No BS, here's where you should look.
Craigslist is THE source for listings. Yeah, it looks dated (and sketchy), but landlords love it because it's simple and it works. You'll learn to love it too because it's really the only good search option. On the plus side, it has great filters!
You’ll find other websites that offer listings, but many are frustratingly outdated or offer relatively few listings. Almost anything you see on other sites (Apartmentlist, PadMapper, Zillow, Zumper, etc.) is also posted on Craigslist.
A lot of property managers put their listings up on Craigslist, but some don't. They have more than enough students coming directly to them, so it's not worth their time. Instead, they just upload information to their website. We've included links to their websites (if they have one) in our resources section.
Most of these companies are relatively reliable, and others are kind of sketchy. Use your gut feeling and ask around if possible.
Freshmen note: A lot of these property managers want to see rental history from you. If you don't have rental history, check out Cal Poly's Educated Renters Certificate Program. Several of the major property managers in San Luis Obispo have partnered with Cal Poly. If you take this quick course, you'll show landlords that you're serious.
If you know any upperclassmen, simply ask them if they're moving out this year (or graduating). If they are, ask them to connect you with their landlord. This will save you a lot of time and energy. Landlords LOVE referrals from their current tenants because it means they don't have to go through the process to find new ones. This doesn't guarantee you'll get the place, but you'll have a significant leg up on the competition.
Check Craigslist Frequently: Landlords will post their listings and take them down after a few hours. When you're actively looking, make sure to check Craigslist often.
Contact Property Managers: Reach out to different apartment complexes and property managers. They often have email lists to let you know when they open up properties.