I thought you said you were moving to L.A. Why does this address say Glendale? Where the heck is Glendale? If you dread hearing these words (not that Glendale is such an awful place; it's great if you like malls), you need to read this fabulous article before you make the move to Los Angeles. Housing in Los Angeles is cheaper and easier to find than it is in New York, San Francisco, or Boston, but finding a place there is still no picnic. Los Angeles is the biggest megalopolis in the U.S.: it's a city that has cities within cities. It might seem like a nightmare to find an apartment there if you've never lived in a big city, but never fear -- we'll talk you through it and make amusing remarks on the way.


Before you start looking for an apartment, you need to make an important decision: how much are you willing and able to pay in monthly rent? A good one-bedroom apartment on the west side of Los Angeles can go for $1200 per month or more, which is nothing to sneeze at. A good way to find your upper limit for housing costs is to divide your monthly net (after tax) income by three. If this figure seems unusually low, you have three options: (1) make more money, (2) consider living in a less expensive area, like mid-Wilshire or the Valley (see step 2), or (3) save money on rent by finding a roommate.

Maybe get yourself a roommate

If you decide to get a roommate to lower your housing costs, you can choose a friend/acquaintance yourself or you can use a roommate agency. (Some roommate agencies are online here and here.) Either way, you must carefully choose your roommate or you will rue the day you opted to hook up with a roomie. Obviously, not all strangers make good roommates (note: crackwhores are not desirable roommates), but less obviously, not all friends make good roommates. There are some people whose company you might well enjoy during the day, but who would drive you crazy if you lived with them. In order to exclude unsuitable persons from your life, you should ask all potential roommates the following questions to assess their compatibility:

  • Have you ever had a roommate before? What, if anything, bothered you about your past roommates?
  • Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend or other friend who will be staying here frequently? Are you promiscuous? (Do not be afraid to ask this one. You probably don't want strange people sleeping over a lot, and if you explain that this is the reason you're asking, it will establish what you consider unacceptable ahead of time.)
  • Do you smoke? Drink? Do drugs? If yes to any, how often? Will you share your drugs?
  • Do you stay out late on weekdays?
  • Did/do you have any credit problems?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • What is your occupation?
  • What do you like to watch on television? What music do you listen to?
  • Why are you looking at me like that? What's wrong with your neck?

Whatever you ask, in the end you should feel very comfortable with your future roommate. If you do not, you are taking a big risk shacking up with this person. Don't say we didn't tell you if things don't work out. One last note about roommates: try to arrange it so that your roommates co-signs the lease. If your name is the only one on the lease, then you shoulder the entire burden of responsibility for the apartment from a financial standpoint. If your roommmate loses his/her job (and by extension, a steady cash flow), you'll be stuck paying his/her share of the rent. Then you'd be angry, poor, and kicking yourself for not following our sage advice.