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Old 06-08-2010, 01:44 AM
 
Location: Camas, Washington
17 posts, read 52,953 times
Reputation: 23

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My husband starts work at UCLA in July. I know there are several threads about this, and I've read them, but since everyone's needs are different I thought I'd start a new thread and ask for help from the community at large.

About us:
We're from the Bay Area originally, currently living in San Diego. We have a 5 year-old child who starts kindergarten this fall and as such, an area with great schools and safe playgrounds nearby is essential.

My husband works, I have (to this point anyway) been a stay-at-home mom, but once my daughter adjusts to school, I will go back to work in order to defray the expense of living in Los Angeles. We currently pay $1500 for a 2 bedroom condo in a souless suburb of San Diego that we chose solely because it gave my husband a five minute commute to his past job. On one income, our maximum rent would probably be about $1900 for a 2 bedroom in Los Angeles.

What we are looking for:
COMMUTE: As far as the commute, my husband is not opposed to taking public transit to UCLA -- but he wants no more than a 1-hour direct 1-bus commute. If he is driving, then under 40 minutes at peak times would be preferable.

SCHOOLS: My five year-old daughter already reads well, writes well, is great at addition and subtraction and pattern recognition, and very interested in science and the natural world. She's an above average student and needs a school that will challenge her without stressing her out or overburdening her with busy work or excessive home work. She's active, so a good PE program and a school nurse on site would be nice too. She is musically inclined, so a regular music program at the school would be great. She is easygoing and social, but needs a school with no bullying and a real sense of community in order to thrive.

We asked her what she likes most about her current school besides her teacher and she said she likes the sense of "belonging" at her current pre-K - 5 elementary and so do we. We also like the parent involvement, excellent teachers and passionate principal. Her current school is a suzuki method music magnet and a musically inclined school would be nice -- or really any school that has a real commitment, sense of community and focus would be great -- a school with a focus of any kind would be just as exciting to us, doesn't need to be music.

NEIGHBORHOOD:
We're fairly liberal and honestly we would like that to be the case with our neighbors. It's not the case where we currently live and great though our neighbors are, I do hate feeling like I have to either bite my tongue or risk alienating them everytime I express an opinion about anything besides the weather. Somewhere slightly left of center would be good -- somewhere full of drugs and drama would not.

Things we care most about:
Great schools.
Affordable housing.
Safe neighborhood.
Reasonable commute to UCLA.

Things we would absolutely consider a bonus:
Liberal neighbors.
Decent restaurants.
Great parks, playgrounds, rec centers.
Good book store.
Good record store.
Good bakery.
Good produce section at the grocers or an organic farmers market.

Having said that -- we do know all of that comes at a premium and at $1900 max rent we will absolutely need to compromise. We are fine with trading the semi-hip lifestyle for more affordable housing in the 'burbs provided the schools are great and the commute isn't hellishly bad.

Any suggestions?

We're currently looking at West Hollywood, Culver City, Westwood, Brentwood, Santa Monica and Encino. More info on those areas or other areas would be appreciated.

Thank you so much!
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Old 06-08-2010, 09:19 AM
 
Location: South Bay
7,091 posts, read 18,414,084 times
Reputation: 3323
the santa clarita area has an express bus to ucla. $1900 will also get you a lot more for the money up there. you'll probably get a soul-less suburb vibe there as well. besides that, the closer to ucla you are the more expensive it will be. i'm sure there are 2br apartments that can be had for $1900, but i'm not sure how nice they will be or how good the schools are in the area. another place to check is west hills/woodland hills in the west san fernando valley. it's not particularly close to ucla, but the schools are supposed to be good. i'm not sure about buses though.
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Old 06-08-2010, 09:23 AM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,346 posts, read 80,739,113 times
Reputation: 17410
I see UCLA vanpools all the time in the San Fernando Valley.

UCLA Vanpool
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Old 06-08-2010, 09:59 AM
 
Location: Southern California
1,839 posts, read 1,711,714 times
Reputation: 212
Santa Clarita has great schools and is an awesome place for families, however, it may not be as liberal as the OP is looking for... as the majority of city council members, our state assemblyman and our U.S. congressman are all Conservatives. But that said, there are a few libs here so it's not like you wouldn't meet them. I believe there is also a vanpool along with the commuter bus that goes to UCLA... but it is at least an hour's ride.
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:25 AM
 
452 posts, read 1,206,669 times
Reputation: 406
Sherman Oaks and Encino are both near UCLA just on the other side of the Sepulveda Pass and have good elementary schools (even though they are in LAUSD). Most score 10/10, 9/10, or 8/10 which is just as good as suburban schools. At the high school level, you would want to get you child into one of the charter schools like High Tech High in Encino or Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies. But for now while you are renting and you child is in elementary, these communities are family friendly, close to work, and also close to things for mom and dad to enjoy a night out and some big city life.

If you live in Sherman Oaks, your husband can take Metro Rapid 761 that crosses the Sepulveda Pass. The ride on the 761 from Sherman Oaks over to UCLA is about 25 minutes at rush hour.

So, your checklist:
Great schools: Yes, at elementary. At high school go charter
Affordable: Tons of nice apartments in your price range. Best value so close to UCLA.
Commute: Thirty minutes tops, bus is option.
Safe: Maybe not as sparkling safe as an outer suburb, but still a very safe area and not ravaged by gangs or homicides.

For your additional requirements like liberal, bookstores, places to eat out, etc... I would say check to all. Lots of shopping in Sherman Oaks in particular at the Galleria Mall and along Ventura Blvd.
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Old 06-08-2010, 03:20 PM
KRF
 
Location: California, USA
7 posts, read 18,640 times
Reputation: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mojomartha View Post
...
We're currently looking at West Hollywood, Culver City, Westwood, Brentwood, Santa Monica and Encino. More info on those areas or other areas would be appreciated.
Thank you so much!
Westwood is a wonderful place to live, and your husband could potentially walk to work - but your $1900/mo. for a two bedroom might be a significant limiting factor. However, check out the rentals on Trulia and you might find something. Westwide Rentals is also a good alternative if you don't mind paying for information. If you can find a suitable place in Westwood, I would put that at the top of the list just because of location and quality of the place.

Santa Monica will give you some more living options price wise and you will be closer to the beach, but a bit farther from UCLA but still close enough for a very short commute. Santa Monica is very liberal - I believe one of their recent mayors was a Green Party member.

SFV obviously will give you all the "farther-away" options you need. I can second the Sherman Oaks option as something to consider looking into. I have taken the mentioned 761 bus many times, and it is an easy and nice ride from UCLA and Westwood Village. Although, I never considered the SFV to have much "soul" so it may lack some aspects of what you want.

If you play tennis then the Westwood and Santa Monica are good too.
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Old 07-01-2010, 06:16 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles
22 posts, read 84,201 times
Reputation: 18
I work at UCLA and I live in Santa Monica. You should be able to find a 2bedroom to rent in Santa Monica south of Wilshire Boulevard. The rents get cheaper the further south you go. I also lived in Westwood, which is lovely (and the schools are amazing). But if you can actually *find* a 2bd unit for $1,900, you will have made significant trade-offs, probably in the age of the building and its quantity of amenities or whether there is off-street parking. You didn't mention your family's quantity of cars; some SM buildings don't have any parking at all, while the newer Westwood buildings will want to give you more parking than you need. (Oh parking requirements in LA...)

Let us know how it goes!
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Old 07-02-2010, 06:47 PM
 
1 posts, read 9,365 times
Reputation: 12
Hi MojoMartha,

You might already be settled in LA by now (I've just joined this board). I think you could find something close to UCLA for about $2000.00 (I could help you find something as I'm a real estate agent and I've been looking for a rental for someone just tdoay and was pleasantly surprised at the drop in the rental market). The Westwood schools are great. There's another location in Palms near Overland and National Blvd. where many UCLA grad students live and send their children to Clover Ave. Elementary School which makes that one of the nicest schools in the area. there are many apartment complexes in that area and I'm certain you can get something for under 2000.00. The neighborhood is called WEstside Village--and it's really nice, close to UCLA and the school is awesome. another fantastic school in Wonderland Elementary School in the Hollywood HIlls, but the it would be challenging to find something in your budget. Also, when the Choices magazine comes out in Novemeber, be sure to look it over as you may find the perfect school for your daughter is a magnet school. Feel free to email me with any questions.

Enjoy LA. Lynn lynnleglaire@sbcglobal.net
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Old 07-07-2010, 11:39 AM
 
Location: Los Angeles
22 posts, read 84,201 times
Reputation: 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by clover32 View Post
Hi MojoMartha,

You might already be settled in LA by now (I've just joined this board). I think you could find something close to UCLA for about $2000.00 (I could help you find something as I'm a real estate agent and I've been looking for a rental for someone just tdoay and was pleasantly surprised at the drop in the rental market). The Westwood schools are great. There's another location in Palms near Overland and National Blvd. where many UCLA grad students live and send their children to Clover Ave. Elementary School which makes that one of the nicest schools in the area. there are many apartment complexes in that area and I'm certain you can get something for under 2000.00. The neighborhood is called WEstside Village--and it's really nice, close to UCLA and the school is awesome. another fantastic school in Wonderland Elementary School in the Hollywood HIlls, but the it would be challenging to find something in your budget. Also, when the Choices magazine comes out in Novemeber, be sure to look it over as you may find the perfect school for your daughter is a magnet school. Feel free to email me with any questions.

Enjoy LA. Lynn lynnleglaire@sbcglobal.net
Hey Lynn,
I'm an alumna of Wonderland. I am so glad to hear that Wonderland is still getting rave reviews. When I was a student, most of my classmates came from WeHo (which is technically in LAUSD), Mid-City, K-town, and the East Valley. Very few came from the Westside - there are lots of good schools out here. Quite frankly, the travel time would be lengthy from these parts anyway, as travel times have lengthened due to heightened vehicle volumes over the past 15 years. Thank you for suggesting it on this board!
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Old 07-07-2010, 11:46 AM
 
Location: Earth
17,449 posts, read 22,948,866 times
Reputation: 7246
Quote:
Originally Posted by sirinyat View Post
I work at UCLA and I live in Santa Monica. You should be able to find a 2bedroom to rent in Santa Monica south of Wilshire Boulevard. The rents get cheaper the further south you go.
Ocean Park rents go for more than northeast SM rents, so that's not exactly true....

The differences between north and south SM closer to the beach are more demographic than economic ; i.e. families up north and single people down south. The rents are similar.

And the schools are not so amazing in Westwood, it is LAUSD after all. Even the worst SM schools are amongst the top 2% in the USA.
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