You can check out our website, http://www.myLARealEstateGroup.com to view different communities in the Los Angeles area. I did my undergrad at USC and used to commute. I do believe the area near campus is not the safest place. My drive was only about 15 min and usually avoided freeways. I lived in the Los Feliz area at one point and Silverlake at another point of my college life. Both areas are great place to live and rather centrally located. Los Feliz is a bit pricier, while Silverlake is up and coming neighborhood. $1200 can get you various palces to live. Our website also has a section where average rents are broken down by neighborhood (under the investment tab). Please feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have. Good Luck!
LA Real Estate Group'
I was in exactly your same position when I moved to LA for grad school at UCLA. I'm guessing you are coming from UM. I was moving in from Penn State and had a roommate from Penn State who was also coming to LA for grad school at USC. We were coming from rural Pennsylvania where cost of living was significantly less expensive. We ultimately chose to live in the Palms area of LA. This location has great access to the area freeways (10 and 405) and also has major bus lines that pass right through the region.
Aside from easy access to major transportation, the community is more on the Westside of town. I didn't realize this when I moved to LA, but the Westside has a significantly more moderate climate than locations further inland. Temperatures rarely get hot and the air quality is good because of the proximity to the ocean.
Your best bet would be to use Craigslist or WestsideRentals.com to find a rental. If you have any other questions about the area or need help in your transition, please don't be shy to call. I've been through the same experience and would be happy to help you in any way I can!
All the best,
First, you should contact University housing. If there is something for you for the first year, you will have time to get a feel for the city. Also, you will need a car, just for shopping and social activities, but if you live on campus at first, you will have time to get one and its parking.
Traffic is heavy, so the old tradional commutes for USC--South Pasadena, Alhambra, Silverlake, etc, are heavier than they used to be. The Metro is still not efficient.
Adams Avenue is a cool area west of USC.
Look for For Rent or Roommate Wanted postings on departmental bulletin boards. These are posted by other students or USC employees.
A good fit for young people who prefer a walking community would be the North side of Echo Park.
(North of the 101 freeway).
The northern part of echo park is governed by the north east division of the LAPD. I believe they hold the record for one of the lowest crime rates in all of Los Angeles county. If you are looking for an unfurnished apartment, you should have no problem finding a one bedroom for under 1200. Get a membership to westside rentals. It costs $60 for a 2 month membership but for long term unfurnished you'll find far better deals than you might on craigslist.
If you are looking for furnished in your price range, I recommend you look for a room. 1200 isn't enough to rent a corporate/furnished apartment and though sublets in your price range, do exist, they are sought after by everyone! Even if you are lucky enough to get chosen, often times the subleter backs out at the last minute and goes with a friend, or comes home early. For your room needs: use http://www.craigslist.com and post an ad for yourself. You'll get responses from people that fear posting an ad as well as savvy students sharing houses. If you like, you can even post an ad for an apartment on there.
FYI: most landlords are lazy, they won't shop for tenants on there, but you may encounter more do-gooders like myself that will be helpful.
Happy Hunting, ~Michelle
The L.A. Condo Store
The Rising Force in Downtown Loft Living
You might want to check out West Hollywood, its centrally located, and there is a lot of nightlife and shopping, restaurants etc. That is where I moved to when I first moved to California (albeit a long long time ago). Check westside rentals or craigs list. There aren't any listings in the mls in that area in your price range, but that doesn't mean there aren't apartments available! Good Luck!
LA is a big city and has so much to offer--you just need to find an neighborhood you are comfortable in--and yes, you WILL need a car.