Where else but sunny Southern California can you have easy access to beaches, deserts, mountains, and a hectic, urban jungle all-in-one? You’ll be hard-pressed for an answer. And, if you plan a move to the City of Angels – Los Angeles – you may be hard pressed to find something else – an apartment you can afford. Needless to say, you’ll also need renters insurance. But, first – you’ll have to find that elusive apartment that meets your needs and budget.
On the plus side, the sunshine and palm trees are plentiful virtually everywhere in Southern California – but, then – so is the traffic, which can be horrendous. Still, if the allure of nearly perfect year-round weather and distinct neighborhoods appeals to you – just remember – apartment hunting in Los Angeles is no easy task.
You may have your sights set on a place by the beach or in the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills. But, at the risk of breaking your bubble, you may have to go where your budget leads you and where you may be just as happy. That’s why, below are 4 tips to help in your search for an apartment in L.A.
1. Start with your budget.
There’s a good reason why this is #1. Depending on your income, it’s the first thing that will dictate where you look or can look for an apartment. While you may have your heart set on beautiful Santa Monica or Venice and their sandy beaches, you may have to go a few miles inland to nearby Mar Vista or Sherman Oaks to find a more affordable apartment.
Keep in mind – your rent should be no more than roughly 30 percent of your monthly net income, which can be challenging in an expensive city like Los Angeles. If you’re open to the idea of a roommate, splitting rent could allow you to afford a more costly apartment.
But, don’t forget to factor other bills into the mix, such as student loans, cellphone bills, Internet, cable, utilities and car payments. That number should be about 50 percent of your monthly take-home pay. If it’s more, you’ll be tight or even unable to meet the rent in case of an emergency.
Some rents include utilities, heat and water, while others don’t. Ask the landlord or leasing office so you know in advance. This makes a big difference in how much you’re paying out of pocket each month. Also, take the security deposit into account as part of your initial payment.
2. Factor in your commute.
Consider your commute – because you’ll be making it daily and it could affect your health and pocket book in the long run. Besides spending a good-sized portion of every day in your car, the additional cost of gas and maintenance could outweigh your rent savings. Unlike most major U.S. cities, Los Angeles is more of a sprawling metropolis of loosely connected cities that can be far apart. You need to in factor in the famous L.A. traffic and limited public transportation, which means “you can’t get there from here” or can make going even a few miles on a congested freeway take you an hour or more.
While choosing to live in Sherman Oaks may have saved you money on rent, you could soon regret your choice if you work in El Segundo or Torrance. For your car’s health as well and your sanity, make sure you weigh your commute to and from work when apartment hunting. Google Maps is a great resource for estimating the time it would take you to get from point A to point B, but beware of the 101, 10 and 405 freeways at rush hour.
3. Check neighborhood crime rates.
Once you’ve got a few ideas in which neighborhoods you’d like to start apartment hunting, you should check one more important thing: crime rates in regards to your safety. These are easy enough to come by, and they’ll give you’re a pretty good picture about a neighborhood, including violent crimes and auto thefts. Some areas may be more affordable – but, that’s because they’re also more dangerous.
Affluent neighborhoods generally have lower crime rates than their less affluent counterparts but their rents are also much higher. Regardless, put your safety above saving a few bucks a month. Again, having a roommate could allow you to meet your budget and reside in a safer environment.
4. Make an apartment checklist.
Finally, you’re going to need a checklist before you start your search for a new apartment in Los Angeles. Make safety and budget a priority. After that, if a garage to protect your ride or as a place to store your stuff is important to you, write it down. The same goes for a dishwasher, microwave, central air/heating or more than one bathroom or parking spot if you intend to bring in a roommate.
Knowing what you want from the beginning will move the process forward a lot quicker – and will keep you from longing for something you need or want that you don’t have.
No matter where your new apartment choice happens to be – you’ll need renters insurance to protect your belongings. The best way to do that is by getting a free renters insurance quote today.
Would you sacrifice your safety to save on your monthly rent? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.