The streets of Berkeley are dotted with museums, bookstores, bistros, coffee houses, live music haunts, vinyl record shops (yes, those still exist), art galleries, parks, botanical gardens, theaters, and a variety of low-budget, mid-priced, and high-end eateries.
Bottom line: Berkeley has something for everyone, and you could live there for years before discovering every last attraction the city has to offer.
A studio unit or modest 1-BR pad is likely to cost $1200 or more unless you come across a killer move-in special (which is rare). If you want a place with a little extra leg room (800 square feet or more), be prepared to buck up between $2100 and $3500.
The city has plenty of quality lodgings, but it’s important to realize that you’ll be paying as much for the atmosphere outside your walls in Berkeley as you will for your actual apartment. If you prefer spaciousness and solitude over hustle and bustle, concentrate on the Berkeley Hills neighborhoods further from the city center. As far as amenities like tenant parking, washer/dryer availability go, they differ from place to place, so scope out a residence carefully before signing the dotted line.
It all depends. The further you go from the city center, the more likely you are to come across available rentals. In the more laid-back North Berkeley and Berkeley Hills neighborhoods, for example, apartments, townhouses, and freestanding houses are easier to come by. Our advice is this: If possible, begin your apartment search during the renting “offseason,” mid-March to early April, when many renters are nearing the ends of their leases. Move-in specials aren’t exactly abundant during these months, but at least your selection pool will be a bit wider.
Just like apartment managers everywhere, landlords/property managers in Berkeley require some basic documentation from prospective leasers, including a list of previous residences, a certified check that covers your move-in/good faith deposit, and banking/income verification. Most apartments will run credit and background checks on you. So, you may need a co-signer to cover you in case you conveniently forget to pay the piper one month.
Also, you should approach your leasing application like a job interview. Expect apartment managers in Berkeley to toss you some questions that landlords in other cities won’t. What hours do you keep? What kind of music do you listen to? How often do you have company? What kind of, um, extracurricular activities are you into? Keep in mind that Berkeley is a seller’s market, and landlords generally have no trouble filling their rooms, so they can afford to be choosy.
Instead of relying on your own set of wheels, you may want to take advantage of the city bus or the BART subway, which hauls commuters not only around Berkeley but also to San Francisco and Oakland. The inner city is also extremely biker and walker-friendly, and most streets are equipped with sidewalks and bike paths.
Got it? Good! Enjoy your apartment hunting adventures and welcome to Berkeley!