You can't look into finding an apartment in SoCal without hearing about westsiderentals.com. 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...