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Old 05-07-2011, 04:07 PM
 
Location: Memphis, TN
18 posts, read 56,444 times
Reputation: 28

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Ok, so a little background on me: I am a 31-year old black female. I have 3 children from my previous marriage that are ages 3, 3, and 8. I moved here to Memphis where I have family, from the D.C. area, to get back on my feet after leaving an abusive marriage. I was a stay-at-home mother, but was able to immediately find employment as a Programmer (my previous profession) when I moved to Memphis. I've been here now for 2.5 years, and have become acclimated to raising my children on my own. My ex doesn't really play much of a role (doesn't visit, rarely calls, doesn't pay child support), so he's not really a factor in my decision.

Unfortunately, Memphis just isn't for me, and I can't take the terrible weather here anymore (cold winters, hot/humid summers, tornado weather all the time). Plus, the job market isn't all that great here for moving up in salary or position, so I'm looking to move while I am at the end of my current lease.

I grew up living all over the country and overseas as an Air Force brat, so I don't expect too much of a culture shock.

My situation: I'm being considered for 4 positions: 2 in LA; 2 in Atlanta. The LA position I am leaning towards is in the Valley, and is estimated a 35-minute commute from Burbank/Toluca Lake area; the other is in the Bay. The salary for both is roughly 100k permanent. And if I accept either and move to LA, there is another part-time position that I would be able to accept working from home on my own hours that would be 20 hrs/week for $50/hr (50k).

One of the Atlanta positions pays 93k, 12-month contract-to-perm, the other pays 85k, 9-month contract-to-perm. But both Atlanta and Los Angeles have pretty good IT markets for programmers.

I think I might like Atlanta, but I'm worried the weather would be too similar to what I hate about Memphis. And while I do like to listen to some Hip-Hop music, I'm turned off by an overly Hip-Hop culture. Like with everything else in life, moderation is key, and with Atlanta being Hip-Hop capital, I wonder if it might be a bit too much. Being a single mother of two black sons, I feel like I have to be a little more protective with the lifestyle they are exposed to. With Los Angeles, I worry about the extremely high cost of living, state income tax, state budget crisis and distance.

What I'm looking for: Good quality of life!! Now, I spend several months indoors during the winter because I hate the cold, and then several months indoors again in the summer because it's too hot. I sweat really bad and have terrible allergies, so suffice it to say, I spend half the year pretty miserable because I'm an outdoors person, and love being outside. Last year, I bought my children a swingset and they couldn't even play on it because it was either too cold, raining/storming, or too hot. We want to go to the zoo every month, go to parks, eat outside, ride bikes in the neighborhood almost every day, and I have a passion for gardening.

Quality of schools are important to me because I can not/do not want to afford private school. My daughter is a straight "A" student, and has thrived in both a ritzy D.C. private school that was 80% white/less than 10% black, as well as a TN public school (greatschools rated 10) that is 30% white/30% black. She's very outgoing, and has no trouble making friends everywhere we go, even the grocery store. My boys will still be in preschool.

I'm a single mother, so a safe neighborhood is a must. I've grown up living in middle -upper class white neighborhoods, and a middle -upper class black neighborhood as an adult, and feel comfortable in both. I know racism is alive and well, but outside of a few isolated incidents, it's not something I've personally run into often. In general, my family, including my father and brother - both black males, have not had much trouble fitting in or being accepted by other races. We basically look like a GAP ad, not hip-hop baggy but also not high-end designer. I drive a Honda Oddyssey minivan, by choice. I'm a soccer mom, literally. I like an actively involved community and like being involved and meeting other neighbors. I like to keep a nice yard, and like to live near others that believe in the same. I would prefer a young community with lots of other small children that mine can play with, and nearby local parks. We've mostly only lived in suburban neighborhoods, but I'm really interested in trying out a more urban, walkable neighborhood that maybe has a local farmer's market we could walk to on the weekend. I always wanted to live in Georgetown or Woodley Park in D.C. or downtown Bethesda for reference.

So, giving that, where do you think would be best for me and my family?

I've owned a home before, and I really have no interest in going through that hassle again, so I would like to rent a single family house, preferably with a yard that could fit a swingset for the kids. No pool because of safety concerns with my 3-year olds. 3-4 bedrooms, 1+ baths (we tend to share now anyways), a garage. Budget preferably under 3k/month.....targeting around 2k, the lower, the better. I don't want to be house poor. I like nice things, but I'm not really into keeping up with the Jones', hence my practical minivan. And I want to be able to fully experience life in LA with the kids (zoo membership, seasons passes to DisneyLand, and occassional weekend trips to visit nearby cities like San Francisco and San Diego) or Atlanta (seasons passes to Aquarium, zoo, and occasional weekend trips to Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Orlando). I could care less about clubs/bars and nightlife. I'm young and single, but most of my time outside of work is really dedicated to my kids, so I'm not really into the adult social scene or dating. I figure if I meet somebody, it'll happen. It's just not a top 10 priority right now while my kids are still young.

Sorry for the novel. I've been having a hard time deciding, so figured the more info provided, the better the responses I might receive. And I really need to be moved by the time my lease ends next month and once school gets out.
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Old 05-07-2011, 04:30 PM
 
4,538 posts, read 10,627,657 times
Reputation: 4073
Quote:
Originally Posted by SingleMom2Three View Post

My situation: I'm being considered for 4 positions: 2 in LA; 2 in Atlanta. The LA position I am leaning towards is in the Valley, and is estimated a 35-minute commute from Burbank/Toluca Lake area; the other is in the Bay.
First off, the bolded part doesn't make sense. The SFV is only about 9 miles long and it really doesn't take 35 minutes to get from Burbank to Woodland Hills, which are at the extreme ends. Even more confounding is why someone would recommend living in the east end of SFV when you work on the west end and vice versa. Particularly when the two very middle class areas that are safe, nice, diverse, and with good schools, are Woodland Hills and Burbank, and both happen to be at exact extreme opposite locations.


Can't speak to Atlanta, but you would be fine in Burbank and with your income can probably afford a SFR for rent there. Check out westsiderentals.com

But I would also list the city you are working in, cause maybe you want to live closer and there are other options besides Burbank that are just as nice. Keep in mind also that the Valley gets very very hot in the summer...into the 100's for a few weeks each year.
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Old 05-07-2011, 05:10 PM
 
Location: Memphis, TN
18 posts, read 56,444 times
Reputation: 28
Sorry about that. Nobody recommended Burbank. I just came up with that from my Internet research. Of course, Internet isn't always accurate. The job I prefer is in Chatsworth, the other in Gardena. I was trying to look for areas in the valley closer in where the weather would be milder, but also not a far commute time.

I got the commute time from Google maps, which may not be accurate.
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Old 05-07-2011, 05:17 PM
 
Location: Memphis, TN
18 posts, read 56,444 times
Reputation: 28
I should also mention that I have a cousin that lives in downtown LA by Staples, and my dad sometimes lives in Santa Monica (he's retired) when in the area, so that is also motivation for not wanting to be too far out.

I guess I would need suggestions near Gardena too, if I took that job.
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Old 05-07-2011, 06:16 PM
 
Location: SoCal - Sherman Oaks & Woodland Hills
12,974 posts, read 33,953,056 times
Reputation: 10491
First thing you should do is wait on if you will actually get any of these jobs you are talking about. Then, at that time, you should ask the HR department and/or your bosses/people you will be working with for recommendations on where to live that is decent commutable distance to the office.

Until that happens there is no need in considering anything further. Besides, ANY job that will consider hiring someone from out of the area will fly you in first for interview(s), then, if they move forward with an offer, they will usually give you at least 2 house hunting trips to the area to find a place to live.

Until you get offered one of these positions it doesnt really make any sense to consider where to live. Gardena is a LOOOOOONG way from Chatsworth.
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Old 05-07-2011, 10:00 PM
 
Location: Memphis, TN
18 posts, read 56,444 times
Reputation: 28
I was really just trying to decide on the city moreso, Los Angeles or Atlanta. I was hoping to get advice as to which locale might would be best suited for me, and then focusing on trying to get the job in that city specifically. I was told that I may need to fly out as early as next week for face-to-face interviews, but I don't want to waste anyone's time flying out to Los Angeles and then turning down the position, if say, Atlanta is really the better location for me, or vice versa.

Also one job is located in Gardena and the one I prefer, in Chatsworth. I wouldn't be commuting from one city to the other. And I was told that if I get the position, they would want me to start fairly quickly, (2-3 weeks). Considering I would have to pack, and move from Memphis, that would not give me a lot of time to look for a place of residence. And since I have the kids to consider - schools, etc., and I would need daycare immediately, I don't want to wait until the last minute to do my research. I need to get a general idea of areas narrawoed down that I might live in, so I can start looking into possible daycares, summer camps, in those areas, etc.
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Old 05-08-2011, 01:40 AM
 
4,538 posts, read 10,627,657 times
Reputation: 4073
Quote:
Originally Posted by SingleMom2Three View Post
I was really just trying to decide on the city moreso, Los Angeles or Atlanta. I was hoping to get advice as to which locale might would be best suited for me, and then focusing on trying to get the job in that city specifically. I was told that I may need to fly out as early as next week for face-to-face interviews, but I don't want to waste anyone's time flying out to Los Angeles and then turning down the position, if say, Atlanta is really the better location for me, or vice versa.

Also one job is located in Gardena and the one I prefer, in Chatsworth. I wouldn't be commuting from one city to the other. And I was told that if I get the position, they would want me to start fairly quickly, (2-3 weeks). Considering I would have to pack, and move from Memphis, that would not give me a lot of time to look for a place of residence. And since I have the kids to consider - schools, etc., and I would need daycare immediately, I don't want to wait until the last minute to do my research. I need to get a general idea of areas narrawoed down that I might live in, so I can start looking into possible daycares, summer camps, in those areas, etc.
Chatsworth is a healthy drive from Burbank...farthest extremes in distance you can get in the SFV. Woodland Hills is a couple street miles away. You won't find a "mild" climate in the SFV, at least not in the summer. Its about 5 degrees warmer in Woodland Hills than elsewhere in the Valley...but thats not much.

As far as Gardena...well you have your pick of neighborhoods. Lakewood and Long Beach are probably most diverse and affordable. Some areas of those cities have good schools. Then theres all of the South Bay, Culver City, Ladera, etc.
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Old 05-08-2011, 10:35 AM
 
Location: Memphis, TN
18 posts, read 56,444 times
Reputation: 28
I'm not really looking for the most diverse or affordable area. Top on my list would safety and school quality. And then I would find the cheapest or most afforadable I can within those cities. When I looked up some of the areas you mentioned on schoolperformancemaps.com, they seem to be clustered in the mix of poor schools. I don't think those would be the type of areas I would feel comfortable living in or sending my child to school. I've only ever lived in the nicest parts of towns with the best schools.

From looking at the maps, I think I'm going to re-focus looking into Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, El Segundo, Torrance areas in the Bay...and then Encino, Sherman Oaks, Calabasas areas in the Valley.
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Old 05-08-2011, 02:57 PM
 
Location: Below the fray
422 posts, read 1,818,873 times
Reputation: 337
Well, I've lived in Burbank and near Buckhead (Virginia-Highland neighborhood), and much prefer California. If weather is a big consideration, be advised humidity is almost never an issue here, in fact it's usually the opposite. Atlanta is hot and humid in the summer and violent thunderstorms are common. It also sometimes has ice storms in the winter. Pollen is an issue in Atlanta, though I know people here who have allergy problems too. It can get very hot here in the summer, especially inland. On the other hand, I know people who don't have/need air conditioning in their homes. Feel free to have meals on your patio, ride your bikes, tend your garden and visit the zoo, which is easily accessible from Burbank, East Valley locations.


Toluca Lake is a very nice community, part of the city of L.A.; Burbank is a separate small city from L.A. and is somewhat bland but reasonably safe, though I've read more about crime there in recent years. I once commuted 5 days a week from Burbank to Chatsworth and it was a 30-minute drive. I cannot speak to schools, but I don't think they're very good overall in either the Atlanta or L.A. districts. You just have to find the good ones. I'm sure you can find the kind of housing you are looking for in your price range within a reasonable commute of Chatsworth. But I can't help thinking your $95K will go a little further in Atlanta than $100K will go in L.A.

We also found Atlanta stifling in its conservatism (even tho Georgia at large considers Atlanta to be a great liberal cesspool). There are political nuts in both places, but in our thinking the ones in Georgia were more dangerous. We did appreciate Atlanta's historical significance and proximity to Savannah and Charleston and other destinations. Traffic is no better there than in L.A. All in all, L.A. is an easy winner for us.

Last edited by Cubancoffee; 05-08-2011 at 03:34 PM..
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Old 05-08-2011, 08:15 PM
 
1,963 posts, read 5,621,818 times
Reputation: 1648
I just remembered that a college buddy used to work in Chatsworth & he bought a home in Moorpark. The commute wasn't bad at all, 30~40 min each way if i recall. The school district is exceptional and he continues to live there with elementary school kids even if he now works in Tarzana. Check it out.
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