Sunday, August 16, 2015

House Hunting

Renting an apartment in a sprawling city turns out to be a baffling experience. How did I get so far in life without ever having to do this before?

I have owned properties for my entire adult life since I left Jersey City group housing in 1992 (when I was in a three-bedroom on Mercer Street with Other Marie and Otis). I have rented sublets overseas, but that's easier. You just take what's affordable and doesn't look too gross. So the last time I rented an apartment like I'm doing now was, well, never. I've never filled out a rental application, had them check my credit, supplied two months bank statements. It's just never come up.

That's right, I've never subjugated myself to the credit check and judgment of a rental agent. I've never had to be charming and look dutiful and responsible on cue in order to get housed. I don't even know if I can do this. I'm a known eye-roller.

I'm finally starting to seriously search for an apartment today, so I might be filling out some forms this afternoon.

It all comes down to location and character. I can't—won't, really—live in a carpeted box with vertical blinds. I won't live in anything without good natural light. I won't live on the ground floor. I won't live anywhere without food and services within walking distance. And obviously, it's all about the commute in LA, so I am limited to places with easy access to Burbank. My other rule is I need access to public transport. Yes, I own a car, but it happens to be garaged in Jersey City, and I'm not sure if I want to drive my 1990 Ford Taurus across the country for a week, though I did buy it in Torrance in 2002 and drive it (with Turbo, who actually drove it for large chunks of the way while I was back East) across the country to get it to New York City between April and July of that year. I might drive it out here, but I'm not so sure it would make it. That might mean getting rid of it. Would I want to own two cars, one back East and one in LA? Well, why not, I guess. I already own a house in Jersey City and am still getting an apartment here.

I'm starting out looking at studios in Los Feliz, Franklin Village, Ivar & Cahuenga, and Burbank/Toluca Lake. But I might just need to stall for another month, getting a sublet as fast as I can, so at least I have time to consider all my options. I love the idea of living in Downtown LA, but I don't love the rents there.

I'm being flaky about this because I can't figure out what location actually has it all. Probably because there is no such thing. Where can I find a concentration of restaurants where I don't feel weird going in alone at night by myself? There are a few clusters here and there, but many clusters end abruptly and suddenly that magnificent paradise of take-out turns into oh, I didn't realize it was only three restaurants and one is burgers-only. 

My grand experiment of sublets around town has been utterly informative, and I feel like I know way more today than I did on June 2, when I arrived. But I still haven't seen the right place.

I miss my brownstone walk-up over the trees of Hamilton Park, one stop from the West Village. I need to stop pining away for what I don't have here and try to appreciate this odd sprawl for what it is.

Which I haven't figured out yet. LA regions are so disparate that it seems impossible to make generalizations about this place. I'll let you know when I sort it out.

But it might be a while.

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