kadventure saidThanks guys, we wanted to live close to USC because my housemate is starting dental school and the first year is supposed to be hell, so he wants the smallest commute possible.
Ideally we'd find a place to rent monthly because neither of us has lived in the west or in a city, so if we make a bad choice on housing all the way from NY, we don't want to be stuck with it for a year.
It's pretty rare landlords to rent out a house for less than a year. I suppose it doesn't hurt to ask. But you should expect to pay a higher rent.
Also, you can break the lease if you're not happy. If you're dealing with a mega property management company, you'll lose your deposit and go through a few headaches. But if you're renting directly from an owner, you can probably work something out. Usually if you can find replacement tenants and do all the footwork to place the ad, interview, etc, then it shouldn't be too bad.
Alternatively, you can find someone that is already renting a house and is looking for new roommates. If after living there for a while, you don't like the area, you can move out.
And just to let you know, the commute from Culver City to USC is about 10 - 15 minutes by train. I agree with someone else's suggestion for Long Beach. As long as you don't mind the commute.