How My Family Survived the Silicon Valley Rental Market


It’s been nearly 6 weeks since my family and I first arrived in the San Francisco Bay area with the goal of finding a long term home so that we may relocate from Oklahoma to the Bay. Trying to find a home in the most expensive and most competitive market in the world, has been beyond challenging.

My eyes were wide open to the marketplace having taken several trips here in the past 8 months looking at homes for sale and monitoring the market and areas we wanted to call home. Our family is in the unique position that we can live anywhere because we work for ourselves. This worked for us as well as against us but mostly talking to property management companies and homeowners who were renting. The real challenge was that we have pets and not just one. We have three.

Aside from having pets, our budget is not modest and we were looking for homes at least 1,850 square feet with a yard in the range of $3,500-7,000 a month. The area also needed to be family friendly and most importantly a yard and in a good school district for Ryleigh. Having also looked at houses to purchase earlier in the year, we knew that renting was what we wanted to do at least for the short term because of the high cost of home ownership and property. While we were open to different locations, our target area was Palo Alto, Mountain View, Menlo Park and Los Altos areas to rent a home.

We viewed literally thousands of properties online. Rental home listings posted on Craigslist that met our criteria were automatically texted to my phone. We downloaded a number of mobile apps that provided push notifications once a house was listed that met our criteria. Sometimes they were the exact same house as listed on Craigslist. Other times they were not.

Early on during our visit, we submitted a rental application for a beautiful home in Palo Alto. During the tour I listened to a family offer to pay cash immediately to purchase the home. It was then I really realized that renting a home here was going to be even more challenging. We submitted our application for this home and ultimately lost out due to a family who agreed to sign a 3 year lease for the home. You read correctly a 3 year lease. I realized that having an application, connecting with the home owner, and having compelling letter along with a copy of our credit information was not going to be enough so I set up this blog, particularly this blog post as a way to communicate to the home owners about our family of three.

During our 6 week search for a home I called 26 rental listings and emailed 27 properties.We drove by 25 properties all over Northern California from Berkley to South San Jose and everywhere in between.We toured 21 homes and placed applications for 5.

I was surprised and frustrated by the treatment and lack of follow up  of many landlords and property rental companies. Less than 25% of our phone calls and emails were answered or responded to making the house rental hunting process beyond frustrating. Add in the fact that many of the rentals we saw were not as described upon visiting the home, this made the rental process challenging.

Last week just days before we were scheduled to return to Oklahoma, we ran into the unusual situation where our application was accepted for two homes on the same day. The tables had turned and Greg and I were put into a scenario where we could choose between two homes we liked with one ultimately becoming our new Northern California home.

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