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carpeimperium

San Francisco Bay Area, CA

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Wanted to bump this thread since the last post was about a year ago.

 

My husband and I are likely to move to the Bay area this summer.  I will be attending a program at Stanford University and he will be working (job TBD).  From what I've seen on this chain, it is advisable to live in the Palo Alto area and have him commute to San Francisco (if that's were his job ends up being based) versus the other way around.  Besides Palo Alto, other recs include Mountain View, Menlo Park, Redwood Park and Sunnyvale.  Are there others?  We're relocating from Washington, DC so moving to a more suburban area will definitely be an adjustment!

 

Any advice/guidance from folks in the area would be much appreciated!

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For those attending Stanford and looking to find the cheapest housing, I know options are available on campus for roughly $600/month or $800/month (Assuming single graduate student, although couple and family housing is available). Not elegant by any means and I'll admit it wouldn't be ideal if you don't love the campus atmosphere, but if the cheapest available in PA is $900/month, then you'd be saving over 3.5k each year. 

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Sorry to bump after weeks of inactivity, but does anybody know of other people in need of roommates near Stanford? If so, please message me.

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Does anybody know if it is reasonable/worthwhile to commute from Fremont to Stanford?

 

There is a bus that goes over the Dumbarton bridge in the morning, but not very late at night. Without that bus, it takes 3 hours via public transport to get back to Fremont. If you have your own car then like with any other bridge, if you go early enough there won't be as much traffic, but how early do you really want to get up every day? There's also a $5 toll, by the way.

 

Also, while the housing in Palo Alto isn't cheap, you won't save THAT much living in Fremont. Personally it wouldn't be worth it to me unless you were already towards the end of your program, when you're more time-flexible.

 

DTB

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Hello, my husband got into Stanford and he would receive a $26,400 stipend. Do you think it is feasible to live on this (the two of us)? I am a phd student at Maryland and I would lose my assistantship if I were to move to Palo Alto with him. Please give me any advice you have. I suppose it would be doable if we could find housing for up to $1,000 a month. Is that possible?

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@ cicoree: Congratulations on your husband's acceptance!  The Bay Area is an incredible place to live... but also incredibly expensive.  Unfortunately, one would have a very difficult time even renting a room within half an hour from Stanford for less than $1000/month; studios and 1 BR apartments would definitely be out of that price range.  

 

If you haven't used PadMapper.com yet, I highly recommend it; it's a fantastic map-based aggregation of rental listings.  If you're willing to live about a 30 minute drive away from Stanford in the even more suburban East Bay (ie: Hayward, Castro Valley), you can find a 1 BR for about $1000, though one should note that this is across the Dumbarton Bridge, with $5 toll (or if carpooling during peak hours, only $2.50).  Closer to Stanford, as you toggle the 'rent range' up from $1000 to $1500 or $1600, you'll finally start to see 1 BRs appear in the vicinity of Palo Alto (namely in Redwood City and Mountain View).  It looks like $2000 before you find your own 1 BR in Palo Alto proper.

With all of that said, Stanford obviously has many grad students, a large number of whom I imagine are surviving solely on their stipend; there must be some way to do it!   Does his program offer on-campus below-market housing for grad students?  

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Supposedly there is on campus housing for graduate students, including couples, but I looked at the prices and all the units are above $1,500. I did find a few encouraging places on craigslist though, like this one: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/apa/4320709876.html

Do you think there are lots of places like this (obviously this particular one will be gone by September)....?

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Neighborhoods in Oakland/Berkeley 

 

For those heading to Berkeley/Stanford etc.. this fall, I've just had some advice about different areas of Oakland and Berkeley. Oakland is a lot less expensive than Berkeley and significantly less expensive than SF.

 

As a disclaimer this is obviously just one person's perspective. It does not mean the rest of the E Bay is uninhabitable. It is just a bit of advice based on personal experience. She has been living in East Oakland for three years, and has lived in the Bay Area almost 10 years. Everyone's sense of comfort/affordability is different.

 

"I would say the best spot in Oakland that also stands a chance of being affordable is Rockridge. The muggings/robberies are definitely there but it's so cute and accessible and the risk is lower. Of course Glenview and Piedmont, Montclair, around Piedmont Avenue is usually good but also pricey.  
North Berkeley is nice-- most of Berkeley is nice.  Perhaps a little bit less so right around Ashby BART/ MLK/ Adeline. Housing close to campus is convenient and safe but also houses a lot of undergrads - so there can be noise/overcrowding issues. North Berkeley is nice, can be expensive, but is more remote, less walkable but has BART." 
 
Just in case that's helpful at all! 

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Supposedly there is on campus housing for graduate students, including couples, but I looked at the prices and all the units are above $1,500. I did find a few encouraging places on craigslist though, like this one: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/apa/4320709876.html

Do you think there are lots of places like this (obviously this particular one will be gone by September)....?

 

Wow, I didn't realize grad housing on campus was so expensive. Could he possibly ask for more funding? I know of a physics student who gets about $50k, and that's just for himself. $26k for two people is a little dicey in Palo Alto, unless you have savings, or if you decide to work. Are you going to finish your own PhD while he's at Stanford? Remember that EVERYTHING costs more in CA, including gas and food, so if most of your budget is eaten up by housing, you have to be realistic about how much is left for everything else.

 

Does the dept know that he is married and you are coming? Maybe they would offer a bit more in that case?

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Dear seeingeyeduck, thank you so much for your reply. Indeed, I am planning to write my dissertation (I am ABD) while he will begin his doctoral studies at the History dept at Stanford. It is a problem that we are both F-1 (non immigrant) students from Europe so technically I would not even be *allowed* to work (I can only work at UMD, where I am enrolled). History is not as well funded as Physics, for obvious reasons, but do you think he can indeed mention to the graduate director at Stanford that if he comes (and therefore rejects other offers he has received), he will have to relocate himself and his wife (me) which means she will lose her funding? And do you think they would possibly increase his funding? 

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Dear seeingeyeduck, thank you so much for your reply. Indeed, I am planning to write my dissertation (I am ABD) while he will begin his doctoral studies at the History dept at Stanford. It is a problem that we are both F-1 (non immigrant) students from Europe so technically I would not even be *allowed* to work (I can only work at UMD, where I am enrolled). History is not as well funded as Physics, for obvious reasons, but do you think he can indeed mention to the graduate director at Stanford that if he comes (and therefore rejects other offers he has received), he will have to relocate himself and his wife (me) which means she will lose her funding? And do you think they would possibly increase his funding? 

 

Yeah, I'd assume that the humanities are less funded than sciences, but if they weren't aware that you would be coming along and not able to work in the first place, I think it's worth mentioning. Also, if he has had higher offers elsewhere, I've heard that you can mention those and see if they will match it. I think they understand that grad students have families and spouses, and have to take finances into consideration. I mean, it can't hurt, right? It's not like they will make the offer less.

 

Even if they could give him just a few grand more, that would give you some breathing room. You could do it on $26k if you have a simple lifestyle and don't plan to go a lot of places or eat out, but having a little more would make things easier. For example, if you have lunch on campus, I don't think you can get even prepackaged meals for <$6-7 around here, unless you want just a muffin or an egg and fruit. Eating out in the surrounding areas will probably be $10+ for any type of sit-down situation. You'd imagine doing that with any regularity will eat up most of the rest of your budget. You can bike around campus easily (a car won't help on that campus anyway), so gas might not be an issue, but I'm assuming you'd still have other expenses. Not eating out really helps, but not everyone likes that.

 

Just assume that everything is at least 30% more expensive here unless you really search out cheaper options. Someone I knew came down from Portland and bought a pack of cigarettes. $4 in Portland, $7 here. "You're killing me here!" he said. Yeah, pretty much. :(

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Some tips for SF Peninsula living:

Avoid East Palo Alto.

Be careful with Redwood City, especially if it is east of El Camino Real - some neighborhoods are fine, but other neighborhoods are unsafe.

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Just assume that everything is at least 30% more expensive here unless you really search out cheaper options. Someone I knew came down from Portland and bought a pack of cigarettes. $4 in Portland, $7 here. "You're killing me here!" he said. Yeah, pretty much. :(

 

Re: the cigarette pack, that is a good thing I suppose. Nobody should smoke, it's stupid. Thanks for your tips. The other offer he got is actually significantly lower (24k and no summer funding guaranteed), so I don't know if that lessens his bargaining power. But if he took the other offer, I would be able to continue working at Maryland and that means I would have 22k to add to the table. So the total would have been 46k instead of 26 - big difference. But he is convinced that Stanford is better for his career than the other option (Georgetown) and I can't blame him for making that assessment. 

 

Thanks starofdawn also, I will watch out for those areas. 

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Hmmm. That is a big difference! But who knows, definitely ask about funding and see if Stanford will up the offer.

 

Do you guys plan to stay in the states and find jobs after school? If that's the case, think about which area you'd prefer to live in afterward. I think it helps if you stay in a place where you've just spent years developing a network. I don't know that the name itself will help as much as specific research and recommendations faculty. If you plan to go back to Europe, then maybe Stanford is the shinier name...

 

I agree with the E Palo Alto advice. Generally speaking, if you find a place that's much lower in price than other places, there usually is a good reason.

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I think we might stay in the states, but I am not sure. That's a good point you're making about thinking of it long-term though. I will definitely talk to my husband about it that way, too. Thanks for all this help. I basically did some calculations and while life would be much easier here in DC (with my salary added to his), we would have about $700 in Palo Alto to spend on food, gas, books, every month, after paying rent and all the bills. I think it is still doable, though of course not enviable (eating out is out of the question, as are many other things).

 

I am also thinking about looking into the off-campus employment option for F-1 students. Apparently if you can prove "economic hardship" and that you lost your on-campus funding (as I did in Maryland by moving away), you can get an authorization to just take on a job (probably part-time) to supplement your income. Any F-1s here who have experience with that?

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I am also thinking about looking into the off-campus employment option for F-1 students. Apparently if you can prove "economic hardship" and that you lost your on-campus funding (as I did in Maryland by moving away), you can get an authorization to just take on a job (probably part-time) to supplement your income. Any F-1s here who have experience with that?

 

If you go to the International Student forum(IHOG, I think?), they might be able to provide helpful advice.

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Bumping this up for anyone headed to the Bay Area for school in the Fall!

 

CCA has two campuses - one in Oakland (near Rockridge BART) and one in SF (about a mile from 16th + Mission BART). I'll split my time between them but thinking of living in Oakland.

 

Anyone here have advice on finding a place (neighborhoods that can still be affordable for a student, any leads on where to find housing)? Would a car be a total drag (not sure what parking is like)?

 

I'm coming from Brooklyn, but have lived there my whole life so mostly have avoided the effects of gentrification on my cost of living...so rly curious what folks are experiencing in SF and Oakland.

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Bumping this thread as well! I feel like I need to start looking for housing ASAP and plan to take off work for a few days to check out apartments.

Will be going to Berkeley and am looking for a relatively nice, quiet area to live. I'm female, so safety is a bit more important to me. If anyone knows anything about the grad student dorms let me know!

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Hey!  I just got into SFSU's Astronomy program, and I'm looking to get a place with some other students!  Anyone on here interested?  I'm looking for a cheaper place (SFSU's funding isn't the most ideal) and I'm open to many different areas.

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does anyone have any leads/advice for summer housing in SF? will be interning in SF this summer and wondering if there are any options for grad housing within the city?...

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I've lived in Berkeley and San Francisco for a combined six years. I'm so sad to be leaving this beautiful, special place. Housing can be very difficult to find in both cities, so I would recommend (a) watching Craigslist/PadMapper like a hawk, sending out emails with abandon, and trying your best to set yourself apart from other applicants, and (b ) networking -- asking friends, acquaintances, etc -- as you never know who will be able to connect you with an excellent set-up. The blessing/curse of the Bay Area is that many apartments are rent-controlled, so that many people end up renewing their leases for ages in order to keep their decades-old rates. I've been lucky enough to find roommates with rent-controlled places a few times over. It can be done, but it's not easy.

 

Berkeley: It's not the hippie enclave it used to be, but Berkeley is still quirky and charming. Safety is an issue throughout the city, but you'll be fine if you are smart about urban life (for example: don't engage with people behaving erratically, don't use your cell phone walking around, don't walk by People's Park late at night, etc). I also loved being able to safely bike everywhere, though the hills can be killer. As for places to live... The area southeast of campus (near Telegraph and into the hills) is full of undergrad dorms, frat houses, street punks, dive bars -- basically way too fun for anyone in their mid-20's. ;) Instead, if you want to live close to campus, I'd recommend looking at a few neighborhoods.

  • North Berkeley: Most areas north of campus are going to be quiet, safe, and more family-oriented. There are few businesses, with the exception of those in the Gourmet Ghetto. That stretch of Shattuck Ave is lined with tons of foodie-centric shops and restaurants. A great choice for grad students.
  • Downtown Berkeley: A bit more commercial in feel, there's lots to do and the convenience of the BART station (the metro that takes you into San Francisco) is fantastic. I lived here, in a Craftsman home by Berkeley High and Trader Joe's, and absolutely loved it. The nearby police station didn't hurt. If you go a little south of that, you can live near the most wonderful grocery store on the planet, Berkeley Bowl.
  • West Berkeley: This sprawling area can really vary block by block, but there are two areas that could be good for grad students with cars. One is the bougie Fourth Street neighborhood, where you'll find Crate and Barrel, Anthropologie, the Apple Store, etc. The other option is staying close to the main thoroughfare, University Blvd, which is pretty busy and offers a lot of diverse food options.
  • Ashby, Oakland: This area is further away from campus, down Telegraph and on the border of Berkeley/Oakland. Oakland gets a bad rap, but, again, it's pretty safe if you exercise common sense. A friend of mine lived in a beautiful apartment steps away from Whole Foods, coffee shops, and the bus stop to campus.

 

San Francisco: Obviously, you know it's going to be expensive. Not just rent, but all of the other costs of living, too. If you're financially constrained, I'd highly recommend watching your budget, as it's easy to adopt a $5/day kombucha habit or blow an entire paycheck during brunch. Neighborhoods are also rapidly changing due to tech start-ups gentrification blah blah etc. Otherwise, however, this place is the absolute best. SF has lots of districts with very distinct personalities and weather patterns, so you'll want to make sure you're living in a place that feels right for you. For example: the Marina is full of rich yuppies and good weather, the Mission has its hipsters and tons of sunshine, the Sunset/Richmond are always foggy and home to surfers/Asian families...

  • SF State: Whether you have a car or not, I'd highly recommend living along a direct bus route to your school. For SF State, that can include the 28 and 29 bus lines, which will run through down 19th Ave and Sunset Ave in the Sunset district. The Sunset is an excellent choice for grad students, since it is far removed from the busy (and expensive) districts. If you live near the light rail (the N on Judah or the L on Taraval), you'll also be very close to shops/restaurants and a straight shot from downtown. You can also live further north along those same 28/29 bus lines, on the other side of Golden Gate Park, in the Richmond district. It's less busy/happening than the Sunset, but still affordable and full of neighborhood gems -- especially near Clement St. Alternately, the M light rail runs to SF State, so you can look along that route as well.
  • UCSF: The Parnassus campus is one of my very favorite neighborhoods in the city, especially because of all the cute storefronts near 9th and Irving. I'd highly recommend living close by, or anywhere along the N Judah. If you'd rather not live where you work, you can look at the UCSF campus shuttle map to identify other easily accessible neighborhoods. The shuttles are free and go to many locations throughout the city, so you can arrange a pretty stress-free commute door-to-door. For ex, I know one shuttle runs to and from the Laurel Heights/Pacific Heights, a really chic area.

 

As for those considering Oakland -- it's a great option, especially if you live close to BART and make sure that your specific neighborhood is safe. Oakland is enormous, so you're really going to want to zero in on where you're living. I have friends who love living in the Lake Merritt and Rockridge areas. Compared to its neighbors, Oakland is often much cheaper, culturally diverse, and parking-friendly (!!). Speaking of which, parking is going to be a bear... but it doesn't negate the usefulness of a car. For reference, I've lived this entire time in the Bay Area happily car-less -- but am also very thankful that my partner has one. I would highly advise against bringing a car if (a) you live in the more popular, public transit-accessible SF neighborhoods, e.g., northeast of Twin Peaks, or (b ) if you have to pay a fortune for parking. If you don't have a car, don't buy one until you get a feel for city life here. If you already have one, consider the costs (including the tickets you will inevitably get) and benefits. They can come in handy... especially when you're tired of grad school and want to escape to wine country for the weekend. :)

Edited by dinnerdate

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Hey everyone,

This is an extremely old thread that hasn't been used in years. But I wanted to get an opinion:

 

I was just admitted to Smith College for Social Work and placed in Northern California. It has always been a dream of mine to live in San Fran, but I'm trying to work out the actual plausibility of this. I am very willing to live with roommates and have a commute to my placement. What would you say the average cost of living per month would be for a grad student in this area? $1500? $2000?

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Hey Everyone!

 

I'm strongly considering attending UCSF for the BMS program. The only main issue I have is living in SF since it's very expensive. Here's what I gathered, does anyone have anything to add? Stipend is 37k

  Yearly Monthly
Sipend 37000 3083.333333
Housing  14400 1200
Food 3600 300
Taxes 2400 200
Transportation 1680 140
Misc 4200 350
  10720 893.3333333

 

I know using can vary 1100-1400 (with utilities) depending on where. ALso, I don't really know about taxes so I put a random number. 

Thoughts? Corrections? Other expenses I missed?

 

 

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Do you already have an apartment at $1200?

That seems pretty low unless you'll be living in Oakland. Food at $300/month is very doable if you cook for yourself most of the time.

Transportation cost will be higher if you're living in Oakland and you take the BART into the city.

Taxes will also be higher (CA has a very high state income tax, that number looks little low even for federal only).

Does your program pay for health insurance? If not you'll need to include that as well.

Will you own a car? If so, you need to include the absurd registration fees and car insurance for the area. And a car payment if it's not paid off already.

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