Silicon Valley apartment hunting
September 9, 2012 10:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for an apartment in Mountain View. Any tips or tricks?

I'm a young male programmer looking for a new place, probably to live alone. I'm fairly content with my housemates now, but I'd prefer to be by myself and I want to see if I can find something nicer and/or cheaper. (So I'm not desperate and there's no rush.)

Being fairly new to apartment hunting, I wonder -- are there any useful strategies that aren't obvious? Right now, my repertoire is something like:

- Subscribe to Craigslist RSS feeds for the apartment classifieds searches I want
- Call or drive there ASAP when I find something appealing
- Be nice to landlord, apply, offer to pay rent in advance if I really like it (I have cash to spare, so this is an easy trick)

I am boring, quiet, clean, and pay rent on time, so in theory I am a desirable tenant; are there any other ways to provide convincing evidence of that? Are there enough apartments not on Craigslist that I should search in some other media, too? Are there questions I should make sure to ask about the apartment that will help inform my decision? Tell me everything!
posted by value of information to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sometimes places are listed on corporate in-house bulletin boards by landlords who don't want to deal with the random people off of craigslist. Tell all of your friends (especially those working for high tech companies in the area) that you are looking and ask them to keep an eye for you.
posted by metahawk at 10:07 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also rent in Mountain View.

metahawk has it: the best thing you can do, especially if you have the time, is use your network. My partner found our current place when a friend of a friend decided to move to Cupertino. Her friend's friend introduced us to their landlord. This helped us find a place we never would have heard about otherwise, and it helped the landlord because he didn't have to deal with random Craigslist responders.

One other thing that helps is going to your first meeting prepared with all the documentation you'd need to sign a lease. In particular I like to have recommendation letters from previous landlords in hand whether or not my prospective landlord asks for them.
posted by amery at 10:32 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I lived in Oakland, I had to wait for a vacancy in the building I wanted to be in. It was managed by a friend of mine in my department at work, and inhabited by other folks from work as well. It was AWESOME.

Just start putting your feelers out. Let people know that you're looking.

I liked living in apartment complexes. But I'm a freak. I liked that the security deposits were low, and maintenance was on the property so it was a low drama situation if something needed fixing. Also, there were amenities, parking, laundry, a gym, even a little convenience store.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:27 AM on September 10, 2012

Long-time Silicon Valley renter here. Your method will work, eventually. Why landlords with empty space don't respond to "random Craigslist responders" is a mystery, but some days will be like that, during your search -- just keep trying, Like dating, it's a numbers game.
posted by Rash at 11:06 AM on September 10, 2012

Lots of smaller places won't necessarily be on Craigslist. My place (in Menlo Park) rents either through word of mouth or via a small Apartment Available sign that goes out front. This is a ridiculously desirable location in a small building is good maintenance and a steal for rent so it never stays open long. The building manager tried Craigslist and hated it so won't do it again.

So my advice is to drive to neighborhoods you might want to live in and look for "For Rent" signs. Do it mid-month when many people are going to give notice for the next month/end of month. If there's a particular spot you want to be in you could be slightly agressive and look for a building manager sign and knock on their door and ask if something might be coming available. You could even get lucky and someone could be outside you could strike up a conversation with (I got the last apartment I was in that way - the manager was outside painting).
posted by marylynn at 11:43 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another vote for talking to everyone you know to let them know you're looking. Lots of really nice non-corporate rentals never show up on the open market: cottages behind bigger houses, duplexes, and other small buildings.

I don't know of anything specific right now, but I've suggested places to Mefites before. Someone will eventually come through with something.

That said, Craigslist is still a viable option; a few of my co-workers found good places there within the last few months. As Rash said, it's a numbers game.

Also, if you haven't seen it: there's a meetup coming up. Someone there might know of a place for you.
posted by tangerine at 12:20 PM on September 10, 2012

A friend of mine lives in a small, nice building near Middlefield and Whisman, has for more than a decade and the rents have always been reasonable whenever he mentions it. I checked and someone is moving out tomorrow and the unit should be available in a week or so, depending on the cleanup needed.

If you're interested, email me at bill at .com and I'll pass along the contact info.
posted by billsaysthis at 4:29 PM on September 10, 2012

Thanks for all the advice, I'll do my best to put it into practice!
posted by value of information at 12:15 AM on September 11, 2012

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