Our brief bout of homelessness (ok, hotel-based living) will soon be over! We managed to find and sign a lease for an apartment our first day in San Diego. Pre-move research FTW!
I actually nearly signed a lease for this particular complex before we arrived, because it looked so nice on the website. It was the first apartment we saw when we were scoping out apartments & condos Tuesday. For our own peace of mind, I am glad we waited until we were able to see the apartment, the area and other options before agreeing to live there for the next 12 months.
After finishing work in early July, we started researching San Diego accommodation. We knew the size and amenities we wanted (gym, pool, air conditioning, secured – preferably underground – parking) and quickly narrowed down the neighborhood, choosing to live in UTC (University Towne Centre) for its proximity to Mark’s office. I spent several nights on Craigslist and Apartments.com familiarizing myself with apartment complexes, condo communities, local amenities and average rent rates.
We nearly signed up to sub-let an apartment in La Jolla Crossroads; the existing tenant was relocating but his lease didn’t end until November. A short-term commitment sounded appealing, allowing us to feel somewhat settled from the start. After further consideration, we decided it would be a hassle to move just after getting the place furnished though. Also, while the complex was ideally located, it wasn’t particularly well reviewed. We looked at other complexes in the immediate vicinity, including Villas of Renaissance (better, but still somewhat mixed reviews) and Valentia (good reviews, and very well styled), and arranged to view them when we got to San Diego. We also liked the look of some condos slightly further away, but seemingly still commutable via bike and a bit more spacious.
We were tempted to sign a lease before arriving, because we wanted to have somewhere to live ASAP and worried there wouldn’t be many places with immediate move-in availability. The thought of moving into an apartment for a year without ever having seen it worried us too much though, so we decided to exhibit a bit of patience. The decision to move to San Diego without a home felt easier for us, but prompted lots of quizzical looks from others, proving once again it’s better to know yourself than to go with the status quo.
We considered renting temporary, furnished accommodation. However, short-term leases invariably come with a substantial rent premium. It would be far more expensive to sign a 1-3 month lease than to stay in a hotel until the end of August and move in to our apartment in September. To give ourselves a bit of flexibility, we reserved our first hotel for just 3 nights; by then we’d know a move-in date and therefore know exactly how much longer to extend our hotel stay.
Tuesday morning, our showings started at Valentia. We were impressed; the apartment was lovely and spacious, the complex was well landscaped and had fantastic amenities, and the leasing office agent was nice and friendly. They had 2 apartments in our preferred floorplan which would be available in the coming weeks, one with an extra large balcony available the following Thursday and one with a slightly smaller (but still large) balcony with a ‘premium view’ available a week later.
The second viewing was much less impressive. The complex was nice, had a bigger pool and the apartment was spacious. The shared areas, however, were far more dated, less bright and had a much higher student population. It was also slightly further away. We quickly realized how much hillier San Diego was than we’d ever thought, so the further we were from Mark’s office, the less practical bicycle-based commuting became.
We had a couple hours before our next viewing, and stopped for lunch. During our break, we also decided to see the Villas of Renaissance, which we’d liked online and were next to the Valentia. They had more floor plan options, including nearly immediate availability on the layout we liked the most, and a bigger gym. They were, however, a much larger complex (about 3x bigger), which we considered a negative, and the leasing agent seemed a pushier and sales-y, which was a huge turn-off.
In the afternoon, we started with the first of several condos on our schedule. We anticipated preferring the condo communities, so scheduled 3-4 different viewings. After a quick (10 minute) run through of the first one, we disliked it so much, we cancelled the rest of the afternoon’s appointments. The amenities were far less impressive, the parking was uncovered and less secure, the community was much further away from Mark’s office, and we just didn’t like the look or feel of the area (or its inhabitants).
With the rest of the day now free, we checked out the La Jolla Crossroads. The complex was huge (about twice as big as the Villas of Renaissance), the cabinets and furnishings seemed much cheaper, the view was terrible (undeveloped open wasteland and I-805) and the leasing agent seemed almost inconvenienced about taking us around the model. No, thank you.
By then, we were fairly set on the Valentia – it was the first place we saw (and loved), and it was so much nicer than the others. To be sure, we went back, and viewed model again. We also checked out the location of each of the available apartments (we weren’t allowed to see inside either, as they were still occupied). We immediately decided it was the right choice, but surprised ourselves by choosing the apartment with the extra large balcony rather than the one with the ‘premium view’. The view was largely obstructed by some trees, which would’ve provided some nice extra privacy, but didn’t warrant an extra $75/month and an extra week of waiting.
We filled out the rental application, signed the lease, paid the deposit and had a move in date! It was so exciting to finally have an address and know where we’d be living. With that big task out of the way, the big task list comes out – rental insurance, utilities, updating billing addresses, furniture shopping and decorating. Needless to say, I’m glad to have signed up for an awesome rewards card last month!