What is the best way to find housing in the South Bay area?
August 3, 2014 11:20 AM   Subscribe

My husband has a job in Campbell, CA, and we've been looking at Craigslist and Zillow and Realtor.com for places to live. We've already had an attempted scam via CL and I don't want to waste time with other useless sites. Any recommendations?

I'm trying to move quickly because school starts in less than three weeks and I'd like to get the kids settled before/when classes start. I'm currently in LA, and am planning a day's trip up to the SJ area to look/apply/lease later this week.

1. We've tried to get local circulars, but they appear to be all gone once my husband gets to the stands, and there's no website or phone number or schedule listed for when one might expect another edition.

2. What should I look for in a "trustworthy" listing? Phone number, contact name, verifiable business address?

3. Can I take the kids to open houses/viewings? I've been to places that require a photo ID in order to enter and view places. My kids have these but are there generally age restrictions?

Thanks, hivemind!
posted by lysdexic to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You will need to come in person. Do not attempt to do this online.

Craigslist sucks, but it is the answer. Use Padmapper, especially the mobile version and come up and spend the day looking. Places do not stay on the market, do it live, do it in one-two days.

The photo id thing is not an issue. That's just for you.
posted by rr at 11:37 AM on August 3, 2014

Best answer: Yeah, you have to do it in person. Get some temporary housing while you look. AirBnb can be good for that, or there are some more corporate options. Does the new job come with any relocation help?

Padmapper/craigslist are the way to go. Line up as many viewings per day as you can handle and don't bother with anything more than a couple days old. Show up with credit report + renting resume in hand and a checkbook to put down a deposit if you need to (I'm serious, sadly).

If that's not an option, the bigger apartment complexes are much easier to work with than landlords. The rents will be higher but there will be much less bullshit and drama overall. (Try Avalon for a start, but there are others. Find them on Trulia rentals.)
posted by annekate at 11:45 AM on August 3, 2014

Craigslist is the way to go in the Bay Area. Yes there are some scams but as long as you're savvy they won't be more than the occasional annoyance. It would definitely be worth it to get a place on AirBnB or the like temporarily.
posted by radioamy at 12:21 PM on August 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've lived in the Bay Area almost my entirely life. It's been well over a decade since craigslist was the only place to find a new place to live.
posted by colin_l at 3:03 PM on August 3, 2014

Have you already figured out which schools you want your kids to attend? That would be my first step and then I'd look for housing within those school districts.
posted by mareli at 4:08 PM on August 3, 2014

Response by poster: mareli, I haven't really decided on schools. I need middle and elementary. It's pretty confusing to try and find something "good" even with greatschools.com. Their ratings may be great, but the reviews will be negative. Conversely a school which is improving in terms of test scores will have good reviews but from four to five years ago.

annekate, the job doesn't have relocation help, and coworkers are either newly parents or don't have kids, so they don't have compatible recommendations as far as schoools/housing go.

I initially am working around a radius stemming from Campbell proper and the surrounding communities. We're including Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Santa Clara, Los Gatos, and Cambrian.

Padmapper looks interesting, but I don't have an iThing or android phone. The website appears to be recycled CL listings, and the search doesn't seem to be as granular as the original CL.

Forgive my ignorance, but how do I get a renting resume? I owned a home for 20 years and then rented for 3. Should I just list my landlord as a reference?

I'm spending today trying to line up visits to likely places I found over the weekend. Larger complexes have some pretty sophisticated search engines but the prices are way up there. I'll be going up later this week to drive around and see those places and to see what I can find just cruising the neighborhood as well.

posted by lysdexic at 7:46 AM on August 4, 2014

Best answer: Rental resume is both what you're looking for and your history. So include previous addresses with landlord contact info for reference, how many people in the family, income/employment, any pets (with their own info and references), etc.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:51 AM on August 4, 2014

Just a piece of advice: if padmapper doesn't immediately make sense to you vs searching craigslist the problem is that you do not understand the bay area traffic situation nor the very tight housing market. Try taking a look at google maps with traffic between 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm and between 7:45 am and 9:30 am. This is why location awareness is so important.

That said, you can bring a laptop and padmapper online via coffeeshops and even (in MV, some parts) google wifi (if it happens to be running).
posted by rr at 1:20 PM on August 5, 2014

Response by poster: I found a little place in near some good schools that will do for now while I look for work and we get to know the area better. A family member found an agent who gave me a lot of the same advice that y'all did, with the caveat that while there's always the potential for scams, Craigslist is essentially the Google of the rental/sales market, and should be treated as such.

Listings that had no phone numbers I dismissed out of hand. Likewise prices too good to be true.

Interestingly, having a printout or even my laptop with my credit report pulled up was not effective. Apartment complexes have their own systems for determining who they'll rent to, and they'll look at different bits of your credit report to feed into their formulas. Having a couple of years' tax returns and current pay stubs that I could hand over or email was also necessary.

I'll give Padmapper another try as we start looking for a larger place.

Thanks again!
posted by lysdexic at 12:57 PM on August 10, 2014

« Older Advice please on how to untangle or cut this...   |   Should I tell the truth or let him down easy? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.