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Help me find an apartment in Berkeley - Alex Belits
Help me find an apartment in Berkeley
Update: I have found an apartment in Emeryville, within a reasonable walking/cycling distance from work.

Almost two months ago I have got a job in Berkeley. I still own a large condo in Denver, and pay about $1900/mo in mortgage and maintenance for it, however I can't rent it out with all my furniture in it. I now live with a friend in Walnut Creek, and for two months I walked to BART train and from BART to work, covering almost 7 miles per day. Two months of it had shown that this is NOT a proper exercise schedule for me -- my legs ache when I wake up, I am tired when I arrive at work, and my productivity takes a massive nosedive. Last two days I had to drive, however I have this car loaned by a friend, and drive takes unreasonable amount of time because I have to pass Caldecott Tunnel. The traffic at the Eastern side of it resembles a glacier both by shape and by linear speed. The accommodations in Walnut Creek home are the best its owners can provide for me, however it really isn't what I consider acceptable -- I have a very small room, a desk that barely fits my laptop, ventlation system collects two inches of icy cold air on the floor, keeping my feet cold, etc. Plus it's very far from anything that is not another house. I need to get the hell out of Walnut Creek, and get an apartment in Berkeley.

After replying to numerous ads on Craigslist I have found a more or less decent two-bedroom apartment in Central Berkeley. I had to spend a day trying to reach an agent of the rental company, submitted the application (walking to their office because apparently it was the only way to deliver the documents with any certainty), then got no response for a few days. When I called them, they have finally told me that they did not like my credit score that one of three companies reported as 570 (apparently it's the lowest figure, I got 607 from other source). My current low-six-figure salary, willingness to pay outrageous deposits, condo in Denver that is orders of magnitude better than their apartment, and lack of anything negative anyone would say about me are apparently insufficient to consider me worthy of a slightly-above-slum-quality apartment because I have kept my credit cards at maximum when I was nearly broke (last three years) or totally broke (last three months).

Now I have just received another application for an apartment at Dwight/San Pablo in Berkeley. Behold the stuff they insist on knowing:

Here is the rental appication. Since you told me that
you don't have a good credit score, I will need your
last three months pay stud and bank statement inorder
for me to consider your appication since you had a bad
credit. There is a $25 credit check fee because I
still need to run a credit check, and it will include
some other thing else. Feel free to call if you have
any question. thanks


And the application itself. Something tells me, I am wasting my time with this.

Someone offered me to rent his condo in San Francisco -- closer to BART than the place in Walnut Creek where I live now. If there will be no other alternatives, I would have to accept that offer, even though it will only be available at the end of December. I still don't know if it will even fit the furniture from Denver. And the rent is still high -- until the moment I will start receiving rent for Denver condo I will have barely enough money to pay for food and credit cards, even if I will continue paying minimum for them.

Since this entry is public, and people have short attention span, let me re-iterate:

1. I need an apartment as soon as possible.

2. I don't need a room, hostel or some other temporary accommodation to live in. I would still have to pay $1900/mo for a dumpster if I lived behind a dumpster, because condo in Denver is now nothing but a dead weight. I have to move a massive amount of furniture out of the Denver condo, bring that furniture into a decent apartment, rent out the condo, all the while not exceeding $1700/mo for the new apartment. Even then I would have to borrow money for deposit for the apartment, if any. I can't move furniture anywhere else because it's a two-bedroom apartment with all rooms plus enclosed balcony decently furnished. I can't rent it out furnished because no sane person would want it that way -- places like that don't get rented for a short term.

3. I don't need an advice about improving my credit score. If I won't ask for loans or anything that would require a credit report, and will pay off $5K in a half a year, it will be nice and shiny again. If I will do anything else, it will be worse than that. In a shorter term nothing really matters.

4. What I need is an apartment in Berkeley or reasonably close to BART. 40-minute walk to Pleasant Hill station, combined with inevitable 20 minutes from Ashby BART station is not reasonable. Just 20 minutes in the morning and in the evening along the worse part of Ashby Ave. come close enough to the safety limit considering that I usually come from work late, but 2x40 minutes of absolutely safe and nearly empty suburbs eat both into my legs and into my soul.

5. Don't suggest me to look for a roommate unless you are the prospective roommate. And even then please re-read this LJ and my posts on Something Awful before subjecting yourself to years of sharing your living space with me. I consider myself a nice but not social person, and this is probably at the top of the range of opinions. There is also a matter of four bookcases, very large bed and dresser, two computers, desk, two large chairs, small sofa and a kitchen table with two more chairs for it that I will bring from Denver. I have a strong suspicion that it will be better for both me and the rest of mankind if I won't have to impose my presence on other people.

6. If anyone has an idea, what should I do in this situation, be it hiring some kind of an agency (if they exist, they without any doubt spend 100% of their work time on Craigslist, however they might know some procedure for getting an apartment while having high salary and low credit score), dragging a lawyer with myself (at one place I was told "we are required by law to do a credit check", what I am sure, they would love thinking of repeating in court), or trying to find someone who rents out an apartment without a company (and not for a reason of apartment being outside of all imaginable and unimaginable sanitary norms), I would be grateful hearing that. Just please no idle speculation. I may be myself the king of idle speculation, but now I need something that describes a reasonable way of getting an apartment in Berkeley, not a way of finding a great apartment in alternative-universe Berkeley where I am an anthropomorphic bear and George Bush is a Royalist.

Current Mood: exhausted exhausted

6 comments or Leave a comment
mrothermel From: mrothermel Date: November 22nd, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC) (Link)


~ that tunnel (as well as south of 24) seperate comletely different worlds.

~ housingmaps.com

~ http://oakland.crimespotting.org/

~ http://www.rentometer.com/

~ http://mullinslab2.ucsf.edu/SFrentstats/

abelits From: abelits Date: November 23rd, 2007 03:26 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: housing

...says someone who lives in the area that is both expensive and popular among criminals.

My work is in South Berkeley on San Pablo, so if I use BART, the stretch of Ashby Ave. between Ashby BART station and San Pablo Ave. will likely remain the least safe part of my commute. Unless I will live in Oakland, what I would rather avoid. Switching from walking to bicycle will increase the overall safety level, however that will work regardless of where I will live.

Anything to the North in Berkeley should be much better -- almost the whole city is still within a walking distance for me, and I can take a bicycle as an alternative, but won't have to.
From: nickhalfasleep Date: November 22nd, 2007 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've heard SF is the most difficult place to get habitation in.

How far is it from your work to BART? Would you consider a moped or electric scooter that was packable on the train and could be recharged at work and home? They are considered "childish" but a remarkably cheap and convenient for up to three mile runs as long as the route isn't too steep.

A bike is also a great improvement over walking if you would consider that.

If you need a hand emptying the denver apartment, or putting the furniture into storage I can help, and have a cavernous volvo stationwagon appropriate for the task. Can your sublet the denver apartment or do the homeowners not approve of that?
abelits From: abelits Date: November 23rd, 2007 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)
As I have posted, it's a 20 minute walk from Ashby BART station to work, and currently the least safe part of the city that I have to cross. If I will keep using BART, a bicycle is the only thing I can take on it, and I should be able to ride it for at least the same distance I have to cover now. This can work as a temporary solution, but I will still have to move as soon as possible.

I don't know if it will make any sense to move my furniture into storage -- furniture is very large, most of it is definitely far outside the capacity of any station wagon, and it will require very large storage space, so I will have to hire a moving company no matter what. Unless I will be faced with complete impossibility to get an apartment in Berkeley or SF for the nearest 3-4 months, it will be pretty pointless to stuff it into storage in Colorado, then move to California again -- I think, the cost and expected amount of damage from two moves makes it not worth the effort.

"The homeowner" of my Denver condo is me, so I am stuck with it for the foreseeable future, and it will suck $1900 every month out of my pocket unless I will be able to rent it out. This places a very tight limit on the amount I can spend on rent over the first few months, so I don't think, I should get anything above $1700/mo in Berkeley, and the apartment has to be large enough to fit my furniture.

The problem is, it looks like that range is considered "for poor people and UCB professors" (as opposed to $1200 that is "for broke students" and $4000 "for cra^Weccentric rich people"), so rental companies demand both 2.5 months' rent upfront, and a credit score of 650. The bastards don't even have "I own my current home" option on their application, for $deity sake!

Edited at 2007-11-23 03:50 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
abelits From: abelits Date: December 21st, 2007 12:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I have found an apartment in Emeryville -- it's within a reasonable walking distance from work, in a relatively safe area, and I think, I am the loudest person among my neighbors.

The only problem is, it takes an hour long walk to reach MacArthur, the nearest BART station, so the easiest way to get there is by bicycle. However after a quick glance at the bike racks at MacArthur I have decided that if I won't take a bicycle on a train with me, I can just as well disassemble it myself and put "Free parts!" sign on the pile. I have one lock that can secure the frame and the rear wheel, I can put removable lights in my bag (this is appropriate for Mission in SF), and in theory I can buy another lock for the front wheel (this is getting inconvenient), but when I see removed seats it's time to admit that this whole "make it hard enough to steal so they won't bother" thing is not working.
dk379 From: dk379 Date: April 5th, 2008 08:21 am (UTC) (Link)
folding bikes? seen them in Amsterdam.

About unused furnished condo problem:

I think you should sell things in Denver. I know, it's painful - but
unless you are very emotionally attached to your furniture, it works.

Another option is house-sitting - essentially, offer somebody with a temporary visit to Denver (3-6 months) or doing house remodel to rent
your place for $1000 or so. Better cash flow, no commitment.
6 comments or Leave a comment