861 Masonic Avenue
I moved to San Francisco in early 1999 after I quit my environmental consulting job. I had a sweet deal. My high school friends had gone to USF and lived in a rent-controlled apartment in the Panhandle. One of them was co-habiting with her boyfriend so that made the rent even more ridiculous. It was a great flat right by the 21 Hayes line. That was the good life. Soon after I moved to the city, I got a lucrative job with a startup. I saved an insane amount of money. Rent: something to the tune of $400 and an additional $75 for a parking spot.
758 11th Avenue
The $400 rent didn’t last too long. We got the boot when the owner decided to sell and the buyers wanted to move in. My roommate’s boyfriend hooked us up with a house in the Inner Richmond, steps away from Golden Gate Park. It was a 2-bedroom, 2-bath house with parking and a washer/dryer. There were three of us girls in a 2-bedroom house so we did what other renters do and converted the living room into another bedroom. Steph got the raw end of the deal and lived in the downstairs living room–no closet and she had to put up with any ruckus from the above bedrooms. The kitchen was our common area. I lucked out with a spacious bedroom with a large walk-in closet. But besides that, the best thing about living there was the proximity to the park. Everyday after work, I always came home and went for a bike ride or a run. Rent: $1,100.
431 Webster Street
After a year, we decided we didn’t want to live in the house anymore. Thanks to Craigslist, I found a beautiful flat in Hayes Valley with brand-new everything: marble countertops, stainless steel appliances, electric fireplace with ‘fire’ at the flick of a switch, and washer/dryer. There were three ‘bedrooms.’ And this time, I got the short end of the stick. My room was probably meant to be a den because all I could fit in there was my bed, a desk, and a dresser. The walking space was equivalent to three steps. I had to cope, though, because I had gotten laid off. It was fine, I really loved that flat…and we had common space to hang out after work. Oh, and I had a parking spot. Rent: $800.
During the two-year interim, I was in Chicago, keeping it real my first year in ghetto Hyde Park (Rent: $700) then upgraded my second year to a cute studio across from the zoo in Lincoln Park (Rent: $1,000). But before I left San Francisco, we found a mutual acquaintance to take over my room, and I shacked up at my ex-boyfriend’s loft in SOMA. He was consulting in Boston so I pretty much had the whole place to myself. Rent: $0. Cons: the ex-convicts milling around your car, pissing freely, and the thumps of DNA Lounge next door.
Before I go on to the next abode, I just want to say my ex has the best living situation story. He’s got this great loft that he had been throwing money down the drain at by renting. I kept telling him to buy a place, but he insisted he loved the loft too much. Well the owner finally decided to sell the units and he gave my ex a friggin discount–a very hefty discount–because he liked him. Purchase price: $500,000+ (I forget the exact amount). Normal selling price: $750,000.
99 Lupine Avenue
When I moved back, I spent one day looking at apartments. I printed out a bunch of Craigslist ads and made it my goal to find something over the course of one weekend. This apartment was the last one I looked at for the day. I was going to skip it–as I’d never heard of Lupine Avenue, but I gave a call to the landlord and his directions seemed simple enough. I fell in love with the place. The landlord fell in love with me too and gave me the first month free. It had hardwood floors, a view of the city, and was in the cute Laurel Heights area. Lupine Avenue winds through a quiet, residential area. It’s rather hidden which makes for ample parking. I parked on the street all the time so I wouldn’t have to walk the extra flights of stairs, but I did have my own parking spot at the bottom of the complex. Walk out of the parking garage and Trader Joe’s is right next door. I was a regular. I was also a regular at the Lucky Penny a couple steps further. Rent: $1,200. I didn’t have a problem finding someone to take over my lease. I posted on Craigslist and had to remove the ad within a couple hours because I was bombarded with requests.
My current home isn’t too far from where I used to live. It’s just a couple blocks down. I happened to be traipsing around the neighborhood and popped my head in. I thought it was good enough. Nothing spectacular. Price tag: $475,000. I asked the realtor how much I would have to bid over the asking price to get it. She said that the seller was desperate as he was locked in a tax exchange wherein all his properties had to be sold at the same time. This was the last property they were waiting to sell and the deadline was approaching. If I signed the paper work that day, she would give me a discount. It was a rash decision, but I did it. I think my place is so small, I’m self-conscious about inviting people over. Friends have had to force their way in to see it. It’s a 1 bedroom, 1 bath with parking, a washer/dryer, and an extra storage room downstairs. It’s perfect for someone like me. I don’t have a lot of stuff and I’m organized to an extreme. Purchase Price: $455,000. Home sweet home.