in Data Journalism

When is the Best Time to Look for Apartments on Craigslist?

A while ago I was looking for an apartment in San Francisco. There are a lot of problems with finding housing in San Francisco, mostly stemming from the fierce competition. I was checking Craigslist every single day. It still took me (and my girlfriend) a few months to find a place — and we had to sublet for three weeks in between. Thankfully we’re happily housed now but it was quite the journey. Others have talked about their search for SF housing, but I have a few tips myself:

1) While Craigslist continues to be the best resource for finding housing (it’s how I found my current apartment), there are quite a few Facebook groups that may also be useful. My experience has been of having weekly cycles, where I send out lots of emails, get a stream of responses, go visit 1-2 places per weekday evening, and then get a stream of rejections back. If you do check Craigslist, the best times to check are Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and then the following mornings, as the following graphic shows.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-2-42-45-pm

Data sourced from over 10,000 SF apartment Craigslist postings over the month of September

2) Be prepared to apply to an apartment on the spot. I’ve been burned a few times when I took a day or two to fully think about the location and price, but by the time I applied I was at the back of the line. It really helps to know exactly what you want, and know how to spot it. The good news is that even if you’re not sure of your wants and needs at the beginning of your search, you’ll learn as you visit more and more apartments.

3) Make sure you know where the laundry machines are. I once lived in an apartment where I forgot to ask if they had laundry in the building (they didn’t.) The result was that I spent an unanticipated few hours every few weeks having to clean my clothes. It’s not the end of the world, and unfortunately I doubt it could have changed my situation, but it’s still a very important amenity that some people overlook.