how to find an apartment in LA

Seafoam bedroom

We’ll let you in on a little secret: sometimes the best apartments in LA aren’t listed where you’re looking.  As a property manager for over 8 years, when we were in Orange County, we listed the big building we managed on big, national websites and in printed guides.  When we were apartment searching for our move to LA 8 years ago, our tried and true sources for finding an apartment in Orange County didn’t pan out the same way in LA.

Turns out, LA has those big, new complexes, and yes, they are listed on those big websites, but what about all of those Old Hollywood buildings that were built in the 1930’s?  How come we couldn’t find those on ApartmentGuide.com?  And where were they listed for rent?  Here’s a breakdown of online resources to help you find the perfect place in the vast landscape of LA.

big website, big building. photo courtesy of the palazzo communities

If you’re looking online at big websites like Rent.com and Apartments.com, you’re going to find big buildings that have big advertising budgets.  More than likely, the buildings listed on these large sites are managed by large property management companies that can afford to pay for advertising.  A lot of buildings in LA aren’t listed on these national sites because they’re just too small to pay for advertising.

Here you’ll most likely find larger, newer complexes that offer modern amenities like central air and heat, a pool, gym, or concierge.  These buildings are often newer construction with a lot units.  If modern and big is your thing, check out these sites:

the real estate sites photo couresty of vrbo

If you’re looking to rent a condo, house, or guest house, try looking on real estate sites like Trulia & Zillow.  These sites are predominantly used to list real estate available for sale, but you can also find some unique places that are open to renting them out.  They may not have a huge selection of rental listings because these sites are marketed more for real estate sales, but we sometimes list our vacancies for our 1950’s Old Hollywood building on Trulia because it’s free to do so.

craigslist & westside rentals  photo courtesy of just above sunset

You’ve heard about Westside Rentals and you’ve seen their signs up everywhere, but you don’t want to pay the $60 for the two-month membership.  We didn’t want to either, but we did and found the place we live in now and love it.  It’s true: most listings you’ll find on Westside Rentals can also be found on Craigslist, but you’ve gotta hunt them down to find them.  The perks of WSR?  It has a lot more filter options for you to narrow down your apartment search and that $60 spent may save you a ton of lost hours pouring over Craigslist links.

Speaking of Craigslist…you’re probably already searching this site and scouring the many repetitive listings in hopes to find an apartment gem in that haystack of links.  This is the place that you’ll find the most listings because it’s free for Landlords to list.  We list our vacancies on this site every time we have an apartment become available because 1) it’s easy and free but 2) this site sends us the most traffic.  Here’s a few tricks for Craigslist:

  • Narrow down your search by using all of the filters available.  If your budget is $1500, put that in as your max to filter out unnecessary $2500 1 bedroom options.  And always always choose the “has image” option.  Also use a minimum price.  If you’re looking for a 1 bedroom for $1500, you’re going to filter out roommate situations and scams that offer a place at $500.  A good minimum price that we would suggest is around $1000 to $1100.
  • Search by a street name.  If you know you want to live in West Hollywood and drove up and down Croft, Kings, and Sweetzer looking for “For Rent” signs, use this as a way to better filter your results to narrow down the neighborhoods.

the secret weapons in la photo courtesy of houzz

There are a handful of smaller sites where you can find those hidden gems in LA.  These sites may not be super well known yet, but that’s just a matter of time and the beauty of using them.

  • RadPad is like the hipster Instagram for LA apartment hunters.  The listings may not be as large as Craigslist, but that’s just until this site catches on because it’s free for Landlords to list.  They’re great about mandating a minimum of three photos per listing and they email Landlords every week or two to check in to make sure the listing is still available.
    • UPDATE: You can even pay your rent online with a debit or credit card through RadPad.  It’s free for debit and there’s a small fee to use your credit card.  They’ll send a physical check to your landlord (who doesn’t even have to be using their service) with your name on it so your landlord knows who it’s from.  For more info on this awesome service, click here.
  • Padmapper.com and LiveLovely.com take listings from Craigslist and other sites and put them all on a map for you so that you can search by neighborhood.  This is a quick way to check out your desired ‘hood and see what the prices and listings are like out there.
  • The Rental Girl is a boutique-style free rental service where you get in touch with a fab chica who specializes in the ins and outs of your desired neighborhood and has listings that you probably won’t find on other sites.  Their listings may be a bit slim, but they’re exclusive, knowledgeable, and very helpful.
  • Shhh…our super secret weapon to finding a listing in West Hollywood is the City’s free rental referral list available on their website and updated weekly.  Here you’ll find those smaller “mom & pop” buildings in WeHo and maybe a super low rent rent-control unit that they have to offer at whatever the previous tenant was paying.  We’ve seen listings on here as low as $600.
  • Drive around.  Yes, this may be time consuming, but it’s also a great way to check out potential neighborhoods.  Some Landlords and building owners don’t even bother with listing their vacancies on websites because, guess what, they don’t have to.  It’s easy to throw up a sign in the front yard with a phone number and rent out the unit quickly in desired locations.  Our favorite 1920’s building on our street does this and rents out their 1-bedroom units for $2600 to celebrities like Andrew Garfield.  The sign is hardly up for more than a few days and they never even list online.  So grab lunch in a new location or take some side streets home to check out the rental landscape.  You may just find a sweet spot.

How is your apartment search going?  Let us know in the comments below.

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “how to find an apartment in LA

  1. Great article. So many tips and tricks in one place. Unfortunately, I have tried most of them already and still have not found an apartment. It’s been very difficult times to find something decent in Los Angeles. My apartment hunt has been filled with frustration but the search continues. For this weekend I have planned to use the secret weapon of driving around. Wish me luck 🙂

  2. We really enjoyed these tips, and will be including a link to this article later on this month on our blog! We’d like to inform you and your readers about LeaseMunky (http://www.leasemunky.com), an apartment rental listing site for landlords and renters in Los Angeles. It’s free for everyone!

  3. These are great resources. My hubby and I are moving to LA in August with our 3 dogs. I’m nervous we won’t find a rental even with our pet references. Do you have any tips how to find dog friendly rentals?

  4. Pingback: TOP 10 TIPS For Noobs Renting in Los Angeles - The Rental Girl Blog | The Rental Girl Blog

  5. Nice! Love your blog’s visual aesthetic: thin dark grey text and lines + pure aquablue. Just to let you know, bad link at weho’s rental referral list” “Oops! Google Chrome could not find http”.

have something suite to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s