Grab your Remington, dear boy, it’s time we go hunting, whot, whot? [Insert dry, British laugh.] It’s that time of year again. I was just setting in for a long Winter Quarter when I received that cheery notice in the mail informing me that next year’s rent will shoot up by $400. My options: fork over the extra cash and risk finding another roommate to cram in an already crowded apartment or brave the urban jungle and try to bag that ever-elusive animal, the new place. I use the term "new" loosely, because in I.V. "new" means made in the last hundred years. Thank Jesus, Allah and Buddha that it gets easier the more you do it. I remember looking for an apartment my first year. I still wake up in cold sweats over it, but my shrink tells me I should deal with my issues and use it to help others, so here goes.
Let’s go over possible alternatives before we settle on I.V. as our hunting ground. Living downtown or in Goleta is nice; you’ll probably find better conditions and lower rent, although you’ll need a car and you’ll have to deal with parking permits. The next option is to stay in the dorms as a RA, or in San Rafael as an ordinary resident. These are decent options, but hey, don’t you want to be as close to DP as possible? Besides, pickings are generally slim. Option 3: You could join a frat or sorority… Sorry, I’m laughing uncontrollably for some reason. But forget about all this and go to I.V. It’s a unique community with ups and downs and a whole lot of cigarette butts and beer bottles, but hey, we call that charm. Plus, it’s easy and can be very cheap. Now, just follow these gems of wisdom and you’ll do fine.
First things first: go out, hit the agencies and get lists of prospective places. New lists should be available in the next week or two. Don’t put too much faith in those tempting FOR RENT signs, most are out-of-date and need to be taken down. Forget about using the Internet as well; it’s even more misleading than rent signs and banners. You need to pound the pavement and get actual lists from the agencies. They’re accurate and up-to-date. Be persistent as well, show initiative, and give ’em the winning smile that wins Grandma over every Christmas. Being nice goes a long way.
When starting out, have a list of the people you’ll room with. Choose wisely. Beware of flakes and slobs. These beastly little creatures usually have a hard time realizing that the first of the month comes 12 times a year and can’t seem to insert a dirty dish in the sink for the life of them. Avoid these people and your place will smell a lot nicer when bringing over that special someone. Lastly, keep the number of roommates in balance. More people means lower rent, but it’s also another person to put up with. Most places for rent in I.V. have one or two bedrooms, and while the lease may say you can squeeze six or seven into a three bedroom, that ain’t pretty.
Armed with these two valuable weapons, go cut a path through the asphalt underbrush. Look at everything, and I mean everything. Talk to the current tenants about the landlord and take location into consideration. Ideal places have laundromats, fine dining and a liquor store within a short radius. Many people will tell you that you should live on DP – many people are communications majors as well. I suppose it depends on your tolerance for litter, sparse parking and noise, but in general, I feel it’s a much better deal to live somewhere a little quieter and closer to campus where you can easily stroll down to DP, but not live in the thick of it.
Finally, get your hunting party together, head back to the lodge and set up a time to sign the lease. Don’t glance and sign. Read it – twice if you have to. Make sure you understand it and ask the agent if you don’t. Ask about which utilities are included and which aren’t, and try to figure out your projected monthly cost of living. Make sure you have everything you need, including rent money due up front or cash for a deposit. If everything is in the clear, sign the beast and hang its head over your door, and if you’re still a little uncertain about it all, ask for a copy of the lease.
There you go folks, a beginner’s guide to apartment hunting in Isla Vista. It’s a jungle out there, old boy, but don’t be discouraged. Act fast and smart, and you’ll find a nice dilapidated pad you can call your own. Good luck, cheerio, pip pip and all that rot.
Steven Ruszczycky is a sophomore English and biopsychology major.