How I found an amazing apartment near San Francisco with only my phone — and without using Craigslist

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Kevin Cole/Flickr

Last month, I moved out of my apartment in San Francisco to a place in Burlingame, a suburban area 30 minutes south of the city.

Finding a place in the suburbs is no easy deal: public transportation is limited and the apartments are far apart. I didn’t even have a car back then.

But it was surprisingly easy to find a new place. I relied on just 3 apps – and didn’t have to use Craigslist at all. Here’s how I did it.


I lived in an area called Japantown/Lower Pac Heights, 15 minutes west of downtown San Francisco.

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Google Maps

It’s a nice neighborhood with a bunch of shops nearby. But I wanted to move out of the city, to somewhere warmer and quieter: the suburbs.

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Google Maps

…where there are more palm trees and an outdoor pool.

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Flickr/phalinn

So I started looking online. Like most people, I started on Craigslist.

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Craigslist.org

But for apartment seekers, it’s kind of a nightmare. It’s cluttered, hard to use, and doesn’t show much information.

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Craigslist.org

So I downloaded an app called Rent.com instead.

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Rent.com

The app solved a lot of the problems I had with Craigslist immediately. All the listings were shown in an actual map, so it was easy to see in where the listings were located.

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Rent.com

You can zoom in to see a more detailed view of the map.

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Rent.com

I made sure to narrow down the search to one or two bedrooms. You can also set your rent price range, or the pet-friendliness of the building.

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Rent.com

If you tap the numbers, it’ll show you a list of apartments available in that specific area.

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Rent.com

This one was a little out of my range, but it looked really nice.

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Rent.com

Each listing has its own page, with all the information about the place: building description, floor plans, rent range, amenities, office hours, and the map. There’s also a direct contact button at the bottom.

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Rent.com

If you’d like to see the exact location of the place, you simply have to hit the “Get Directions” tab below the map. It takes you to Google Maps.

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Rent.com

I made sure the place was near a commuter train station. Google Maps made it easy to look around the area.

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Flickr/nostri-imago

I made a shortlist of the places I wanted to see, but they were all far apart, making it almost impossible to get around without a car. Public transportation out of the city is terrible and taxis take a long time to call.

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YouTube

To move around, I used Uber. Even though I wasn’t in the city, there were plenty of Uber drivers in the area, including Uber Pool.

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Uber

It was better than renting a car because I didn’t have to worry about parking or the return time of the car.

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Flickr/deanhochman

Finally, I settled on this place. It was near the train station, close to a nice downtown area, and has a great outdoor pool!

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Google Maps

The only downside of this approach: there’s no option for roommates or sublease apartments. For those, Craigslist is still the way to go. But all in all, I’m happy with my experience.

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Matt Radick / Flickr