Apartment Hunting Tips or How I Learned to Love Outsourcing

April 29, 2008 - Get free updates of new posts here

Some of you know that last year for fun I spent most of it sleeping on peoples’ couches. Why? Because my friends are awesome. So after returning from the great country of Argentina I figured it was time to get my own place and share the couch.

Problem? It takes a LOT of time to get a place in San Francisco. Plus, you have to do many interviews, resumes, credit checks, full body searches, etc… There are a lot of apartment hunting tips online, but they always take more of your time….

Solution? I found a person in Bulgaria using elance.com to help me on Craigslist. Here’s how to apartment hunt,

a) take my criteria for places I want to live in: Potrero Hill, Inner/Outer Richmond, Cole valley

b) contact them with a template I created below:

your place sounds chill. hopefully i am flexible enough as a male to qualify for your place.

about me:
– i run a small start-up based in san francisco making online games. we are funded & profitable, ie. i can pay rent:)
– i am originally from san jose, went to uc berkeley and have been working at start-ups since 2004 (intel, facebook, mint.com, kickflip (present). (Check out how I was fired from Facebook a $100M dollar lesson and why I quit Mint.)
– i like cooking, running, biking, chess, watching movies,wine and pretty much anything else fun.
– i will likely be working from home a fair amount of the time and/or not home at all as i do a fair amount of traveling.
– i am 26 and enjoy fun, nice people, no drama and good times.

– i do like to cook so i will be using the kitchen albeit if there is one:)

cheers, noah

c) I had him create a gmail account, email people with semi-customized emails and schedule appointments around the times I am free.

Result? I got a place! …but then this morning the guy backed out of it so I am on the hunt again. If anyone knows a place in Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay or San Francisco I am looking for a room around $800.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

13 responses to “Apartment Hunting Tips or How I Learned to Love Outsourcing

  1. Rob Schultz Reply

    This sounds like a chapter right out of Tim Ferriss’ “Four Hour Workweek” book. If you don’t mind me asking, how much did the outsourced apartment hunting set you back. I’ve got a few tasks that I just don’t want to do anymore!

  2. Rob Reply

    Cool…I’m even closer to being convinced to giving this a try. I’d also like to know about costs here (order of magnitude is cool with me).

  3. Noah Kagan Reply


    It definitely sounds like 4 hour work week. Tim needs to stop copying my ideas:)

    Cost wise.

    he can respond to about 1 place a minute and i wanted him to do 10 places per area. so about 40 minutes total and i pay him $4 / hour. plus some time in coordinating the appointments. total time = 2 hours = $8+($2 bonus)

  4. Derek Reply

    That is pretty damn smart. Looking for an apartment is definitely time consuming – especially all of the correspondences back and forth concerning gritty details. So did you pay a flat fee to help you get through the Craigslist ads? Or, was it based on the number of potentials?

  5. Noah Kagan Reply


    I can recommend my guy if you want him.


    I paid him hourly. But you can easily just pay him per email sent (if he was sending a lot) and a bonus based if you get a place.

  6. kadavy Reply

    Very impressive, Noah!

    So many ways this could backfire: but I wonder if your response rate would improve if you could put something truly specific in your e-mails (i.e. You have a Pug? I love Pugs!). Your assistant could put listings into a cue, you could write a short statement for each one, and then he could insert it into the template. Like this:

    “[specific statement] your place sounds chill. hopefully i am flexible enough as a male to qualify for your place….”

    If you’re anything like me, finding the right people to live with is the top priority when looking for a place, so grabbing potential candidates with specific, relatable details is key.

  7. Raina Gustafson Reply

    Hi Noah,

    I’m looking for a place in SF, too. I have a friend who is involved in real estate that I am meeting with on Monday. He is going to help me find a place, and knows the market well.

    I had been planning on trying to find a studio or one-bedroom, but am open to finding a two-bedroom with the right roommate. You seem like a pretty chill guy. I’m currently staying with a friend in San Mateo who I love to pieces. She works in San Mateo, and doesn’t want to relocate to SF.

    I went surfing for the first time in Half Moon Bay last week and enjoyed it, but I’m not considering it or Santa Cruz as places to move to.

    I also like to cook when I have time. I’m clean and organized, but not OCD about it. I work from home as a freelancer.

    Give me a shout if you’re interested in this possibility. I’d be happy to talk on the phone or meet up with you somewhere to discuss options further.