I thought nothing could be as bad as apartment hunting in NYC (except London, London was bad). I was wrong. I spent only three weeks looking for apartments between San Francisco and Oakland. And I say only because some people look for months without finding something. Most of the places I looked at were actually good, but going through the roommate interview process was arduous. What was I supposed to say that would make these people want to live with me. I promise I'm quiet and clean? Oh wait, but I work from home so I'm constantly around during the day...BUT I have an active social life so you'll never see me after 5!
As it turns out, looking for an apartment in an expensive urban area is a lot like finding a job. Some kind of personal connection will yield better results faster. I'll give you an example of my rental history:
- London - subletted from a couple who were the cousins of my father's co-worker
- Apt #1 in NYC - 2 bedroom way out in Flatbush, found through a "no-fee" broker on CL...but they took 3 months deposit from us and only gave the landlords 2 months
- Apt #2 in NYC - Friends of a friend who became my friends
- Apt #3 in NYC - Found someone on CL who I got along with, but he ended up rooming with an old friend and I took over his room when his subletter fell through
- Apt #4 in NYC - Owned by my friends
Lucky for me, I had an extensive social network and a little luck. In the end, my apartment came through a friend of a friend. He was moving and looking for someone to take over his lease. Within a few days I was approved by the management company, and I had a place to live. And everything seems easier when you're not couch-surfing.