How to survive an urgent home-hunt in LA, as a recently disabled person?
May 15, 2015 3:08 PM   Subscribe

ARGH! MOVING! I have less than 2 months to vacate my apartment, and find a new place in Los Angeles. I've moved about a dozen times over the years, but THIS time I don't even know where to begin, because all the stuff I took for granted before requires physical fitness that I no longer have, and I'm running out of time. Could use some advice!

My 1BR apartment (in Valencia, up near Six Flags) is being sold out from under me as a condo, and I want to move to the Santa Monica / Culver City-ish / West LA area to be closer to my friends. Although I am self-employed, I have money saved and decent credit, so I'm less worried about getting a lease than I am about "how the hell can I pull this off by myself?" My job keeps me extremely busy, too, so time is a huge issue!

Background info:

1) Most days I get around slowly with a cane, and am unable to bend, reach, or lift due to inflammatory arthritis. I can drive, but the prospect of running around to 100 different apartments for walk-around tours is horrifying. There's just no way I can handle that alone, as I have in the past.

2) I'm unable to do any serious packing, and asking friends to do everything for me while I sit around watching feels like a little much. I know that professional movers offer "full service" moves, where they will pack everything in your house for you. It's hideously expensive, but it is likely my only choice, and I can afford the expense, though I'd love to minimize it if possible.

I remember that when I moved to New Jersey / NYC, I called a realtor's office, and they scouted out rentals using my criteria and found me a lovely little apartment to rent, and the scouting fee was paid by the landlord. It was super low-stress, and they found a better place than I could have on my own, with an independent landlord so I didn't have to deal with management companies. It was so awesome.

But I don't know if the same thing even exists in LA; I've called a few realtors' offices, and they were extremely confused and directed me to Craigslist. "We help people BUY houses, not rent"

My actual questions:

1) Is there a type of agent out here I can hire to work with me personally and find me a nice rental property meeting my needs, without me having to personally go hunting? A few visits after whittling it down won't be a problem, I just want someone to do most of the whittling for me, and basically present a few options that I can choose from and go look at.

2) I already have a GREAT non-shady local mover, but do you have any tips for streamlining the "full-service" move to save on costs, while taking into account that I must go REALLY easy on my joints and not over-exert?
posted by jake to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
I just packed up my own 1BR apartment to move this weekend, as a reasonably fit 20-something, and it was exhausting. Given your physical limitations, I would really just shell out for the full service move with packing (and unpacking, if possible). Or, see if hiring a few college students to pack for you would be cheaper than using the movers. You can buy packing materials like paper and bubble wrap at Home Depot; order on their website and just pick everything up at the Customer Service desk.
posted by serelliya at 3:23 PM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: (And BTW, I've used WestsideRentals which is frequently recommended -- and it still feels like "fend for yourself" territory, one step above Craigslist -- I really do prefer to work with a person, in person or on the phone, who will work to find me a place. I'm just having a bear of a time finding any kind of professional rental agents out here, like is this really an East Coast Only thing, and everyone out here just figures it out for themselves?)
posted by jake at 3:39 PM on May 15, 2015

Rental brokers aren't a thing in LA, although I'm sure some real estate agents offer those services on occasion. Try searching Yelp for rental agents to find a list of people who might be willing. You can try the Rental Girl although they might just handle their own listings. Mention your physical issues upfront so that they understand that you're a particularly serious customer.
posted by acidic at 3:48 PM on May 15, 2015

Yeah , the ugly thing about L.A. renting is that most pay services are just going to give you re-posts of things on CL- because why would they not post it there also, to reach as many people as possible? For example, I got an apartment off The Rental Girl site once, but they also post all their stuff to CL.

I had good luck using an app called Lovely, which just scrapes CL, but gives you the benefit of seeing them on a map and some other helpful metadata that makes it less of a scam-riddled crapshoot.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:52 PM on May 15, 2015

Also, and apologies because this is an area I know nothing about, but might there be some agency or city service specifically to match disabled people with appropriate housing? Hopefully someone can weigh in on that.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:53 PM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

While rental brokers are not really a thing in Los Angeles, they DO exist. When you're looking on Westside Rentals, particularly on the west side, you may start to notice, when calling about certain properties, that you are talking to a real estate agent or a person who works for a large property management firm. You can tell them what you're looking for specifically, and about your limitations/concerns, and ask them if they're able to help you by organizing a showing of multiple apartments, or are willing to work with you by sending pictures, video, etc. There are several large rental management conglomerate companies that I remember seeing - one that comes to mind is Elly Nesis - they have signs on MANY properties in LA - and they probably have many properties to show. I don't know what your budget is, but you might try calling someplace like Park LaBrea - it's a HUGE apartment city, really - just near the Grove in miracle mile. They may have lots of units coming available in your time frame, and if you've seen one or two, you've seen 'em all.

When it comes to moving, absolutely hire someone to pack and move you. It's expensive, but I have used North Star Moving for two moves and their rates were reasonable and they did a great and fast job.

Good luck in your search!
posted by pazazygeek at 4:41 PM on May 15, 2015

I haven't used them, but perhaps something like Task Rabbit for the packing?
posted by kbuxton at 4:44 PM on May 15, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far, folks! I've been texting with one of my best friends (who lives in Lincoln Heights and knows the city -- and real estate -- super well) this afternoon and he's already jumped on the case, scouring CL and RentalGirl with me, and making me promise to go with him and go just drive around some areas with him this weekend and look for places. If I can't find a broker or agent who will simplify the process (for which I'm still holding out hope, and I will take your advice, pazazygeek!) I'll have to get resourceful, but even if my body doesn't work, my brain does, and I can do this!

Having good friends means you're never completely on your own, and I'm amazingly grateful for that, but any general wisdom on this is highly appreciated, since it's a challenge I've never faced!
posted by jake at 4:56 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of property management companies when I google them for LA. We had wonderful luck finding a rental this way, when we moved from Washington to Oregon. Worth a try?
posted by mumstheword at 11:28 PM on May 15, 2015

I bet the Westside Center for Independent Living will have some kind of helpful information.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:03 AM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Packing sucks, but many hands really do make quick work of it.

I moved house when just about bed-ridden from a back injury. 8 of my friends came over, I ordered in some great food and a delivery of champagne, and within 3-4 hours, they had my 3 bedroom apartment packed up. (I have a LOT of stuff).

Asking 1 or 2 friends to do your packing isn't viable - but if you can get a group together and blast some great music, it can be a great social event that isn't that tedious. You can make it easier by ordering in boxes, markers, masking tape, and everything else you may need.

As for looking for a place, definitely pay for a property management company.
posted by shazzam! at 8:49 PM on May 16, 2015

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