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Old 02-26-2011, 11:32 AM
Location: Los Angeles
221 posts, read 340,544 times
Reputation: 203


I posted a while back, but my situation just changed so I hope y'all don't mind my posting new parameters and asking for advice.

I am soon to be a professor at CSUN (Yay! Lifelong dream comes true!) and I'm looking for optimal places to live. This is a job for life, so I can bounce around in living situations a bit, but if I could find the perfect area, I could feasibly be there for the next 30 or so years.

The parameters:
* Home needs to be within an hour drive of CSUN.
* We are in our early 30s (no kids), really into art and music (counter-cultural, not classical), and prefer bohemian and/or intellectual folks around.
* We like historic districts. We prefer Craftsman, bungalow, or Spanish style with big old trees. We also could go with an industrial loft type place. We pick aesthetics over convenience every time. Did I mention how I love big trees?
* In a perfect world, our neighborhood would be walkable, have lots of indie stuff (coffee shops, bookstores, vintage shops, etc.), and have a Trader Joe's and/or Whole Foods not too far away.
* We don't mind a small place (1 or 2 bedroom) because we don't plan to have kids and we're big on sustainability.
* If we lease, we'd like to spend less than $2000/month (optimally, less than $1600/month). We'd prefer a small house, but if it is a loft or super nifty apartment (Castle Green, anyone?), we might go for that.
* If we buy, we'd be looking at $200K or so. We wouldn't care how small it is or if it sucks, because my husband specializes in remodels and new construction. It'd be all about location and something historic we could restore.


Favorite neighborhoods that fit these criteria? We've heard Pasadena, Eagle Rock, Mt. Washington, Glendale? The area around CSUN seems kind of too suburban for us, but anyone know of an area in Northridge that is more hip?

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Old 02-26-2011, 12:30 PM
9,467 posts, read 29,927,147 times
Reputation: 6320
You're in for sticker shock. What's your tolerance for ghetto?
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:02 PM
Location: Los Angeles
302 posts, read 442,062 times
Reputation: 256
I don't live in LA, but planning for it so I'm prepared in two-three years. For what you are looking for, you need a lot more cash. Even if you're looking for a shack in the type of neighborhood you want, it's not going to be feasible for the amount you guys are willing to spend.
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:13 PM
Location: South Bay
7,225 posts, read 21,796,905 times
Reputation: 3606
i don't think you'll be able to meet all your requirements. for example, north hollywood arts district has much of what you desire without the historic homes. pasadena has the historic homes, but lacks the artsy feel you're looking for. venice has both the bohemian vibe and craftsman homes, but is very expensive. eagle rock and nearby atwater village are more affordable and also have a bit of an artsy vibe, but lacks the walkability you desire. i think you see where i'm going here. maybe check out los feliz, although it is also rather expensive, it's a really great neighborhood.
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:26 PM
Location: SoCal
2,261 posts, read 7,113,288 times
Reputation: 959
Definitely check out Altadena. There are parts that are quite woodsy.

My husband looked at a small house out there, in a very woodsy area, that was about $1600/mo. There was another 1500 sq ft house for $1950/mo in a more suburban part. Both wanted year leases, however, and we weren't willing to do that.

I'll be honest in that I don't know much about Altadena. It's always seemed "too far." I don't know how walkable it is, either. And I've heard parts of it can be dangerous. But, I have to say, I really liked the two houses we looked at.

It's going to be difficult to find something that is both woodsy & walkable. I would definitely check out Eagle Rock & Pasadena. Parts of North Hollywood are nice (and not as far from Northridge as the other places I've mentioned).

Yeah, come to think of it... definitely check out North Hollywood. They have an arts district. They say to only look at places south of Burbank Blvd or Oxnard Blvd, but I've seen several areas north of there that were cute. And I've seen places north of there that were NOT so cute. But, rule-of-thumb... the more south, the better. I had someone recommend Granada Hills which would be the closest commute for you. Haven't been there, myself, though.

We almost bought a house in North Hollywood that had a guest house (unpermitted converted garage... but really nice) that was renting for $950, so that's something you might want to look into.

Glendale is nice. And they have a Trader Joes. I live in Burbank, and I like it a lot, but it might be too suburban for you... you'd have to check it out to see for yourself.

Upon further reflection, Eagle Rock, Altadena, & Pasadena might all be too far of a commute for you. Also, personally, I'd stay away from Santa Clarita (in case anyone recommends that). I found it very homogeneous.
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:56 PM
Location: Los Angeles
221 posts, read 340,544 times
Reputation: 203
Thanks for the tips!

I realize our budget is limited, but I am not wholly unfamiliar with LA prices, either. I've seen a lot of stuff we could rent comfortably, and if we went after foreclosures or really small places, a handful of places we could buy. We have comfortably lived in 600 square foot places before, and that was before I had an office of my own, so it seems like we'd be able to find *some* sort of little place for less than $2000 a month.

Also, I realize we may not get everything we want. That's usually how it goes. But unless you ask around with everything you desire, how can you know if there isn't that "perfect" neighborhood out there?

So... I appreciate the tips, especially about trade-offs (for example, if some areas are more artsy, but others more historic). That's the sort of thing I just can't know from Craigslist and Remax.

And about the commute- I seriously am fine with an hour one way, a little more if the neighborhood is really worth it. I normally will probably not be commuting during rush hour, either. So I think even in traffic, Pasadena and those areas would probably work. I'm familiar with the driving in the area since I currently work in Downtown (I live near Big Bear... so my current commute is 5-6 hours).
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Old 02-26-2011, 02:57 PM
10,629 posts, read 26,276,984 times
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Altadena isn't so walkable, although it does have some commerce and definitely has the historic homes. Parts of Pasadena are walkable, historic, somewhat artsy, and affordable if you rent (not buy). I don't know about artsy as in indy, but there are certainly lots of artistic people living there. And it is definitely woodsy!

How about parts of Hollywood or East Hollywood? East Hollywood would put you within walking distance of the Los Feliz businesses, as well as has commerce of its own. Or rent in Los Feliz.

I would give Eagle Rock serious consideration.

In general, though, you're going to be able to find a spot in a lot more places if you go the renting route.
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Old 02-26-2011, 03:18 PM
22 posts, read 60,228 times
Reputation: 18
Based on your wants/needs, I would consider these neighborhoods in this order:

Downtown LA historic core/old bank district (lofts only, rentals in your range)
Los Feliz
Atwater Village
parts of North Hollywood
parts of Eagle Rock

Pasadena, Glendale, and Altadena will probably be too suburban and too expensive.

Good luck!!!
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Old 02-26-2011, 04:45 PM
4,531 posts, read 10,411,933 times
Reputation: 4047
You're rent range is fine.

Your buy price is completely impossible. While you might find a condo in that range, you then have to factor in HOA.

I agree Pasadena is the closest to your needs. You may want to check out Westsiderentals.com.

Silver Lake and North Hollywood are potentially options. Parts of Van Nuys near the civic center actually fit the house style, but the neighborhood likely will not suit you. Same thing with Glendale, albeit safer.

Maybe something like this:

REDUCED-LIVE LIKE ROYALTY in Little Castle CA Bungalow Near Everything (http://losangeles.craigslist.org/sgv/apa/2235592371.html - broken link)

or this:

Charming Two-story Bungalow Apartment, located in Beautiful Courtyard (http://losangeles.craigslist.org/sgv/apa/2232887325.html - broken link)

or this:

CHARMING 1 BEDROOM BUNGALOW (http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lac/apa/2222889597.html - broken link)
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Old 02-27-2011, 04:03 PM
Location: Los Angeles
221 posts, read 340,544 times
Reputation: 203
Thanks for all the suggestions, lots of grist for the mill.

We'll likely go with renting, because on reflection we don't know we want the stress and responsibility of owning a house again (we've owned twice before). There's no particularly compelling reason for us to buy, either, because I'll eventually inherit my parents' homes.

I guess if I have to rank criteria:
1. Having a cool (even if very small) historic home with room for a little garden or patio (or big windows for indoor gardening) is top of the list. Though I'd trade a historic place for an industrial type loft. I just don't like most standard places built between 1950 and now.
2. An artistic community around us. People who we could play music with, who create art, who like to share ideas. We currently have this local circle of friends, and it makes life great.
3. Nifty local hang-outs- at least one bar, coffee shop, preferably some cool shops. Normally, it seems like #2 and #3 go together though.
4. Walkability and commute.

I guess in reality, I'd go up to 1.5 hours in traffic (about 30 miles) one way to get these things. I'm not on campus every day, and I'll be home several months a year in both winter and summer. I'd rather suffer a little on the days I work than live the rest of the time somewhere sub-optimal.

So, the list seems to be:
Eagle Rock
Atwater Village
Potentially, North Hollywood, East Hollywood, Los Feliz (though sounds maybe less like a fit?)

What about Santa Monica? Anyone know how that stacks up?

I wish there was a historic core in Northridge, but if there is, I haven't heard about it.
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