Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010!

Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today.
I want to be a part of it--New york, New York!
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray.
Right through the very heart of it--New york, New york!

I wanna wake up in that city that doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill--top of the heap

These little town blues, are melting away.
I’ll make a brand new start of it in old New York
If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New york, New york
Definitely how I felt back in the fall of 2001.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Westside Rentals

You can't look into finding an apartment in SoCal without hearing about Unlike NYC (where subscription-based rental services are all ripoffs), Westside Rentals ($60/two months of access) is a legit and pervasive entity. If you drive around LA you'll see tons of apartment buildings with Westside Rental signs on them. I have been checking craigslist LA on a daily (if not more) basis for rentals over the past month and have become probably too familiar with the rentals it has to offer. I can pretty much predict 95% of the posts that will show up there each day. Now that we can possibly rent an apartment any second now, we finally spent the $60 for the Westside Rental subscription.

My first experience with it was pretty disappointing. A good amount of posts don't have any photos, and the photos that are there are really small and low quality. Plus, there's a good amount of overlap between their apartments and the ones posted on Craigslist. And the search functions are as nearly as sophisticated as they should be.

But once I became familiar with how the site really works, I warmed up to it. I found a good number of promising posts that weren't on Craigslist. And since landlords have to pay to post on Westside Rentals, I'm much more inclined to believe their descriptions. And WR does not suffer the terrible craigslist problem of the same apartment being posted everyday, multiple times a day. Plus it doesn't have a bunch of scams/foreclosures all over it.

Each post follows the same general skeleton, so once you become familiar with it it's very easy to scan each post to find what you are looking for. For instance, each description starts with whether its furnished or not, then the number of bedrooms, then bathrooms, then whether its pet friendly, etc. That's a lot easier to deal with than the ramblings of idiots who post on Craigslist.

Tons of LA apartments offer 1-month's free rent, and there are already some posted that require no rent until February, which would be just great for us! Landing an apartment could happen very soon...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

banking here, banking there

As you've probably heard, Citibank will begin charging fees on its EZ Checking accounts in February. I've been a Citibank user since 2001 (since they had some kind of choke hold on all of Columbia), but I'm definitely parting ways with this bank now. Which is a bit of a shame, because my favorite part about Citibank is its pretty strong nationwide presence, so I definitely did not think switching banks would become part of my to-do list for moving to LA. But, now it is!

I've been all over the checking account signup bonuses for various banks lately. I opened a Chase checking account a few months ago and got $125. Then I got an offer from Capital One to open a checking account and got $200! I never really explored Capital One at all (just saw lots of their commercials), and I was very drawn to their 100% free checking accounts (Chase requires direct deposit or some number of debit card payments per month to make it free). Sadly, Capital One only exists in the very Northeast. So I guess I am switching over to Chase for my secondary account. My primary bank has been ING Direct for the past few years, and I love them. And I certainly don't have to worry about geography with them!

I was just thinking...when I need to withdraw or deposit money in LA...I'm going to have to drive to an ATM somewhere to do it! That is weird, weird, weird.

Saturday, December 12, 2009