Where can I look to find a rental in Santa Barbara?
August 7, 2006 12:01 PM   Subscribe

[SantaBarbaraFilter]I can't find rental housing in Santa Barbara. What's the trick?

Here's what we're looking for (in order of importance): accepts pets (cat and large dog, with references), easy to walk to a bus line, broadband available, cell phones get reception, ample closet space, 1 or 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom is fine, would like a fenced-in yard if possible (for pets), laundry would be nice, parking would be nice, pretty views would be a plus, walkable to groceries would be a plus.

And we're willing to pay up to $2.5k for this, but it'd be nice if it was cheaper, of course.

My boyfriend is a professional, I'm a PhD student. We're in our late 20s/late 30s. He owns a house already (trying to sell). I have good credit, he has great credit.

I obsessively look at the SB Craig's List, we look at the 2 SB newspapers, UCSB's rental listings, rent.com, and Yahoo! housing... and nothing comes up.

Is there a trick? Should we be working through an agent? Any advice from former or current Santa Barbabarians? Any recommendations for neighborhoods to check out?

Also, are the housing prices totally insane or is this just California and I'd better get used to it?
posted by k8t to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
are the housing prices totally insane or is this just California and I'd better get used to it?

yes to both.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 12:11 PM on August 7, 2006

Unfortunately, my solution was moving to Seattle, which isn't very helpful. Are you looking at the rental listings from UCSB's housing office, or just those listed in the student newspaper? I think I found my last apartment in the housing office, but I worked on campus at the time so I had access to it. What about City College - do they have public housing listings? Have you spread the word to everyone you know about what you're looking for?
posted by lemuria at 12:41 PM on August 7, 2006

Thanks Lemuria. I don't know anyone, unfortunately.

I look on UCSB's online thing. I'm looking at SBCC's now. Thanks for the tip.
posted by k8t at 12:45 PM on August 7, 2006

I'm going through a similar process right now. Prices are insane. Landlords are insane. One thing that we noticed is that places tend to get advertised exactly when they become available (i.e. it's very rare to see a place advertised as available a month or even a week in advance). So if you're moving in about a week (like I probably am) and you don't have a place yet (like I don't) you haven't necessarily done anything wrong. Welcome to Santa Barbara.

You've probably already heard this, but unless you wear nothing but tube-tops, and your boyfriend cinches his pants so they hang below his boxers, you shouldn't even consider living in Isla Vista.
posted by Humanzee at 12:51 PM on August 7, 2006

You're doing the right things. It's just that the vacancy rate in SB is really, really low so landlords can afford to be picky and don't feel pressure to make concessions like allowing pets. So the pet requirement, especially for dog-sized needs, is the biggest limitation on your options.

easy to walk to a bus line...walkable to groceries would be a plus

That also narrows your options quite a bit: downtown (pricier), Isla Vista (noisy shitholes), or maybe somewhere along the Hollister corridor (suburban blah). You can find a few other pockets, like the top of the Mesa, that fit this criteria but except for IV and downtown it's kind of a driver's town.

broadband available, cell phones get reception

No problem. Though of course expect some cellular dead spots in the canyons.

pretty views would be a plus

Nearly everywhere in the area has a pretty view, either of ocean or mountains or at least the sea of spanish-style red tile roofs and palm trees.

Agents aren't big in SB the way they are in, say, NYC. It can't hurt to try it, but don't expect them to hustle on your behalf. Maybe some extra listings that aren't shown to the hoi paloi but that's about it.

Your main problem is just bad timing. All the students have come back and snapped up everything they dumped on the market last May. Many places don't even bother to advertise at this time of year because they can rent in a day or two, picking from a couple dozen applicants, so why hassle with all those extra calls.

Pick a neighborhood that meets your shopping/bus/parking needs, and start knocking on doors. It's a friendly town, and someone will know of a house that's coming vacant soon. Once you find a lead, contact the landord immediately. Emphasize your boyfriend's profession and great credit, downplay your student status (Yeah, I know, PhD. Doesn't matter. Students have earned a lousy rep around town, and everyone carries that baggage unfortunately), and offer to a substantial deposit for your pets ("...because we know Fluffy and Rover are so well-trained, we're that confident in getting it back.").

Good luck! And yes, the prices are just that insane. Even doctors and lawyers constantly complain that they can't afford the local cost of living.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:53 PM on August 7, 2006

$2500 should afford those things pretty easily. i lucked out and found my place for $800/month (in the newspress) and it's private, has a pool, ocean views and bad ass new appliances. i'm never moving again.
posted by kooop at 2:12 PM on August 7, 2006

All of the above sounds true. Advertise yourself on craigslist. Talk about all the good mature points you brought up here and avoid having too many preconditions. I just filled the appt in my house with a nice young fellow whose only precondition was "no drugs"and who emphasized his maturity and good behavior.
This will set you aside from the mass's of students whose self description begins and ends with"chill" and all the people who simply must have hardwood floors, access to thermostat, high ceilings, "and if a small creek was on the property that would be nice". How far away are you?
posted by Iron Rat at 2:18 PM on August 7, 2006

SB is expensive-- but you should be able to find what you describe above for far less than $2500-- indeed my building recently had a 2 bedroom with most of what you list (but definitely missing the nice view or yard) for around $1550. You could email her at lonniemillington at cox dot net to see if it's still available (I think it's not)-- she loves to rent to grad students (about half of us here are).

(Now, what's completely insane in SB is the price for buying. The median house price now is something like $900,000! And that includes condos!)
posted by mollymolo at 5:21 PM on August 7, 2006

Thanks all. I'd appreciate any leads!
posted by k8t at 7:38 PM on August 7, 2006

I assume that by the UCSB listings you mean housing.ucsb.edu, have you tried taking a look at the Daily Nexus (the UCSB paper) classifieds? (Although it looks like the listings today are all in IV.)

You might also want to check out the websites of the large property management companies. Sierra Property Management and Wolfe & Associates are two of the big ones. It looks like there are a few places downtown that fit your needs, although I did not check the pet policies of either.
posted by hooves at 8:23 PM on August 9, 2006

We found something on the Mesa through Craig's List!
posted by k8t at 11:37 AM on September 8, 2006

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