Student housing in San Francisco
San Francisco, the ‘gateway to Northern California,’ is one of the most energetic and culturally diverse cities in America. However, cost for rent is one of the highest in the country, so finding affordable off-campus housing can get quite tricky.
Student.com will help you find cheap apartments and rooms for rent at reasonable prices close to the city’s main universities and top attractions. We have apartments for rent that are fully furnished and equipped with modern amenities.
Contact us to learn more about the student housing in San Francisco we offer. Our booking consultants are always happy to help and answer any questions you may have.
San Francisco at a glance
San Francisco is located on a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay on the west coast of the United States. Home to California’s famed tech innovation hub, Silicon Valley, San Francisco is much more than just a technological centre.
One of the country’s most cosmopolitan cities, San Francisco is a place of contrasts – old but new, cutting-edge but laid-back, urban but pastoral.
A city in constant evolution, its bohemian heritage and relaxed beach style blend with more cutting-edge and competitive dynamics. Made famous in the 1960s as the home of “flower power” and the hippie movement, San Francisco is now one of the most progressive and diverse cities in the US.
Visitors love its cool and elegant atmosphere, sunny climate, breath-taking views of one of the world’s greatest bays and laid-back coastal lifestyle, which all add up to its high quality of life.
The Golden City’s high standard of living is indicated in its high score for desirability (33rd) and student view (21st) in the 2022 QS Best Student Cities rankings where it placed 24th overall.
Attractions waiting to be discovered
With countless sights, famous attractions, iconic landmarks, and colourful neighbourhoods, San Francisco is a haven for photo opportunities and fabulous experiences.
The sprawling gateway to Northern California is home to 48 hills and one of the most iconic bridges in the world. Crossing the famous Golden Gate by bicycle, car, or even on foot, is one of the sightseeing musts of the city.
Marvel at the beautiful flower gardens of the hillside on Lombard Street. Stroll along Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoy indoor and outdoor dining, unique shopping, and attractions, including bay cruises, museums, and outdoor activities.
Take a ferry to Alcatraz Island, a popular tourist attraction that draws over one million visitors per year. Tour the former federal penitentiary and U.S. military outpost and learn about its rich history.
Get to know local marine life at Pier 39, home to the Aquarium of the Bay and learn about science, art, and human perception inside the interactive Exploratorium museum at Pier 15.
Get an elevated panoramic view of the city by hopping on one of the iconic cable cars, the world’s last manually operated cable car system. Take the Powell-Hyde line at Union Square to the top of Lombard, then trod down the famously steep, crooked street and enjoy the amazing views.
Art & culture
If you are artistic, you will have opportunities to fill your eyes with public art throughout ‘The Paris of the West.’
Seek out San Francisco’s famed street art in the Mission District, the neighbourhood with the highest concentration of murals in the city. See the colourful murals depicting the city’s history by visiting Balmy Alley.
“The Language of Birds,” tells the intersection of Broadway and Columbus Avenue’s literary history, while Clarion Alley features mural art on the themes of social and environmental justice.
In San Fran, you’ll find unique and intriguing communities at every turn. Union Square, North Beach, Chinatown, Japantown, Little Saigon, and Little Italy each have made their mark on the city in their own way, helping to turn it into a vibrant ecosystem of ideas and expression.
Thanks to their diverse cultural influences, the city’s neighbourhoods are known for their distinct dining flair, serving up some of the best, most authentic foods in the country. North Beach is famous for its Italian food, dim sum is everywhere in Chinatown, while no-frills Mexican food can be found in the Mission and Castro districts.
Student life in San Francisco
If you are concerned about finding your tribe in San Fran, fret not. This city is filled with diverse people from all over the world and is a melting pot of many cultures.
Its cultural diversity provides international students and visitors with plenty of opportunities to meet and mingle with people from their homeland and all over the world.
The city’s liberal nature creates an open and comfortable environment where international students and visitors are welcomed with open arms.
The colourful city also has lots to offer its visitors. The uniqueness of its neighbourhoods, and the wide variety of events taking place, keep the city bustling with activity and intrigue, ensuring that things never get dull in the Golden City.
As a student, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy buzzing nightlife, an amazing bar scene, concert venues, restaurants, shops, cafés, and parks.
San Francisco is blessed with so many bars and clubs that you’ll always want to get out and take in the city. With its cheap drinks and fun vibe, The Last Call Bar is one of the most popular bars in the city for students. Temple is a chic, multi-room club with varied music and décor that is considered to be one of the best clubs in the city.
World-class performing arts
Lovers of the performing arts will have plenty of chances to see shows featuring some of the world’s greatest talent. San Francisco’s impressive performance spaces present some of California’s and the world’s classiest productions.
Visit Davies Symphony Hall where the San Francisco Symphony creates musical magic, or watch the San Francisco Ballet twirl and leap, and the San Francisco Opera superstars reach for the high notes at The Palace of Fine Arts – one of the city’s extravagant neoclassical iconic structures.
Theatre in the Bay Area ranges from avant-garde troupes to distinguished options like the non-profit American Conservatory Theater, with quality productions presented at The Geary Theater. The Greek Theater, an 8,500-seat outdoor amphitheater that overlooks the San Francisco Bay, also draws big names.
Union Square – a mecca for shopping, entertainment and dining
When you’re in need of some retail therapy, Union Square is a hotspot for shoppers. Pretty much every top brand in fashion can be found at the 2.6-acre square, a landmark in the heart of the downtown shopping and hotel district.
The square is also a mecca for fine hotels, great meals, and green spaces. San Francisco has more restaurants per capita than any other city in America, and some of the finest are located in the square.
Students can expect to get discounts at stores, restaurants, museums, cinemas, cafes, gyms, and more in the square, as well as other places in the city.
Plenty of green spaces to relax
‘Frisco’ has a lot to see and do for students, but whenever you want to just relax during breaks from your studies, the city has room for serenity as well.
For such a compact and populated city, San Francisco sports several green spaces that offer respite from the hustle and bustle.
Golden Gate Park’s 1000-plus acres of land offer stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay. Crissy Field, which also has a splendid view of the Bridge, sits right on the water and is the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic.
If you’re a hiker, take a short trip across the Golden Gate Bridge and go hiking in Marin County - one of the most serene and scenic areas in Northern California.
Where to study in San Francisco?
The San Francisco area is renowned for its excellent education standards. With three universities in the Bay area featured in the 2022 QS World University Rankings, the city is home to some of the best universities in the world.
Joint 3rd in the world, the highest-ranked is Stanford University, followed by the University of California, Berkeley, (32nd), and the University of San Francisco. Of these three, the University of San Francisco is located within the San Francisco city limits while Stanford Berkeley are within commuting distance.
San Francisco’s first university (founded in 1855) is the second oldest university in California. This private Jesuit university has a long and distinguished history in the sciences and liberal arts.
The university is divided into four schools and one college, which are:
- School of Law
- School of Management
- School of Education
- School of Nursing and Health Professions
- College of Arts and Sciences
The university has a high focus on graduate degrees, with currently about 40% of USF’s 8,500 students being graduate students.
Second only to the MIT in the QS US College Rankings 2022, Stanford is regularly ranked among the top 3 universities in the world. It’s located in the city of Stanford, about a 40-minute drive from central San Francisco. Using public transport, you can get there in about 45 minutes with the Caltrain.
The university has a long history of excellence in academics counting 19 Nobel laureates, 18 Turing Award recipients, and two Fields Medallists. Its extensive alumni network is loaded with numerous eminent individuals from the worlds of art, social sciences, business, politics, humanities, media, sports, and technology.
Conveniently, the university is located in the heart of the dynamic Silicon Valley, and it has taken full advantage. Nicknamed the “billionaire factory” Stanford has produced alumni who have founded companies that generate more than $2.7 trillion of annual revenue, which would make companies started by Stanford graduates the 10th largest economy in the world.
Stanford’s large campus houses 18 interdisciplinary research institutes and seven schools. It’s an international university, enrolling 17,000 students from more than 90 countries.
Founded in 1868, the public research university is the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. Located in Berkeley, just north of Oakland, you can get there from downtown San Francisco in about 25 minutes by car and in about 40 minutes by public transport.
A founding member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), Berkeley is home to some world-renowned research institutes, including the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and the Space Sciences Laboratory.
The university’s alumni, faculty, and researchers include over 90 Nobel laureates, 23 Turing Award winners, and 14 Pulitzer Prize winners. Most recent of the 19 Nobel prize winners are Saul Perlmutter, who won the 2011 physics prize for leading a team that discovered the accelerating expansion of the universe and George Akerlof, who won the 2001 economics prize for demonstrating how markets malfunction when buyers and sellers have access to different information.
Berkeley placed 8th in the Times Higher Education (THE) and 32nd in the QS 2022 World University Rankings.
Frequently asked questions about student accommodation in San Francisco
How do I apply for private, off-campus housing in San Francisco?
Applying for private, off-campus housing in San Francisco on Student.com is simple and easy.
The search filters, comparison, and map tools on our website will make it easy for you to find your ideal student property. After finding a place you like, go to the property page by clicking ‘View rooms’.
On the property page you’ll need to choose the dates you want to book your room for, and the type of room you’d like to book. After making your choice, click ‘Enquire’ or ‘Book now’. One of our booking consultants will be in touch with you to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the next steps of the booking process.
What kind of room types are available in the apartments for rent on Student.com?
We have three room types available:
In Shared Rooms you’ll share a bedroom with at least one roommate. With this room type you’ll share a bathroom as well as a kitchen with other tenants from other rooms.
In Private Rooms you’ll have your own bedroom, and in some properties also a private bathroom. Other facilities are shared with other tenants from other rooms.
With an Entire Place, you’ll get a fully private property just for you. You’ll have your own bedroom, bathroom and a kitchenette for cooking meals, so you won’t have to share anything with anyone.
Are bills included in the rent?
In most of the properties we list in San Francisco, bills are included. Many properties also offer free Wi-Fi. However, check the property page to see what is included in the property you’re interested in, as different landlords have different policies.
Are the apartments you list fully furnished?
As with the bills, most apartments we list are rented fully furnished, but make sure to check on the property page if this is the case with the property you’re thinking of booking, as some housing we list in San Francisco is rented unfurnished.