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REAL ESTATE: Searching for affordable places to rent is no easy task

REAL ESTATE: Searching for affordable places to rent is no easy task

REAL ESTATE: Searching for affordable places to rent is no easy task

 Dave Miller, a vehicle maintenance shop supervisor, says his co-workers don't understand how he can make the commute between Moreno Valley and Garden Grove.

Dave Miller, a vehicle maintenance shop supervisor, says his co-workers don’t understand how he can make the commute between Moreno Valley and Garden Grove.

ED CRISOSTOMO, , ED CRISOSTOMO, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

When Linda Truong lived in Phoenix, she could rent a four-bedroom house in a safe neighborhood for less than $ 1,000.

Now in Duarte and looking for an apartment – even just a room – in Los Angeles, the Inland area or Orange County, she’s in shock.

Southern California rents are steep. The search for an affordable spot often requires a relentless effort. It can seem like a second job – one with no foreseeable payoff.

Truong, 35, does marketing and design for Vegan Printer and SoCal Veg Fest in Fountain Valley. The 76-mile, round-trip commute from Duarte, near Pasadena, in her Honda Fit is “treacherous,” she said, but she can work from home half the week.

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So far, trying to find something she can afford – up to $ 800 a month – in either Los Angeles or Orange counties has led only to dead ends.

The numbers appear to be against her. Asking rents for Orange County apartments averaged $ 1,753 a month during the first quarter of 2016, according to Reis Inc., a New York-based real estate and economic data firm. That was up $ 63 a month from the same period in 2015. In Los Angeles County, asking rents hit $ 1,630 a month in the first quarter, up $ 85 from the prior year.

At one point, Truong’s search took her to Irvine, where a man who told her he does lot of traveling offered to rent her his bedroom; he’d just move into the living room, he said.

“I’m not comfortable with that,” she said.

A studio in the Los Angeles area – she recalled it was in the vicinity of Arcadia or El Monte – had some potential until she saw it.

It was about 200 square feet.

“It was cramped,” she said. The “kitchenette” was disappointing, too. “It was just, like, a little burner.”

On her wish list: A guest house or mother-in-law flat, or a private room in a home, with a separate entrance. A safe community is a must. Odors of cooking meat would be a deal breaker.

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Truong put up a Craigslist ad, but it generated only leads above what she could pay, or living arrangements that sounded too crowded (like a Ladera Ranch woman with a house and five children). Or offers that had nothing to do with renting.

Press Enterprise : Real Estate