My weekend: Apartment hunting edition

I’ve been having nightmares about house hunting.

I won’t go into details, but one involved a cannibalistic vampire realtor. Another involved a duplex in which the other side was a Jack-in-the-Box and another involved a studio in Downtown Long Beach with a communal bathroom and no shower curtains. Terrifying.

House, apartment, dwelling, box, whatever you want to call it—hunting has seeped into every part of my life: In my spare time I frantically scroll through rental websites ready to pounce on desirable units as soon as they come available; I spend my weekends setting up showings, smiling pleasantly at other prospective renters looking at the unit I want, but in my head thinking, “I will crush you.”

It shouldn’t be this hard. Then again, I’ve never experienced the full force of Long Beach’s rental market: I found our current place through a friend of a friend’s landlord and we didn’t have to compete for it.

But now we have to be out by June 1 and the competition is cutthroat and the listings barren.

I’ll find a place listed and it’ll seem perfect:

2 bedrooms—”Yes!”

Garage parking—”Oh, Heck Yes.”

Small yard—”Yaaaas.”

NO pets—”Insert expletives.”

We have one cat. He is a good cat and he’s also our baby. A home without Jones is no home at all. But landlords seem to hate cats and dogs—even if you give them an extra deposit. Which begs the question: where the heck do all these people who walk around Long Beach with their cute dogs live?

Two weeks ago, we thought we had a little duplex in Rose Park, which we affectionately dubbed “Tiny House.” It was enthusiastically pet-friendly. I was the first one there, the leasing agent seemed to like me, we got our application in the same day and I had a “really good feeling about this one.”

The owners didn’t care. They didn’t pick us despite our great credit scores and sparkling personalities.

So now we hunt. Day and night, we hunt. And now I’ll share this desperate hunt with you all because how else do you spend your weekends in Long Beach?

Last week I set up three showings for Saturday morning. By Friday, one showing—the unit we thought we were going to end up picking—canceled because they filled it.

Cut. Throat.

So I found another and was able to set up a different showing. Our criteria isn’t that ridiculous (at least I don’t think so): we want a two-bedroom, one-bathroom, pet-friendly home with parking and some type of outdoor space (a balcony works) and ideally in-unit laundry for $2,000 or less and in a neighborhood where it’s reasonable for me to bike to work.

The first unit we saw, a pretty Spanish style duplex in Wrigley, had prospective renters and buyers crawling all over it. The owners of the duplex were not only trying to find tenants for one of the units but were also trying to sell the building. So after a year lease, the new owners could kick us out, hike up the rent or do whatever they wanted.

We still looked inside and saw a lovely old home with character: about a million coats of paint on the doors, built-in cabinets and sconces on the walls. It had a washer and dryer, formal dining room and a one car garage. It was perfect. But there was no guarantee after a year and I don’t do well with uncertainty.

So we sadly, but hopefully—we still had two whole apartments to look at—went on with our knock-off House Hunters episode.

Next up: a two-story condo in kind-of Zaferia. It had TWO balconies and a fireplace. The leasing agent was great and we were the first ones to look at it. It felt like a home, had a parking space and shared laundry that I could live with.

One problem: single-pane windows. On Redondo Avenue. Near Pacific Coast Highway. It was the end-most unit, so we could hear all the road noise. While the rest of the unit was pretty great, that was hard to get past: What’s the point of the balconies if I can’t lie in my hammock and chill out? The listing said I can “enjoy the ocean breeze” from the balconies, but it really meant the smoggy swoosh of cars going by.

For nearly $2,000, we thought we could and should be able to do better.

OK, last one. We were really excited about it: It’s in Alamitos Beach, it’s only $1,795, it had pretty windows that let in lots of sunlight and big closets. And my bike ride to work would be an easy one.

The competition would be hot for this one. There were people looking at it before and after us, but I was ready to throw down for the perfect place.

After we went up the cute tiled stairwell, we walked into a big airy living room with a giant closet in it. Then we walked into one small bedroom, then we walked into the small, very old kitchen, then we walked into the small dining room, then into the other bedroom, then back into the living room.

Did you catch that? The bedrooms are also the hallways into the rest of the apartment. One bedroom didn’t have a closet either. And to top it off, the parking spot was a shared driveway with not one other unit, but two other units. So every morning and evening would be a game of car shuffling.

And newsflash: there is no street parking in Alamitos Beach. It’s a hard no.

Am I being too picky? Maybe. But damn, for $2,000 I should be getting a home I want to actually live in for the next five years. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.

But maybe it is in Long Beach.

At least I know what I’m doing next weekend.

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Valerie Osier is a breaking news and crime reporter for the Long Beach Post. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband, Steven, and her cat/child, Jones.
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