Tip #1- Know Your Credit Score
Don't show up with a knife to a gun fight. This rental market is competitive enough so a credit score of 680 or better is a must. You don't want to arrive unable to compete.
Tip #2-Know Your Neighborhood
San Francisco neighborhoods are as unique as the people who inhabit them. If you have time before moving, I highly recommend walking various neighborhoods during all hours of the day to see what feels right. I regularly take clients around on foot in between appointments to get a feel for things.
Tip #3- Have a Pet Plan
Keep in mind that having pet in San Francisco knocks out at least 80% of your inventory. Your Landlords want to know "Fluffy" won't wreck the place. I highly recommend showing up with a pet biography so the owners feel more comfortable.
Tip #4- Don't Look Until You're Ready To Sign
A lot of folks think they should arrive a month in advance to find an apartment. Unless you're ready to sign, it's way too soon. Don't waste your money. Arrive ready to dive in.
Tip #5 Act Fast
Gone are the days you had 3 days to think about signing a lease. You want to show up prepared and expecting to sign quickly. Most Landlords have the pen ready and are awaiting the next signature.
If you get overwhelmed, feel free to get in touch with any questions!