When you can’t travel, what do you do? Well I decided to move cross country! I’ve spent most of my life living in the cold Northeast so I decided it was time for a change. I visited California in May and in August I packed up my belongings and headed west to Los Angeles.
Before my move, I researched different areas that could work for me but I also needed to research apartment prices for different areas. My main city of interest was Los Angeles, but it is one huge city measuring just over 500 square miles with nearly 4 million residents. Focused on the goal, I began looking for a place to rent.
While some people rely heavily on rental or real estate agents, since I work online, I wanted to try and research apartments on my own. According to Zumper, the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles, CA is currently $1,900. Luckily, for prospective tenants, this is a 16% decrease compared to the previous year. According to Livabl, 1-bedroom rentals fell 14% in Los Angeles in January due to Covid-19 increases and statewide lockdowns.
While the price above may be the average price in LA, the actual price depends on the neighborhood you choose and in Los Angeles, there are many. Can you believe that while I write this, there are over 17,000 available apartment listings in Los Angeles alone? It’s also useful to add that there are 202 districts and neighborhoods within the city of Los Angeles so unless you know specifically where you want to live, it can feel extremely overwhelming. Curbed Los Angeles offers a great map and helpful information to help you choose which neighborhood might work best for you. Whether you want to live right in DTLA (downtown LA) or further out in the suburbs, there’s a neighborhood for everyone.
Private Apartment vs. Building with Amenities
This is tough especially if you’ve lived in a building with amenities before. If you want to have easy access to a pool or a gym without having to pay a gym membership, then maybe a building with added amenities is the way to go. But all buildings aren’t the same. When I lived in a “luxury building” on the East coast, luxury was well defined. For example, I lived in a building that had a Dale Chihuly sculpture in the building’s lobby and my apartment had panoramic views of Boston’s Seaport district. My current “luxury building” in Los Angeles cannot compare. While it has soundproofing between apartments on the same floor next to you, there’s zero soundproofing from those above or below you. This has changed my “luxury” experience more to one of a college dorm.
Definitely determine those items on your wish list that you have to have before signing a lease agreement. The building I moved into was brand new and was less than 20% occupied so I didn’t hear tenants upstairs when I checked out the apartment. Listen to things like noise, heating and cooling, and neighborhood noise and traffic at times that you will actually be in your apartment.
There are a few amenities on my must have list that I couldn’t do without and those include indoor parking and laundry in my apartment. I didn’t want street parking although where I’m living there’s certainly enough of it. I tried to think ahead to when I went grocery shopping and needed to carry bags in and out. This was a must have for me, but might not be for you. My last few apartments didn’t have laundry inside the apartments, but that’s something that I’m willing to pay extra for just for convenience sake. Write down all your must haves before you search to prevent feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities.
Understanding what a neighborhood can offer is super important for anyone who maybe hasn’t lived in a city before or for anyone considering a move to Los Angeles. My dream apartment wish list included easy access to the freeway with proximity to shopping and restaurants. I didn’t want to have to drive 15 minutes to get to the freeway and that was a must have on my list. My current apartment is located only a few blocks from the freeway and is close enough to provide easy access, but far enough away so as not to drown my apartment with non stop noise from traffic.
I wanted to live in an area that I could easily walk to neighborhood shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants and while I have some of these close by, I can jump in my car and drive only a few minutes to get to a supermarket, pharmacy, and more.
I’m settled into my apartment for now, but for my next place I’ll definitely look well in advance and try not to procrastinate in a city like Los Angeles where great apartments go fast.