Oh LA, I love living here but finding an apartment can be a bit…daunting. I’ve moved a total of 9 or 10 times since living here so I would say I’ve learned a few things over these past years. If you’re planning on moving to LA or moving within LA already I wanted to share some tips on how to find the perfect spot!
1. DRIVING AROUND
Driving around is still the number 1 way to find a spot in LA. Many of the hidden gems are posted by older owners who don’t have time, patience, or know how to post online. Often times these are really nice apartments at a great price.
The first thing you should do is figure out what neighborhood you want to live in. Drive around the different ‘hoods if you’re not already familiar with LA, park your car and walk around and see if it would be a neighborhood you would want to live in. Whatever your criteria may be, ie grass, nearby grocery store, walkable etc.
Once you decided on your neighborhood, drive around and look for signs outside of apartment complexes. Many times people put out signs saying there is vacancy and a phone number to call. I would allot a certain amount of hours and really take time to drive around and call. Some people will be able to show you right then and there and some you may have to set up appointments with later. If you take photos of the signs and decide to call later, make sure you know what street it was on because sometimes the signs are put up by realtors who have other listings up around LA so they may not recall the exact property you’re talking about.
You may find your apartment right away but it may take looking at a bunch of different ones first. To eliminate looking at a million places, I would have a list of your must haves (accepts dogs, washer/dryer in unit, amenities etc) and ask some questions before even going to see a place so you don’t waste your time.
2. ONLINE WEBSITES
There are different websites where you can look for apartments in LA but honestly its more limited than you would realize. People really are still kind of old school out here and love to just put their signs out. But if you go the online route I’ve found Apartments.com and Zillow are the best ones.
You can enter whatever your criteria is as far as what you’re looking for in a place, amenities, the neighborhood, and so forth and they will populate some spots for you. We drove around to find our latest apartment in LA but ended up going with one from Zillow. That was my first time finding an apartment on Zillow and the options were limited but we did end up finding a gem! I would say if an apartment meets your criteria but doesn’t have photos or the photos don’t make it look that great you may be surprised and could be worth looking at.
The photos of our apartment didn’t look that great online but when we went in person we were so so happy we did. A lot of people will be discouraged if the photos aren’t that great of if there are no photos so sometimes these are the best listings to go see.
Back in the day we would use Westside Rentals to find a spot in LA, they basically monopolized the market but they were bought out by Apartments.com
Some people still use Craigslist, but I am not a fan. Too many scams on there.
3. Big Complexes
This by far is the easiest most convenient option. One thing there is no shortage of in LA are large apartment complexes and they keep building new ones what seems like everyday. These apartments tend to have a higher price point but they usually come with a TON of amenities which make it like living at a resort. I’ve lived in a few different ones and they definitely are the easiest to obtain if you have the budget. They typically come with pools, gyms, game rooms, you name it! They also usually have very low deposits so your move in cost can end up being lower.
You can find big complexes by driving around. (You can’t miss them) or online. All of them have websites and you can even do virtual tours online and apply for one site unseen. If you are trying to move to LA and secure an apartment, this would be the best way. You usually can’t go wrong with one of these and if you don’t end up liking the particular unit you picked when you got there if they have other available it’s easy to switch.
When I spent 6 months in London and had to come back to LA to find a spot, I just found one online at a big complex. I applied while I was in London and was approved, securing a spot for me when I got back to the states. It was beyond easy.
If you just search for example, “apartments in North Hollywood” or any area in LA they will be the first to pop up on a search and like I said you can do a virtual tour of the properties and see all the amenities.
The last way that has proven to work is using apps to find your spot. I honestly have never had luck with any of these but know people who have in the past. Also there’s always a new one that becomes popular out there and then fizzles out. Apps are also great if you are looking for a roommate or shared housing situation. Some popular apps people use in LA to find an apartment are Rad Pad, Facebook (groups on there like “Gypsy Housing” are good to find a shared space or sublet) Hotpads, and Zumper.
I hope these tips help you in your search and if you have any specific questions leave them in the comments and I would be happy to answer!
Overall if you really want that dream spot, I would be patient and give yourself at least a months time to find it so you don’t have to settle!