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A Beginner’s Guide to House-Hunting in IV

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

Finding housing for the next school year has already begun. For some people, it started as early as September or October. But don’t worry, if you haven’t started thinking about it, you’re not alone.

The housing crisis at UCSB, and throughout other California universities, has made it practically impossible to select an ideal place to live at an affordable price. Although securing next year’s housing may trigger some stress, there are steps you can take to feel prepared for the house-hunting season. 

  1. Start Early

In order to secure a comfortable living arrangement for the next school year, you may need to start earlier than you think. There is a significant shortage of convenient housing in the Isla Vista and extended Santa Barbara area, so it is important to get on top of the process early. The process typically begins in November, December, or January (possibly even earlier) and starting at a good time is very beneficial in securing an ideal place. Whether you are finding a group to live with, deciding on your ideal location, or confirming your desired budget, it is important to start thinking about housing options early to maximize your chances of getting a solid place. 

  1. Brainstorm an ideal location

If you want to live on Del Playa with a beautiful ocean-front view, you need to begin the process extra early, as these properties are IV’s most treasured and desired. One of the most popular DP leasing companies, Playa Life IV, opens their applications as early as October, so if you want to live at one of these beach-front locations, secure it early! 

Other popular streets in Isla Vista include Sabado Tarde, Trigo, Pasado, and more. These blocks consist of various styles and sizes of apartments and houses, so it’s important to think of which area sounds most appealing to get started with the application process.

You should also consider which block you might prefer living on. Would you rather live closer to school, in the middle of the noisy IV student life, close to the beach, or farther and more secluded? Depending on the location, the price varies as well. Typically for a double, students will pay anywhere from $700-$1200 depending on the location, quality, and how many people live there, so brainstorm what you’re most comfortable with. These topics are crucial to consider at the beginning of the strenuous process, and deciding what you want will help you narrow down your choices.

  1. Find your ideal group

The size of the property you live in needs to accommodate the number of people in your group. Some places can accommodate as little as one or two people, while others may accommodate as many as twenty. Figure out what group size works best for you, and discuss the division of singles, doubles, triples, or even quadruples. It is essential to find out what everyone is comfortable with. If you don’t already have a group of friends to house with, check out the groups “UCSB Housing,” “Girls Isla Vista Housing,” and “IV Housing for UCSB Students” on Facebook. During the height of housing season, hundreds of people post looking for roommates or people to live with. If you go this route, take the time to get to know your group to see if you get along and reduce the possibility of drama at all costs!

  1. Take yourself on a tour of Isla Vista

Once you have your basic questions answered, take a stroll, a bike ride, or a drive around the streets of IV. Observe the properties that may fit your needs and seem like something you’re looking for. This may sound odd, but knocking on doors and asking for a tour is an IV custom. Don’t be afraid to knock and ask the current tenants for some information, because they will most likely be friendly and accommodating. 

When approaching current tenants, ask as many questions as you possibly can. Do they have laundry nearby? Do they have a dishwasher? How much do they pay for rent? Are utilities included? How many people live there? Do they like their leasing company? Perhaps one of the most important and crucial questions to ask is, “Are you releasing?” This question can make or break your living expectations; if they are planning on releasing, you will not have a chance to apply. But housing plans are constantly falling through and changing, so it’s in your best interest to keep it as an option and apply if you can!

You may find houses that surprise you on these self-guided tours of IV. Even if you find the most ideal place, I suggest still keeping your options open and having an open mind. Take a look at as many properties as possible, and take well-detailed notes to help your memory later on.

  1. Make a list of top choices

After touring the town, get your group together and make a list of your top choices. Before applications even come out you should have a concise list of your preferences to help make you more prepared and organized. Once the applications are released, your group can apply for each place in the order of most desired to least desired. This way, you might have a better chance of getting your top choices!

  1. Research local leasing companies

Now that you have toured and selected the properties you are most interested in, research their leasing companies. It’s important to familiarize yourself with their basic policies, and make sure you are notified when crucial information comes out. Some of the most prominent leasing companies in Isla Vista include Wolfe & Associates, Meridian Group, Sierra Property Management, and IV Properties

If you want to take it a step further, try contacting the leasing offices of your top choices, and express your interest in their properties. They may decide to put you on a contact or mailing list, therefore, you will be one of the first people notified when applications come out. Making your interest clear is a great way to familiarize yourself with the company and emphasize your desire for a specific property. After that, keep checking their websites consistently, especially through December and winter break, until applications are finally out. Once they are released, you can browse the available units and begin signing applications. You will be much more prepared than most students!

I must caution that you might not get your ideal place, even if you try using every one of these tips. That’s why it’s crucial to find a lot of options that you could potentially be satisfied with. Being on top of the process early and keeping in touch with leasing offices can help you be less overwhelmed and more organized when applications are released. So as long as you try and follow the majority of these tips, you’ll definitely secure something that fits well for you next year.

Nina Breister is the Co-Campus Coordinator and Head of PR for UCSB's chapter of Her Campus. She is a fourth-year Communication major pursuing the Professional Writing minor & TMP certificate. Originally from San Diego, Nina adores the warm weather and has grown to love Santa Barbara as her second home. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, going to the beach, playing the drums, and dancing.