At the low end of the market if you do find a good deal on a place you think you can live in you need to make a decision the first time you see it and offer to put down a security deposit and preferably the first months rent in the form of a cashiers check immediately. This strategy will increase your chances but not guarantee that you will get the place. There is no taking time to consider it or coming back for a second look. My place was advertised on craigslist for 4 hours before the ad was taken down due to the overwhelming number of applicants. I just happened to do the right thing at the right time and was the second one to see the ad. The first backed out so it fell to me. If I had looked at that ad 5 minutes later I probably wouldn’t be living there now. It really is somewhat of a crap shoot so you just have to persevere and eventually you will find something. It took me 6 months of checking classifieds almost daily. Finally a warning; if you see something on craigslist or elsewhere online that sounds fantastic for the money but is only just believable and could only be true if you were to get really lucky then it is most likely a scam. For every 10 classified ads out there probably about 6 or 7 of them are scams. You will see an ad for something that sounds too good to be true but when you ask to go see it or apply for it they will tell you that that particular listing has gone but they have another one you may be interested in. If you bite they will ask for your personal information and then tell you that they are a rent to own listing service and ask for you to pay for a bogus list of eligible properties. You will then get spammed to death. Some will offer you a place sight unseen and tell you to send them the deposit money and they will send you the keys. Of course they will take your money and run if you are naive enough to do it which evidently some people are because the ads never stop coming. When I saw the ad for my place at first I skipped over it because it sounded and looked too good for the money. I figured it was probably fake but the optimist in me made me look at it again and apply. Good luck in finding somewhere. Hang in there and don’t give up it is still possible to find liveable but cheap in San Diego, I did!