So you’ve decided to make your way in the big city, right out of college. Congratulations! Los Angeles is certainly one of the most exciting and desirable cities to live in, in the world! As such, finding a safe, comfortable, and affordable place to live in LA can present unique challenges (beware the street cleaning signs!). Whether you attended school in southern California or plan on moving from across the country (or the world!) here are a few tips to help you on your way.
In my next couple of posts, I will cover the main regions (and few outlying regions) of Los Angeles where people typically live, and some stats on what living in each of those areas might look like. First off, let’s look at living in LA and finding housing, in general.
A great way to look for housing is to use apps or websites that cross reference maps with the housing posts. Padmapper.com is a good one that pulls from Westside Rentals (a paid site) and craigslist. Determining which parts of LA are safe and affordable can be an overwhelming task! Take advantage of the resources available to you! Ask friend (and recent grads you know) who are living in LA, and follow up with the regional explanations in the upcoming blog posts.
Things to remember when you are looking at apartments or homes for rent:
1. Bigger apartment complexes with amenities (like a pool or gym on site) and gated parking will be MUCH more expensive than smaller units without the added frills. Probably between 20% and 40% more expensive, for the same amount of space! Many of the larger complexes will advertise on multiple housing/rental sites, while many of the smaller buildings do not. In order to score one of these cheaper (and usually older and larger) apartments, drive around the areas you’re interested in living in and look for “for rent” signs, or buildings that have numbers of the manager’s office posted outside. Often, if it’s a management company - that company will manage and be aware of openings in multiple buildings in that area.
2. Be prepared to pay 1st month’s rent, last month’s rent and a deposit that is equal to, or more than one month’s rent, when you sign your lease. Yes, this is a lot of money! If you don’t have a job yet, or other source of definite income, you may need a parent or guardian to co-sign for at least one of the tenants listed on the lease.
3. Ask if parking is included (and if you have roommates, make sure you know how many parking spots you get!). Know the neighborhood. If parking looks terrible, especially in the Hollywood area, know that getting an apartment without a designated parking spot may mean lots of late night driving around, and/or parking tickets/car towing.
4. Is your property rent controlled? Ask the building manager if the building is rent controlled, and what the landlord’s policy has been as far as increasing tenant rents in the past. Some places are good at keeping rents standard until the current tenant moves out, whereas other owners may raise your rent the maximum amount each year. This is something be aware of, as you may have to move if your rent is raised significantly over a period of several years.
5. Find out if utilities are included. Usually water and trash are included, gas and electrical are not. Although, in some studio apartment or guest houses (a rare find!) gas and/or electrical may be included. Also, some of the luxury buildings (ie: expensive!) will include internet and/or cable TV.
Many times, new transplants will try and find housing in an area that is near a company they hope to land a job with. Keep in mind that it’s very possible that you may end up changing jobs at least once in the first 5 years after graduation. So try not to base where you live, on your current or future job location. Chances are, your life will involve commuting between 20 minutes and an hour, each way. Like where you live, and try prioritizing that instead.
Stay tuned for more tips on how and where to live in LA. Next up: the Valley!
(originally published via the seavercareers blog, April 3, 2015)