Introducing… The essential apartment hunter’s guide to California’s Central Valley.
Accommodation: A recent history of the housing market in Stockton reads like much of the rest of the U.S. In other words, there are lots of vacant single-family homes in city-expansion sectors. As one travels away from the CBD, expect fewer apartments and more tract homes. The bust has lowered apartment rates a bit but the steady influx of college kids mitigates against any demand drain. That said, there is a decent selection of complexes closer in (just north of the Crosstown Freeway). You’ll also find historic Spanish bungalows (often broken up into duplexes) in these areas. Finally, a high turnover at the end of each semester means you’re better off looking for apartments during early summer and midwinter.
Transportation: Stockton’s a relatively bike-unfriendly town (considering it’s on the West Coast). There is a trolley that runs up and down Pacific Ave. (“the Ave”) from University of the Pacific, but the local buses are sort of a nightmare. Your best tack here is if you don’t own a car, try to make friends with folks who do.
Crime: North end neighborhoods are generally safer (and closer to commercial districts as well). Feel free to interrogate police headquarters about the frequency of calls answered in each neighborhood, but the best rule of thumb is to get out of the car and walk the streets yourself. If you don’t feel safe (yes, folks, it really is that subjective), then you won’t be happy in that area. Simple, isn’t it? (If you need an even more specific hint, avoid S. California and S. Hunter Streets.)
Hmm.. Not sure. Why do you need to know? More important is what neighborhood is right for you. To that end, peruse these hand-picked suggestions:
UOP/Pacific Ave.: If you need to be able to walk to the happenin’ commercial area, you’ll wanna live as close to the Miracle Mile (Pacific Ave. near Castle St.) as possible. Yes, there are lots of students around here, but honestly UOP isn’t a mammoth. $550/month will get you a nice studio; $750 and up for 2BD/1BA. If cheap’s your game, take a room in a home for around $350/month (but don’t expect private pool access).
Downtown: Rent’s not much higher in Downtown Stockton than in other sectors. (Maybe that’s because every complex has to hire a security team just to get folks to move in!) $525/month will still get you a decent studio in a larger complex; the only difference is the utilities are usually paid and your landlord will expect a lease (6 months is standard). Downtown’s your pick if you need to be close to the Civic Center and public transportation.
Lincoln Village: This is the original suburban expansion area in north Stockton. It’s safer that neighborhoods further south, but you sacrifice that smalltown charm as you head up the Ave. Think strip malls. And real malls. (Then again, there’s Chuck’s Hamburgers!) LV is perhaps the spendiest part of Stockton: expect at least $700/month for 1BD/1BA and $1000/month for 2BD/1BA to live off Ben Holt Dr.
Spanos Park: Clean, safe (relatively), and suburban, Spanos is made up of mostly tract homes and gated communities. If you’re looking for some extra rooms and a two-car garage, you’ll be in heaven. 1800 sq. ft. 3BR/2.5BAs generally run around $1500/month. A single room in one of these babies should cost you less than $500/month.
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