My 1-Bedroom Apartment In LA Costs £630 A Month—& This Is What It Looks Like

In Refinery29's Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennial city dwellers.

Today, Christina Martinez shows us her 1-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles, where she pays £630 ($850) in rent.

In the renting market, just as in business, sometimes it's about who you know. When Refinery29 reader Christina Martinez emailed in about her $850 Los Angeles apartment, we could hardly believe it. But thanks to a random connection, she found this gem of a 1-bedroom in a walk-up building, situated in the hip neighbourhood of Highland Park.

"I found this place after a lot of frantic searching and doing a lot of Craigslisting," Martinez says. "It popped up after a friend of a friend, or the assistant to an artist friend of mine, overhead me talking about it. For a lot of apartments, it feels like people just pass their places along, so sometimes they don't even get listed anywhere."

The one-bedroom apartment, with windows in every room and three large closets, might seem like a steal. Still, the low-for-Los Angeles price tag isn't all sunshine and palm trees. Martinez's extensive collection of books and art, combined with the small amount of space, means living with a partner does have its problems. Click ahead to check out her apartment and hear her story.

Check out her 1-bedroom in our Sweet Digs home tour, then shop some of her finds ahead.
What were some costs of moving in?

"I just had to pay first month’s rent and security deposit. It was half a month’s rent. I mean, this is the first place I’ve lived in in 15 years of living in LA where it wasn't a ton of money upfront. Every other apartment has been first month rent, last month rent, and a security deposit. I also used to have to get a co-signer.

"I did spend on some renovations. With the landlords' permission, I actually paid for a lot of fixing it up. I paid someone to completely re-paint the apartment, and rip up the floor and re-do those with something cute. I went to Linoleum City, a giant warehouse in the middle of the city, and found some really cool scrap flooring. So I probably spent around $1,200 (£900) buying the paint and the floor and paying someone to do it for me. It felt worth it. I felt comfortable doing that because the rent is so cheap and I plan on being here until I die."

Where do you shop for home decor or furniture?

"I just let myself get surprised. The house is pretty full now, so I'm not as aware as I used to be of furniture and things, but there's just stuff on the street all the time. I'll look at it and decide, Is this worth it? Or am I just liking it because it looks nice on the street and it's actually just trash?"
What's the best decorating tip you've received?

"A friend told me, if your foundation is neutral, then you can go nuts with everything else. My first impulse was to paint everything; my original plan was to paint every room a crazy colour, but then with every room painted, it would make the space feel smaller.

"So only the kitchen is a shocking lime green. I heard yellow-based colours are good for kitchens, since it’s happy. The painting scheme for the living room I took directly from a friend of mine. Instead of everything being white, I found the lightest shade of grey possible, and that’s the colour of my living room. And the bedroom is white. There could only be one place in here with a crazy colour, so I chose the kitchen."
What's the worst thing about this place?

"It’s a really cute, smaller building, and a lot of people have lived here for five or ten years. The tradeoff is that it’s a bit older, it’s drafty, it’s dusty, and there are little buggies that come in the summer. I have to be really conscientious about washing dishes otherwise ants will come."

What do you want in your next dream apartment?

"An office. A separate room that could just be a work room. I’m a writer and a comedian, so I have a shadow wardrobe that's just full of costumes for performing in character. Right now it's all stuffed into a cubby, but I'd like to have an extra room that is a place for my desk and a closet for my wigs and costumes and props."
How many pieces of art do you own?

"Oh, I don't know. Not all of them are in my home. I might have a stack of things at a previous apartment somewhere, or at my parents' place. I would honestly say, I might have 10 pieces of actual work or less. I'm not super precious."

Where do you normally find your art?

"Just through friends. I wish I could just buy anything I wanted from them, but a lot of it has been through really generous trades and gifts. There's a little painting by my bed by an artist who gave it to me for £22 at a garage sale. He was cleaning out his studio, and he had this really small piece where he stretched an oil rag that mechanics used over a frame. It was really sweet and special and reminded me of growing up in East LA, where my grandfather owned an auto shop."
Want more Sweet Digs? Watch another episode here.