- The apartment management is the customer, not you. At least this is the way it comes across in LA. In Texas, apartments woo tenants as customers. There are promises of free rent, sign-on perks, freebies just for stopping by to look, and sales pitches designed to entice you to lease. In LA, apartment managers know they have something you want and if you don't take it, someone else will. There is no need to woo you unless their building is in a crappy part of town or way overpriced.
- Make appointments. In Texas, you stop by whenever the leasing office is open and an employee stops what they are doing to show you around. In LA, you don't just show up and look, you make an appointment to show up at a prearranged time.
- Pick an area. Narrow down your search to a specific neighborhood. Pick somewhere close to where you will be working and with restaurants, a grocery store, and some form of entertainment within walking distance. Yes, you still need a car in LA, but your leisure time grows exponentially if you only have to drive occasionally instead of every time you need to do anything. Also, evaluate crime statistics to make sure you aren't moving somewhere undesirable.
- Drive around. Many smaller apartments are hard to find on the web. Sometimes you just have to drive around the neighborhood where you want to live and write down phone numbers from "for rent" signs.
- Be demanding. We called a few apartments just to ask what they had available and how much the available units cost. This blew their mind. They insisted they needed to know how many rooms we wanted, what direction we wanted to face, and did we require a fireplace, marble counters, or laminate flooring. They also insisted they needed to know how much we expected to pay. All this rigmorale instead of just saying "we have 2 studios for between $1300 and $1500, 1 one-bedroom for $1650". But we clearly upset them more by saying we didn't care about these details.
Finding an Apartment in LA: