunting affair. But fret not, because not only is it possible to make a great community of friends, it is easy!

Start with your own network. Ask your friends and family if they know anyone in the city you are moving to, and if they do, ask for an introduction and schedule a meal or a coffee date. Once you have had a chance to get to know them, ask them to introduce you to their friends! Don’t be afraid to say “I’m new to this city and I don’t really know anyone yet.” People in San Francisco are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet, and I guarantee that they will e happy to introduce you to their friends. Just like that, you have a network!

If that doesn’t work for you, then you need to find a way to meet new people. Sometimes the hardest part of making new friends is knowing where to go to meet people- especially in a new city! Again, it all starts with housing. Here at Urbanests, we pride ourselves in “creating communities, one friend at a time”- our company motto! Finding the perfect roommate is like guaranteeing a new best friend. Similarly, you floormates can easily become a wonderful and tightly-knit group of friends. You just have to make sure you select a place to live that is primarily your age group, fun, and social. For example, one of our properties, Balmoral, has an unbeatable community. The community at the building gets together for holiday celebrations, Friday night potlucks, and movie nights every week. Check out for more information.

The next step is to get active! Believe it or not, you are most likely to make the best friends while you are doing the things you love, in your element, happy, and being 100% genuinely you. That means you need to get involved. If you are a student, join a club, get involved with greek life, or start volunteering on campus! If you are not a student, do your research. There are so many groups in and around the city that get together to do all sorts of fun stuff – running groups, cycling groups, bible study groups, hiking clubs, cooking lessons, photography meet-ups, salsa dancing classes, and more! Get involved, go consistently, and make an effort to be friendly and talk to people. is a great way to find groups based on similar interests in your area—just type in your location and what you’re looking for and voila! If you get involved, you will have a ton of new friends in no time!

If you can’t find an organized group that you want to be a part of, then try ‘being a regular’ in more places, and make an effort to talk to people. For example, if you like going to the gym every day, make an effort to chat with the person who checks you in. Strike up a conversation about yoga with the girl you see in class every day. Ask the guy that lifts heavier than you to spot you or give you some tips. If you played volleyball or basketball your whole life, show up at an open court and ask to join a game. If you are an art lover, attend museum fundraising events regularly, and strike up a conversation over your favorite painting. The more you go to the places you love and do the things you love to do, the more you will meet people who share your same passions and interests!

The most important thing you need to remember is that the more effort you expend, the more friends you will make. If you have a great conversation with a coworker, don’t be afraid to invite them out for happy hour after work! If you get along with a classmate, invite them to study together over coffee! Be forward, be friendly, and be responsive, and you will quickly accumulate a ton of new friends!

Tip 4: Bring it all Together

With these tips, you will quickly accumulate to your new city, make friends, have fun, and feel at home!