LIVING IN SAN FRANCISCO ON A STUDENT BUDGET
Tips For An International Student
Room and Board
Share your room or apartment with others! Continuously look for a cheaper
place to stay. The most comprehensive list of housing in the Bay Area can
be found at http://www.craigslist.org
Eat at home. If you eat out, Chinese & Mexican fast food is cheapest.
Some restaurants accept coupons. You can find coupons in the free local
papers, such as “The Guardian” and the “SF Weekly.” You can also buy a
coupon book from http://www.entertainment.com, a great investment for
someone with a passion for eating out.
Buy your groceries each week at one of the farmer’s markets in San Francisco.
The Mission District also has lots of fruit and veggie stands, but plan on using
the produce quickly. Also check out Trader Joes which carries international
cuisine at reasonable prices. Ranch 99 in Daly City,
http://www.99ranch.com/, is a great Asian grocery store chain with lots of
sales and variety.
Check our different grocery stores and supermarkets to see which ones have
the lowest prices. Join that store’s card club for extra savings. The cards
are free and you need them to get the sale price. Store brand and generic
products are cheaper than name brand.
Wait for special offers. Use coupons available from stores, manufactures,
junk mail, the Tuesday Independent and the Wednesday and Sunday San
Francisco Chronicle newspapers. If discounted items are out of stock, ask for
a “rain check.” Next time you go back, bring your raincheck and you’ll get
the previous week’s sale item.
Utilities & Banking
Try not to overuse your apartment’s heater if you want to save on electricity or
gas. Turn the heater off when you leave the apartment and at night. Wear
sweaters and socks in the apartment for extra warmth. Ask about
low-income discounts, such as CARE with PG&E.
Shop around for a long distance phone carrier that offers really low rates to the
places that you call the most. Choose a cell phone or a home phone, but not
both. Shop around, compare prices and be sure to ask for any discounts that
your phone and utility company may be offering. The phone company also
offers a low-income discount.
If you have a computer and Internet access, find out more about Internet phone
technology (free long distance phone calls made on your computer).
Get a FREE SFSU Internet account. You’ll not only have FREE access to
the Internet and free e-mail, but you’ll also be able to download lots of free
software! You can hook up to free wireless internet access anywhere on
SFSU campus if you have a wireless card. For dial up, join NetZero for
Banks constantly offer promotions such as free checking, free checks, special
accounts for students, etc. Try to avoid/waive the bank’s costly service fees.
Once you choose a bank, use only that bank’s ATMs to avoid extra charges.
Live on or near campus. Try to carpool, vanpool, take the bus, ride your bike
or walk to school.
Buy the monthly MUNI Fast pass at the Information Desk in the Student
Center. It allows you unlimited rides on any of the MUNI buses, streetcars,
cable cars (and even on BART within SF).
Before exiting most BART stations, get free/discount transfer tickets on local
Take the free SFSU shuttle bus to the Daly City BART Station or to the
Golden Gate Bridge
Bikes can be taken onto BART and Caltrain as well as on many MUNI, Sam
Trans, AC Transit, and Golden Gate Transit bus lines. Check for restrictions
on the website. During rush hour (7am to 9am and 5pm to 7pm), bikes are
To Buy New Or Used
If possible, buy used (the price is cheaper, negotiable and non-taxable)
furniture, home appliances, and transportation vehicles. Look at classified
ads in the newspaper, visit garage and moving sales, flea markets, etc. A
great place to find used stuff is http://www.craigslist.org
Subscribe to OIPNEWS and watch for student moving sales (great way to buy
furniture, household items, etc.).
If possible, join Costco and shop in bulk. Share with friends/roommates.
Also, shop at Office Depot, Home Depot and other discounters. Also, there
are many stores selling inexpensive household items, furniture, clothing in
Chinatown, the Mission District, and along Clement Street.
Admission to SF Zoo, the Exploratorium, the Academy of Sciences, Asian Art
Museum, Museum of Modern Art, etc. are free one day each month. Others
may be free of charge. Some museums also offer discount tickets and
extended hours during certain evenings.
Attend the many free concerts each semester in Knuth Hall and McKenna
Theater at SFSU. Visit their box office for details.
Cinemas often have discounts for movies that start before 6pm or for the first
show of the day (matinee). Some theaters show discounted movies all the
time (Serramonte 6 Theaters, Balboa Theater). All AMC theaters (Kabuki
and 1000 Van Ness) offer student discounts. See first-run movies each
semester on campus at a substantial discount.
You can transfer up to 70 units to SFSU and take up to 24 units through
SFSU’s College of Extended Learning. Community College classes and
CEL classes are less expensive than non-resident tuition at SFSU. However,
please see an international student advisor at OIP to learn about immigration
Buy or sell used textbooks though the SFSU Bookstore. Shop around for
textbooks on-line but be aware of added handling and shipping charges.
Check for the availability of textbooks at the local library. As a resident of
San Francisco or Daly City, you can get a free library card. Watch for
announcements on OIPNEWS at the beginning of each semester from students
selling their books.
Some of the best deals can be found in the comfort of your own home – by
looking online, that is. Check out these websites for bargains on new and used
http://www.craigslist.org Craigslist started as a message board in San Francisco,
and now it is THE bay area website to find used items, new items, places to live,
things to do, people to meet, and even political forums in which to rant. Everything
is posted by people in the Bay Area and you can even break down the search by
neighborhood, price, and keyword.
http://www.overstock.com This website features lots of things for sale. Some are
slightly damaged and some are just overstocked. A good place for electronics.
Watch out for costly shipping charges.
http://www.half.com A great place to find books and music, plus lots of other
things. Usually, you work directly with the seller to arrange shipments. Remember:
when shipping books, always request media mail. It may take longer, but its very
SHOPPING IN SAN FRANCISCO
Burlington Coat Factory (415) 896-6721
899 Howard Street
99 Southgate Avenue (Daly City) (650) 997-0733
901 Market Street (at 5th Street)
Men's Wearhouse (415) 788-6363
27 Drumm Street
Nordstrom Rack (650) 755 1444
81 Colma Boulevard
Colma, CA 94014
Outerwear Co. (415) 777-4220
66 Third Street #114
Red Dot Outlet (415) 979-1597
508 4th Street
American Rag (415) 474-5214
1305 Van Ness Avenue
Buffalo Exchange (415) 431 7733
1555 Haight Street
1800 Polk Street (415) 346-5726
Crossroads Trading Co.
1901 Fillmore Street (415) 775-8885
1519 Haight Street (415) 355-0555
555 Irving Street (415)-681-0100
2123 Market Street (415)-552-8740
Discovery Shop (415) 929-8053
1827 Union Street
Worn Our West (415) 431-6020
582 Castro Street
Bed & Bath Superstore (415) 252-0490
555 9th Street
Linen Factory Outlet (650) 756-0200
Westlake Shopping Center
Stroud's (415) 979-0460
731 Market Street
Target Stores (415) 992-8433
5001 Junipero Serra Blvd.
Best Buy (415) 626-9682
1717 Harrison Street
Circuit City (415) 441-1300
1200 Van Ness Ave
Stonestown Galleria (415) 759.2626
3251 20th Street
International Electronics Crt. (415) 626-6382
1163 Mission Street
SAN FRANCISCO THRIFT STORES
Attic Shop (St. Francis Memorial Hospital Auxiliary)
Where treasure hunters go for rare collectibles and unique objects. All proceeds
benefit the cancer research center at St. Francis. In 30 years, the Attic Shop has
raised $2.5 million for the hospital. Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00am-4:30pm, 1040
Hyde Street. (415) 474-3498.
Cathedral School Shop
Like an old-fashioned department store, the Cathedral School Shop has a variety of
everything: toys, games, designer woman's clothing, paperback books, and
appliances. Benefits the Cathedral Boy's School. Senior citizen specials on
Wednesdays. Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm, 1036 Hyde. (415) 776-6630.
Community Hospice Thrift Store
Hospice Thrift runs a lending library, donates all excess clothing to the Larkin Street
Youth Center, and offers the homeless basic necessities free of charge. You'll find
lots of modern furnishings, housewares, appliances, and clothing. Monday-Saturday,
9:00am-5:00pm, 1173 Sutter. (415) 673-3030.
Community Thrift Store
It has more books than most bookstores, records, clothing, collectibles, furniture,
small appliances, cookware, toys, and games. Proceeds benefit more than 215
organizations, ranging from Women against Rape to the SPCA. Open daily from
10:00am-6:45pm, 625 Valencia. (415) 861-4910.
It's almost certain that there is a Goodwill Store in your neighborhood with lots of
jeans, dishware, pots and pans, cleaning supplies, lotions, towels, pantyhose, and golf
clubs. Proceeds pay to reintroduce unemployed people into the workforce as
Goodwill employees. Locations include: 820 Clement (415) 668-3635; 3801 Third
Street (415) 641-4470; 1700 Fillmore (415) 441-2159; 241 10th Street (415)
252-1677; 2279 Mission Street (415) 826-5759; 822 Geary (415) 922-0405; 1700
Haight (415) 387-1192.
Monday-Saturday, 10:00am-8:00pm; Sunday from 11:00am-6:00pm. To donate call:
Look here for classy posters and oil paintings, designer men's and women's clothing,
fine collectibles, and jewelry. The women's clothing is quite flamboyant and the
shop carries the city's best thrift selection of quality men's suits and ties. Prices tend
to be high. Benefits the San Francisco Symphony. Every Tuesday, senior citizens
get a 20% discount. Monday-Saturday, 10:00am-4:00pm; Friday from
10:00am-6:00pm, 2223 Fillmore. (415) 563-3123.
Seconds To Go
This thrift store is a great place to find stuff for the kids or clothes for work. It also
has a large magazine collection, kid's games, clothes, and men's suits. Benefits the
scholarship fund at the School for the Sacred Heart. Monday from 10:00am-4:00pm;
Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00am-5:00pm, 2252 Fillmore. (415) 563-7806.
St. Vincent de Paul
If you are looking for furniture, this is the place to go; it has a warehouse full of
furnishings, plus books and clothes. Proceeds benefit houses that help battered
women, homeless people, and those in recovery. Monday-Friday 9:30am-4:30pm;
Saturday from 9:00am-4:00pm, 1745 Folsom. (415) 626-1515.