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Moving to Los Angeles
Our family of five is moving from Oakland to Los Angeles and we're having a lot of trouble deciding where to settle. My husband will be working in Culver City. Great public schools, both elementary and middle school, are our first priority. Commute time and price are tied for second place. Ideally we would also like a place that offers some diversity, a yard for our three active boys and not too conservative an atmosphere. After our recent visit, we have crossed Calabasas, Woodland Hills and Topanga Canyon off our list. Too far from Culver City and too much traffic. We have pretty much crossed Santa Monica off our list too - expensive and the schools are iffy. We liked Culver City itself but worry about the middle school. We are drawn to the South Bay - mainly Manhattan Beach. The schools are top-notch but it's horribly expensive and it offers no diversity. We're going to look further into the LA neighborhoods of Cheviot Hills and Westwood. Any and all information you can provide to help us make this very important decision would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! kari
I grew up in Culver City, but that was before the Downtown area was revitalized and there were so many great restaurants. We lived in Mar Vista from 2008 until last year, when we returned to Albany, from the time my daughter was born until she was just under two. It was a fantastic place to live with kids because it's central to several of the other cities you mentioned. We could hang out with our friends and do various activities in Westchester and El Segundo but also spend a lot of time in Santa Monica and other fun cities to the north. Leah
Our family will be moving to the Los Angeles area this September.
Im looking for any recommendations or resources that may be helpful
to us as we look for cities to live in. My husband will be commuting
to downtown LA for work. We are looking for:
Cities with 'better' air quality than Los Angeles. Thinking we need
to be located near the coast rather than the valley or east of LA.
- Affordable housing in a safe, family-friendly neighborhood. We will be looking for a single family 3 bedroom home or condo type living situation to rent.
- Parks and shopping within walking distance so that we don't have to get in the car and drive everywhere we want to go.
- Are there any resources like BPN for the LA area?
Any advice or information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! LA Bound Momma
--Los Angeles is a series of villages grown together, and finding the right village for you is the key to having a wonderful life there. Get a map and study it, and start to memorize the freeways.
--Re air quality, check the South Coast Air Quality Management District for info on areas with better and worse air. You may be surprised. Plus, some areas, including coastal regions, have contamination issues from oil drilling, industrial pollutants, factories--EPA may be able to guide you.
--As a rule of thumb, coastal areas are generally quite expensive for housing, although the market may have improved. They are also in my experience much more congested. There's ''The Westside'' (Santa Monica, Venice, Palms, Culver City & adjacent areas) and also the ''Beach'' areas (Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, etc. ). Far less trendy but rumored to be more family friendly: Long Beach (pick your neighborhood carefully) and El Segundo (which a friend compared to Mayberry RFD.) You could also check Baldwin Hills (mostly Afro-American), West Adams (historic homes), Westchester (near LAX). Given the commute to downtown, West Adams is the best if you're driving and Long Beach is the best if your husband takes the Metro Look at the LA Metro--http://www.metro.net/riding_metro/default.htm.
I recommend North-East LA as having great amenties, good access to downtown LA, open space, plus it's got diversity and lots of busy, opinionated activists (be prepared, they can play rough, but boy are they effective). Lots of artists and people who work ''below the line'' in the film industry live in the northeast. There's Mt. Washington, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, and adjacent cities like Glendale, South Pasadena and Pasadena. Check http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nelalist/ for the closest thing I know of to BPN.
Resources: listen to KPCC and KCRW (streaming)--2 good public radio stations, also KPFK; Northeast Los Angeles Art Association at http://www.nelaart.com/; City Data (http://www.city-data.com/forum/los-angeles/) for discussion. Also http://www.laalmanac.com/default.htm has maps and a host of data on Los Angeles, which might help with picking neighborhoods; and the LA neighborhood council website is http://www.lacityneighborhoods.com/page2.cfm?doc=home
Oh yes, you need to know about schools. So you will need to know about Sandra Tsing Loh at http://www.sandratsingloh.com/. I quote: '' ... perhaps you are a person who has recently entered that Ring of Hell known as LA Parenthood. Which is to say, you are hysterical about SCHOOLS!!! Click here for my Scandalously Informal Guide to the Los Angeles Unified School District.''
I hope you find the place that feels ''right'' to you. I was born in the Bay Area and consider it home but as Randy Newman says: ''I LOVE LA!'' It can be a pain but it can be a phenomenal amount of fun, too, with lots of wonderful people. I still miss my friends! And oh my word, Los Angeles is chockfull of inexpensive ethnic restaurants with delicious food at outstanding prices. So you can even afford to eat out once in a while! still love LA
We used to live in a great neighborhood that I think fits this person's criteria. We still miss it. It's off Sawtelle just north of Olympic Blvd. It has wonderful small ethnic restaurants and shops - mostly a Japanese area but all different kinds of food. Very safe and affordable by LA standards. Good air quality. This would be my favorite pick.
Another great neighborhood is downtown Culver City. Great restaurants, movie theater, TJ's, playhouse and housing is still affordable because most of the houses and lots are small. Public schools are considered better than LAUSD. The other neighborhood I would recommend is where we currently live - Mar Vista. We live near the intersection of Sawtelle and Palms and the park here is very nice. We can walk to a Whole Foods and Starbucks, but it's a little bit of a walk. You just have to see what is near you.
General tips: to get good air quality in LA you have to be west of the 405 freeway. The wind blows inland from the ocean and anything east of the 405 gets all the freeway pollution. Even if you live pretty close to the freeway, if you're west of it, the air is good. The closer to the ocean you are, the better the air is, generally.
There is nowhere with good air that is also an ''easy'' commute to downtown. Some neighborhoods have rapid bus stops that go straight downtown but you have to be on their schedule and the busses don't run very late.
Steer clear of Venice. It sounds good - by the beach, eclectic vibe, but it has gangs and is actually kind of dangerous.
That's it. I don't know of anything like BPN here, but I'm not that tech savvy. Good luck to them! Alexandra
Hello, we are possibly moving to Los Angeles soon and I wanted to find out if there are good neighborhoods for public schools in the general LA area.(private schools are ok too) I will be possibly working in Santa Monica and my husband near Rosemead(near Pasadena) These two areas are very far away from each other and I thought the best thing is to live somewhere in between?? Hollywood Hills? This area doesn't seem so child friendly... I've only heard that San Marino and some areas of Santa Monica has decent public schools and others are not.But I could be very wrong on this info. If anyone has better knowledge concerning this, or know of a user group regarding family in LA, please email me. Thank you!
Unfortunately, Pasadena Unified continues to face daunting challenges but there are very good school districts near Pasadena. La Canada/Flintridge is a bit snooty but the schools are excellent (think Piedmont or Orinda), La Crescenta/Montrose near Glendale has good schools and isn't quite as wealthy and a little more laid back. I also hear Monrovia and Burbank have some very good schools.
If you can afford the housing prices or to rent in these towns, there are some excellent public schools in each community. S. Cal girl at heart
The commutes are horrible, there is no getting around that. Your idea for living in between your job in Santa Monica and your husband's job in Rosemead looks good on paper, but the reality is that you will both spend a huge amount of time commuting. (Just a few weeks ago, it took me 90 minutes to get from my work in Santa Monica to my brother's place in Hollywood). I don't have any brilliant ideas, but you might want to think of a plan where one parent works near home and the other has a hellish commute. Better than two parents with hellish commutes. Also, if your husband's work is near the metro (there is one that goes out to Pasadena), it's actually a very good system (hardly anyone uses it) and you might want to try to live near the line. Santa Monica, like most of L.A., is not well served by public transit, other than the local Santa Monica buses. anonymous
My husband may be transferred to the Los Angeles area soon. We are hoping to find a community there that has some charming older homes, good public schools, a small attractive shopping district and isn't terribly far from the city center. Basically we are trying to find a community with as many of the qualities we currently enjoy in Mill Valley as possible. Does such a place exist in LA? San Diego has also been discussed as a possible transfer destination. Any recommendations there? Kelly
we may be moving to la; my husband has an offer near the getty museum. I don't know what to think- the image I have of LA is polluted, gross, etc. please advise on:places a small family can live on one relatively limited salary (my priorities are safety & cleanliness & being near coffee (who's aren't?)) (my dream local place to live is really near campus) and general liveability. this is a big change and I am nervous. also- I am a stay at home mom and will be for a few more years- can I have a mellow life or will I be driving all of the time. I think I just need a cheering up. thanks! anxious
Now if you head north of the Getty, you end up in the San Fernando Valley, which to me is a little more of the LA stereotype these days in terms of being a flat expanse with more air pollution (and also less expensive to live).
My family is contemplating a move to the Los Angeles area. We are looking in Malibu for housing. How does one go about finding good (comparable to the bay area mentality) preschools and elementary? What resources are out there for finding not only schools but desirable, family-oriented neighborhoods in the vastness of the Los Angeles area? I'm sure this network is a good place to start but I'm not sure, exactly, how to use it wisely. Any suggestions and pointers are deeply appreciated. Thanks
We are moving to Thousand Oaks (about 35 miles NW of LA) in
December with 2 kids ( ages 4 and 2). We dont know anyone in the
area and would appreciate any recommendations, advice, warnings.
Is it a racially/culturally diverse population? What are good
areas near by to live/buy a house in?
Thanks in advance.
Sorry to move, excited about a new adventure
Thousand Oaks is the only large city in what is known as the Conejo Valley. Other ''named'' areas include Newbury Park (actually a part of Thousand Oaks), Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, and Oak Park (actually a part of Agoura Hills). Thousand Oaks is perhaps 120,000 people, the whole valley is perhaps 180,000. Lots of detailed information is available at http://www.toaks.org/default.asp The valley is bordered on one side by the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The other side of the Santa Monica Mountains is Malibu, then the Pacific Ocean. If you drive ''up'' the coast (actually West right here), you reach Camarillo, Oxnard, Ventura, and Santa Barbara (about 50 miles away). If you drive ''down'' the coast (actually East), you immediately enter the San Fernando Valley. Burbank/Hollywood is 30 miles, as is Beverly Hills. Downtown LA is perhaps 40 miles, LAX is 45 miles. Inland (actually North) is Simi Valley. Thousand Oaks (actually the whole Conejo Valley) is basically a bedroom community for the entertainment industry, with a bunch of biotech and a little high-tech thrown in. There is a reasonable amount of cultural/ethnic diversity -- not as much as most of the Bay Area, but much more than neighboring Simi Valley. There seems to be a fairly large Indian community, including a large Hindu temple near town. Food diversity is not too great, but is getting better. Lots of Italian, Mexican, and Asian (Chinese, Japanese, and a couple Thai), we finally have decent Indian and Mediteranean. We also finally have a brewpub, but it's the only one for many miles so you can't even get into it. Most people go to the appropriate ethnic areas of San Fernando or Los Angeles for real ethnic food. Los Angeles is an ethnic goldmine, much more so in my opinion than San Francisco or even Berkeley. I went to lunch at an Uzbecki restaurant the other day. There is a huge variety of housing possibilities. Lots of typical suburban housing tracts, new and old, side by side with lakeside communities, horse properties, ranches, and anything in between. Housing is a lot cheaper than the Bay Area, with a lot more variation. There is more emphasis on newer houses, but there are plenty of older neighborhoods. Not always as much character, since most of the houses are originally tracts. The weather is quite a bit warmer than the Bay Area, but with a lot of gradation -- the West end of the valley (Newbury Park) is typically 10 degrees cooler than the East end (Agoura). It's dry and sunny, but not quite as hot as neighboring San Fernando Valley. There are a lot of possibilities for recreation. The Santa Monica Mountains are 10-20 minutes from anywhere in the valley: camping, backpacking, day hikes, rock climbing, mountain biking, you name it. Malibu is 20 minutes away, Ventura is 30, for surfing, scuba, ocean kayaking, or just lazing on the beach. Several of the best beaches in California are less than 30 minutes away. Skiing is 3 hours away, the desert is less than 2. Las Vegas is a 5 hour drive, or a 45 minute flight. Horseback riding is very, very big, as is golf. There's not much in the way of nightlife. Limited music scene, no clubs or anything like that. Hollywood club district is 40 minutes away. There's not much in the way of cultural events. The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Center has a couple of small auditoriums, which host smaller concerts. No real museums, no arts scene. For real arts exposure or theater, Los Angeles has a ton, and most of it is less than an hour away (Getty, LACMA, etc). Open Space is a big deal, much bigger than the Bay Area. It is central to all discussions of politics, planning, development, etc. The people who live here do not want it to become an extension of the San Fernando Valley, and they have the clout to make it stick. Conejo Valley schools are supposed to be great. Two districts, Las Virgenes and Oak Park, are supposed to be among the best in the country. The place is littered with ''Presidential Blue Ribbon'' schools. The popular phrase is that people move here from Los Angeles or the San Fernando Valley and take their kids out of private schools to get them into the local public schools. I can't really vouch for the truth of this, but it's a popular topic of conversation. There's certainly a lot of money available, and some serious big names: Heather Locklear, Erin Brockovitch, Wayne Gretsky, etc. Big differences from Northern California: lots more movie theaters, most restaurants have outside seating, warmer, drier, high-tech is an after-thought. I have not found traffic to be any worse than the Bay Area, in fact in most cases it is better. There are a few exceptions, but they are generally avoidable. Everything in SoCal is spread out much more, people do a lot more driving to get to places. You'll encounter celebrities you actually recognize when you go out to dinner. LAX is a WAY better airport than SFO. As far as where to live, there are a lot of options, depending on what you want and how much you want to pay. Do you want a new house or an older one? Large lot or small? Middle of town, outskirts, or even rural? Want to live downtown, or have a horse trail instead of a sidewalk? You could even live in the city (West LA, Sunset, Santa Monica) and drive a reverse commute. For new, fairly upscale homes, lots of open space and a little far from town, fairly cool, there's Dos Vientos (lots of info on the web). Not quite as new but still very recent, less expensive, less open space, warmer, is Oak Park. Nice homes in older neighborhoods, less expensive, warmer is Agoura Hills. Large lots, horse properties, older, less expensive is Old Agoura (warmer) or Lynn Ranch (cooler). Very rural, multi-acre lots, older houses, more expensive is Mulholland, less expensive is Moorpark. Middle expensive, beautiful houses near or on the lake, Westlake Village. Very expensive, new or older homes, beautiful custom architecture, snazzy neighborhoods, potentially on the golf course, North Ranch. Want to live on the beach? You can pay millions in Malibu or get a more reasonable place up the coast in Oxnard. A few fun (sort of touristy) things to do after you move here: - California Poppy Preserve (Antelope Valley, in the desert) - Getty (gardens are ok for small kids) - LACMA (usually some good kid-friendly exhibits) - Brea Tar Pits - VIP tour of Warner Bros Studio (the best studio tour) (not for kids) - see a taping of a sitcom (doesn't matter which one) (not for small kids) - the beaches (start at Malibu Creek and work your way up) - Hollywood walk of stars / Mann's Chinese Theater / Kodak Theater - Beverly Hills shopping district (Rodeo drive) - Sunday tea at the Beverly Hills Hotel (not for small kids) - Joshua Tree, Death Valley (not a day trip) - LA Zoo (huge, easy to get to, hot in the summer, crowded) - Santa Barbara Zoo (small, easy to get to, much cooler, less crowded) - EATM (America's Teaching Zoo, at Moorpark community college) - Santa Monica Boardwalk - Santa Monica Third Street Promenade - Venice Beach Boardwalk (tacky, but you gotta do it)forwarded from a friend, still glad I live in Northern California
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