Are you among the 44 million American families living in a rented apartment or house?
If so, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that the cost of renting (and living in general) is going up. This especially true in states like California, where the cost of living has skyrocketed in recent years.
Does this mean that finding a beautiful, affordable California apartment complex is impossible? Far from it! There are plenty of great California apartments out there — if you know where to look.
Whether you need a small studio for yourself and your cat or a multi-room apartment for a growing family, we’ve got you covered. In this post, we’ll offer expert advice on how to find a good apartment that’s both suitable and affordable.
Keep reading to learn how to find an apartment you’ll be proud to call home!
1. Location, Location, Location
In your quest for the perfect California apartment complex, you’ll first need to narrow your search to a reasonable distance from your job or school.
California traffic is notoriously bad, so make sure you understand exactly how long your daily commute will be. Your apartment might only be five miles from the office, but will it take you an hour to get there? If you plan to use public transportation, is it widely available and easily accessible from the apartment?
Do you prefer to be right in the heart of a big city, or would you prefer a quieter lifestyle on the outskirts of town? In some cases, it might be worth living a little farther from the city center.
As an example, do you work in Silicon Valley? You could snag a great unit at Morgan Ranch Apartments and still make it to the office in under half an hour.
2. Know Your (Realistic) Budget
Once you’ve narrowed your search by geography, it’s time to talk dollars and sense.
Before you seriously consider an apartment, you need to seriously consider if you can afford to live there. Just because the leasing office approves your application doesn’t automatically mean your bank account can handle the rental price.
Do you want to pay a little more to be in a certain neighborhood? If so, can you afford it on your current salary? Or will you need to make concessions, like cutting back on other expenses or finding a roommate to share the costs?
You’ll also want to research the going rate on similar rentals in the area. If the price is unusually low for the neighborhood, proceed with caution. It could be a red flag about the landlord or the overall condition of the property.
3. Condition of the Apartment & Property
Speaking of condition, never sign a lease or send money to anyone unless you’ve visited the property in person. Anyone can make an apartment look great in Photoshop, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to match reality when you arrive.
Of course, any apartment will have a few cosmetic flaws. If the blinds are cracked or there are a few scratches on the wall, these are things your landlord can easily fix before you move in.
The more important things to look for are issues that might not be readily obvious. As you take a tour of your potential apartment, keep an eye out for signs of:
- Water damage
- Mold or mildew
- Lead paint
- Leaky faucets
- Broken windows
- Electrical issues
- Broken HVAC system
Moving on from the apartment, take a close look at the building, complex, and neighborhood as a whole.
Does everything appear to be well-maintained and in good working order? What’s the condition of the sidewalks, parking lots, vehicles, and communal areas? Do the neighbors seem friendly and sincere, or are they distant and guarded?
4. Vibe of the Landlord
Your potential landlord should be friendly and helpful — without being overly eager. If you’re moving into an apartment with roommates, ask them how they like the landlord and if they’ve had any issues during their stay.
Beware of any landlord who makes you feel rushed or offers to bypass common formalities, such as running a background or credit check. This could be a sign of serious issues with the apartment or the building. You could also end up with a nightmare landlord that lacks boundaries of good ethics (or both).
You don’t have to become BFFs with your landlord, but you should get a good feeling when you meet with him or her. You should also carefully review the lease agreement and community rules and policies to ensure you understand everything.
5. Complex Amenities
Each California apartment complex will offer different amenities, so it’s important to find one with the features that matter most to you.
Do you want an amazing resort-style pool to soak up the sunshine? Do you want access to a gym, a recreation center, or a barbecue area for grilling? What about a playground for your kids or nearby trails to walk your dog?
One important amenity many renters overlook is access to laundry facilities. If there’s not a washer and dryer included in your apartment, is there a community laundromat for renters to use? If not, how far away is the nearest laundromat?
Find an Apartment in California You’ll Love!
There are millions of apartments in the great state of California. The trick is knowing how to choose an apartment that you’ll love living in.
The apartment’s location and price are your two biggest determining factors, but they’re not the only ones. How’s the overall condition is the apartment and the community? What types of rules are in place for the community, and what amenities do they offer?
Finally, don’t overlook the people who will become your landlord and neighbors. You should feel an immediate good vibe from an apartment you’re considering. If not, it’s time to move on and continue your search.
Now that you know how to find the best California apartments, what’s next? Keep browsing the rest of our site for more great reads like this one!