**Obviously this will be very CA-based, but should apply around the US!
So you’re done with high school/college and you’re looking for your first apartment. Where do you start?
Zillow and apartments.com are probably the best places to find apartments. Both allow you to draw a circle around the area you want to live, or put in a specific city or zip code, or simply move around on a map. Zillow is better for houses, townhomes, and larger apartments, while apartments.com is better for apartment buildings with amenities. You’ll probably find a lot of the same listings on both, though! Trulia can also be a good resource. You can filter by bedrooms, bathrooms, and amenities!
For shorter term rentals (a few months), one of the best options is actually airbnb. If you set your dates over a month, the prices will start showing up as monthly, and you’ll see which places are available for monthly rentals. Renting a room in a house will probably be pretty affordable, but if you’re looking for an apartment, as it’s short term and will come fully furnished with utilities paid, it will be pretty expensive.
Facebook can also be a good place to find apartments, but make sure you see the apartment and get in contact with an actual landlord, because scams can run amuck here. If you’re looking for housing by a university, though, this is a good option. Students also constantly sublease their apartments during summer/while they go abroad for cheap rates, so if you’re young and want to live by a university, facebook can be a great place to find an empty room in an apartment with students!
A real estate agent is also an option. In New York, I’m told this is necessary. The problem is that the real estate option will take a fee of about one month’s rent, so that can be frustrating. However, they have access to properties that aren’t always listed online and usually have relationships with landlords and property owners that might give you priority over other potential renters. This can be a good option especially if you’re looking for a bigger house to rent.
If you can’t afford a studio or a one-bedroom, or you don’t want to live alone and have no one to live with, you’ll have to deal with finding roommates.
My first suggestion would be to reach out on facebook to school or alumni groups to see if there is anyone you vaguely know who would be interested. Ask around. But if you’re still having no luck, craigslist is always an option. I would highly recommend you meet with potential roommates in a public place, and if you are a girl only pick girl roommates. There will probably be a good amount of interest, especially if you’ve already found a nice place, so make sure to be picky!
Applying for an apartment is a whole new ballgame. You’ll need to have a good credit score, probably an income that’s at LEAST 2.5x the rent (combined between tenants), enough money for a security deposit (at least first and last month’s rent), and good rental history. OR, you can have your parents co-sign, but some renters would rather just not deal with that, and they’d have to cosign on the whole property.
It can seem like they want to know everything from your blood type to how you like your eggs – it’s honestly all standard. But if you feel like the landlord is a little too invested in your personal life – they want to talk to you on the phone like 8x and ask weird questions – that might be time to run, because they’re probably going to be like that the whole time.
Make sure you see the place before you move, and while you’re seeing it TALK TO THE TENANTS to see if they’re happy there! You’ll probably be stuck there a whole year at least, so you want to make sure you’re happy.