How I Found Housing in Los Angeles
by Scott Hinsche, Southwestern day student
I'll never forget the fateful day I realized I would have to move out of my quiet, comfortable home environment to the Los Angeles area. I decided to move out because I didn't want to spend a large portion of my day commuting to and from Southwestern. Remember, you cannot study while driving in your car; at least not safely.
The first thing I decided on before looking for a place was whether I wanted to live alone. Living alone gives you more time and space to yourself, but this is not without costs. By living with a roommate or housemate, you can split many of the costs (rent, utilities, etc.) I couldn't decide one way or the other so I covered both my bases. I called Southwestern and asked to have my name added to the Potential Roommate list. This is a list of people's names, addresses and phone numbers, all of whom are looking for a roommate. After adding my name, they sent me a copy of the list so I could call people on the list for ideas. I was uncomfortable at first, but then realized that the people I was calling were in the same situation I was in, so they were just as uncomfortable. This actually made for very easy conversation, and it allowed me to preliminarily meet some of the people I would eventually spend a lot of time with at school. The school also sent me a housing packet that contained valuable information about housing in the area and other items. The most helpful things to me were a map, and a listing of areas near the school which detailed how far away in miles the areas were from the school, the average rent in that area, and other information.
In addition to the Potential Roommate listing, I also started doing apartment searches for myself, in the event that I decided to live alone. I am a big fan of RentNet.com. It allowed me to customize my search based on many factors, from maximum rent payment to the allowance of pets. I then e-mailed or called the places that were possibilities. In the meantime, I was also visiting the areas during the weekends. If I saw a place that looked promising, I wrote down the number and called during business hours.
After going through all the tedious searching on the Internet and many road-trips to L.A., I finally decided to go it alone my first year at law school. It is said that the first year is the most difficult year of them all, so I decided that the benefits of privacy and peace I would get from living alone far outweighed the costs of paying extra rent and utilities. So I took my name off the Roommate List after finding a place in the Hollywood Hills, where I now live. I should caution you: It took me over a month of searching on-line and making the drive up to the Hills at least one day each weekend to finally find a place that had an available apartment that suited my needs and my budget. I stumbled onto my apartment complex while I was on my way home from a long day of searching in the Hollywood area. It just goes to show that you should NEVER give up.
I used the information Southwestern provided, the Internet, and my own dumb luck to find my place, but there is no magic formula to a search for housing. Be ready to make a lot of phone calls, and accept a fair amount of rejection and disappointment. However, the day I moved into my new place, all those memories faded away, and I enjoy my apartment even more knowing how much work and time I put into finding it. Good luck!