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Thread summary:

L.A. metro area: average rent range, appealing apartments, state license, recommended budget

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Old 03-14-2009, 09:41 PM
 
Location: Madison, WI
141 posts, read 329,575 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motoman View Post
The first thing you need to figure out is where your job is going to be. LA traffic is notoriously bad and that alone could be a deal breaker. You don't want to spend 3-4 hours per day commuting, especially if you are only going to be making $40,000 per year. It just wouldn't be worth it.
The difficulty with this is I could end up finding a job anywhere and suspect if I'm going to do this move I'm going to need to find my apartment first. I don't mind having to suck up a commute as I adjust to the city. I'm used to spending 2 hours a day using public transportation to get where I'm going roughly 10 miles away. That said, I've made note of this and will keep it in mind as I look for housing and jobs, as I agree that spending as little time getting to and from work and home is ideal. But I'm a patient person who appreciates any opportunity to learn more patience and a crappy commute would not be a deal-breaker. Especially as I suspect I will be able to increase my salary and thus my living options within just a few years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motoman View Post
The closest place I could find to Jersey City for a cost of living calculation was Newark.
I don't live in Newark, so I can't say with authority, but my impression of it (it's where I commute to "work" / internship 3x a week) is that the entire city as a whole is quite economically depressed, not just parts of it. Jersey City is a mix, but the area I'm in is pretty high-rent / high-cost due to close proximity to Manhattan. I compared Jersey City to Los Angeles via this site just a bit ago and L.A.'s cost of living is actually slightly less than here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motoman View Post
I don't know what you are paying $1,300 per month for, meaning, I don't know the area you are in now, the amenities you get with your apartment, how nice the apartment is, etc.
Mostly location. I've got a great place (one of the few things I hesitate to leave behind) that's quite spacious, but the rent's comparable to several smaller places that aren't as nice in the same area. Not many amenities--no on-site laundry (not even in the building, though the nearest laundromat's only a couple blocks away), no dishwasher, etc. I would see paying a higher rent in L.A. as for a similar reason--I'm not paying the rent for the apartment itself, but to be able to live in a great location.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motoman View Post
If you are going to be making $40k, the absolute most you should be paying for rent is about $1k per month, which either means a studio apartment (one room, 300-400 sq. ft.), or getting a roommate and sharing a two-bedroom. Studio apartments run around $1,000 per month, but vary by area, and two-bedrooms are in the $1,500-$2,000 range, but also vary quite a bit.
Well, I don't know that I'll be making $40k. There's jobs in the field for which I am qualified that pay more; it's just that from what I've seen I can be pretty certain of making $40k minimum. I wouldn't mind paying a little more for an apartment and saving on other things (e.g. eating on a budget) to be able to live somewhere I wanted to live. A lot of the meaningful reasons I want to be in L.A. or any major metro area are not things that cost a lot of money, if any.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motoman View Post
Do you have a car? You will need one in LA.
Yeah, I have one "garaged" back home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRealAngelion View Post
It's all relative and depends on your perspective. I would say outside of Los Angeles most of Southern California is suburban to rural. In fact, outside of the coastal areas we're mostly one big desert.
I should clarify--when I'm talking about not wanting to be in a completely urban environment, what I'm thinking of is the density, lack of space, trees, greenery, etc., I've become used to in New York. Even decidedly urban areas of L.A. don't feel "urban" to me in the same way cities in the Northeast do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRealAngelion View Post
Once you know where you will be working, it will be easier for people to make suggestions to you.
My plan that I was formulating was to save up and borrow enough money so as not only to have enough to move and make a deposit on an apartment, but also to have enough to give me a month or two to live off of while searching for a job. It's sounding like the recommendation is to find a job first, then look for a place. That sounds like a good idea, the only problem is it's going to probably be hard for me to find and land a job before even getting out there, as most jobs in the field require one to already have a license and be registered as a social worker in CA, not to mention it's hard to interview or convince a place to take you fresh out of school without being in that location. Hmm...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRealAngelion View Post
What's most important is that after living here before and then leaving to experience another part of the country and earning a graduate degree, you now realize that this is where you want to make your home and that your soul feels most comfortable here. I was in the same place about 10 years ago, and I know what that feels like, so I hope everything works out for you.
Exactly. I appreciate the empathy. I love many things about New York and think the city is unparalleled in many ways. But it's a hard place, and it's worn on me. I thought I could fashion myself into a New Yorker, but I've just realized it's trying to make myself into something I can never be. Southern California was a "fit" for me in so many more ways. It has just about everything I want to have in terms of being in a big, cosmopolitan city (such things include a Zen community, a psychoanalytic institute, an active art scene, an active intellectual scene, and an active live music scene) while also providing soul-nurturing things I miss here in New York (places and a culture that supports a more laid back attitude toward life, in which such things as going to the beach or going for a hike in a natural area are more part of the culture of the area).

I'm not sure if or how I can make this work, but I've become fairly well convinced that L.A. is the best 'home' I will find in this country and a place I could settle down and stay for the long haul. I'll just have to see if I can make it happen now as opposed to later. I really appreciate the well wishes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BRinSM View Post
if you are going to get into social work here in LA, i would guess that you should definitely start brushing up on your spanish.
Absolutely. The plus and minus of this is that I was once near-fluent but haven't stayed in practice with it and my reading and writing skills were always better than my speaking and listening skills. I couldn't currently tell an employer that I'm Spanish speaking other than in the most basic and rudimentary way, but I could say quite truthfully that I intend to work at becoming competent in the language through whatever means necessary and expect with practice it won't be long before I could communicate effectively in it again. I can still pick up a copy of Reader's Digest Selecciones () and read the articles pretty well, even as rusty as I am, which shows I still have a basic grasp of the grammar and a good basic vocabulary. I just need to review some aspects of the language but mostly just practice speaking it a lot, which I know I'll get the chance to do in SoCal

So I'll have to find an employer that at most says 'bilingual Spanish/English preferred' rather than required, which narrows my options, but still leaves quite a few, from what I've seen of job postings online. I guess it depends on how competitive the job market is--some job listings I've seen don't even mention bilingualism being preferred (though I'm sure it always is) and if I can convince an employer I'm a good candidate with good skills in every other way and could gain the ability to communicate in Spanish in perhaps just months, I might be competitive. It would be great to get a headstart on it here in the next couple of months, but unless I happen to get a Spanish-speaking client who would be patient enough to humor me as I struggled to communicate in Spanish, I don't know if I'll have the time.
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:46 PM
 
2,516 posts, read 7,566,659 times
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Keep in mind that "bilingual preferred" is basically code for "don't bother to apply if you aren't," but they can't say that in the posting. I have several MSW friends who can confirm from both sides of the hiring process that it is really difficult to get those jobs if you don't speak Spanish.
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:58 PM
 
10,630 posts, read 22,821,999 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NomadStephanie View Post
I should clarify--when I'm talking about not wanting to be in a completely urban environment, what I'm thinking of is the density, lack of space, trees, greenery, etc., I've become used to in New York. Even decidedly urban areas of L.A. don't feel "urban" to me in the same way cities in the Northeast do.
I'm not sure what areas you're specifically referring to, but there are many urban neighborhoods it is dense, lacks space, trees, and greenery. If you're not signing a lease sight-unseen then you'll be able to check out the neighborhood for yourself, but do be warned that at least some of the more affordable neighborhoods might not be quite as "Californian" as you're looking for.

I completely understand the need to find an apartment before you get a job, but have you thought about sticking your stuff in storage and doing a short-term furnished rental while searching? It's not as easy as doing one move and getting it done with, but at least you'd know for sure what your salary and location would be before you sign a longer lease. Also, perhaps the market is different for social services, but California is being hit worse than many areas of the country when it comes to the economic crisis - one or two months to find a job sounds like a best-case scenario right now. I work in the non-profit sector and have seen people laid off and new hiring frozen left and right. On the other hand, there's probably a lot of people in need of social workers right now - maybe you'll be lucky.

Good luck with your move, and with your job search.
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Old 03-15-2009, 12:04 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles......So. Calif. an Island on the Land
736 posts, read 1,963,464 times
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I suggest you look into Pasadena. I used to live there. Very "livable" place within So. Calif.

Rents aren't too bad (compared to more expensive beach areas). Yet, Pasadena has wonderful trees, is right next to the mountains (and hikes), and has a great "human-scaled" downtown with great architecture where you can walk to restaurants, bars, etc.

Have a friend who is renting a nice 1bd/1ba for about $1,300 (in a very nice part of Pasadena). So bet you could find a large studio for $1,100. Also, Pasadena is close to downtown LA where many social work jobs can be found (the "gold line" train runs daily from Pasadena to Downtown LA).

The only big downsides Pasadena: hotter in the summer than the beach, more smog, and more conservative than the rest of LA. Yet, it is still part of the LA area so relatively liberal.
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Old 03-18-2009, 05:28 AM
 
1,315 posts, read 3,372,189 times
Reputation: 318
Quote:
Originally Posted by NomadStephanie View Post
Thanks for the quick response, Charles!

A) I'll be working wherever I can find a job, basically. The main reason I want to move now rather than later (besides being burnt out on NYC) is that the licensing procedures for social workers are different from state to state and it would be easier and more straightforward to begin and complete the process in the same state. California's social work licensing procedure is different (actually a little bit more straightforward) from any other state's and I'm concerned I would be 'wasting my time' in terms of career development to stay somewhere I don't plan to stay for the long haul. It looks a bit easier to work toward one's LCSW (the top-level social work license for direct practice, basically) in California.

B) I realize this. Don't get me wrong, I love the city, and love many aspects of urban life and culture. I just like being able to 'take a break' from city streets and get out in nature every once in a while. I found that much easier in SoCal than in New York, where it's easier to have a car and various 'nature spots' are much closer access to the city (the various beaches along the L.A. coast, Topanga State Park, and a little further out mountains like Mount Baldy--even further, Mojave State Preserve, etc). The weather makes it easier to step outside and go for a walk on a day to day basis. Since the city's more of a sprawl it's less condensed and one does not feel as impinged by concrete (at least I didn't).

E) Thanks for pointing me to this excellent resource!!

H) Thanks for that formula, it's a little more generous than others I've seen and makes sense. Looks like a lot more is available around the L.A. area for that rent level than here.
Santa
Monica
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:17 AM
 
Location: Johnson city
6 posts, read 16,845 times
Reputation: 15
Hi I am from right out of the L.A. Area,moved to Northeast Tennessee about 15 yrs ago,I know back then I paid 1800 a month for a 2 bdrm and 2 bath apartment.but it was overlooking the Queen Mary in Long Beach... my sister got a divorced and had to rent a room from someone with her kids cause the rent they say is outrageous now,also my brother has a condo in orange county ,lakeforest and he pays for a 2 bdrm and 2 bath 1500 a month but he owns it. he also has a roomate a college kid there. so if alone expect to pay way more than where you are now kiddo
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:18 AM
 
Location: Johnson city
6 posts, read 16,845 times
Reputation: 15
I also lived in Santa Monica Way high there
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Old 03-18-2009, 12:02 PM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
69,511 posts, read 79,776,466 times
Reputation: 38859
I think one thing you may run into, as well as first and last month rent in advance some landlords are going to want to know you can make the monthly rent..I hope this isn't going to be an issue, without a job it could be.

It sounds like Pasadena or SGV would be your best bet. Rents are going to be higher than you think I suspect..You are probably going to find them similar to what you are paying right now, not any less...Again, this depends on the neighborhood.
Speaking Spanish will almost be a requirement depending on what type of social work you will persuing..

As someone suggested, you may want to visit and do more research after you graduate. You don't you plan on visiting for a couple of weeks?

One more thing, if I understand you correctly your family is in So Va, is that right? Have you thought about checking in some of the surrounding areas of NO VA, D.C or Richmond? Just curious.. or are you bound and determined to make L.A your home..??

Nita
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Old 03-20-2009, 09:57 AM
 
830 posts, read 2,511,208 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katenik View Post
Keep in mind that "bilingual preferred" is basically code for "don't bother to apply if you aren't," but they can't say that in the posting. I have several MSW friends who can confirm from both sides of the hiring process that it is really difficult to get those jobs if you don't speak Spanish.

I will second this one. A friend of a friend type thing has a fiance who is having a hard time getting her family counseling/therapy license because she can't get enough training hours because she doesn't speak Spanish.
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Old 03-20-2009, 03:25 PM
 
Location: los angeles
5,031 posts, read 11,076,681 times
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Employment opportunities for social workers are pretty bleak right now [I know since I am a MSW]. Best bet is to apply with county agencies [ie. Department of Mental Health\ Probation Dept\ Child & Family Services]. They can provide clinical supervision for your hours needed to be licensed & may even pay off your student loans if you work in public schools\ juvenile facilities. LA county pays well w/ good benefits & union protections.

Good luck
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