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Los Angeles Rental Research Tips for 2021

by Victoria Baker

Los Angeles is the ideal place to live the Southern Californian dream. Not only is it the largest and most populated city in California, but it is also the second-most inhabited city in the United States. Luckily even in the middle of a pandemic, the rental market is more alive than ever. So if you’re thinking about moving or currently looking for a new home in the Southland or beyond, here are some tips that should help.

Where to start?

Renting was never easy in the L.A. area because it is very competitive, and the coronavirus has also added some new complications. If you want to rent a house in the “City of Angels”, you have to do your research first. You likely don’t need to hire a realtor, because renters typically find spaces on their own. You can check your neighborhoods on foot if you are adventurous, but with most other things during this pandemic, apartment hunting is best done online. 

Choose your neighborhood wisely

Like New York or other large metropolises, rent varies widely throughout the city and depends on the neighborhood. Because the traffic is horrendous and rush hour is almost throughout the day, it is very important that the apartment you eventually get is not so far from your work or not in the traffic areas.

Calculating your budget

To figure what you can afford, start with your monthly allowance, list your basic essentials, and figure out how much you can spare for rent. Your rent shouldn’t take more than 30% of your income. When landlords are screening your rental applications, they will check to see if your income is around 2.5 or 3 times the monthly rental price. This will give them the guarantee for your ability to pay rent.

Pro Tip: While real estate prices have been increasing recently, low mortgage rates still make the monthly payments affordable on many houses. Sometimes you might be better off if you invest the amount you would spend on rent to buy your own house. With the help of an online mortgage calculator, you can break down your costs even more. Mortagecalculator.info for example shows you how much home you can afford to buy while paying a monthly payment equivalent to your current rental payment.

Consider renting with Roommates

One of the simplest ways to save money every month is to get a roommate. Rent makes up the majority of our monthly expenses every month. Move together with a friend can effectively cut these expenses in half. This is especially convenient if you travel often or rarely spend time in your apartment.

What about the current prices?

Over the past month, the average rent for a studio apartment in Los Angeles decreased by -2% and the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment increased by 3% and the average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment remained flat. According to Zumper, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles, CA is currently $1,960. This is an 11% decrease compared to the previous year.  In addition to the cost of monthly rent, you’ll probably have to put down a security deposit, first (and maybe last) month’s rent, plus an application fee, which is usually around $25 to $50.

How to Avoid Getting Scammed

Once you’ve found a listing you like, see it in person.  Seriously — this is a must! Apartment hunting in Los Angeles is a tricky business right now, and it’s essential that you’re able to see a place in person to view the neighborhood and building, and also to see how closely the apartment matches the photos. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. Never rent blind.

My favorite listing sites:

Craigslist: It’s probably the first source in learning what kind of places are available where. It does require a lot of actual research in person after getting in contact, but it is a good starting point.

Zumper: Their site used by millions of renters to find houses, rooms, condos, or apartments for rent. You can filter by location, price range, bedroom count, pet-friendly, or amenity and set an alert to get notifications when a new listing is posted. Zumper can be used to apply online and submit digital rental applications and credit reports  

Other popular sites based on Curbed LA: HotPads, Rent.com, Trulia, Westside Rentals, Zillow




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