Once you are in the city, your first concern will probably be where to stay while you look for housing. If you do not have relatives or friends who can offer a place to stay, you may want to consider some other alternatives.
The following list of hotels may be helpful, but feel free to contact others on your own. Rates will vary depending on date and season of arrival. Note that all hotels charge taxes in addition to their published rates. You might also find less expensive accommodations by visiting the various online travel or hotel reservation sites.
Please remember that the hotels listed below are located in the center of a large urban area. The law school cannot guarantee the safety of any individual lodging, has not inspected the locations and does not endorse any of the listed lodgings. This information is provided solely as a reference guide.
Hotels Near Southwestern:
- Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel
711 S. Hope St.
- Quality Inn Mid-Wilshire Plaza Hotel
603 S. New Hampshire Ave.
Hotels Near LAX Airport:
5855 W. Century Blvd.
LAX Airport Hilton
5711 W Century Blvd.
Four Points Hotel by Sheraton
9750 Airport Blvd.
Courtyard By Marriott
6161 W. Century Blvd.
Los Angeles, like any other major city in the U.S., can be an expensive place to live. Be prepared for a monthly rent of at least $700-$1,000 in a shared residence and at least $900-$1,600 for a studio or one-bedroom apartment.
Living with someone can offer many advantages, including sharing the cost of rent and utilities, making your personal cost of living much lower. It also often opens up a whole new network of friends; for people unfamiliar with L.A., having a roommate in the beginning is an easier way to get to know the area. The bulletin board in the Westmoreland Building, located in the stairwell leading to the basement, is often a good place to check recent postings from current students looking for roommates. The Admissions Office also provides information to assist in roommate searches (click here for details).
When choosing a place to live that is more than 10-15 minutes from campus, it is important to consider how accessible it is to the freeway system or public transportation. The majority of students at Southwestern commute and own vehicles, but there are some who take the Metro Rail to school. There is a Metro Red Line stop two blocks from campus, so it's a good idea to look at the different routes and check out the areas that offer this alternative way of commuting in Los Angeles. Click here for more information on transportation.
Looking For Housing
From Westside Rentals to Craigslist, there are a plethora of fee-based and free websites available for those searching for housing in Los Angeles. The information in this guide is provided to help you navigate what to look for and what to ask when looking at these options and visiting available housing.
As in any big city, there may be neighborhoods where you may not feel comfortable. You may call the Admissions Office to ask about a specific area before signing a lease. Also see Neighborhoods at a Glance.
Westside Rentals - $10 OFF for Southwestern Law School
Westside Rentals is the leading apartment and home rental finding service throughout Southern California, with over ten years of experience connecting landlords with quality tenants. Since 1996, we've helped more than 1 million renters search for housing. Hundreds of thousands of Southern California landlords look to WestsideRentals.com to assist them in finding responsible tenants to fill their vacancies. You must be a member to access our 17,000+ available rentals in Southern California. Southwestern Law School students receive $10 OFF (more than 15% savings) on a branded membership. Make sure to use your student email when signing up for verification purposes. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (310) 576-1444 with any questions. Offer only valid online. Click here to redeem this offer.
External sites are not endorsed by Southwestern
and are provided for informational purposes only.
General Rental Advice
Inspecting the Property
When looking for housing to rent, investigate the house or apartment with a critical eye. Make sure that all faucets work, you can get hot and cold water, and there are no signs of leakage in the plumbing. If there are obvious signs of problems, such as a bucket of water under the sink, ask the landlord about it. Make sure you get his reply in writing with a time estimate for repair.
Check to see if all appliances, lights and outlets are in working order. Look at all wiring and make sure that bare wires are not exposed. Inspect the refrigerator, stove, oven and dishwasher to see that they work and are clean. Check the doors and windows to make sure they are secure and safe: Do the doors have strong locks? Do the windows have locks and screens? Open and close all doors and windows to be sure that they work properly.
Don't be afraid to ask the landlord any questions you may have. Make sure to get meaningful answers and take notes so you can remember the answers later. Much like a job interview, your interaction with the landlord will give you an idea of what it will be like to work with him in the future. You may also want to talk with neighbors to find out their impressions of the landlord and the neighborhood. Ask if repairs are quickly made; it is a good sign if other tenants speak highly of the landlord and the neighborhood.
Leases and Other Agreements
Leases are legally binding rental agreements. Do not sign more than one lease thinking that you are only holding the apartments until you make a decision. Before you sign the lease, be sure you want the apartment and read it carefully. Do not be afraid to ask the landlord to add things to the lease regarding such things as repairs or appliances. Most leases are for a one-year period, but this may be negotiable. Normally, you are expected to pay rent for the entire leasing period, even if you move out early.
Also, make sure that all agreements with your landlord are in writing. Verbal agreements are usually worth nothing. If a landlord won’t put anything in writing, you may not want to rent from him.
Most landlords will require a security deposit; it is usually the equivalent of one month’s rent. The security deposit is the landlord’s insurance against damage or the tenants leaving without paying rent. The landlord may subtract the cost of any damage and/or cleaning incurred after you move out of the apartment. However, the landlord may not charge you for normal wear-and-tear on the apartment or excessive cleaning charges if you have cleaned the apartment before you move out. You are legally entitled to receive your security deposit back at the end of your lease (minus any charges for excessive damage or cleaning costs).
Ask the following questions:
- When will the apartment be available?
- How much is the security deposit?
- Is the apartment furnished (refrigerator included), and if so, is there an extra deposit?
- If applicable: Are pets allowed, and if so, is there an extra deposit?
- Which utilities (such as water, trash, gas and electricity) are included in the rent?
- On average, how much are utilities per month?
- Is air conditioning/heat available, and if so, how much does it cost on average?
- Is there parking available, and is it covered/gated?
- Does parking cost extra?
- Are there laundry facilities available?
- Is shopping available nearby?
- Is the neighborhood safe/quiet? (you may want drive by the area in the evening)
The following information may be required when arranging your rental contract:
- Your previous address and phone number
- Your previous landlord's and employer's address and phone number
- Your bank account and credit card information
- Your driver's license number
Remember to bring your checkbook or cash for a credit report fee (usually $25-50) and be ready to put down a deposit once the credit report comes back. Also, before you move in, document any existing problems or noticeable markings that were there prior to your signing the lease. Having photographs showing the state of the apartment to accompany the notes is a good idea.
In general, do not spend more than 30-40 percent of your income or monthly budget on rent and utilities.