New Town, America
Are you a big fan of bright, shiny new things? Well, yeah, who isn’t?! Luckily for you, Temecula is a relatively new city (until the 1990s, cattle outnumbered residents about a googolplex to 1) that features amenities and housing favorable to any ultramodern American city. Tons of new apartment complexes, condos, and lofts have sprung up in the past decade, and you’d be hard-pressed to find any residential property that’s beginning to show the warts of old age (less than 2% of all housing units were built prior to 1970).
Affordability (for SoCal’s steep standards, anyway)
Although tons of Left Coasters would love nothing more than to dwell in the perpetually sun-drenched and über-comfy confines of San Diego, it’s just not a reasonable option for many of us whose pockets aren’t as deep as the Pacific Ocean. Good news: Temecula is a viable, family-minded, suburban alternative that won’t cost you an arm and a leg (luckily, a pinky and a toe should suffice). True, the cost of living index in Temecula is 33 percentage points higher than the U.S. average, but compared to San Diego and Los Angeles (about a 90-minute trek away), Temecula’s prices are highway robbery. The average apartment costs around $1300, but it’s very possible to find a quality 1BR pad for less than a grand and a multi-room unit for under 2 grand.
A wine aficionado’s paradise (and so much more)
Napa Valley up north might get all the props for being king of the American wine world, but Temecula isn’t far behind. The Grapeline area is dotted with scenic wine valleys and tasting rooms, and pretty much every apartment in the city is within stumbling distance (or short driving distance … with a designated driver, of course!) of a high-quality vineyard. But life in Temecula is about much more than sipping vino. The centrally-located Old Town District features 600-plus antique shops, arts and crafts dealers, restaurants, and a Farmer’s Market. The streets are dotted with parks, playgrounds, golf courses, biking paths and trails, and the city is also home to a wildlife preserve and numerous festivals throughout the year. Night owls might be a bit underwhelmed at times, but some new bars, clubs, and live music venues have popped up around Old Town in recent years and the Pechanga Resort and Casino boasts a handful of after-hours hotspots as well.
Bumming around Town
Because Temecula is so spread out, you’ll need your own car to get around, especially if (like many residents) you make the hour-long commute to San Diego for work every morning. Unfortunately, only two major highways run through the area, so traffic can be a bit dicey. As for public transit … forget about it. You stand a better chance of seeing a blizzard in August (or during any time of the year, for that matter) than a city bus most days. So bring your own vehicle, and plan to spend a good chunk of your day inside it.
Decide for Yourself
If you believe everything you read on the internet, there isn’t a single city in the world that’s safer than a war zone. Likewise, every apartment complex in California is run by mischievous, borderline-criminal property managers whose goal in life is to neglect, harass, and rob you. On the flip side, others will paint such a rosy picture of Temecula that you’ll think you’re moving to a utopian paradise.
Obviously, you should spend plenty of time in a city scoping out its neighborhoods and rental properties with your own eyes to get a realistic picture. Read as many opinions on the internet as you can, but don’t take them as gospel, and keep in mind that it’s typically the disgruntles and fanatics (who either love or despise an apartment, neighborhood, etc.) who post reviews online. Bottom line: The internet may deceive you (expect for apartmentlist.com, of course!) but your own eyes will not.
Tips for Tenants
Roughly 70 percent of Temecula’s housing units are owner-occupied. The city is undoubtedly a haven for families, working professionals, and retirees (sorry, yuppies!) but apartments are readily available as well. Waiting lists are unheard of, and occupancy rates never really spike, so you shouldn’t encounter many stumbling blocks scoring your dream pad. Just be sure to read your lease carefully and pay attention to the fine print, as property managers have different rules regarding everything from pets and roommates to subletting, smoking, barbecue pits, visitors, and even curfews in some cases. Also, give your new place a solid inspection (along with a friend, preferably, as another pair of eyes are always helpful) before moving in. Check for leaky pipes, sinks, and shower heads, faulty appliances, water stains on the walls, floor, ceilings, etc. If something major needs to be replaced or repaired, don’t move in until it’s fixed.
Equip yourself with the basics before submitting a renter’s application, including banking info, proof of income, and a list of prior residences. Most landlords charge prospective tenants a $35-$50 fee to run a background/credit check, while others charge additional fees for cleaning, changing locks, or general upkeep. If you feel like a landlord is overcharging you for supplemental, pre-move-in fees, keep up your search for the perfect place, because it’s not hard to find great properties with killer move-in specials elsewhere in Temecula.
Finally, have fun on your apartment hunting adventures and welcome to Temecula!
About Apartment List
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