How to Find an Affordable Apartment in East Bay

how to find an affordable apartment in the east bay

Whether you’re thinking about moving or you’re looking for your very first apartment in the East Bay, you may worry a cost-friendly apartment in the area is hard to come by. The reality is that it really isn’t so hard. There are tips to make the search process a whole lot easier and a little less painful. And, if you play your cards right, you’ll land a cheap apartment in this buzzing area.

Where is East Bay, California?

Located in northern California, East Bay is the eastern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area, hence the name “East Bay.” East bay is one of the densest regions in the Bay Area and encompasses Alameda and Contra Costa counties. East Bay borders North Bay (Marin County, Sonoma County, Napa County and Solano County) and South Bay (Santa Clara County). The region’s situated directly across from San Francisco (San Francisco County) and Peninsula (San Mateo County).

Thanks to its position between the North and South Bays, East Bay is close to many popular cities, including San Jose, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Cupertino, Santa Clara, and Los Altos. These cities also make up a region known as “Silicon Valley.” 

Cities and towns commonly associated with East Bay include:

tips to find an apartment in the east bay

How To Find An Apartment in the East Bay

According to RentCafé, rent trends indicate that the average cost of rentals in Oakland increased 6% Year-over-Year (YoY). In comparison, Fremont saw a 2% increase YoY, and Oakland also saw a 6% increase in average apartment cost. The rent range varies depending on the area where you prefer to live in East Bay and the apartment’s size but is typically between $2,000 and $3,000 per month.

Studio apartments are the smallest and most affordable housing option and are ideal for one or two people. Slightly larger than studio apartments, one-bedroom apartments are suitable for one or two people but typically have separate areas for the kitchen/dining room, living room, bedroom and bathrooms. On the other hand, studio apartments usually have one single space that acts as a living room, dining area/kitchen and bedroom with a separate bathroom.

As you might expect, rent in East Bay for two and three-bedroom apartments are more expensive than studio and one-bedroom apartments. However, they offer more space and are great alternatives for families looking for more affordable housing options than townhomes, home rentals, condos or purchasing a home in the Bay Area.

How Much Space Do You Really Need?

1. Avoid the Broker’s Fee

When you’re apartment hunting in East Bay, one of the best ways to save money when looking for any property type is to avoid the broker’s fee, which you’ll have to pay if you use a broker or real estate agent.

What Are Broker’s Fees?

Broker’s fees are the commission fees a renter pays to the broker who helps them to find an apartment. These are similar to the costs you would pay to a real estate agent when purchasing a home.

How Much Do Broker’s Fees Cost?

You can expect to pay a fee of roughly 8% to 15% of the yearly lease cost with a broker. Some brokers will calculate their prices as a percentage of the total annual rent, and others may instead choose to quote one month’s rent.

In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate the broker’s fee, especially if the rental market is slow or you’re apartment hunting in the off-season. The costs will vary by broker, so if you decide to use one, it’s best to confirm their rates before signing any contracts.

How to Avoid Paying Broker Fees

If you’re looking to skip the broker’s fees altogether, look for “no-fee apartments.” In this case, the landlord pays the broker’s fees on behalf of the renter — though this typically means paying a higher monthly rent price as the landlord often inflates the apartment’s cost to account for their added expense. You can also find an apartment with an onsite rental office or by renting from a property management company. By working with the owner or property manager, you can negotiate directly and avoid paying broker’s fees.

2. Consider Larger Apartment Complexes

Another way to find cost-friendly apartments for rent in the East Bay is to look for buildings with 20 to 30 apartments. These specialize in tenant-landlord representation. If the building has stable rent, it will likely remain that way.

If an apartment goes vacant in such buildings, the landlord won’t expend a considerable amount of money trying to deregulate it. An investor with 10 apartments will most probably try to deregulate each unit before selling the building. An investor with more apartments is more likely to hold the building and not spend much when an apartment goes vacant.

3. Be on the “Ugly Side”

None of us dream of having apartments with windows overlooking toll booths and on-ramps, but it might be helpful for your pocket in the long run. Rentals near unattractive roads can be a real money saver. Look for apartments near highways, bridges and train lines in cities with affordable housing near Silicon Valley. These apartments tend to be cheaper than those that are right by the water or other scenery.

In addition to being more affordable, another advantage to living in these areas is faster access to key transportation hubs like BART stations, which can help cut some time off of your commute to and from work each day.

4. Tolerate Some Noise

Apartments near construction sites can be a deal if you’re willing to put up with some noise. Similarly, apartments above bars and restaurants tend to be less costly, along with those located along busy highways and avenues.

5. Watch for Extra Expenses and Included Utilities

Utility bills can add up to hefty amounts every month. For instance, the price of electricity usually comes out of your pocket. One thing you should watch out for is older apartments converted to electric heat. While the installation cost may be cheap for landlords, the monthly bills to heat the apartment could be excessive.

When searching for cheap apartments for rent, be sure to keep the cost of utilities in mind. If possible, you’ll want to look for fair housing with “utilities included.” Even though the apartment’s price might seem slightly higher, you can typically save money by having these expenses included with your rent. As a bonus, it’ll also be more convenient to have these expenses included in your monthly rent price instead of paying bills to each utility company.

Here are some ways to save money on your monthly expenses.

Make Arrangements for Your Pet

If you own a pet, keep in mind that you may have to pay an additional upfront deposit for them. Since pets can damage the property and create extra work for the landlords, property managers will typically charge you a higher rent to keep an animal in your apartment. Make sure you discuss these fees with your landlord before you sign any agreements.

Avoid Rental Scams

Instead of going with the cheapest apartment you can find, look for a reputable company you can trust. Avoid companies or landlords who only want to deal with cash or wire transfers, and make sure you visit the place before you agree to live there. Sign a written lease to have on hand if you need to bring your landlord to court because of a breach in contract. Keep any paperwork about your agreement with your landlord to refer to it in the future.

Save Money on Utilities

You may not have control over what your landlord charges you to live in your rental space, but you can control what you pay in utilities if they aren’t included in your rent. Consider the following ways to cut your monthly expenses:

  • Ask your landlord about upgrading to newer, more energy-efficient appliances.
  • Look for gaps or cracks around your windows and doors that allow drafts to come inside.
  • Wear layers instead of cranking the heat in the winter.
  • Talk to your cable provider about switching to a cheaper plan, or cut cable entirely if you only stream shows online.

Look for Plenty of Amenities

Even if you have to pay more in rent, you might be able to save money in the long run by living in a property with lots of amenities. Consider choosing a rental property with perks that make your life more convenient. Your apartment might be near your job or your favorite place to visit with your friends. Some apartment complexes offer swimming pools, fitness centers or community centers to lounge on a hot summer’s day or get to know your neighbors.

find the best apartments for rent in hayward or east bay california

Find the Best Apartments for Rent in Hayward or East Bay, California

At Marcotte Properties, we offer various affordable apartments in the East Bay area of California. Each property includes the following amenities:

  • Walking distance from businesses and recreational activities
  • Utilities included with monthly rent
  • High-speed internet access
  • Energy-efficient appliances to save money on utility expenses
  • Swimming pools to relax in the summer
  • Modern fixtures
  • Social-friendly courtyards and community rooms
  • Balcony or patio to enjoy the outdoors from your apartment

Call Marcotte Properties at 800-538-1724 or contact us through our website for more information on our East Bay rentals. You can schedule a tour with one of our agents to learn more about cheap East Bay apartments for rent.

Request More Information About Our Apartments

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Updated: 12/16/2020

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I have lived at Bart Plaza for 10 years. It is a nice, quiet, and clean place to live and the staff is very helpful.”

Kristen H.. , Bart Plaza Apartments