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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, 01:36 PM
 
Location: Madison, WI
141 posts, read 328,779 times
Reputation: 294

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Hello all,

(Feel free to skip the rest of this post and go straight to the questions below )

I'm coming up on the end of graduate school and am anticipating where I want to locate as I begin my professional career as a social worker.

I've just spent two years in the New York City metro area, and currently reside in Jersey City, NJ. My experience in this area has been fascinating, challenging, and life-changing. I experienced exactly what I came here to experience, which was to have my illusions dismantled and to 'toughen up.'

But while I believe that this area is unparalleled in many ways, I have learned that I will probably never feel at home here. I grew up in a rural area and miss nature so much... the endless concrete has worn calluses on my nature girl's soul as it has worn them on my feet, if you'll permit my cheesy metaphor

To cut to the chase (or try to, at least ): I received my undergraduate education in Southern California and loved it there. My last year of school was a difficult one, but for reasons having nothing to do with the location. I came back to my original hometown for a number of reasons, mainly to rest and recover. During that challenging last year of college, I recognized a sense of loss in getting to see my family so rarely.

A major reason I relocated to the East Coast for grad school was so I wouldn't be so far away from home (Bristol, VA), in addition to seeing New York as an ideal place to study social work (it has been). But what I've discovered living here is that I'm still far enough away from home I'm not seeing my family any more often than I was in Southern California, which has basically done away with the main reason I chose to leave California.

I am tired of being a nomad and moving from place to place every couple of years. I want to find a place I can call home, where I can stay for the long haul. And it has struck me recently that I can see myself doing exactly that in Southern California, which felt like home to me as soon as I arrived, as different as the culture and landscape was from where I grew up. The desert 'makes sense' to me on a level I can't quite explain.

I love the fact that one gets the intellectual life and opportunities of a city in L.A. while also being in a location much more geared toward enjoyment of nature and the outdoors. My experience of New York is that it is as truly urban as a place can get, and as such offers a unique experience... but not one I will ever quite fully relate to or 'get' on an intuitive, visceral level. I just don't feel at home here, and suspect I never would. SoCal I could relate to much better while still benefiting from proximity to a much more diverse and urban setting I would get in, say, Bristol

OK, sorry for the long-winded prelude. Hope you're still with me... cause I'm finally getting to the questions I have to ask about relocating to L.A.!

1. I am currently paying $1300/month rent in downtown Jersey City. Having taken a quick survey of the listings on the L.A. Craigslist, it seems to me that this amount of money goes further in the L.A. metro area than in the New York / Jersey City metro area. Is this accurate? What would you say the average rent range is for a 1BR apartment in Los Angeles? I would like to find a place in the $800-$1300 rent range. Which brings me to:

2. What neighborhoods in the L.A. area could I find an apartment within this range?

3. What neighborhoods in the L.A. area that might pop up with appealing looking apartments in this price range are ones I should avoid?

4. If the starting jobs I am looking at start out at $40,000/year (gross), am I dreaming to think I could afford to rent at my current level ($1300/month) at that pay rate, even considering I would plan to live on a budget, cook, etc.?

5. Any thoughts or tips on relocating to L.A. in general?

Thank you!
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Old 03-14-2009, 02:05 PM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,346 posts, read 80,765,097 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NomadStephanie View Post

A) I begin my professional career as a social worker.


B) I grew up in a rural area and miss nature so much.



C) The desert 'makes sense' to me on a level I can't quite explain.



D) 1. I am currently paying $1300/month rent in downtown Jersey City. this amount of money goes further in the L.A. metro area than in the New York / Jersey City metro area. Is this accurate?

E) What would you say the average rent range is for a 1BR apartment in Los Angeles?

F) I would like to find a place in the $800-$1300 rent range. What neighborhoods in the L.A. area could I find an apartment within this range?

G) What neighborhoods in the L.A. area that might pop up with appealing looking apartments in this price range are ones I should avoid?

H) If the starting jobs I am looking at start out at $40,000/year (gross), am I dreaming to think I could afford to rent at my current level ($1300/month) at that pay rate,
A) Where will you be working? Does your career require you to be state licensed? Will that cause problems if you want to relocate to another state later?

B) Much of Southern California is urban too.

C) Yes, Southern California is pretty much a desert.

D) Hard to tell; probably depends on which neighborhood in each location.

E) Also depends on location. Use HousingMaps to get an idea of rent versus location.

F) Use HousingMaps to get an idea of rent versus location; but at the lower end you might have difficulties finding a nice neighborhood.

G) Near where your job is located

H) A lot of people use the rule of thumb $gross/36 = acceptable amount to pay for rent. $40,000/12/3 is about $1100. That would be your recommended rent budget.
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Old 03-14-2009, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Burbank
1,204 posts, read 3,910,101 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles View Post
A) Where will you be working? Does your career require you to be state licensed? Will that cause problems if you want to relocate to another state later?

B) Much of Southern California is urban too.

C) Yes, Southern California is pretty much a desert.

D) Hard to tell; probably depends on which neighborhood in each location.

E) Also depends on location. Use HousingMaps to get an idea of rent versus location.

F) Use HousingMaps to get an idea of rent versus location; but at the lower end you might have difficulties finding a nice neighborhood.

G) Near where your job is located

H) A lot of people use the rule of thumb $gross/36 = acceptable amount to pay for rent. $40,000/12/3 is about $1100. That would be your recommended rent budget.

Thanks for leaving something for the rest of us to say.
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Old 03-14-2009, 02:22 PM
 
Location: Madison, WI
141 posts, read 328,779 times
Reputation: 294
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.
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Old 03-14-2009, 02:26 PM
 
830 posts, read 2,505,767 times
Reputation: 380
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. And you don't have to live far to have a long commute. My girlfriend lives 15-20 miles from her work and spends 2.5-3 hours round-trip commuting per day.

The closest place I could find to Jersey City for a cost of living calculation was Newark. LA's cost of living is 33% higher than Newark, and wages are 3% less in LA. Here is the link. To put it another way, making $40,000 in LA would be like making $30,000 in Newark. But compared to New York City, LA is 16% cheaper and wages are 5% lower. So maybe something in the middle there.

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.

I will say though that you should be able to get a one-bedroom for $1,300 per month, but it won't be anything fancy, just a typical LA apartment, which has limited, if any, parking, probably no dishwasher, no laundry (maybe in the building somewhere), no air conditioner, some places do not provide a refrigerator, etc. But again, it really varies by area so you will have to look around the area you plan to work.

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.

Do you have a car? You will need one in LA.

Before you know more about where you will be working, it is honestly pretty difficult to give you much guidance.
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Old 03-14-2009, 02:27 PM
 
830 posts, read 2,505,767 times
Reputation: 380
Holy smokes, in the time it took me to post my post, all of you folks responded too. Ha!
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Old 03-14-2009, 07:06 PM
 
Location: City of Angels
1,288 posts, read 4,579,350 times
Reputation: 661
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles View Post

B) Much of Southern California is urban too.
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.

To the OP, the LA area and Southern California are vast, as you know, with many communities to consider. I am sure you will find a place and location that strikes the balance you seek. Once you know where you will be working, it will be easier for people to make suggestions to you.

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.
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Old 03-14-2009, 07:20 PM
 
Location: South Bay
7,091 posts, read 18,421,358 times
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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.
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Old 03-14-2009, 08:10 PM
 
2,516 posts, read 7,549,787 times
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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.
This really cannot be overstated. Spanish is a must here if you want to remain competitive in the market for public and private agency social work positions. Doubt that if you like, but is not anti-hispanic rhetoric; it's a matter of who makes up the client-base.
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Old 03-14-2009, 08:41 PM
 
10,630 posts, read 22,753,005 times
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I think you're jumping the gun here - by all means research different neighborhoods now, but you'll have a hard time finding an apartment without a job. Also, while people who already live here might not have the luxury of living near where they work (jobs change, but that doesn't mean you want to pack up and move) you will have the flexibility of finding a place that's an acceptable commute from work.

I'd consider looking into the San Gabriel Valley for both work and living; you'd be an easy commute to both downtown LA (as there are a lot of social work jobs there), near the mountains/nature, and there are some "affordable" places to be found.
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