How to Spend Less on Rent as a College Student in California

The girl draws marker piggy bankMoving out of your parents’ house to go to college is a big step that will inevitably bring you a great deal of satisfaction. However, this change also brings along a bunch of new responsibilities that you may find a bit overwhelming at first. For starters, renting an apartment in California may force you to manage your money more wisely and become more aware of the impact that your daily decisions inevitably have on your financial situation. Is there a way to reduce rental costs without making any regrettable compromises? Could you actually spend less on rent without having to live in a shoebox apartment located in a shady neighborhood? Should you live on campus to keep your expenses in check? To make the most of an ideal apartment renting experience in California, you should start by getting the most accurate answers to all these key questions.

Why Should You Even Consider Living Off-Campus?

To begin with, you are probably wondering: is living off-campus a feasible option, from a financial standpoint? Believe it or not, recent studies indicate that living off-campus is the most convenient and cost-effective alternative explored by most students in the United States. As a matter of fact, an infographic published by Visually indicates that room and board costs on average $11,571, while commuters spend around $9,669. Do the math, and you’ll realize that students living on campus pay $2238 more than their peers who live off-campus.

5 Tips on How to Find the Perfect Budget-Friendly Accommodation Option in California

Moreover, living off-campus is a great choice simply because it helps you avoid gaining “the freshman fifteen” and embrace healthier eating, while also giving you the opportunity to build credit, gain control over who your roommate is and eliminate potential distractions standing in the way of your academic achievements. If you want to start this new chapter of your life in a rental apartment in California, choose to apply the five following tips to reduce your costs and maximize your satisfaction.

  1. Target Neighborhoods and Properties That You Can Actually Afford. First of all, you should do your homework to identify some of the most affordable neighborhoods in your Californian city of choice. You should know that even San Francisco and its surroundings, representing one of the most desirable urban areas in California with rentals priced at around $4,000 per month, can surprise you with a plethora of less expensive accommodation options, as long as you know where to look for cheap housing. For instance, if you are determined to move to San Francisco and spend less on rent, you could target the foggy Richmond District, Central Sunset or Oceanview. All three alternatives ensure great rentals priced at around $2,000 per month.
  2. Manage Day-to-Day Bills and Monitor Your Expenses. Most college students end up experiencing a certain level of financial hardship simply because they are unable to prioritize their needs and take control of their expenses. Some of them buy clothes that they never get to wear, throw a lot of money on school supplies that they could live without and spend even more on parties and other leisure activities.

If you would very much like to make better choices and discover the simplest way to cut down expenses and set some money aside for a rainy day, start by creating a budget and list your monthly expenses, including food, utilities and rent. Next, you can track your spending using one of the many free budgeting apps available at this point, such as Mint, Level Money or Budget Ease.

  1. Remember That Flashy Details Aren’t Everything Don’t Get Carried Away. As a college student seeking cheap housing in California, you’ll soon learn a very valuable lesson about the perks of minimalist living and reach the conclusion that sometimes, less is more. Sure, an apartment complex with a lavishing rooftop pool or an onsite gym is everything that you could ever ask for, but could you really afford to pay for all these cool additions out of your own pocket without working 3 jobs? Instead of selecting rentals based on the number of flashy appliances and other extras that they have, refine your selection criteria and go for accommodation options that match your realistic needs in terms of square footage, location and basic features.
  2. Stay Organized and Avoid Clutter. Staying organized at all times doesn’t have to be a challenge, even if you can’t really buy new furniture or remodel your indoors to respond to your requirements in terms of space and comfort. The solution to your problem is simple and convenient: use clever storage options to maximize your space, while also giving a personal touch to your interior space. Under-bed storage, mirror frames with doors, custom-made banquette seating offering more than enough under-seat storage space and exposed rafters and beams represent excellent choices allowing you to feel at home even in the tiniest shared apartment.

Put your creativity at work to come up with new, out-of-the-box storage ideas to stay organized and settle for a smaller space that will automatically involve reduced expenses. If you find it hard to fit all your textbooks, clothes and accessories in an apartment that is clearly too small for you, consider renting self storage space provided by a facility located near your school. Self storage carries a relatively small price tag (you can get a good unit for less than $20 per month) and offers you a practical method to deposit and organize the items that you do not actually use on a daily basis.

  1. Find a Cheap Rental Fast Using California’s Top Apartment Finding Service. It’s not always easy to find an affordable apartment for rent in California, especially if you don’t understand the new realities of its real estate market, aren’t familiar with your new environment or don’t have time to circle newspaper ads, make hundreds of phone calls and tour dozens of properties on a daily basis.

Even so, you should know that there is a simpler, more practical way to track down inexpensive rentals in Cali before actually landing in this sunny state. Use an apartment finding service offering you access to the freshest, most tempting listings, conduct a personalized search based on your filters of choice (exact location, square footage, number of rooms, price and so on), contact landlords and property managers at a touch of a button, download and upload forms the easy way and identify gorgeous for rent properties in your price range. Work closely with Apartment Hunterz to uncover actual gems on the real estate market in California and reduce your monthly expenses without sacrificing your comfort and overall wellbeing.

 

How to Make the Best of the Californian Rental You’re Currently Occupying

new apartment plansConducting a house hunt in California is not always easy, especially when all you can realistically afford is a small studio located in a shady neighborhood. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to settle for the cheapest, most unattractive place that you can find on the local rental market.

10 Tips on How to Upgrade Your Rental without Upsetting Your Landlord

Even if your small budget is forcing you to target shoebox apartments that don’t meet any of your expectations, keep in mind that you can still make a few changes to turn an average house into a home. Here are a few easy tips that you can apply to upgrade any apartment in less than a week.

  1. Focus on Lighting. If you’re not pleased with the overhead lighting, rely on practical floor lighting to beautify your space. Lamps with a cool design could become the wow factor of your bedroom, so try to select pieces that light up the room and command attention.
  2. Upgrade the Paint Job. If you have your landlord’s permission to improve the looks and vibe of your place, consider repainting the walls. If possible, choose a neural color that will never go out of style. Aside from being timelessly elegant, subtle shades of gray, white, ivory or beige will also make your rooms seem airier and more welcoming. Assuming that you want to go for a more creative look and don’t really want to put many hours into this home improvement project, choose to add a touch of color to an accent wall to make a bold fashion statement. Intense hues like Tiffany blue, ruby red or cotton candy pink will brighten up your indoors and have a positive effect on your mood.
  3. Dress Up Your Walls. In case you can’t get your landlord’s approval for a new paint job, remember that there are plenty of other ways to personalize and restyle your walls. For instance, you could add a set of curtains to enhance your space. Monochrome designs tend to go better with a minimalist style, while colorful, abstract prints, floral motifs or geometric patterns are a great match for youthful home decors. If you don’t want to add curtains, perhaps you could try to beautify your walls using wallpaper. Don’t let your landlord stand in the way of your creative vision; instead of gluing wallpaper to your walls, you could always frame a few sheets to create a one-of-a-kind collage that could add depth and definition to your space.
  4. Rely on Elegant Storage Solutions. Most storage solutions fit in one of the following categories: some are practical and virtually invisible, while others are incredibly useful but far from being aesthetically pleasing. Luckily, you can come up with new storage options that actually reflect your style, personality and décor theme. Buy and use fabulous, customizable items like old, vintage trunks, metallic shopping baskets, and handmade boxes made of unconventional materials. These are the kind of cool factors that can always be stuffed with off-season clothes, jewelry that you no longer wear very often and all the little pieces that you can never find or organize inside your home.
  5. Conceal Old Appliances. Let’s face it: most old appliances that occupy a lot of space are a real eyesore and always interfere with your creative home makeover ideas. Here’s what you can do to solve this problem once and for old, without throwing the ancient appliances out the window. Improvise! Repaint an old fridge, store smaller devices inside kitchen cabinets and count on clever camouflaging tactics to restore the beauty of your interior décor. For example, you could use special covers to conceal old, rusty radiators. Cool-looking radiator covers are an extremely valuable asset, considering that, once installed, you could use these elements as a shelf for your framed art, photos or books.
  6. Enhance Your Space Using Mirrors. Mirrors can make your small apartment seem brighter and much more spacious; not to mention that they come in handy when you have to do your makeup in the morning or try on the new dress that you’ve just bought. To add a personal touch to your mirrors, buy massive art deco frames from flea markets or customize brand-new items using spray paint and/or stickers.
  7. Come Up with Stunning DIY Artworks. If you can’t afford to buy art signed by some of the most reputable contemporary artists, this doesn’t mean that you should abandon the idea of styling your walls using touches of color. These days, you can find thousands of talented artists online in a matter of a few minutes. For instance, artnet is only one of the most popular platforms that manage to gather more than 300,000 talented artists. One of these gifted users could sign the superb work of art that you may decide to frame and hang on your walls, so don’t hesitate to go online and get in touch with local artists who share your vision and agree to work within your tight budget.
  8. Invest in Timeless Statement Pieces. Again, redecorate with your needs and personal preferences in mind and upgrade your Californian rental by adding statement pieces that are portable and extremely versatile. Flexibility is one of the main advantages of renting in California. One year you could rent a studio in downtown Los Angeles; the next year, if everything goes according to plan, you could live in a beach house in Malibu; this is precisely why you should only invest in decorative pieces that can blend in well with any style/theme that you may like in the future and preferably go for the ones that you could move around with ease.
  9. Put Your Keepsakes on Full Display. We all have a happy corner where we seek refuge after a stressful day at the office. Choose to reinvent yours by adding things with a high sentimental value: a painting, framed pictures, posters or small artworks.
  10. Use Room Dividers to Enhance the Functionality of Your Living Space. Room dividers offer you the simplest way to delimitate your space and create sections based on your needs and daily habits. For instance, a room divider could separate your work area from the rest of the house; or could help you protect your privacy in a shared apartment.

Last but not least, keep your options open and keep telling yourself that you can’t and shouldn’t grow old inside an apartment that makes you feel claustrophobic, or simply fails to reflect your taste, preferences and lifestyle choices. In this situation, you can always count on the listings promoted by Apartment Hunterz to start looking for a new home, contact landlords and property managers, check out photos and video tours and find a Californian rental that will make your heart skip a beat.

 

Californian Rental Deal Breakers That You Shouldn’t Ignore

Successful business man looking away with cityWhen you’re conducting a first house hunt on a tight budget, you are usually inclined to ignore all warning signs indicating that a certain property may jeopardize your safety, comfort or financial situation. You know what they say: on a highly competitive market with a short housing supply and a high demand for cheap accommodation options, when something seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

What Are The Things That You Should Give Up to Spend Less on Rent?

This being said, what kind of compromises should you agree to make to get the keys to a somewhat attractive house or apartment that you could actually afford in the long run? At the end of the day, only you can draw the line between determination and pure desperation while comparing various alternatives in your preferred ZIP codes.

Some may agree to get roommates and split the costs with their cohabitants; others may opt for a small, unfurnished apartment to keep costs in check. Some may choose to avoid for rent properties located in some of the most desirable neighborhoods and settle for decent places situated in an area with a low crime rate. All these strategies can be quite effective, especially if you make a final call based on the insight provided by Apartment Hunterz, California’s favorite apartment finding service. Take a look at recent listings to identify the best cities/ZIP codes where the odds of finding a place within your budget are relatively high.

5 Bad Signs Indicating That a Californian Rental Is Clearly Not “The One”

While making small compromises is the key to a successful apartment hunt, remember that you should never ignore red flags indicating that your property of choice is inhabitable and/or potentially dangerous or simply not the best fit for you. Here are five such drawbacks that you should take into consideration during the apartment search phase.

  1. Safety Threats. To being with, you should know that drawbacks associated with a piece of real estate fall into three categories: those that put your safety/life on the line, those that lower your level of comfort and the ones that annoy you to death. By far, safety threats are the number one concern that should never become your problem as a tenant. To avoid such risk factors, always check reports available online to identify and compare crime rates in different neighborhoods before renting. Also, tour the property during the day and at night to figure out whether or not you feel safe in this new environment. After completing this step, extend your investigation by visiting the places that you would normally go to on a regular basis: the park, a supermarket and so on. Do you feel safe and comfortable walking alone from point A to point B? Choose to filter your search results based on your answer.
  2. Major Issues with the Basic Systems of Your Building. Ideally, any dependable landlord should invest time and money in its rental to make sure that all its basic systems are running like new. However, problems may arise at any given point in time, so you should do your homework and conduct an ample inspection to discover potential hazards before they become an actual issue. An odd or shoddy electrical box or circuit breaker could be seen as a warning sign; the same goes for an old, poorly maintained furnace that may very well cause a carbon monoxide leak. Don’t leave the house without inspecting the plumbing system. Flush the toilers and pressure test the shower. Go inside the kitchen and turn on the oven. If you get a distinctive smell of gas, run for your life and never look back. The same goes for non-lethal threats that may be bothering you during your first house tour (like walls with peeling paint, cracks in the walls/floors or rusty, defective appliances), especially if you may have to spend money out of your pockets to replace them or if you get fishy reassurances (“Yes, this can be easily fixed. I just need to find the time/right kind of help to do it. Maybe one of these days..”) from a potential landlord.
  3. Foul Odors. We know what you may say: foul odors are not the worst problem that you can think of, and they could never stop you from renting a cheap apartment that is much more affordable than similar options located on the same street. While we appreciate your determination, note that some odors can signal a more complicated issue, like a mold contamination, for example. Moreover, heavy smells (of smoke, urine and so on) can be difficult to eliminate, especially if they are already impregnated in carpets, upholstery and carpet pads.
  4. Pest Problems. Pest problems represent a deal breaker because they are very unpleasant and costly. Moreover, while dealing with this issue, you may have to take this matter into your own hands and incur the costs of a potential decontamination (cleaning, sanitizing and restoration of indoor spaces), especially if your landlord fails to respond to your complaint/request in a prompt manner. Because you wouldn’t want to share your slice of cake or pillow with a colony of ants, trust us when we say that you will call a team of decontaminators as soon as you identify the problem.
  5. Disrupting Factors That Make You Feel Uncomfortable in Your Own Apartment. People who are constantly yelling are annoying. Yes, you could always call the police, but would your intervention put an end to this type of unpleasant stories for good? Probably not! While you can’t choose your family, you can definitely choose your landlord and neighbors and this is great privilege that you should never give up.

The truth is that even in this market, you can still afford to be a demanding tenant in the state of California. Use the insight provided by Apartment Hunterz to compare thousands of listings and choose the one that speaks to you. The whole selection process is simple, painless and convenient. Test the effectiveness of this apartment finding service and simplify your future house hunts using the very best tips and tools designed by true Californian real estate experts.

5 Steps to Becoming a Risk-Free Landlord in California

home from dollarWhether we like it or not, rents in California are constantly shooting up. Recent statistics indicate that rental rate in Los Angeles are exceeding the pre-recession value. The recession has impacted apartment developments in the worst way; meanwhile, reduced rental stocks and sky-high housing prices have become two pressing problems that any potential tenant seeking a new roof over his head in Cali is now forced to deal with. Even so, a report published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University indicates that Los Angeles takes pride in the biggest percentage of renters in the United States.

Now’s the Best Time to Become a Success-Oriented Landlord

According to this source, 52% of the people living in Los Angeles were renters three years ago, compared to only 35% on a national scale. While fewer and fewer people choose to start a new chapter in their lives as homeowners, some of the individuals who own one or more attractive pieces of real estate choose to try their luck as landlords. Nonetheless, to become a successful landlord you don’t really need luck; what you do require to reach your goal is a mix of determination, research, great marketing skills and even better measures of precaution. Yes, as a landlord you have to cover your back and pay special attention to the potential threats that could impact your financial situation and overall balance. We give you not one, but five excellent tips that you can and should apply to match the low-risk landlord profile.

  1. Get the Right Type of Coverage for Your Property. First of all, think about the fact that your rental is one of your most valuable assets, which requires the highest level of protection to preserve its value and help you attain peace of mind. Buy coverage based on your needs and the most pressing and probable emergency situations that you have in mind (flood, fire, acts of vandalism, expensive stolen goods and so on). When shopping around for insurance, focus on these three essential components to keep some of the most common risks in check:
  • Rent insurance (a policy that covers losses associated with a tenant’s actions or a natural disaster)
  • Personal liability insurance (covers fair housing law violations, as well as the damages suffered by others on your property)
  • Property insurance (covers physical and structural damages affecting the looks, functionality and end value of your property)
  1. Screen All Potential Tenants. Take the time to meet all candidates in person and research your options very carefully before handing the keys to your place to a complete stranger. Keep in mind that you should never reject a potential tenant based on discriminatory reasons (sexual orientation, race, religion and so on), deny or hide the availability of available rental space, or create and embrace different standards for different categories of tenants. These actions are fairly common mistakes representing clear violations of the Fair Housing Act. If necessary, reject certain individuals based on legitimate motives, such as bad credit, negative reports from previous landlords and/or insufficient income.
  2. Turn Your Home into a Habitable, 100% Safe Environment. Next, take a closer look at the space that your new tenants would have to call home. Does it really resemble a home? Is your property attractive, practical and safe at the same time? If you still can’t provide an affirmative answer to this question, work harder to address obstacles that lower your rental’s levels of safety and comfort. Make sure your roof is structurally safe and that your tenants will have access to electricity and clean water at all times. Check the heating, gas and plumbing systems. Inspect lighting systems; replace or repair structures that could expose tenants to considerable risks (such as broken stairs or defective electrical wiring) and go the extra mile to accommodate the special needs of various categories of tenants. For instance, to boost your odds of filling your vacancies, you may want to implement a few additions, including accessible parking spaces, to accommodate disabled tenants.
  3. Address Environmental Hazards As Soon as Possible. Avoid a costly lawsuit by identifying and eliminating the most common environmental hazards that could put your tenants’ health on the line. Hazardous materials such as radon, mold, carbon monoxide, lead-based paint and asbestos can become serious threats, so you should conduct regular inspections to comply with current state laws and prevent potential damages and injuries.
  4. Hire Only Qualified Help. If you feel that some of the most importance tasks related to regular maintenance and your relationship with existing tenants would take away too much of your spare time, consider hiring a property manager who could preserve or even increase the value of your property, while keeping your residents satisfied. When looking for contractors, choose to work with experienced professionals who carry their own liability insurance.

Use the Tools Provided by Apartment Hunterz to Become a Better Landlord

Beginnings are always hard, we get it. As a first-time landlord, there are many things that you should focus on, including tenant screening, promotional strategies, maintenance work and complaint management tactics. All these aspects require time, energy and money. Wouldn’t it be easier to rely on a convenient solution designed to lift a part of this weight off your shoulders? Apartment Hunterz makes it easier for you to thrive as a landlord, by offering you a great variety of tools and features created to help you communicate with potential tenants, download and upload forms, schedule in-person meetings and promote your rental without lifting a finger to find the right clients. Give this great apartment finding service a try and reach a dependable team of experts to find out how you could shake hands with the perfect tenant in a matter of days.

How to Downsize Your Californian Home in 5 Easy Steps without Going Crazy

Businessman Moving Out With Cardboard BoxTrading a luxurious castle for a modest condo doesn’t sound like a smart thing to do, especially when you’re determined to maintain a comfortable lifestyle without making any major compromises. And still, many people who are dealing with a certain degree of financial hardship choose to downsize their homes to reduce your expenses.

If you want to avoid huge utility bills, spend less time and money on maintenance work or simply find a smaller, more elegant and welcoming for rent or for sale Californian property that is nicer and easier to clean, start by checking out the fresh listings promoted by Apartment Hunterz and identify the ones that match your criteria.

Make Your Transition Period More Enjoyable in 5 Simple Steps

During this phase, you may also want to apply the following tips to say goodbye to your old place without any regrets, organize your personal effects rapidly and effortlessly and adapt to your new life and environment in less than a week. Here are five simple steps that you should take to facilitate your transition.

  1. Sort and Prioritize Your Belongings. Start by inventorying your goods. To simplify this process, make three lists: one comprising your must-haves, a second one for the things that you could definitely part with in the future and a third one featuring all the items that have ended up gathering dust in your home, for one reason or another. Obviously, you have to pack your essentials and ship them to your new address as soon as possible. The goods mentioned on your second list don’t necessarily have to go (unless lack of space becomes a serious concern); note that you can always organize a profitable yard sale to turn some of your unwanted possessions into solid cash, or you could rent a self storage unit and turn it into a great temporary home for some of the possessions.
  2. Store, Sell, Toss or Donate the Items That You Can Live without. Be ruthless when it comes to dealing with objects that have very little or no financial and sentimental value. Also, you may want to replace old, outdated gadgets and appliances that wouldn’t be a good match for your new home (think about your ancient, wall-hogging TV or the massive 3D framed wall art that no longer matches your style and aesthetic aspirations). Always focus on square footage and storage options before making a purchase. For instance, instead of going for a huge leather couch that is extremely beautiful but fairly unpractical, you may want to turn your attention to modern, versatile space-saving furniture pieces that will impress you with their multifaceted design.
  3. Invest in Smart and Convenient Storage Options. A smaller home doesn’t have to be a chaotic, cluttered, unwelcoming one. To keep your property nice and tidy, it is imperative to design and implement clever storage solutions. Start by buying and adding wall-mounted shelves and large storage boxes that could go under the beds. Tour your local container store and find the products that could maximize the appeal and spaciousness of your home. If you have gathered boxes containing items you don’t necessarily need at this point, but can’t or don’t want to toss, sell or donate, note that you could always send them to the nearest self storage facility to keep your indoors and outdoors clean and clutter-free.
  4. Be Selective when It Comes to Spending Your Money on New Household Items. In order to avoid clutter, you have to have full control over your buying habits at all times. Before planning a new shopping spree, ask yourself the following questions: Do I really need this new item? Would it fit in my new home, or would it force me to find and use a new storage solution?
  5. List the Main Benefits of Downsizing into a Smaller Home (and Go Beyond Financial Savings). It is very important to prep yourself for the process of downsizing into a smaller home. Make a list of all the advantages that this change would allow you to unlock, and go beyond the dollar bills that a smaller Californian rental may help you save. For example, think about the fact that you will have less work to do around your house; this will give you plenty of time to discover a new hobby, get a second job to supplement your monthly income, meet old friends or go on a trip. Moreover, you could opt for a condominium and delegate some of the most important, costly or labor-intensive assignments to your maintenance guy.

What If You Want a Cheaper Rental, and Not Necessarily a Smaller One?

Perhaps you are contemplating the idea of moving into a smaller Californian house or apartment only because you are intimidated by huge rental rates associated with 3 or 4-bedroom properties. This is perfectly understandable! However, you should realize the fact that you could always stumble across more affordable rentals located in areas with a cooler housing market.

In other words, just because you have to cross insanely expensive San Francisco-based rentals off your list (the median rent for a modest 1-bedroom apartment located in this sought-after city hit the $3,400 milestone in January) this doesn’t mean that you should put an end to your house hunt without exploring all your options.

While a 1-bedroom property based in San Francisco is approximately $1,000 more expensive than a 2-bedroom house or apartment located in New York, one could definitely spot several attractive, budget-friendly properties located in nearby cities. Apartment Hunterz offers you all the support that you may need to discover amazing Californian rentals and choose the one that actually makes sense to you. Go through the vast collection of listings offered by California’s top-rated apartment finding service, select your favorites, connect with landlords the easy way and organize a successful house hunt on a budget.