If I live in a tiny, shitty studio, will I hate my life?
August 13, 2014 2:42 PM   Subscribe

I've been looking for a new place to live come September 1st for at least a month. I'm very wary of Craigslist roomshares at this point. I'm currently leaving one, and I do not want to deal with another adult who needs a roommate to afford their rent and yet thinks they are the Queen of the Apartment. But the studios I can afford are small and super shitty.

I'm really, really sick of bad roommates and feeling like an interloper. ("Why yes, I do need a roommate to afford this apartment. But it's my apartment, dammit, and you must put up with my shit and follow my rules.") I'm sick of cleaning up after someone, I'm sick of dealing with uptight assholes, and generally, I'm sick of roommates.

But I don't make a lot of money. I put in an application for a studio in the crappy, eastern edge of Koreatown. It's a small, basement studio and I'd need to pay for parking in a nearby lot because street parking sucks. The apartment itself has some nice details, and I've heard surprisingly good things about the management company. It's extremely cheap, they allow pets in case I want to get one, and it would be mine. But I'm still worried that I'll hate living in a basement studio near Wilshire/Vermont. I'm looking at some roommate situations, too, but the only ones I've liked haven't chosen me or flaked out for some reason.

Did you sacrifice quality for not having roommates? How'd that work out for you?

(If anyone has any MacArthur Park/Koreatown parking secrets, let me know)!
posted by ablazingsaddle to Home & Garden (50 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I made the choice to live in a shitty studio (cinder block walls!) for similar reasons my senior year in college and I absolutely loved it. I had everything I needed, it was easy to clean, and completely my own space.
posted by something something at 2:46 PM on August 13, 2014 [18 favorites]

Knowing your limitations w/r/t cost and tolerance level for roommates, I'd say definitely get the studio. If you can maintain an attitude of gratefulness that, no matter how shitty, at least it's yours!, you can withstand almost anything.

I mean, provided you're not facing constant threats and flooding. Do make sure you have good renter's insurance. But my first apartment alone, during grad school, was so charming. And it was 500 sq ft in the basement of an old carriage house that backed into the woods. In the South. With no air-conditioning. There were regular pest outbreaks. Disruptive ones. Everything from termite swarms to groundhogs, with lots of mice, roaches, and spiders in between. But it was cool! I had plenty of bleach, caulked up the cracks, and my landlord was supportive enough to send out pest control when I needed it. Sometimes I'd see teenagers getting high in the woods out back. There was vomit on the sidewalk here and there. But: it was mine!

I don't know if I could do now what was comfortable at age 25, but I look back so fondly on that little apartment. IMO it's worth almost anything to move out of a bad roommate situation.
posted by magdalemon at 2:50 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is it possible to get rid of your car and get a nicer (but possibly still small) studio apartment?

Everybody is different in what they need, and it's really up to you whether a small basement apartment would be grating. For me, I would not be able to deal with a basement apartment, but tiny studios are just fine (especially when I was single). However, some people are happy in basement apartments, but need a minimum of 800 sq ft.
posted by ethidda at 2:50 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I did this (i.e. live in a shitty studio rather than with roommates) for a year while my partner and I were long distance -- it mostly worked out OK. Things in its favour: newly reno-ed, landlords were really great, liked the location. Things not in its favour: it got really cold in the winter (and it was hard having no natural light), it was a basement so it flooded when we had a really bad rainstorm, cell reception was iffy. BUT it was my space, which was huge in terms of piece of mind, way better than having roommates.

I don't regret it, even though I did move somewhere above ground as soon as I could swing it.
posted by SoftRain at 2:52 PM on August 13, 2014

I definitely can't give up my car. I need it for work. I'm hoping to spend $70 or less per month on a parking spot.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:52 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Of course one measure of the quality of an apartment is how comfortable you are there -- and if you don't have to worry about mercurial roommates (being messy, inviting their friends to crash on the couch for weeks, grumpy silent treatment for no obvious reason, blasting music you hate, etc.), then having a space of your own is awesome. Basement apartments aren't ideal, but I'd take one over a flaky non-friend roommate any day.
posted by lisa g at 2:53 PM on August 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

I stopped having roommates in order to live in a tiny studio and I never regretted it. Not having roommates is glorious! I know some people really like the social interactions, but man, I had some shitty roommates and loved having my own space.

That said, my place was tiny and had windows that looked out on a brick wall, but I have no frame of reference for the areas you are talking about to know if it's truly comparable.
posted by ohisee at 2:57 PM on August 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would choose a studio over a roommate in a hot minute. Even shitty studios can be remediated with better lighting and some decorating. Be sure to get renter's insurance. Your car insurance company will probably gladly sell you a policy and it's so super cheap.
posted by quince at 2:57 PM on August 13, 2014 [12 favorites]

Yes, I did this exact thing. After about nine months, I got really tired of living in a studio and moved to a bigger apartment. I'm not home very much and didn't think it would be a problem, but it was. Living in a studio felt like living in a college dorm room, and after having owned and lived in a full-size house for several years in a previous city (where housing was much, much cheaper), this just wasn't acceptable. I'm not sure how old you are, but I'm in my 30s and it was one of those "I'm just too old for this" kinds of things.

I disagree with the premise that studios are easier to maintain than larger spaces. Having a very small space takes different, but I think equal amounts of maintenance. I had virtually no storage space, so I had to think about every single item that came into my apartment. It got very exhausting agonizing over whether I could keep items that had sentimental but no practical value. With a larger space, you could dump it in a box in the closet and make a decision later.

There's also more daily cleaning that has to happen. My kitchen was just feet from my bed, so if you didn't do the dishes every day, it felt gross. The studio had a murphy bed, and making your space look like a real living space and not your bedroom required putting it up and taking it down every day. That may not seem like a lot, but do you really want to do that every single day? It's so nice to be able to just walk to another room.

You also get really stir crazy in a way you don't when you have multiple rooms to move to. I go out most nights of the week, so I thought this wouldn't be an issue, but I happened to get sick a few times and had to stay in for a few days. I thought I was going to go mad.

You can also never really have friends over, which may or may not be an issue for you.

So what did I do? I moved to a more transitional neighborhood and stretched my budget in order to get a bigger place. I'm much happier.
posted by unannihilated at 3:01 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Studio, no problem. The basement, for me, would be a little rough...I personally feel a little depressed without bright light, plus, noise from upstairs bothers me. YMMV. Do you need to live in that area? I bet you could find something cheap in another neighborhood with street parking, and maybe upstairs.

(What really has changed my quality of life in the past, even though you say it's not possible, is not having a car. You'd be right next to a Metro station. Unless your job is absolutely amazing, could you consider working near one of the other stops (Los Feliz, downtown)? I did this in LA and believe me, not driving made everything 10 times better).
posted by three_red_balloons at 3:05 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is Los Angeles. The rental market here is insane, and I'm kind if poor.

$775/month including utilities, and with parking, I'd still technically be overspending. Can answers please accept the terms of my question and not speculate on what I can afford, please?
posted by ablazingsaddle at 3:08 PM on August 13, 2014

Oh man. I had one shitty roomate in college, and I lived in 'shitty' studios for years until I met my wife and we moved in together.

They're fucking glorious. Even the shitty ones.

My best advice? Make your own shelves. My longest lived studio was actually the smallest, and I was able to make that place feel like a palace because every inch of space had a custom one-off shelf in it. I lived there for several years, so it made it easy to do piecemeal. I built an entire pantry in a weird shaped L corner between a wall and the fridge, that held more than a weeks worth of groceries and staples. Make these things TALL and get yourself a stepladder. Shelves that don't go up to the ceiling are wasted space in a studio.

Its workable, but most certainly you should be cruising 'small home' and 'small space' posts on design blogs, certain elements will work for your studio and you can make it kickass. Its doable, and the alternative of living with roommates is well worth the 'lack' of space.

If it is a basement studio, get some full spectrum bulbs for every lighting fixture you have (or at least the main ones), this will help keep it from feeling too dark. I did this in my studio just because it had shitty natural light, and it helped LOADS.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:11 PM on August 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm fine with small spaces but haven't liked the basements I've lived in. That said, I'd take the worst of those basements over a roommate, especially a crappy roommate. Maybe people familiar with LA can recommend a better neighborhood, but if your choice is this or another bad sharing situation I'd jump and never look back.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:12 PM on August 13, 2014

Yes, I did basically just that in my twenties: I still characterize my three main roommates as The Bitch, The Witch And The Bastard.... people who didn't have their own lives together but were more than happy to tell me what I was doing 'wrong' --- sound familiar? The choice came down to exactly what you're faced with: minimal living space all to yourself or yet another roommate (and oh god what will this one come up with?!?)

I opted for peace over chaos; it's more expensive, cash-wise, but far far cheaper on your soul. Take the apartment and make it yours; remember that you don't have to live there forever if you don't like it!
posted by easily confused at 3:15 PM on August 13, 2014

One important detail to make sure of is that the area is reasonably safe. I would always choose the roommate in the safe neighborhood over the studio by myself in the unsafe neighborhood. I've been down that road and the experience was more stressful than roommates.

If you get the studio, ask about any lease breaking fees. If you are dealing with a reputable management company (and it sounds like you are - good!) they should offer a get out clause should you decide that it's not for you.

Aside from that, heck yeah, living without roommates is Way Better. I enjoy the peaceful, tranquil sanctuary that is my own place.
posted by jazzbaby at 3:17 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have sacrificed space for solitude, and would do so again if in a heartbeat if I were not now a homeowner. Some of us are just not meant for roommates, and will go to great lengths to live without them. Only you know if that sounds like you, of course.
posted by Stacey at 3:33 PM on August 13, 2014

Living by yourself is great.

I don't consider that such a bad location, given the proximity to Silver Lake/Echo Park and also the Miracle Mile area.

That said, I'd make sure there are bars on the windows. I don't hear of a lot of robberies anywhere in L.A. besides Venice, but first-floor places are always a tempting target. I'd also be on the lookout for potential bug/rodent issues. These tend to crop up in older buildings on the Eastside.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:34 PM on August 13, 2014

Did you sacrifice quality for not having roommates? How'd that work out for you?

It was fucking great, no question.

You need to figure out if you would like a good roommate or if you'd really prefer to live alone. If the idea of being alone would drive you bonkers, you're obviously not going to be happy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:37 PM on August 13, 2014

I hate roommates, so I feel your pain. I would rather live in a small, cramped space that is Mine All Mine, because the peace of mind that comes from not having to live with tyrannical, deadbeat, and/or mentally unstable roommates is PRICELESS.

Furnace heart's suggestion about looking at "small space" blogs and articles is a really great one. Many people are into the small space concept now so you can get ideas about storage and decor.

I agree with jazzbaby - you really do need to be sure that your studio is in a reasonably safe neighborhood. Especially if you're a woman, the stress that comes from living in an unsafe neighborhood isn't worth it. I also would be sure that your apartment doesn't have too many serious problems that would make your life miserable and/or a constant hassle to deal with.

But if the place is safe and decent, I think you will be much happier there than dealing with roommates. Some of us are happier living alone!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:37 PM on August 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

The only way I will ever live with roommates again is if we are lifers in the fed pen.

Go for the studio.
posted by elizardbits at 3:39 PM on August 13, 2014 [15 favorites]

No roommates is better. But if you're sensitive to environment, a demoralizing neighbourhood and space (and lack of light) can get to you in a different and equally bad way. Small on its own is one thing (I agree, you have to be careful with design and it can get crazy-making, but it's not impossible to make it pleasant); adding being underground is something else.. I don't know how constraining the rental market / lease conventions (re timing) are in your area (like how hard would it be to get a yearly lease in October?) - could you maybe sublet a place for a month until you found something above ground?
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:41 PM on August 13, 2014

Just a counterpoint here: how is the light, and how is the design?

I know people who can decorate a small space so that it looks great and feels comfortable. If you have that talent then go for it.

Otherwise, I think I would start to feel like I'm living in a cage. I live in a small studio now, but there's a yard outside and louvered windows that allow in a lot of light. It's great. But I've also stayed briefly in spaces that were basically cement cubes, and I felt like I was in a prison.
posted by kanewai at 3:41 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've lived in shitty studios. i've lived in shitty and nice rental houses with roommates. i've lived in awesome apartments with roommates. i've lived in semi-shitty college-area duplex/triplex apartments with roommates(wall off the old stairway? Nahhh, we'll just put a fridge in it and put a board above it. Don't worry about anyone shoving their way in from the laundry room you're being paranoid!).

I fucking loved my tiny studio. If i wanted quiet, alone time to just cock around on the internet, or read, or play video games, or watch stupid tv, or make music, or any number of things instead of being bothered by friends or people... i could just put my phone on vibrate and do it. I could bring anyone i wanted to over any time without it being a problem, or being glared at, or whatever. Want to stay up drinking with an old friend you haven't seen in years until 5am on a tuesday because that's your friday? fucking do it, no one to whine.

No one borrowing your phone charger while you're out of hte house, burying it somewhere in their room, and then going to work and not answering their phone when you need to go to bed and your phones almost dead.* No coming home after having to work 5 hours longer than you expected to, only to find a room full of people loudly watching a movie at 11:45pm. Just... none of that. And yea, as you mentioned above, no space queens who despite you splitting the place 50/50(or oh god, worse, they're in the master suite and you're paying less and they act like you have a steerage class ticket to the place).

I don't know if i could ever have roommates again. It's one thing to split a place with a partner/S.O., but roommates just have so many fucking stupid failure modes. I've gotten in to the DUMBEST situations even with the best roommates. Even the quietest, most introverted ideal seeming people get fucking stupid and turn into orangutans once in a while. Or they involve someone else who does.*

The only cool roommate situation that's tempted me in years was a room in a full sized mansion(with a theater! and a pool/hot tub! and a real pizza oven!), where there was actually something like 100 feet and several walls between me and the next person, and i could completely avoid them if i wanted to indefinitely and would never even hear them. And i still walked on it for a relatively tiny apartment. The point i'm getting at, is that's the only thing that even tempted me.

I'm not a loner, i'm actually kind of an extrovert who loves hanging out with my friends. I just like being able to actually CHOOSE when i get alone time, and that always seems to get fucked up and encroached on with roommates. Or i'm branded a shitty roommate for not wanting to participate, or whatever. You sound pretty similar, and i think you'd _love_ living in a shitty studio.

*this is actually a simulated scenario, but stupid shit like this happened all the time even with the best roommates i had.

**Aforementioned best example roommate, who was perfect for years, broke up with her boyfriend and threw him out. he was also a totally fucking awesome for the same period of time, quiet, considerate roommate. He got his mom to come help him move out with her truck or giant van or whatever... and she stole a bunch of my shit thinking it was his/gifts from her. Never ever got it back. This is the kind of stupid curveball that i've ever been able to escape. Everyone involved in this was graduate school age too... ugh.

posted by emptythought at 4:02 PM on August 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

My sister lived in Koreatown. I kind of liked the neighborhood. I'd MUCH rather live in a little studio than with roommates. I'd even improve it to please myself!

Give it a try, what's the worst that can happen? You end up looking for a new place somewhere down the line.

I live in a basement apartment (garden actually) it's great on utilities and it's pretty quiet all things considered.

So congrats on finding your cute little studio! Also, you should be able to get some AMAZING take out around there!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:07 PM on August 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I moved to an apartment I totally couldn't afford to finally free myself of roommates and it was the greatest damn thing I ever did. Even more than a year into living there, I would unlock the door, put my hand on the doorknob, and I'd be flooded with this huge sense of relief and excitement: here was MY sanctuary.
Basement apartments benefit from bright colors, maybe some plants if you have enough light. And guess what? You can do whatever the hell you want with it. Your curtains, your rugs, your temporary disaster until you scrounge up enough cash for some cheap decorations. You'll never live with any thing you don't like because it's completely your stuff. Your food in the fridge, and if you're lazy, they're just your dishes in the sink. There's no one else to tip-toe around, no one else to consider, and no one else to make space for, physically or mentally.
Want to walk around naked? Go ahead. Want to watch When Harry Met Sally while eating an entire pizza? Go on with your bad self! Want to have a small dance party of one after a great day of work? You betcha!
As long as there aren't serious things like really terrible crime, or mold issues, or bugs, or whatnot, go for it! Beyond the stuff that really sucks, quirks of cheap places can be charming if you have the right attitude.
If you're worried about missing the social interaction of roommates, just make sure you get out and see friends more often. And, hell, even though your space is small, have someone over! Show off your awesome, new place!
posted by missmary6 at 4:31 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

How tiny are we talking about here?
400-450 sq. ft. is eminently liveable. Less than that and it will feel extremely tiny.

That said, this is a temperament issue. No one likes tiny basement living spaces. But some people don't like roommates more than they dislike tiny spaces.

Basements suffer from a lack of natural light. The people who make good use of small spaces don't have workspaces/studies in their apartments and use the spaces mostly for sleeping.

That said, give some serious thought to whether your professional decisions can sustain your lifestyle preferences. If you can't pay very much in rent and can't tolerate roommates and/or very small spaces in not such great neighborhoods, then something has to change-- either your preferences or your salary.
posted by deanc at 4:56 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can't speak for the basementness of it or the neighborhood but my favorite place was a 250sf studio. I had full on dinner parties and plenty of friends over. This studio was also after a whole lot of roommates and I loved having my own place. I lived there for 4 years and just loved it. I really think you should try it.
posted by 58 at 5:24 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think I've been lucky - the last few times I had a roommates, they were great. That said, I only rent studios now, and the main hit would be paycheck. Renting a studio costs a fair bit more, but I've gained a very important thing: Privacy.

So far, it's worked out very well, and I can't see myself going back to a share house unless things get really dire.

Can't help with the basement/LA things sadly. All the best!
posted by TrinsicWS at 5:32 PM on August 13, 2014

Hi, I live in Koreatown (near the western edge, in a not-exactly-shitty-but-close studio with street parking) and I've lived in Westlake/MacArthur Park in the past in a shitty studio.

Honestly street parking woes are going to be your number 1 QOL issue, so it's good that you're resolved to find a spot to call your own. Whether or not you can find one for $70/mo is another story.

Next down the list would be the basement location. Is this the only apartment the management company has shown you? Call your contact with them and see if they have anything else available for you. They will attempt to pass you off into their absolute worst available apartment. Sunlight was a priority for me (depriving my cats of their natural re-charging stations was not an option) so I held out for a place up a few floors, but if you think you can deal with the odd views and shadows of living in a basement I don't see any other issues.

The space is what you make it. There's a lot you can do in a tiny apartment, even frugally, so don't despair the lack of square footage. With parking taken care of and a good attitude about how far above ground you are living, you should be just fine. Living alone is incredibly freeing!
posted by carsonb at 5:56 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, I goddamned hear you loud and clear about the rental situation in Los Angeles. It sucks for folks in our situation, and it is nigh on untenable. But 775 utils included is doable, and if you can hang on to it and don't totally hate it you're going to be loving that rent when you make a little more dough regularly. You're in the cheapest neighborhood in the region. As long as you're not living on Normandie south of Wilshire (that horrible stretch of "Artists Accommodations") you're probably going to really enjoy your new living situation.
posted by carsonb at 5:59 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I first moved to Seattle about 4 1/2 years ago, I started off in a tiny, shitty extended stay motel room (300 sq ft) in the 'burbs. Then I got roommates in the 'burbs. Then I got roommates in the city. Then I got a tiny, shitty studio (200 sq ft) in the city. Then I got a one bedroom in the 'burbs'. Then I got another (different) tiny, shitty studio (300 sq ft) in the city. This is just Seattle. Needless to say, I've lived in a number of tiny, shitty studios in cities.

And you know what? The tiny, shitty studios have been the best! However, I definitely understand that not everyone can cope in tiny living arrangements - for someone who leans towards minimalism though, it's a wonderful fit.

That said, I would only swap my tiny, shitty studio for a roommate situation if those roommates were already established friends of mine. Otherwise, I would not swap privacy for space.
posted by stubbehtail at 6:03 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Tiny shitty studios are more bearable if you have a view of trees and/or sky out your windows.
posted by mareli at 6:13 PM on August 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think the answer depends largely on how much you care about and are affected by your surroundings.

For some, home is a place to sleep and store stuff.

I've known plenty of people who were completely indifferent to their "space", as long as it kept them reasonably warm / cool / dry. If that's you, then this studio is as good as any other housing option.

For others, elements such as design, decor, light, energy, etc. are all essential to a sense of "home" and well being. If that's you, then this studio sounds like it could be on the dismal side.

My experience includes 3 months in a run-down studio and 7 years in a tiny 2 room mini-partment. These rooms were fine for me at the time, certainly preferable to the roommate situations you describe.

Ultimately, it wasn't the size or quality of the rooms that drove me out. Loud, nasty neighbors can ruin even the most ideal living situation. Consider that before renting anything, anywhere.

Good luck.
posted by falldownpaul at 6:53 PM on August 13, 2014

I moved out of an annoying roommate situation into a tiny studio, and only lasted 6 months before I escaped to a one-bedroom that was over my budget but at least where I had some room to move, dammit.

But that studio was really, really, really tiny. Like 250 square feet tiny. And not set up well, so all my stuff was on top of each other. It was basically just a bedroom with a kitchen and bathroom. And that was just not enough space for me. I think it might have been ok if it were a bit bigger, or had higher ceilings so I could have had a lofted bed, or been better-designed (protip: the best setup is a long, narrow studio so you can put your bed on one end and your living area on the other).

One thing to take into account: how messy are you and/or how much does clutter bother you? I think living in a super-tiny place can work well if you are either really organized/clean or if mess and clutter just don't bother you. Because it's true that it takes less time to clean a studio, but it also takes less time to get it messy/dirty. Leave a few pieces of clothing on the floor and a crafts project on the table, and it's officially messy. Honestly, I'm kind of a slob, and this is what made living in a tiny studio impossible for me.

One tip: check out Apartment Therapy's Small Cool Contest. They do it every year, so you can go through the archives. Look out for good small-space-living ideas, but ALSO check out the layout of the best ones. Look out for apartments with a similar layout and see how they dealt with it. For instance, this is how I figured out that a long rectangle is a better shape for a studio, rather than the square my apartment was. (oh, and note that a lot of the entries in the AT contest are wealthy and/or own their places, so they can do lots of things you won't be able to do. But it's still a good source of ideas.)

Good luck!
posted by lunasol at 6:54 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's an example of another studio in your price range, not that far away, in an area where it would be a little easier to park (especially if you're willing to walk a couple of blocks) and it's on the second floor with nice light. I think the basement, if it's dark, would really compound the effects of living in a small space (I live in an incredibly tiny studio now, smaller than the one I just linked to, but the light saves it). I might keep looking a little longer if I were you.
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:42 PM on August 13, 2014

Ah, three_red_balloons links to the dreaded bachelor apartment. It is vital that you note the different in Los Angeles rental culture between a Studio Apartment and a Bachelor Apartment.

A studio apartment usually has 3 sections: Living area, kitchen, and bathroom/closet. Your living area is where you spend your time not cooking or bathing, be it sleeping or working or just sitting. You get a kitchen, usually with appliances or hookups for appliances. You get a full bathroom.
A bachelor apartment is usually a single room. It does not have a full kitchen; it will usually have a sink—though sometimes only a bathroom sink—and a hot plate and maybe a small refrigerator. No stove/range, no oven, no full-size fridge nor freezer, and usually not a lot of counter space. And the 'kitchen area' is just that, usually a corner or one wall of the living area and not a separate room. There's usually a bathroom.

Opting for a bachelor apartment would work against you in a considerable way when assessing your QOL standards. It's worse than street parking, IMO. Avoid if possible.

Let me encourage you again to speak with the leasing agent at the management company of the building you're considering. Ask them what else they have available. They may have another property nearby with better rates or rooms available. See if there's wiggle room in the rent. ("Well, this is a basement apartment, maybe you can take $735/mo for that if you don't have anything above ground for me?")

And look outside of Hollywood. Prices can be had a little cheaper East of downtown, and since you're not married to the Red Line and have a car needed for work, commuting might be a better option than living in the middle of the city.
posted by carsonb at 8:07 PM on August 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

You can fix it up to make it nice. The main thing I would worry about is noise from upstairs neighbors, so how tolerable you find it may depend on how tolerable you find earplugs. (They hurt my ears but most people don't seem to mind them.)
posted by Jacqueline at 9:10 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm currently living with housemates, and would have to pay at least twice as much to move to a crappy studio. That's not something I could really stomach. (Though I have to admit, it helps that I really lucked out in the housemate department -- we all clean up after ourselves, pay bills on time, respect the others' bedrooms as scared space we do not enter without permission, and generally act like adults.)

If you're done with roommates, you're done with roommates; I've definitely gone through those feelings. But if you're just done with crappy roommates and moving into situations where you're kind of treated like a boarder, one option is to consider finding a roommate first, then find an apartment together. (Disclaimer: I haven't actually done this myself, but I have seen plenty of ads by people looking to do exactly this.)

Especially if money is tight, it's a little sickening how much we blow on rent. Money stress and living with crappy roommate stress are both huge to me, so maybe it's a close call for you, depending on the particulars. I'm still a little mad at past me for spending so much on living alone for several years, because omg, the awesome vacations we could have gone on.
posted by ktkt at 9:46 PM on August 13, 2014

Ah, three_red_balloons links to the dreaded bachelor apartment. It is vital that you note the different in Los Angeles rental culture between a Studio Apartment and a Bachelor Apartment.

Agreed! Bachelors don't have kitchens. Also I believe that neighborhood is not as nice as Koreatown. I'm sure you've looked at other neighborhoods like Palms and North Hollywood that are safe, maybe a bit uncool and boring but used to be affordable. I'm not familiar with the rental market now so Koreatown may be the most affordable. And you've looked for guest houses and stuff? I have a few friends with really cute guest house apartments in Echo Park, but perhaps over your price range.

Koreatown is actually a great, central place to live. It's pretty safe, especially if you are near some of the nightlife where there are lots of people running around. The parking is a total miserable nightmare, so a parking spot is absolutely crucial. I love Korean food but it would be nice if there were more diverse dining options.

Absolutely try out the studio instead of random roommates. Living alone is the nicest luxury and I would totally prioritize it. Even a basement studio is better than roommates.
posted by rainydayfilms at 3:32 AM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I lived in a studio during my last year of college and didn't mind it at all. One thing that really helped was that I had three of these bookcases. I placed my bed in a corner, then placed the bookcases along the side. It effectively blocked off a separate space for my "bedroom."

If you're afraid of feeling cramped, I'd suggest doing something like this to give yourself the feeling that you have different areas in the apartment.
posted by helloimjohnnycash at 6:33 AM on August 14, 2014

I lived in a studio in Miracle Mile that I loved about a decade ago. I realize MM is out of range now (it was $750 in 2004, wow I am so old) but these are the things that made it lovable:
- Bright, with windows on opposite sides (for cross-ventilation), making the old, run-down quality of the place seem somewhat "quaint"
- On the second floor so there wasn't a lot of foot traffic past my windows
- A parking spot

These are the things that made it less lovable:
- Roach issues
- really thin windows so every noise outside could be heard at all times
- the only walkway right outside my windows, so sometimes folks would just walk by a foot away from where i was sitting or stand outside my door and have a conversation (?)

I didn't feel cramped because I didn't have a lot of stuff (and the place was old enough to have a lot of built-in storage for clothes) and I had a fold-out sleeper sofa, which I somehow found the energy to fold up every day. I can't stress enough how a sleeper sofa or futon makes a studio feel less like you are living in a soup of you, all the time.

My concern about the basement apartment is that you could have very little light, people walking by all the time (those two depend on the placement of the unit, of course) and definitely bug issues, being sub-street level. And those things wouldn't bother everyone, and they might not bother you. I second rainydayfilms's suggestion to check out garden or "mother in law" units. Those might be a bit smaller, but they will be brighter and in more residential areas so the parking situation will probably be better. And look at Mid-City, if you haven't. It's gentrifying (ugh), but there are still a lot of good deals and the parking situation is so much better than K-Town.
posted by tyrantkitty at 9:45 AM on August 14, 2014

Hey, I didn't read all the comments but I live in Ktown a couple blocks from Wilshire / Vermont. I love living in this neighborhood, and I personally would rather live alone in a shitty, tiny apartment than with a stranger, but I'm a serious introvert.

I unfortunately do not have any parking secrets - we have a parking spot in our building - but I definitely think getting a spot makes more sense than trying to park on the street.
posted by insectosaurus at 11:15 AM on August 14, 2014

or oh god, worse, they're in the master suite and you're paying less and they act like you have a steerage class ticket to the place.

THIS! I just saw a room yesterday - and to be perfectly honest, I applied for it - in a two bedroom apartment in Chinatown and there is no way that the other roommate is paying half the rent. Jeeze louise, people, I wasn't born yesterday. I've seen enough rental listings in LA to know when someone is trying to get a roommate to subsidize their life.

To answer a few questions: It is definitely not a bachelor apartment. I could not deal with a bachelor apartment. I like to cook too much to deal with not having a kitchen and having my eating area right in my bedroom. Gross.

The space itself is pretty nice. Hardwood floors, nice windows, and it's not directly facing the street so while there's a lack of a view, I don't think there's going to be much foot traffic or people hanging out right next to my windows. 500 sq feet.

Really, my main concerns are, in order of importance, a) getting a place by the first, b) finding cheap parking, and c) finding affordable wireless internet.

I also like to run outside, but I'm sure I'll find a nice neighborhood to jog in. My friend who lives on the western edge Koreatown recommended running or driving over to Hancock Park.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:11 PM on August 14, 2014

And yes, perhaps with a few exceptions, guest houses in Echo Park are running at least $1000/month.

The rent is too damn high. I also need to start making more money.

Thanks for the helpful answers.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:12 PM on August 14, 2014

To me, 500 sq ft seems fairly large. I've had two apartments that size or larger and my partner and I are currently building something under 400 sq ft to live in together. (But that will have a garage and a workshop and plenty of storage, so it's kind of cheating on the small part, and we are kind of unconventional.) So I would say that if you can have 500 sq ft, and you're okay with the basement aspect, go and look at blogs like Apartment Therapy on how to organize your things. Figure out how to get cheap shelving.

For example: We put large baskets under our bed, like captain's beds, so we don't have a dresser. My side of the bed is right next to the wall, so we put a wall shelf with lip on that wall instead of having a nightstand.

If light does become an issue, you may have to splurge on some lighting. What I do is buy floor lamps that point to the ceiling. It will usually accommodate 60 or 100W of lighting. Then I buy the highest wattage fluorescent lightbulb in "natural" light range that I can find. Usually the equivalent incandescent wattage is much more than 100W or whatever the light can take, but the actual electricity used is much less than the limit. I put 2 or 3 of those around the room and it lights it right up. Alternatively, get one of those "sun lamps" that simulate daylight.
posted by ethidda at 2:39 PM on August 14, 2014

Oh! I'm ALL up in that totes adorbs studio, given what you've just updated with. Do find the parking. I subsidized the City of Oakland when I rented MY studio there with horrible on street parking.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you, it sounds like the ideal situation!

500 sq ft is spacious when it's just you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:40 PM on August 14, 2014

500 square feet! Oh, that's TOTALLY doable and you should ignore everything I said about my super-tiny studio. With 500 sq ft, you could get a couple of expedit bookcases or other sorts of room dividers and make it almost feel like a one-bedroom.
posted by lunasol at 7:47 PM on August 14, 2014

500sqft, rofl, that is not a shitty studio. The one from my story was probably... 250? it might have even been less.

Everything you described sounds great, go for it.
posted by emptythought at 7:54 PM on August 14, 2014

$775 including utilities for 500 sq.ft with a full kitchen and hardwood floors? That is a steal, and a spacious, livable steal at that.
posted by deanc at 7:55 PM on August 14, 2014

Okay, now I'm starting to doubt that it's actually 500 sq ft. Still, it's not that small. I don't think I'd need a daybed.

God I hope I get it!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:24 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older UK Childrens' songfilter   |   How do I get antidepressants? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.