Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

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Njm8845
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Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by Njm8845 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:01 pm

I will likely be moving to Los Angeles. I have a decent knowledge of the city, but have not spent an extensive amount of time there. I am looking for a good discussion on the following topics:

1) Where should I live? I have a family with toddler aged children. I would be working downtown. Walking distance to restaurants and parks would be a major plus. Initially our budget is $3,000 a month. We almost certainly will rent, at least at first.
a. I am currently focusing my search on Echo Park / Glendale / Burbank / Los Feliz. Any others that I should focus on? Am I silly for ruling out downtown?
b. Is traffic significantly worse going on I-5 to Burbank/Glendale than it would be to take city streets west to La Brea area?

2) What do you wish you'd known when you moved there?
a. Is the cost of living more than expected? What else surprised you?
b. What frugal tips do you have for a newcomer to the area?

123
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by 123 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:09 pm

Los Angeles has made tremendous strides in the last 25 years in developing rail-based public transit systems. There is heavy rail for long distance to downtown LA and light rail to other areas. If you'll be working right downtown I'd plot out local transit routes and weigh those heavily in where you decide to live. A commute of an hour is a lot more tolerable by public transit(where you can read, snooze, surf) than by car (where you are a prisoner).
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mega317
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by mega317 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:41 pm

How carefully have you looked at the housing market? I think you might have a challenge finding an acceptable place with 2 children for 3k. I guess I'm projecting what I consider acceptable. And also think ahead--do you want to rent forever, or what will you be able to afford to buy?

When I lived there we were in Santa Monica and my wife worked near downtown. It was about 25 minutes in the morning and roughly an hour in the evening. Not fun but not totally horrible for any big city. Santa Monica was quite nice.

ReadyOrNot
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by ReadyOrNot » Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:00 pm

Family-friendly areas with low crime and good schools. Glendale has a good reputation for cities of that size. Northern Glendale and La Crescenta are nice but farther and less accessible than parts near downtown. Other good areas near light rail link to downtown LA could be good. Consider within walking distance of a light rail station, because park-and-ride stations can fill up before you want to get there (depends on your work schedule.

Njm8845
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by Njm8845 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:39 pm

mega317 wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:41 pm
How carefully have you looked at the housing market? I think you might have a challenge finding an acceptable place with 2 children for 3k. I guess I'm projecting what I consider acceptable. And also think ahead--do you want to rent forever, or what will you be able to afford to buy?
It seems like $3k for a 2BR is more than fine for our needs.

I'm quite open to buying a home eventually, but not initially. I'd want to be absolutely certain that I love the area before I plop down the required amount of money to purchase a home.

boglerdude
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by boglerdude » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:18 am

Rail map
https://media.timeout.com/images/103334943/image.jpg
Subreddit
https://old.reddit.com/r/LosAngeles/

Side streets wont save you from traffic.

South Pasadena is a safe bet. Their cops pulled me over the other night :wink:

The area around downtown is gentrifying, but I dont know about the schools.

Oakdale19
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by Oakdale19 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:11 am

I would also look at Atwater Village, Highland Park, Glassell Park, and South Pasadena/Pasadena.

My top three (with kids) would be Atwater Village, Los Feliz, and South Pasadena. With kids, DTLA is probably less ideal. It's much nicer than before, but with kids, I would avoid.

You mentioned toddler aged children. I believe that means they aren't in school yet. Glendale and South Pasadena schools are likely going to be better than LAUSD when they start going to school.

I recently moved back to LA and also work in downtown. You can definitely commute via surface roads from a lot of the neighborhoods mentioned. I do from from the Atwater Village area. Good luck on the search.

Gumby252
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by Gumby252 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:12 am

Consider living in Moorpark or Simi Valley and taking the Metrolink Train to work.

I've been riding Metrolink for 10 years; I love it.

www.metrolinktrains.com for details. Expect about 1h 15min on the train from Moorpark to LA Union Station. Catch the subway or bus to your office.

When making the drive/train comparison, be sure to factor in the true cost of driving... which includes depreciation and maintenance costs in addition to gasoline. And Downtown parking is a challenge and may be an additional expense as well.

Metrolink is pretty comfortable; getting on in Moorpark means you will certainly have a good seat, and can work, read, or snooze. You can't do that in your car!

Living that far out does mean a long commute and isn't for everybody. But give it a good look before you dismiss it.

-G

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bogleblitz
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by bogleblitz » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:21 am

Njm8845 wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:01 pm
2) What do you wish you'd known when you moved there?
a. Is the cost of living more than expected? What else surprised you?
b. What frugal tips do you have for a newcomer to the area?
2. a. cost of living is exactly the same as Boston, where I moved from. Nothing surprising.
b. Frugal tip: Eat In-N-Out burgers to save money.

denovo
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by denovo » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:04 am

Njm8845 wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:01 pm
I will likely be moving to Los Angeles. I have a decent knowledge of the city, but have not spent an extensive amount of time there. I am looking for a good discussion on the following topics:

1) Where should I live? I have a family with toddler aged children. I would be working downtown. Walking distance to restaurants and parks would be a major plus. Initially our budget is $3,000 a month. We almost certainly will rent, at least at first.
a. I am currently focusing my search on Echo Park / Glendale / Burbank / Los Feliz. Any others that I should focus on? Am I silly for ruling out downtown?
b. Is traffic significantly worse going on I-5 to Burbank/Glendale than it would be to take city streets west to La Brea area?

2) What do you wish you'd known when you moved there?
a. Is the cost of living more than expected? What else surprised you?
b. What frugal tips do you have for a newcomer to the area?
Echo Park isnt that good of an area. Is wife going to be commuting?
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

grokzilla
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by grokzilla » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:22 am

I would suggest giving strong consideration to the beach communities, more specifically Santa Monica.

Schools are great, community is fantastic with no shortage of things to do and its very relaxed. its about 15 miles out, but its a straight shot on the 10. While the 10 is literally the most travelled highway in the US...theres ALOT to be said about having a highway close on both ends of your trip.

Location wise, it also affords you easy opportunities to escape the city more easily via pch or the 405, comparable access to the airport and orange county, better to the valley. There's a layer of density to central LA that is pretty "impressive" but its notably thinner on the west side.

Cost of living is really high but that's entirely tied to housing - pretty normal otherwise though you'll certainly spend more on gas.

Only advice is that you prepare for the traffic...it will probably find a way to surprise you even if you come from another big city.

Valuethinker
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:08 am

Gumby252 wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:12 am
Consider living in Moorpark or Simi Valley and taking the Metrolink Train to work.

I've been riding Metrolink for 10 years; I love it.

www.metrolinktrains.com for details. Expect about 1h 15min on the train from Moorpark to LA Union Station. Catch the subway or bus to your office.

When making the drive/train comparison, be sure to factor in the true cost of driving... which includes depreciation and maintenance costs in addition to gasoline. And Downtown parking is a challenge and may be an additional expense as well.

Metrolink is pretty comfortable; getting on in Moorpark means you will certainly have a good seat, and can work, read, or snooze. You can't do that in your car!
That's the key point.

For a middle class professional, it is the time cost of commuting that is the problem. Even if more expensive in monetary terms, public transport is preferred because it gives you the irreplaceable - time.

Public transport falls down if it is not sufficiently flexible (doesn't arrive/ depart when you need it to; doesn't get you close enough to work or home) or if it is too uncomfortable (think the London Underground or the NY Subway at rush hour).

Of if you like driving and listen to podcasts etc.

I don't know of anyone who likes driving in LA.
Living that far out does mean a long commute and isn't for everybody. But give it a good look before you dismiss it.

-G
A lot will be about comfort with the 'hood. Similarities with neighbours, recreational activities, amenities like shopping and parks etc.

Parents of young children need playgrounds and parks and places (coffee shops ?) where other young parents hang out. Stroller/ pram friendly environs.

aristotelian
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by aristotelian » Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:38 am

You don't want to live in Burbank.

genefl
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by genefl » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:42 am

Glendale and South Pasadena are great for young families and decent for your commute downtown.

PuckMan93
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by PuckMan93 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:05 am

My wife and I (3 young kids) settled in Glendale initially while renting and then in La Crescenta when we bought a home. We both worked downtown at the time (she still does) so we had similar concerns. I've lived downtown for several years and wouldn't think of it with kids (there's also an insane amount of construction these days).

The commute can vary between 35 and 55 minutes from where we are now, but in Glendale it wasn't terrible depending on when you went (30 to 40 minutes during rush hour typically).

In terms of schools, GUSD is significantly better than LAUSD and we weren't considering the private school route.

There are all kinds of new construction apartment complexes in Glendale but those can be pricey. There are a lot of older one-off apartments which are more affordable. Our rent was 1,400 for a 2BR/2BA while we lived there until last year. That was a little under market and not in the best area (still safe though), so I'm certain you could find a place in your budget.

Njm8845
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by Njm8845 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:23 am

aristotelian wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:38 am
You don't want to live in Burbank.
Why?

stan1
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by stan1 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:23 am

Lots of good advice up thread. If your kids will be in the apartment/house most of the day proximity to a well maintained playground will help their caregiver. If they won't be in school for a few years I'd assume at least one more move which should give you more options. Traffic really helps if you can get on an early start schedule. You won't escape it on the back side. Also make sure you consider the cost of parking at your work location. If your work site is well located to Union Station or one of the light rail/subway lines its definitely a consideration for you. Metrolink commuting is a lifestyle choice that's right for some but not what others want. I'm not sure I would do it as a renter.

aristotelian
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by aristotelian » Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:50 am

Njm8845 wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:23 am
aristotelian wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:38 am
You don't want to live in Burbank.
Why?
Just not a nice area. Lots of industrial with all the big studios (adult and Hollywood) and the airport. Compared to the other communities you mentioned, it's unlikely you are going to have nice parks and amenities within walking distance. But maybe I am reading things into your post. What kind of neighborhood are you looking for?

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Petrocelli
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by Petrocelli » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:43 am

If you are looking to rent a 2 BR for around $3,000, I would look at West Los Angeles, west of the 405 Freeway, and south of Santa Monica Boulevard. It's about 30-45 minutes to downtown (depending on when you leave). You will be near the best areas of the City and the beach.

I am not sure about the public schools in that area though.

Burbank is nice, but it will be at least 10 degrees hotter than the westside.

Los Feliz is also nice.

I would not live in Echo Park with kids.
Petrocelli (not the real Rico, but just a fan)

Old Guy
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by Old Guy » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:06 am

My son lives in Los Feliz. Hipsters.

He has been in Los Angeles since 2003 when he went to school at USC. He once told me that the number 405 for the highway stands for the number of minutes it takes to get any place on it.

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nopushover
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by nopushover » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:48 pm

Central Los Angeles native chiming in. Traffic has gotten significantly worst in the last 20 years – my commute has gone from 35 minutes to nearly an hour/over an hour each way. Try and live as close to your place of work (downtown) as possible. Being near public transportation like the Gold Line or Expo Line or even a bus-line would be helpful. Santa Monica (Expo line) is of course desirable (as is any beach community), but the 10 FWY is a parking lot during commute time and is worse when there are evening events at Dodgers Stadium, Staples Center, the Coliseum and new soccer stadium. South Pasadena (Gold line) is a wonderful small-town like community, but pricey and can get hot in the summer. El Sereno is a funky/slightly edgy neighborhood (think Highland Park) to the south/west of So. Pasadena. In addition to the other recommendations that you have received, you might want to consider suburb-like areas just a little east of downtown, such as Alhambra and Monterey Park, both accessible via streets (avoiding freeways if needed). Not sure how the schools are rated, but there are parks and good food options (especially Asian food). If you end up in LA city, look into LAUSD Magnet/Charter school programs.

For more info on the "Eastside" (a debated term that generally refers to neighborhoods east of La Cienega Blvd), check out:

https://www.theeastsiderla.com/

Good luck on your search and upcoming move.

Kompass
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by Kompass » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:49 pm

Also check out city-data.com forums for more local input as well.
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thx1138
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by thx1138 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:57 pm

Traffic is unimaginably bad. I lived in LA around the turn of the century and I thought it was pretty horrible. Then I came back in 2015 and lived there for a year and it was way, way worse. Most surprisingly it is even bad on the weekends!

I'll second others recommendations for locating near a rail line that goes *direct* to a *useful* place in downtown for you. This is key as the light rail is mind bogglingly stupid in its layout. Connections tend to take forever so ideally you want to switch at most once. The Gold Line gets you up into Pasadena which is a nice safe place to live and a number of walkable areas to live in. I'm not sure on the public schools various areas though.

The downside to Pasadena and other inland areas is significantly higher temps in the summer. As others said beach temperatures are much nicer. Being by the beach is a plus if you love the beach. Otherwise it can be a minus with things generally being more crowded and expensive.

We like hiking and camping and so Pasadena was nice as it offered easy access to the San Gabriels and low effort escapes from the basin out into the high desert. That's probably not most people's style though.

Consider your weekends as well when deciding where to live. We were pretty disappointed with options around the LA basin to entertain a toddler. The "zoo" is a DMZ with most enclosures full of goats and every overflowing trashcan a busy hive of hate filled wasps waiting to sting the unwary. The NH museum is nice, but how often can you go really. There are of course many beaches which some families love. Since we were only there for a year we ended up visiting San Diego a few times and doing a number of camping trips as well.

Getting places in the *morning* on a weekend is usually fine, but by afternoon the traffic is actually pretty bad. Watch Google Maps or Waze on the weekends to get a feeling for how it goes.

Hope your relocation goes well!

mega317
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by mega317 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:18 pm

I didn't have a toddler when I lived in LA but I do now. I can't think of a thing we do (except, yes, zoo two or three times a year) that can't be done in LA. Parks, libraries, swimming at pools and beach, play dates, easy "hikes", camping, movies, farmers markets, day trips to different neighborhoods. How exactly are you entertaining your toddler?

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unclescrooge
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by unclescrooge » Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:49 pm

mega317 wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:41 pm
How carefully have you looked at the housing market? I think you might have a challenge finding an acceptable place with 2 children for 3k. I guess I'm projecting what I consider acceptable. And also think ahead--do you want to rent forever, or what will you be able to afford to buy?

When I lived there we were in Santa Monica and my wife worked near downtown. It was about 25 minutes in the morning and roughly an hour in the evening. Not fun but not totally horrible for any big city. Santa Monica was quite nice.
If you value your eyesight, you'll avoid driving into the rising sun in the morning and the setting sun in the evening.

But other than that Santa Monica is nice!

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unclescrooge
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by unclescrooge » Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:54 pm

Petrocelli wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:43 am
If you are looking to rent a 2 BR for around $3,000, I would look at West Los Angeles, west of the 405 Freeway, and south of Santa Monica Boulevard. It's about 30-45 minutes to downtown (depending on when you leave). You will be near the best areas of the City and the beach.

I am not sure about the public schools in that area though.

Burbank is nice, but it will be at least 10 degrees hotter than the westside.

Los Feliz is also nice.

I would not live in Echo Park with kids.
West LA/Santa Monica is not exactly kid friendly.

Plus the parent's don't believe in modern science, and the vaccination rate is under 80% in some schools.

South Pasadena has one of the best school districts in the state. Houses are very expensive there. Alhambra has cheaper housing, but a good school district. Both are very close to downtown.

Note, for some strange reason Pasadena has a poor school district. Maybe because of the wealthy kids go to private schools.

thx1138
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Re: Moving to LA - Tips Wanted

Post by thx1138 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:31 pm

mega317 wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:18 pm
I didn't have a toddler when I lived in LA but I do now. I can't think of a thing we do (except, yes, zoo two or three times a year) that can't be done in LA. Parks, libraries, swimming at pools and beach, play dates, easy "hikes", camping, movies, farmers markets, day trips to different neighborhoods. How exactly are you entertaining your toddler?
Oh many LA neighborhoods have all those of course! Not particularly worse than your average run of the mill city really. The Bay Area is probably worse based on talking to friends who live there and having visited a few times.

I grew up in San Diego so we had a world class zoo and the surrounding Balboa Park with its multiple museums, the Wild Animal Park (now called the Safari Park), Sea World, of course endless beach options and just an hour from mountain camping and just under two hours to desert camping. If you have a boat you’ve got both Mission Bay and San Diego Bay to explore. LA is pretty weak in comparison.

We live in the Baltimore area now and so we have 15 mins away a not large zoo but much nicer than the LA one, the National Aquarium 20 mins away, the national mall with all the Smithsonian museums in DC that makes a nice half day or full day and since we are on the north side of the city endless small state parks with hikes in the woods. Again a lot more options than LA and in general much easier to access - even DC since its rail system is much more intelligently laid out.

Anywho I guess my point is that for a “big city” that LA is pretty underwhelming as far as kids friendly activities go (I’m excluding the amusement parks such as Disney and Knotts since they are very expensive and typically extremely crowded as well not to mention no educational aspect at all compared to museums/zoos/aquariums/hikes).

The weather is of course delightful which is a big plus in getting outside with kids though!

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