Are you thinking about searching for an apartment in California? Finding the right space to call your own can seem daunting, but with a few steps and some knowledge of the local housing market, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In the paragraphs that follow, we’ll go through five key steps that will make apartment hunting in California simpler—from determining what amenities are important to choosing a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle. Read on to learn how you can find the perfect place.

1. Make a list of what you are looking for in a new home

Finding a new home is an exciting process but can be overwhelming––especially with the number of factors to consider. Begin by making a list of what you’re looking for in your next rental. You’ll want to determine the basics such as how many bedrooms you need and if you require amenities like laundry facilities and parking. Storage is another important factor. Of course, you’ll also want to consider the convenience of your new place; how close is it from work or school? By going through this list (in order) and really thinking through each item, you can take much of the guesswork out of searching for a perfect rental.

2. Begin your search with the right resources

Looking for an apartment rental can feel like a daunting task, but there are many useful resources to help you out. If you have a specific neighborhood or apartment community in mind, contact the landlord directly for the most up-to-date information. Websites dedicated to rental listings, housing offices at universities, and monthly apartment guides can be great resources to find available apartments. Don’t forget to ask friends or family members for referrals; you never know who could point you in the right direction. By familiarizing yourself with all these methods, securing the perfect place to live won’t be so tricky.

3. Take a tour of the property and talk to people

When you’re considering renting a property, it pays to do your due diligence. Take a walk around the grounds and take note of how well-maintained the place is. Are there any signs of litter or poor landscaping? Are the buildings and outdoor areas well-lighted so you can trust that crime opportunities are minimal? You should also drive around the neighborhood during both the day and night times. This will give you a good perspective about what kind of environment surrounds your potential rental. When touring an apartment and its grounds before you commit to living there, be sure to listen for any noise or other disturbances that might prove a problem in the future. If possible, try talking to the people who already reside there and ask for their opinion about the area; you may find out something you hadn’t considered before.

4. Consider monthly rental costs and other expenses

The real cost of living in a city often goes beyond the amount you pay for rent each month. Transportation, food, entertainment, and other everyday expenses can quickly add up. To really assess affordability when looking at different cities, factor in all essential costs to get an idea of what a month or year would look like financially. Research public transportation passes and how much it might cost to drive every day and park your car before committing to a place. Shopping around can help you find great deals whether you’re looking for groceries, furniture and home items, or nights out with friends — remember that all of these things have an impact on your overall budget.