Challenges in moving to L.A. before getting a job in L.A.?
January 3, 2011 3:05 PM   Subscribe

What does it take to land an apartment in Los Angeles without first landing a job in Los Angeles?

My girlfriend and I are moving down the road from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles at the end of this year. I'm moving whether or not I have a job lined up down there. (If I didn't move, I would break my promise to myself that I would and thus have to slink off to wherever über-weenies go to die.)

My experience with Santa Barbara landlords has been that they can get seriously dickish about insisting that you "prove" an unreasonably large income first, i.e., $50,000/year when your share of the rent is $675/month. The rents are lower in L.A., but do the landlords there make the same demands? If so, are there any good ways around it? (At this point in my life, "crash on someone's couch for a while" and "find a co-signer who has money" probably aren't options.)

Or is this one of those charades life makes you perform? I got the impression S.B. landlords and property management companies were more or less asking me to just lie and say I made fifty grand, when I clearly made over thirty grand less than that.
posted by colinmarshall to Work & Money (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You'll be fine as long as your credit is good. Lots of folks move here without jobs, totally not unusual.

Co-signers aren't very popular here, IMHO. Having enough savings to put up as extra deposit to cover the risk is popular. Have a healthy bank account before moving, redact your account number but be ready to provide banking statements when going through the application process.

Again, A+ if you both have good credit. A++ if you both have substantial savings aand can prove that. I didn't mention this (you didn't either) but A+++ if at least your GF has a job.

If one landlord objects to your credentials, keep looking. You can find a nice place, be sure to look good on paper and make a good impression.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 3:47 PM on January 3, 2011

jbenben: how much is "enough savings"?
posted by madcaptenor at 4:21 PM on January 3, 2011

It's much, much easier to work out a deal with a private landlord or subleaser, as opposed to a property management company. The corporate management companies will often demand pay stubs. Individuals tend to be easier to negotiate with, especially if, as jbenben mentioned, you have good credit and some savings to point to. (And if you don't have at least a few thousand in the bank, I personally would not move to L.A. without a job. It can be a wildly expensive city.)
posted by thehandsomecamel at 4:23 PM on January 3, 2011

Los Angeles is too large a rental market for most landlords to concern themselves with issues like these. I ran into a few dickish types who insisted on seeing my pay stubs, but mostly landlords around here are just looking for good credit, though I never rented from a management company as Camel discusses. Considering you're coming from Santa Barbara where you (I presume) had a decent job and where you paid rent on time every month for some period of time, I wouldn't worry a bit about this. A letter from your current landlord discussing how great a tenant you were would go a long way towards helping as well.

(hi, camel!)
posted by incessant at 4:25 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Figure 3 to 6 months of living expense, including rent.

I agree with incessant that a good rental history and credit are most important and most landlords really won't go much farther than that if you already seem presentable to them. However, OP is looking for ways to bolster his application and moving with enough of a financial cushion to cover the transition is really ideal.
posted by jbenben at 4:33 PM on January 3, 2011

In my experience -- and it's been a while -- some landlords will be dicks and will want that gigantic salary and to see pay stubs, etc, and still give you the stink eye. But plenty of others won't be so difficult. Luckily, Los Angeles is a hell of a lot larger than Santa Barbara and the rental market is much more diverse. As long as you're putting down the first, last, security deposit, pet deposit, etc, and you've got the decent credit check, you'll be fine.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:36 PM on January 3, 2011

Right now, it's a renter's market in LA, from what I gather. Landlords are anxious get warm bodies in. That said, property management companies still work as usual: check your rental history, credit history, and you must provide proof of 3 x rent income/mo. w/ paystubs. It's easier with private landlords. Hopefully you have some savings, because even though it's been improving slightly recently, the job market is abysmal in LA (depending on what you do).
posted by VikingSword at 5:00 PM on January 3, 2011

I had mediocre credit when I lived in LA last, and I never had a problem getting an apt with the "savings" plan as mentioned above. Also, in case you need a place to start Westside Rentals is where I found most of my nicest places to live. Don't sweat the job, they are easy to find.
posted by phytage at 5:02 PM on January 3, 2011

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