The Graduate Housing Office manages several apartment buildings, studio units and houses located off-campus which accommodate about 95 graduate students and their families. These “lease” properties are so named because renters sign a lease rather than a contract. A lease holder can retain the rental unit continuously until he or she graduates, leading to a situation where apartment turnover is very low (0-4 openings per month). To apply for the lease properties you must go on the waiting list and pay a $50 deposit. The lease properties are unfurnished. The studio units are limited to single students. Special consideration for placement may be granted in extraordinary cases.
The market rates in Pasadena are in the $900-1200 range for a one-bedroom apartment (studios are a bit cheaper) and $1100-1600 for two bedrooms. A room in a house can be found for $400-650, and entire small houses can be rented from about $1500/month. For accommodations near Caltech that are suitable for living, expect to pay about $900+ for a one-bedroom and $1300+ for a two-bedroom. Of course, your definition of “suitable” may vary, and if you look hard enough, you may find a bargain. To find something decent, safe, and less expensive may mean moving a bit farther away. Types of leases vary, but it is more common to find month-to-month rental agreements for rooms and apartments in small complexes and six month to year long leases at larger apartment complexes and houses. Landlords will typically ask for up to two months rent as a security deposit when you sign the lease. If there is any work that needs to be done (such as painting, changing the locks, or installing new carpets) you should have that written into the lease. For complete information on tenant’s rights, check out the webpage of the California Department of Consumer Affairs at www.dca.ca.gov/legal/landlordbook.
Some ways to find a house or apartment
Speaking very, very generally, if you can afford a down payment large enough (e.g. 20%) to secure a low interest rate, you plan to keep the house for more than 5 years, and you plan to continue to own a home in the future, it can be more attractive to buy than to rent. To get a sense of the properties that are for sale in the Pasadena area, you can check the database that realtors use at www.listinglink.com. It finds all the properties that match certain criteria and is updated daily. If you decide to buy a house, the first thing to do is to find a good realtor. Two realtors recommended by Technique readers are listed below: