In the depths of winter, when temperatures drop below freezing and it starts getting dark around four pm, I am one Lana Del Rey music video away from throwing down my snow shovel and buying a one-way plane ticket to La-la land. Whether you are an actor, screenwriter, surfer, or just seriously vitamin-D deprived (like me), it’s important to factor in how much you should spend on rent in Los Angeles when you finally decide to make the move. It is true that California has a proud tradition of “finding your bliss” and letting whatever happens happen, man. But on your journey to success in the City of Angels (such a good movie), having running water is nothing to sneeze at.
When calculating if you can afford a place with a view of the sea, take into account that traditionally only 30 percent of your net income (earnings after taxes) should be put towards rent. According to a nationwide study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, sadly that percentage is not feasible for most LA rental residents. Almost 60 percent of renters in 2015 were found to be “burdened” by rent — their housing eating 30 percent of their paycheck. A third of the tenants in the study were considered “severely burdened” writing checks for rents equal to half their income. While some real estate agents say that it is possible to pay up to 25 to 30 percent of your gross income on housing, just make sure you still have cash for health insurance and food. Which might mean that fresh pressed juices and kale smoothies are out of the cards for a while. Say it ain't so!!!
Breaking into this West Coast rental market may take some time. Los Angeles has the highest amount of renters in the nation (52 percent), paired with an extremely low rental vacancy rate. Curbed reported that in the last three months of 2015, the vacancy rate dropped to 2.7 percent, an all time low, according to US Census Bureau. Comparatively, the vacancy rate was six percent in 2010. The amount of affordable housing stock is already a problem for the city, and there just isn’t enough planned development to fix the issue any time soon. However, according to Curbed there are still deals out there. In a recent article comparing rentals around $1,500 a month, they point to current listings ranging from a well-located studio to a renovated two-bedroom. In NYC, that rent would get you a windowless closet with a bathtub in the kitchen.
If that still goes above your budget, cutting into your savings or using credit cards is not the answer. You may, in fact, have to live with quite a few roommates to start. But, hey, New Girl makes that look so crazy fun! Chilling with a few roommates and dividing utilities brings down the cost of living. Remember to factor in the cost of a car though, as you probably don't want to mess with LA's limited public transportation options.
Los Angeles ranked second on the list of least affordable metro areas, reports Forbes, sandwiched between New York and San Fransisco. According to Rent Jungle, the average one-bedroom apartment within 10 miles of Los Angeles is $2094 as of February 2016, and one-bedrooms within LA rent for $1898 a month. Happily, rent for one bedroom units has decreased by $81 (4.1 percent) over the past six months, and average apartment rent overall has decreased by 7.3 percent.
The most expensive neighborhoods to grab a 2016 rental in are the Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Bel Air, and Century City. While Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, and Southeast Los Angeles are among the least expensive. So if you want to live like the Fresh Prince, you may actually have to move in with an auntie and uncle to afford it.
Images: Getty Images (2), giphy