The UCSF Housing Office maintains an online housing resources website (http://campuslifeservices.ucsf.edu/housing/default1.php) that lists privately owned off-campus rentals including apartments, flats, houses, rooms, and shared arrangements. Listings are available on-line at the Housing Options web site. The Housing Office does not investigate, endorse, or guarantee the accommodations listed. Students, especially those with families, are encouraged to allow ample time for locating suitable housing prior to the start of the quarter.
Other housing options include roommate referral services, rental listing agencies, word-of-mouth, walking through neighborhoods looking for "RENT" signs, looking at bulletin boards, real estate offices/property managers, and reading the paper.
Websites: Craig's list is an indispensable site for finding listings or used furniture, cars, equipment, etc. http://www.craigslist.org
Newspapers: The San Francisco Chronicle or Examiner has some listings that you might also want to consider. You can also access their housing listings on their website. http://www.sfgate.com
Real estate agencies and property managers perform similar services. Find them in the Yellow Pages.
THE SUNSET: Some of the cheaper rents around, lots of pastel stucco, somewhat foggy, and replete with good restaurants. Good transportation on the N-Judah, and generally within walking/biking distance from campus. A big plus: near the beach and the park.
COLE VALLEY: Beautiful homes, close to UCSF, a little sunnier. Near the Haight.
THE RICHMOND: Fairly inexpensive, mostly (but not totally) lacking in architectural splendor, some fog, ethnically diverse, and amazing Asian restaurants. Well-served by the 38-Geary bus, and a short bike ride to UCSF (through the park -- generally safe). Near Baker Beach and the Presidio.
THE HAIGHT: Forget the '60s. Today, the Haight is filled with trendy boutiques and tourists by day (the Gap is on the corner of Haight and Ashbury); homeless folks and their dogs reliving the Summer of Love by night. Well-served by the N-Judah and various bus lines.
FILLMORE/WESTERN ADDITION/NORTH OF PANHANDLE: Affordable housing is available here, but isn't always easy to find. Served by the 43-Masonic bus line. Looks a lot like the Haight, but with fewer shops and crowds
NOE VALLEY: Pretty Victorians, sunny, lots of families and young couples.
CASTRO: Super-lively neighborhood, traditionally the gay district of SF. Attractive homes.
THE MISSION: Sunny! A largely Latino neighborhood which is still cheap, and wonderful food. Close to SFGH and Mission Bay.