I made an inquiry into an apartment as soon as we got back, and as it turns out Cj and I both have amazing credit scores and the guy offered us the apartment on the spot.
The apartment is about 200 dollars less per month than ones of comparable size (1 bedroom 1 bath about 600 square feet), and we're only being charged a half month's rent for the first month but the landlord gave us keys and said he didn't care whether we moved in sooner or not. Also, he didn't ask for a first and last, only a security deposit. So we don't have to go into more debt to move in right now.
It's got a full kitchen plus DISHWASHER and breakfast bar with storage in the back, bathtub/shower combo with two shower heads, all new cabinets, double paned windows, and a fenced yard for Stacy. Also, we didn't have to pay a pet deposit for her. And it's only one freeway exit away from my parent's house - close but separate.
For those of you that knew about the artist live/work lofts we applied for, we're #235 on the waiting list. They already filled all 100 lofts, so in the unlikely event that all of those people leave and the other #134 applicants are otherwise occupied, we would simply leave our current month-to-month rental agreement. No big deal.
We move in officially on January 15th. Happy New Year.