USC School of Cinematic Arts is probably the highest regarded film school in the nation. The university is also the state’s oldest private research institution. Unlike its biggest rival, UCLA in tony Westwood, USC is in the heart of South Central Los Angeles, surrounded by Watts and Inglewood and a stone’s throw from Skid Row. While finding housing anywhere in Southern California is problematic, finding housing around USC multiplies the issues with endemic crime and gang activity. Read on for three tips on finding a great place to live while you attend USC.
Look for Safety
Finding USC off campus housing is not impossible. USC is well aware of the reputation of the surrounding neighborhood and patrols widely. Check the USC Department of Public Safety website for maps of their patrol areas that include private neighborhoods around the campus. They patrol from Exposition Park in the south up to the 110 and I10 interchange. If you can find space in, or adjacent to, this patrol area, you have less chance of dealing with crime and gang activity.
Many apartments and rental homes have security in mind. Look for places that advertise smart locks, camera systems or monitored security.
Share Your Space
Los Angeles has the fifth-highest rents in the county, so unless you’re coming from San Francisco or a handful of other cities, the cost of rent may come as a shock. When you’re willing to live with roommates you can significantly reduce your rent and utility costs. Living with roommates shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. Look for Facebook groups or ask dormmates if they want to share off campus housing near USC.
Once you’ve got a few options, meet your potential mates. Visit where they live to see how they keep house. Ask them to visit you. If it is someone you don’t know well, it’s not a bad idea to ask for personal references. Discuss your study, sleeping and party habits. While not all your roommates have to have the exact same preferences, you should all have a similar baseline of cleanliness and expectations about quiet time that can diffuse disagreements and keep you from hating coming home.
Look for Reviews
Besides your roommates, your landlord is an important ingredient in a great home. Look for reviews on Yelp where you can see feedback from other college students but also older adults who may have more rental experience. Reddit is another great place to ask questions, get feedback and review information left for others. USC has its own active subreddit with a lot of information about the campus and happenings but also about housing recommendations. Finally, word of mouth can help you find hidden gems or avoid something that only looks like a good deal.
Remember to calculate your additional costs like utilities and about $150 for an individual parking spot which won’t be included in your rent. With planning and investigation, you can find a safe, affordable home near the USC campus that won’t break the bank.