You have nowhere to live, you’re on a time crunch and you just need an apartment. Right now, renting out a shared room with someone for $750/month sounds tempting, but don’t do it.
I was in the exact same position a few weeks ago; I just moved here from Toronto, I was staying with family and I needed an apartment asap. Don’t get me wrong, being able to stay with family rent-free is an incredible advantage that not a lot of people have. In my position, I’m in a new country, I’m starting a new career and want to focus on me. The first step is actually having my own space.
It was a gong show for the first week or so. I was constantly on Craigslist, Trulia, Padmapper, etc. and I couldn’t find my dream apartment. Why? Because everything in LA is so damn expensive. Toronto can be crazy expensive too, especially if you want to live anywhere central, I mean, I think that’s the general rule. But LA is worse. Back home my boyfriend and I were living in a 1 bedroom apartment (very spacious I must add) with ALL utilities included for $1300/month.
Okay, so now being on my own I thought $950 for a studio in LA was reasonable. HAHAHAH. $950 for a livable studio is RARE. I’ve seen it. I’ve come across a pretty nice studio in Hollywood for $1010 with utilities included – except it was like 200sqft and didn’t have an oven. If you’re a college student and plan on having no visitors then grab that right now. That’s probably one of the best deals you’ll find. I was really tempted to get that studio, but then I would be settling. I have a car and there was no parking included (and I cannot stress about street parking. Can’t do it), there wasn’t a stove which meant I would be eating out all. the. time. and realistically, I know friends and family are going to visit me often here and I can’t have them crashing with me if I live in a studio.
The goal was the live in West Hollywood, Studio City, Silverlake or Glendale. I have different reasons for wanting to move in each area and each of those areas has their pros and cons. WeHo is way to expensive for establishing myself with no solid income. Maybe in the next year or 2 when my lease is up at my current place I’ll look there again, but it’s just way too expensive. I hear Silverlake is super “hipster” and is be great for me, but I just couldn’t find something affordable that met all of my needs there, same with Studio City. Had I had another week to keep looking for apartments I probably would’ve tried to go for Los Feliz next. Hollywood would have sounded cool, but it’s hella ghetto over there.
Another rule of thumb before getting an apartment in the LA county is to scope the area out at night. It could look ideal in the day time but the minute the sun goes down, some areas get ugly. And you don’t want to have to rush from your car to your door late at night.
I don’t know how it happened but I was able to find my current apartment on Trulia after looking at about 12 different places. My budget for a studio went up to $1500 (so ridiculous), and my place was listed for $1200 in Glendale. I get to the address and saw it was gated (that’s a plus). I walk in and INSTANTLY fall in love. This place isn’t a studio, but it;s a 1 bedroom! Floors are newly renovated, there’s a bar, huge bathroom, walk-in closet, utilities aren’t included BUT it has 2 parking spaces which make up for it.
If you move to the US from another country you know that you need to get some sort of ID for your state and a social security #, as well as previous pay stubs or a credit check. I HAVE NONE OF THAT. I beg the landlord and say I’m good for it, and she took my word. The next day she calls and says it’s mine but they just need to increase the security deposit. Thankfully my parents helped me with that and I moved in a few days later.
I’m not saying that this is the best deal you can get; I’m a little far from anything central, but I love Glendale. It has everything you need on top of being very safe. I probably could’ve found an equivalent in WeHo if I waited it out, but we shouldn’t dwell on the past. If you’re struggling to find a place in LA, hang in there. You’ll find it. You might have to increase your budget a little bit, but you’ll find it.