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Old 03-15-2009, 05:23 PM
 
Location: West LA
75 posts, read 180,699 times
Reputation: 26

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My fiance and I are preparing to buy a home within the next six months. We have lived in Los Angeles for several years and are currently renting an apt. in West LA. While we love our place we are ready for a home of our own and we're so done with the rent out here. I am in my late twenties and he is in his early thirties, and we have a son who is 22 months and hope to have another one in the next two years. My fiance works for a video game publisher in Santa Monica (off Ocean Park Blvd.). I stay at home now but I used to be a teacher in LAUSD. Our income, without bonuses is around 120,000. He has excellent credit and we want to buy a home that is no more than 500,000. We also need a home with at least three bedrooms (we get a lot visitors) and at least 1500 sq. ft. We also want to make sure that we live in a relatively safe neighborhood. Also we would prefer to purchase a single family home and not a condo or a townhome (not because of HOA fees for other reasons)

Obviously that rules out any nice area close to his work. He is more than willing to commute, it's just a matter of finding the right area. He used to make the commute to Century City from Chino Hills (where he grew up) and although he'll do the commute from Chino Hills to Santa Monica if he has to, he would prefer to keep the commute to about an hour, if possible. What would be some good areas to look at that fit our criteria?
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Old 03-16-2009, 08:59 AM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,346 posts, read 80,898,887 times
Reputation: 17413
If I were you (and I am), I'd eliminate anything that wasn't very good on this map:

California School Performance Maps

Are you planning on working again in the next five years? Would that affect where you need to consider buying a home, or is his job location and good schools basically the only two criteria?
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Old 03-16-2009, 11:09 AM
 
Location: RSM
5,113 posts, read 17,055,697 times
Reputation: 1884
I'd look in the South Bay. Direct shot up to Santa Monica and areas like Torrance will have homes that meet your needs in your price range
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Old 03-16-2009, 12:09 PM
 
Location: West LA
75 posts, read 180,699 times
Reputation: 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles View Post
If I were you (and I am), I'd eliminate anything that wasn't very good on this map:

California School Performance Maps

Are you planning on working again in the next five years? Would that affect where you need to consider buying a home, or is his job location and good schools basically the only two criteria?
I'm not sure if I'll be working in the next five years but I won't be going back to LAUSD if I do. My job is pretty flexible in terms of location. I think our most important criteria is a safe area within an hour driving distance from his job.

Thanks for the link, I will definitely check it out. We may end up going the private route if the alternative is LAUSD. I'm soured by the public school system, or maybe it's just LAUSD...Of course I taught at a project school in Watts and the things that happened at that school were enough to turn anyone off from that district.
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Old 03-16-2009, 12:13 PM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,346 posts, read 80,898,887 times
Reputation: 17413
Quote:
Originally Posted by nori_garsi View Post
I'm not sure if I'll be working in the next five years but I won't be going back to LAUSD if I do. My job is pretty flexible in terms of location. I think our most important criteria is a safe area within an hour driving distance from his job.

Thanks for the link, I will definitely check it out. We may end up going the private route if the alternative is LAUSD. I'm soured by the public school system, or maybe it's just LAUSD...Of course I taught at a project school in Watts and the things that happened at that school were enough to turn anyone off from that district.
Everything depends on the school (for your kids, not your job), not necessarily the (LAUSD) district. Also, not far from Santa Monica are communities with good schools in their districts (as can be seen from the link I provided earlier).

El Segundo has had some good posts, read this one

http://www.city-data.com/forum/7892885-post14.html
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Old 03-16-2009, 01:20 PM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
69,443 posts, read 79,677,903 times
Reputation: 38752
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles View Post
Everything depends on the school (for your kids, not your job), not necessarily the (LAUSD) district. Also, not far from Santa Monica are communities with good schools in their districts (as can be seen from the link I provided earlier).

El Segundo has had some good posts, read this one

http://www.city-data.com/forum/7892885-post14.html
El Sugundo would be a good choice, even though there are not a lot of residentual areas..

Nita
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Old 03-16-2009, 01:29 PM
 
Location: SoCal - Sherman Oaks & Woodland Hills
12,977 posts, read 28,858,589 times
Reputation: 10491
Quote:
Originally Posted by nori_garsi View Post
Of course I taught at a project school in Watts and the things that happened at that school were enough to turn anyone off from that district.
Whats a "project school"?

You guys have lived in LA for several years but still have no clue as to what area you'd like to live in? I find that hard to believe.
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Old 03-16-2009, 01:46 PM
 
830 posts, read 2,509,403 times
Reputation: 380
I don't want to get too personal here, but how much do you have for a downpayment? If you buy a $500,000 house and put down $100,000 as a down payment, your annual housing cost, just for the mortgage and property taxes, is going to be about $32,000 per year. And then you have to consider maintenance and higher utilities. In all, your total housing cost is going to be probably $35,000 per year or more.

Do you currently pay almost $3,000 per month for rent?

You also have to consider how long you are going to be in the house because it will need to appreciate about 10% just to cover your closing costs when you sell it. If you sold it for what you pay for it, you'd lose about $40,000 in commissions and other closing costs.

I am pointing these things out because most people grossly underestimate the cost of home ownership.

I realize that owning a home is not a purely financial decision. But even though your hubby is making a good six-figure income, buying a $500,000 house is going to take a significant chunk out of your disposable income, unless you are already spending that kind of money on rent.

Be sure an go through ALL of your finances and see if you can really afford it. Just because a bank is willing to lend you the money doesn't mean you can afford it.
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Old 03-16-2009, 02:08 PM
 
Location: West LA
75 posts, read 180,699 times
Reputation: 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by motoman View Post
I don't want to get too personal here, but how much do you have for a downpayment? If you buy a $500,000 house and put down $100,000 as a down payment, your annual housing cost, just for the mortgage and property taxes, is going to be about $32,000 per year. And then you have to consider maintenance and higher utilities. In all, your total housing cost is going to be probably $35,000 per year or more.

Do you currently pay almost $3,000 per month for rent?

You also have to consider how long you are going to be in the house because it will need to appreciate about 10% just to cover your closing costs when you sell it. If you sold it for what you pay for it, you'd lose about $40,000 in commissions and other closing costs.

I am pointing these things out because most people grossly underestimate the cost of home ownership.

I realize that owning a home is not a purely financial decision. But even though your hubby is making a good six-figure income, buying a $500,000 house is going to take a significant chunk out of your disposable income, unless you are already spending that kind of money on rent.

Be sure an go through ALL of your finances and see if you can really afford it. Just because a bank is willing to lend you the money doesn't mean you can afford it.
We do pay close to 3000 in rent currently. We have enough money saved to put at least 20% down and 500,000 is the highest we can go, but we would prefer to go much lower. My fiance's dad was a realtor in San Bernadino County so he has been educating us on all the extra costs that go along with buying a house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaBeez View Post
Whats a "project school"?

You guys have lived in LA for several years but still have no clue as to what area you'd like to live in? I find that hard to believe.
Yes we have lived in Los Angeles for several years but we've only lived in West Los Angeles. He lived in Chino Hills growing up and then moved to West LA. I grew up in the Bay Area and went to school at UC Irvine and grad school at UCLA. We are very familiar with the areas we've lived in and haven't really needed to venture out to other areas much. Everything we've neede has been close by. I know generally what the good and bad areas are, but since we are purchasing a home I want to be very careful about where we choose to purchase a home. Since we can't afford to live in West LA and Chino Hills and the OC are really far (and those are the places we do know really well), we need to find a nicer area closer to work.

Oh and a project school is a school whose students primarily come from housing projects. The majority of our students lived in Nickerson Gardens. It was a pretty rough environment to work in.
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Old 03-16-2009, 04:33 PM
 
Location: South Bay
7,092 posts, read 18,456,392 times
Reputation: 3323
My wife and I will probably be looking at a very similar situation to yours in the next 2-3 years. I've done a little research because of this and found that $500k won't buy you anything in any of the desirable neighborhoods of greater LA at this point. Yes, you could get something decent in the valley or way out in covina, but there really isn't much within an hour of the westside (during commuting hours). your best bet is to look at the west hills area of the valley, which will absolutely push the 1 hour commute max to the limit. some friends of ours just bought a 4br house in northridge for under $500k, but i'm not familiar with the area and have heard there are some not so nice parts. anything in the southbay in a decent neighborhood is going to be out of your price rance, including el segundo and torrance. torrance has some lower priced areas, but they are closer to lawndale and carson, not palos verdes and the coast.

at this point, i would probably save up your cash for another year since your kid is still young and see if prices continue to fall. hopefully your household income will go up by then as well and you'll be able to afford something in a better location. If you can get your price range into the $700k range then you'll have much better choices that aren't ridiculously far from your husband's office.
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