The suggestions and opinions made by the writer do not necessarily reflect the sentiments of the shop. These are the findings of a fellow student who has done her fair share of apartment searching.
It’s that time of year again. Well, actually it’s a bit late in the game believe it or not. Isla Vista apartments/houses open up for re-leasing in Nov.-Dec. For those seeking to move into a new apartment/house, new leases begin Dec.-Jan. depending on the company and building. The time draws nigh.
Before I get into my list of top things to look out for in your apartment search, I want to put in a plug for the UCSB Community Housing Office. It’s no secret that I do not care for many of the services UCSB has to offer. This is one of the few that I believe actually does good for the students. They also give useful information related to the ever-so-important living situation search. Have issues with your current landlords stealing your deposit? They have attorneys that know the ins and outs of what they can and can’t get away with. Need to sublease? They have suggestions for that, too. Anyways, back to my spiel:
It’s important to note that there are many, many landlords in Isla Vista and many different websites to check for availabilities. To name a few to check out:
- Playa Life
- The Hive
- Capri IV
- The Loop
- Wolfe and Associates
- Campus 880
- Gilson Properties
- Isla Vista Luxury Living
- Berkshire Hathaway
- Silverwood Townhomes
Now for the inevitable “what about UCSB Student Housing?” question. I, among an unquantifiable amount of students, can only assure you that moving out of UCSB housing is one of the best things you can do for yourself both financially and mentally. Moreover, as much as I personally do not partake in the party scene and would love to move out of IV, Goleta and Santa Barbara are much more expensive than Isla Vista. I know UCSB puts out a statement that the average rent is only like $1800 in Goleta. Good luck finding places on par with that. More likely than not, your only feasible option is to live in Isla Vista.
Now, you need to prioritize what you care for most in an apartment. Some people live for the parties and the closer to Del Playa, the better. Others would rather shoot their own foot than deal with the noise and smell of weed. Being close to the Loop offers quick access to food, entertainment and the university. Still, that comes at the cost of increased traffic and noise. Weigh out the pros and cons of location amenities.
With this information in mind, you can begin to narrow down the locations of your search. For instance, if you don’t like partying noise but you want to be close to campus, 65 block Seville and back would likely serve you well. Start walking and biking down those areas and see what apartments/homes pique your interest. Write down the addresses and the property owners; almost all available rentals have giant signs up right now saying the website or landlord name.
After this, go home and run some Google searches. Keep your budget in mind. With rent control coming in right now, rents are increasing significantly (shocker, right?) so be mentally prepared. Moreover, remember you will be paying more than rent assuming some utilities are not included. Most companies require you (or your guarantor) to make more than 3 times the rent. Deposits are due when you sign. Most places don’t let you smoke or have pets, so if any of those are necessities for you, make sure you look for a place that allows that criteria.
Isla Vista has less than a 1% vacancy rate. If you didn’t know we were so close to the beach, you’d think we lived in the slums. Be prepared to not be wowed when you see apartments. After you narrow your search down to a few buildings and units you’re interested in, go and knock on their doors and ask for a tour. Most property management teams won’t set up a formal tour - they expect you to just ask the residents. Assuming you’re not giving off major creep vibes, most people are pretty nice about letting you check out the apartment. Don’t forget to ask the following important questions:
- How do you feel about management? Have you had any issues with them?
- Is there laundry on-site?
- What is the smoking policy? (If you like to smoke, it’s good to know if you are allowed to smoke. If you don’t like it, you want to know if others will smoke in the building or if it can be reported to management.)
- Is there assigned parking?
- Have you or any neighbors had issues with porch pirates?
- How thick are the walls? Have you had to file any noise complaints?
- How is the bike parking? Can everyone park their bikes?
- Is there a cross breeze from the windows?
- Does it get loud at night?
- Is it close to a bus stop? Do trucks drive through here? (Weigh the ease of transportation against the loud breaking and noise every 20 minutes for a stop.)
- Is it mostly students or families here? (Students are more likely to smoke/party, while families are more likely to have loud fights or crying kids.)
- Is management/maintenance on site? How quick are they to resolve issues?
Once you know this information, you should be set to make your housing decisions. Many places (like Meridian) allow you to select a first choice unit and property, and then list second and third choice properties. If your top three places are Meridian then, you should only need to make one application. However, if you want to go the safer route, you may want to apply for multiple leases to see what you can get. They are filling up like crazy! You don’t want to be frantically posting on Free and For Sale in June looking for a place to live with random roommates. Be proactive. At the same time, applications can cost $30-60 typically and these fees you will not get back. If you’re looking for roommates or housemates, check out Facebook groups like UCSB Housing Search, UCSB Housing, IV Housing for UCSB Students, etc.
These are just a few suggestions to keep yourself above the water during your apartment search. It can be very stressful when you don’t know where you’ll be living in 6 months. Signing the application though is one of the biggest breaths of relief you’ll get while at university. So, good luck!
Morgan has lived on-campus, almost in the university apartments (before getting told a random third roommate was being added and rent was only decreasing by $40, so she left), Capri IV, and Meridian. If you have questions about these landlords, come by the shop and she’ll be happy to answer them!