Personal Journey | The New Gold Rush

“It was a saga, how many times I told people I found a great place and 30 minutes later I told them it was scam.”


With the emergence of large tech companies blossoming in the Bay Area, it is becoming a popular destination for college internships. Facebook, Google, Apple, and other industry giants hire thousands of students for weeks at a time to work on some of their most difficult challenges. The city of San Francisco itself has its own difficult challenge: reasonable housing accommodations.

This week, I sat down with my friend, Bryan, to ask about his housing journey out west. After a lengthy internship recruiting season, Bryan accepted his offer with Google. He had a choice between three cities: New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.


“I came to business school to intern in tech. Because my company sponsored me to go back to school, it definitely gave me some additional freedom in my search, especially with a management consulting background. I decided on moving to ‘The Bay’ because I wanted the full experience of living and working on the west coast.”

He smiles and admits that his girlfriend did have some influence in the process. Her work is location agnostic so they decided together to use the summer to evaluate places to move after he finished school. After living mostly on the East Coast and the Midwest, they wanted to see if the West Coast really is the Best Coast. 

Once he committed on location, Bryan began parsing out a budget. Google sent over their shuttle service maps and some preliminary housing information, including a sizeable stipend in place of corporate housing. However, after taxes, his dream San Francisco rental was not an option. He admits that there really wasn’t much additional information. I know, Bryan, it is why we are writing this blog...power to the people!


He mentioned that finding places that met his needs were usually twice or three times what he originally budgeted. If they were affordable, they were usually too good to be true.

“I wanted a two bed/two bath, figuring I would need a roommate. I got really lucky that a classmate would be in the same area and he was very flexible. We looked a lot near San Fran, but soon found that we would have to sacrifice something. The choice really came down to either sticking to our budget and living further away from downtown, or paying more. And when I say paying more, we were also getting less.”

It ended up taking Bryan almost two months to find a place. RenTrust’s research shows that this is a normal amount of time searching for housing in big cities. What makes it so challenging?

“You can’t rely on the normal resources. I was choosing between sites full of fake postings that were scams or paying so much for a real place you felt like it was a scam.”

Bryan and his roommate ultimately found a decent place in Oakland along the Google transit route. After a summer of 90 minute commutes (with WiFi!), I asked him for his advice to others about to go through the same process. He said there was a direct correlation between commute time and price so set your budget priority around which is more important. Also, if you are choosing between places, pick a place with a responsive landlord because it shows they take better care of their properties. He must have said a dozen times ‘be patient’ and ‘be careful.’


“Make sure to look closely. There would be posts with stock photos or photos stolen from other posts that were obvious scams. Sometimes you would call and ask for photos of the location and it would be a different place, typical bait-and-switch. The worse would be fake management companies with fake websites. You would go to purchase and it would lead you to a different web page. They even had profiles of employees and some looked very legitimate.”

We chatted for awhile on the many different scams that exist on some of these platforms. He admits that he was probably lucky to have come out unscathed.

“There is no easy way to tell if something is a scam. Some key things I looked for would be that if they wouldn’t get on the phone or send information I asked for like the address or additional photos, it was a scam. If they got on the phone, but had a poor connection or misleading phone number, I would usually move on. I would check the neighborhood prices and see if this was ‘too good to be true’ or price gouging. If they had a website, I would search their ‘founder’ on Google or the company name and ‘scam’ to see if it anything would come up. I even paid a few times to see if the phone number or email account belonged to a real person.”

Before I wrapped up with Bryan, I asked him to summarize his housing journey. He laughs at the idea of putting essentially this entire blog into one sentence, but says he will try.

“It was a saga, how many times I told people I found a great place and 30 minutes later I told them it was scam.”


We are a team of students dedicated to helping others pursue their goals by simplifying the housing process. At RenTrust we make posting, finding, and enjoying places like San Francisco easier.

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