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27 October 2009 @ 11:11 pm
Decisions, decisions  
shelleycat and i went by Costco, Office Max and Best Buy to check out scanners. After taking notes on the various models and prices it's now pretty obvious why Consumer Reports doesn't have a standalone scanner section. You can get a scanner that just scans for $70-80, and you can get a printer that just prints for $70-80. Or you could get a combo printer/scanner for... $70-80 :)

After getting home i checked the Consumer Reports rankings vs. the models and prices i'd taken notes on. It looks like the best options are the HP OfficeJet 6500 for $100, which Consumer Reports rated at 64 for a price point of $140 and gave it their "best buy" mark, or the HP Photosmart Premium for $185, which Consumer Reports rated at 70 for a price point of $300 and gave it one of the "recommended buy" marks.

The Photosmart was the second highest of all the printers they rated, and got "very good" in the scanning category. It's also on sale for $65 less than the regular price and $115 less than the price Consumer Reports rated it for.

The OfficeJet "only" got "good" in the scanning category, but it's $85 cheaper than the Photosmart, and currently on sale for about $50 less than the regular price and the price Consumer Reports rated it at.

And as long as i'm tormenting myself with options...

Apartment stuff:

We've looked at about seven or eight apartment complexes so far. We've been looking them up mostly with Apartments.com and ForRent.com, and a little bit of Moogle's Real Estate search, and then checking reviews on ApartmentRatings.com, which unfortunately(?) has kind of prejudiced us against one or two apartments that seemed decent on first impression.

Currently we've got five pretty good candidates.

Valley Park: 1002 sq ft 2 Bedrooms for $1128 a month. First month and a half is free if we sign by the 31st. The parking situation looks kinda nasty there unless we pay $25 per month for an extra carport spot, but there's no guarantee there'd actually be a free spot to rent. The combined kitchen/dining area is almost completely cut off from the living room which bothers me, and i'm told that the design in the kitchen was pretty ugly, which bothered shelleycat. It's also not exactly close to anything.

Huntington Manor: 950 sq ft 2 Bedrooms for $1200 a month. First month is free. The bedrooms seemed rather small, and it seems like there is no dishwasher. (We didn't think to check at the time, but that was listed as a con on the ratings site and when we checked the brochure it's not listed as one of the amenities.) Even less close to anything than Valley Park though.

We've also started considering one bedroom apartments. shelleycat thinks she might be okay with that as long as she reserves the right to make me sleep in the living room from time to time when she feels like she needs privacy.

Grande: 755 sq ft 1 Bedroom for $1135 a month. $150 off the first month. A little expensive for a 1 bedroom, but there's no pet rent, it has decently sized rooms, a mostly open kitchen, lots of storage space, and it's on the same corner as the local Famima and the 405 onramp and it's right across the street from the Fresh & Easy and Del Taco and a mom & pop diner that shelleycat likes. The big downside to this one is that they'd just rented out the last free $1135 one. It is month to month though (another plus) so one might become available if we're willing to wait for a bit.

Sycamore Valley: 767 sq ft 1 Bedroom for $1050 a month. No move-in specials. It has the same room layout as the Grande (it's owned by the same company and the manager at the Grande was the person who brought the complex to our attention) but it's a bit shabbier and the fixtures in the apartment aren't as nice. Also, despite being from the same company this one has pet rent even though Grande doesn't. It's also not particularly close to anything of interest, though it's relatively close to the freeway. The complex does have a couple jacuzzis though, which shelleycat thinks is a plus. However, the $1050 price was supposedly the "move in special," which seems like a dumb idea to me, and it also supposedly was just for last weekend, so theoretically the price could be different now. However they did call shelleycat on monday to try and convince her that the special price might go away. That tells me that the price probably isn't really at risk, and such pressure tactics don't really make me think better of the management there.

Sandpiper: 760 sq ft 1 Bedroom for $1049 a month. First month is free. There's also no pet rent _and_ they pay for water, trash and gas. It also has at least one jacuzzi. We haven't actually looked at the 1 bedroom model yet (we were still focused on 2 bedrooms only when we first toured it) but the one we did see seemed to have reasonably sized rooms. It's moderately close to the freeway, and it's on Beach (just south of Warner) so it's also fairly close to the mall, DVD Planet, BevMo, BJs, etc. The only particular downside we've heard is that there are dogs in just about every downstairs apartment, and they're often rather noisy. One of the downsides of such a universally pet friendly place.

I was kind of hoping we'd be able to get down at least to $1000 by looking at 1 bedrooms, but no luck with that so far. I do notice however that if i do a search on Redondo Beach that neither my current (relatively cheap) apartment nor most of the other apartments on this block show up. I wonder if somewhere in Huntington Beach/Fountain Valley/Westminster there's a congregation of slightly older and smaller but cheap and decent apartments. Unfortunately if there is i have no idea how to go about finding it =P Other than the way that i found this place of course, spending a couple weeks driving around until i tripped over it.

Edit: shelleycat thinks we should do a poll :)

Any opinions about which we should do?

Poll #1477375 What should we do?

Pick one

Keep looking
Valley Park (despite parking and ugly kitchen)
Huntington Manor ("despite tiny second bedroom")
Wait for Grande to open up
Sycamore Valley
Steuardsteuard on October 28th, 2009 11:46 am (UTC)
I feel a bit foolish: when was the last Consumer Reports scanner review? (That is, which issue? I'm sure I've seen it; I just hadn't thought of it when shopping around lately.)
DonAithnendonaithnen on October 28th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
I'm not actually sure, i've been using their website. I've never actually subscribed to the magazine itself, though i've occasionally flipped through an issue when home at my parents' place.
cwendy41cwendy41 on October 28th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC)
Try also Craigslist -- this requires weeding through fake and crappy ads but there are real apartments for rent listed there. These ads will be from smaller complexes which might be better taken care of, like a rental condo. They post here because they don't have enough inventory to justify the cost of posting on other webpages.

Also, when I was looking at apartments.com ratings for apartments up here, I didn't trust those ratings much. They all seemed really negative, which makes sense because people are only going to post if they're not happy with something. Also, I can't help but to think that some of the posters themselves are to blame for their problems.
cwendy41cwendy41 on October 28th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC)
As an addendum to renting a rental condo, keep in mind that it's easy to get screwed. If you sign a lease, I think you're protected, but if you don't, they could stop paying the mortgage, you keep paying them rent, they make this money and you get booted. If you rent from a small apartment complex, then this might not be an issue.

Another thing you can do is call up property management places. I know that the people who manage my apartment up here also manage other rental properties (I know this because I see them post other listings on craigslist). Basically the 4-plex owners let the management people manage it for them, so the real owners don't need to fix anything at all because the company does it. In exchange, they take a cut of the rental money.
Desireemadduckdes on October 28th, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC)
The "they don't pay their mortgage then you get booted" problem is not fixed by a lease. Updates in the law have made it so that you at least get notice now (instead of a "be out within the next day" boot), but that has nothing to do with leases.

On the other hand, it's not like in the area you're looking there's a huge foreclosure rate. Most of the California foreclosure problem is coming from new expansion areas like the Inland Empire.

And I agree that a lot of the private condo rentals are much nicer than apartments but listed for an almost comparable price. It's really worth a look.
Brie2gouda4u on October 28th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC)
I second this. Geoff and I found our current place through CL.
DonAithnendonaithnen on October 28th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, that's a good idea. I'll have to poke around Craigslist tonight, thanks :)

I do read the ratings site with a grain of salt. Normally one bad review isn't enough to sour me on a place, however if several different reviews share a common complaint i will tend to take that complaint seriously.
Catbirdcatbird on October 29th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
It doesn't sound like any of the places grab you so if there is no real time pressure I would keep looking. I've had good luck with CL as well.