Your Guide to Renting an Apartment in LA

You’ve decided to ditch the snow and ice and relocate to sunny California. You’re going to love life in the Golden State, but first, you need the right pad. How do you find the perfect apartment in this region?

Apartment hunting in LA is different from doing so elsewhere. The city itself has no centralized hub, but consists of a series of interconnected smaller towns. From finding the ideal locale to inspecting the property for damage, here’s all you need to know to find your home sweet home in the sun.

1. Determine a Realistic Price Range

The first step in your search is determining your budget. This process narrows your neighborhood search. If you’re on a limited income, areas like Compton and Huntington Park may suit you best. If you have a higher income stream, areas like Arcadia and Rancho Paloma offer unparalleled luxury.

Remember, because LA consists of a network of interlocking cities, neighborhoods in each region vary vastly. Once you’ve narrowed your range, you can begin driving through and identifying spots that look appealing.

2. Factor in Your Commute Time

California living offers a ton of advantages — but easy commutes don’t fall among them. The region doesn’t top the list in terms of congestion, but that hardly comforts you when your engine idles for 30 minutes on the freeway. Plus, think of all those carbon emissions!

It’s best if you have a job before you search for an apartment. This way, you can time how long it takes to get to the office on a good day — and an unpleasant one. It’s better to select a less-than-perfect apartment that doesn’t come complete with a two-hour commute — each way.

3. Perform a Real-Life Property Inspection

When you search for an apartment, make a list of things you need and things you want. You might require handicapped accessibility if you’re in a wheelchair, for example. However, do you need stainless steel appliances and a refrigerator with a built-in icemaker? Not if other features prove more desirable. Often the charm of a place with good lighting and views can be more desireable than a fancy building where every unit looks the same.

That said, you do want to inspect the property for damage before applying. For example, if you notice mineral buildup or scum around water features, this presence may indicate hard water that will leave you itchy each time you shower! Use your nose, too. Musty odors can mask mold, which can pose severe health risks.

4. File Your Application Promptly

The good news? Population growth in California has slowed down significantly in recent decades. The bad? The state is still the most populous in the nation — which means a ton of competition for the best pads. Once you locate the ideal apartment, fill out the application right away — after the inspection, if possible. This action won’t ensure you get to the top of the applicant list, but it helps, especially if your new landlord wants to find an occupant quickly. Often talking to the landlord or realtor in charge may help you gain a leg up on the pile of interested applicants.

5. Talk Over Details with Your Landlord

Do you have three pet cats? Even though California law prohibits discrimination based on emotional support or service animals, you can smooth relationships with your new landlord by discussing this detail beforehand.

Maybe you want to hang blackout curtains or paint the living room. Both are possible — but it leads to fewer headaches if you ask for permission instead of begging for forgiveness later. After all, you want your landlord to play ball with you if hardship makes you come up short on future rent. Extend them the same courtesy of communication — you are occupying their property, after all.

6. Get Everything in Writing

Even if you meet the perfect landlord — hey, LA is rife with chill peeps — protect your new home by getting all material terms and conditions in writing. This way, if contentions later arise between you and the property owner, you have documentation to show the court.

As long as you adhere to the conditions of your lease, you have rights. These include the right to quiet enjoyment of the property. You don’t have to study real estate law, but cover yourself with the basics.

7. Select the Right Movers

Finally, a quick online search of moving company reviews reveals horror stories scarier than anything Stephen King ever wrote. Some nefarious companies hold customer goods hostage until they pay outrageous fees. Others disappear off the face of the earth — with their clients’ worldly belongings or show up damaged. Check to make sure your mover holds a license through the U.S. Department of Transportation before booking.

If you don’t have the money for a licensed company, consider moving your things yourself. Yes, it’s a pain, and yes, you’ll probably end up with a backache. However, it’s better than losing a lifetime’s worth of belongings. If you can entice friends to help, make sure to repay the favor when it’s their turn to pack boxes. Pizza, and maybe a few brewskis, never hurt, either!

Welcome Home to Your New LA Apartment

Now that you found the perfect place, it’s time to nest in and to enjoy your new home. Welcome to the sunny West Coast!

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