The City by the Bay is one of the most sought-after and visited cities in the United States. It's not always sunny here, but its cool culture, relaxed vibe, moderate weather and close proximity to various other awesome places make it an ideal place to live. If you're in the market for a San Francisco rental, here's what you need to know to snag the perfect pad in this world-class city:

The basics
San Francisco is the second priciest market in the country. The average rent here across all housing types is more than $2,100 per month. A one-bedroom apartments rents for an average of $2,500 per month while a two-bedroom rents for $3,200 on average. The vacancy rate is pretty low – about 3 percent – so when you find an apartment you like, especially if it's an excellent deal, you have to snag it right away or you'll miss out. It's a good idea to get a moving permit in San Fran as the streets are pretty narrow and always busy.

The outlying suburbs in North Bay, the peninsula and East Bay are much cheaper. But if you're living in the city proper, a car isn't necessary. If you're not familiar driving or parking on steep inclines, you might want to forego the car and just take the BART train system and buses, as public transit here is decent.

The neighborhoods
San Francisco's neighborhoods are unique and bustling. Here are some of the top spots for young people:

  • The Mission: This district is artsy and fun, and is occupied primarily by hipsters and a vibrant Hispanic community. It used to be fairly inexpensive but is now up-and-coming.
  • The Castro/Dolores: The Castro is one of the most gay-friendly neighborhoods in the country. It's a lively, fun area, and along with Dolores, is a bit cheaper than other city-center neighborhoods.
  • Nob Hill/Chinatown: Nob Hill is a wealthier area with a lot of green spaces, and nearby Chinatown offers plenty of culture, cheaper prices and access to parks.
  • North Beach: This is the Italian part of the city on the harbor, just north of tourist-laden Fisherman's Wharf. Live here if you want to be near the water and live amongst authentic Italian cuisine galore.
  • SoMA: South of Market (SoMa) is just northeast of The Mission. You can find plenty of lofts, condos and art galleries here. It's another up-and-coming area that's close to all of the action. Rental prices here are widely variable.

Insider tips

  • Layer up! San Francisco weather is notoriously fickle – it could be 90 degrees outside, but when the fog rolls in, you'll need a sweatshirt. Nights can get pretty cold here as well. Keep a sweatshirt or jacket with you at all times, just to be safe!
  • Bikes are really popular here, so if you're wary about driving, SF is a very biker-friendly city.
  • Don't spend too much time in the grocery store. Why? Year-round farmers markets make it easy to support local agriculture.
  • The only place to get a burrito is The Mission. Just go – your tastebuds will thank you.