When it comes to looking for a place to live, it pays to ask questions.
That's one tip Nanci Isaacs '79 shared with nearly 30 Emerson College Los Angeles (ELA) students—many of whom will begin their apartment search in the next few months—at a workshop about housing on November 13.
“If you don't ask, you don't get,” said Isaacs, a Los Angeles-area realtor who also serves as vice president of Emerson's EBONI Alumni Association. “Everything's negotiable.”
With more than 20 years of experience, Isaacs knows a thing or two about the LA housing market. She shared advice on where students should look for an apartment (suggesting the San Fernando Valley region, Koreatown, Los Feliz, Silverlake, and West Adams neighborhoods), and the things they should keep in mind: You'll be sitting in a lot of notorious LA traffic, for instance, and it will take at least 30 minutes to get to where you're going. She told students to search for an apartment that is centrally located, close to transportation hubs or routes, safe, and convenient to where they plan to work.
As for prices, Isaacs said the cost of renting will vary for these soon-to-be-graduates.
“There are many ways around cost,” she said, pointing out that students can live in a house or guesthouse, with roommates, or look for housing in areas that are outside of expensive neighborhoods.
Many of the students in attendance asked Isaacs personal questions, like whether it is true that some apartments in LA do not come with appliances. (Yes, you might have to rent or buy a refrigerator at select places, she said.) Or, what to do if you don't have a job lined up and want to get a place? (Get a co-signer and write a letter about yourself to give to the landlord, she answered.)
“By far, the biggest concern right now for a lot of ELA students is that many of them are graduating in less than a month and don't know where to live,” said Alex Hoder '15, a resident adviser.
That's why Hoder helped to organize the workshop, so students could get the advice they need. Mika Nakano '15, a Visual and Media Arts major, attended the workshop because she plans to live with friends from Emerson LA after graduating.
“It was helpful knowing about the financial information she shared, and stuff about what you have to do to get your credit in order,” said Nakano. “As well as learning about the neighborhoods where we should look.”
Isaacs said she was glad to help. One of the biggest mistakes students make when renting an apartment is waiting too long to start their search, she said.
“I hope the workshop gives students the motivation to look now,” said Isaacs.
Asked to share one final tip as students begin their search, Isaacs said students should drive by the apartment.
“Go back to the apartment at another day or time,” said Isaacs, “so you can get an idea of what it's really like.”