Going to UCLA may be one of the most memorable and rewarding times in your life. The alma mater of 15 Nobel laureates and 2 Pulitzer Prize winners, UCLA is a vibrant university community of athletes and scholars known for its state-of-the-art medical program and expansive list of museums. When you attend UCLA you are attending the most applied to university in the world. However, that glow of success can quickly fade when you begin looking for somewhere to live while you attend school. Nearly all students live in dorm housing their freshman year because finding independent housing is such a lottery. Here are two keys to finding an affordable place around campus.
The first key to finding affordable UCLA off campus housing is planning ahead. If you come from an area where you can find an apartment and move within a few weeks or a month, moving to L.A. can be a shock. Housing is at a premium, so unless you are willing to live in a closet, start looking at least six months in advance. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a rental that has absolutely everything you want. Decide what you have to have, like AC and parking, and what is negotiable, like a pool or gym.
Consider what type of rental agreement you’ll accept. When looking for an apartment in West LA consider the pros and cons of a standard lease, subleasing or taking over a lease. A regular lease locks in your price for a full year. Subleasing means you only stay there until the lease returns. You aren’t on the lease so if something goes wrong, the landlord usually won’t work with you. Taking over a lease means you’re lease is locked in at the prior price but you’re also liable for any issues that existed before your takeover, so if there is money owed or damage to the property, you’ll become liable, even if you aren’t at fault.
Rooming with other people will reduce your rent and utilities. Take into consideration what you want your life to look like. Don’t assume that you should room with your best friend. If you two have different hours and levels of cleanliness it could break up your relationship. Try searching groups on Facebook and use the UCLA Housing Resource Guide to help you find potential roommates. You will be sharing living space with these people for up to a year; vet them. Visit them where they live now. Find out about their study and party habits. With a little work, you can find people who share your values and make it a pleasure to be at home, not a place you immediately have to lock yourself in your room.
There are plenty of other issues to consider. Unlike the rest of the country, parking in Southern California is almost never included in your rent. Look for differences like these and utility prices to help you accurately budget for your living expenses. With some forethought, your living arrangements will be the envy of all your friends.