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Old 06-15-2011, 11:44 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
5 posts, read 10,586 times
Reputation: 10

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My partner & I have lived in New York for 12 years. The problem with New York is that a) it's so expensive we really can't afford to live here anymore (well, we could if we want to cram into a tiny apartment in a sh*tty school district) and b) it makes most every place else we've considered moving (Philly, NJ suburbs of NYC, Atlanta) feel like a step-down (I know there are great things about each place- I'm talking about for US, not looking to start an argument!). Right now, we can't move, but we think about it a lot! We plan to in 3 years, max. I know... it's a little early to think about this, but I'm a planner!

For the longest time, we've ruled out a move out west because our families are all east and we figured we'd missed our chance to make a big move (we're in our mid to late 30s), but last week, we both admitted that if we were honest with ourselves, we'd like to try LA when we're ready to leave NY. We can both get jobs there and the climate/lifestyle are uber-appealing.

However, I've been looking at LA real estate prices and they're really giving me pause. Right now, we don't pay much in rent by NYC standards ($1600/mo for a 2 bedroom) and would be willing to pay more, but everything I'm seeing is WAAAAY more. Obviously, we are used to a pretty high cost-of-living otherwise. Is it completely impossible to find a 3-4 bedroom house/townhome in the LA area in a good school district under $3000 ($2500 would still be a stretch, if I'm being honest) without commuting for hours at a time?

If you think it's doable, what areas should we look at?

A little about us: We are a lesbian couple with kids, so we'd like someplace gay-friendly or at least not crazy conservative/homophobic. I work for a law firm (not an attorney), so I'd most likely working where the big firms are, which seems to be the westside (correct me if I'm wrong, please!). Partner's a designer. Right now, she's staying home with the kids, but plans to find work in her field in a few years. Even with both of us working, we will probably only make 100-120K combined and we're still paying a good chunk of income to student loans. We consider ourselves fairly liberal and we like to keep up on culture(politics/music/art/etc).

The neighborhood doesn't need to be glamorous or trendy. I don't need "nightlife"- we have three kids, so a night out is a restaurant meal or movie every few months. A couple decent non-chain neighborhood restaurants and a coffee shop that isn't Starbucks would be great. A school where my kids will get a good education and be treated with respect. I'd rather not live in a new housing development. My current commute is 50 minutes walking/subway... I know I'll probably be driving but I'd like to keep it w/in that time frame.

Ideas, comments, suggestions? Thanks!

Last edited by readytoleavenyc; 06-15-2011 at 12:46 PM..
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Old 06-15-2011, 11:58 AM
 
Location: South Bay
7,141 posts, read 19,553,319 times
Reputation: 3402
Most of southern CA is open minded, so fitting it in a lesbian couple shouldn't me too much of an issue. as for housing, it is expensive here. it's not manhattan expensive, but there really aren't any cheap areas. anyways, if you have $3k to spend on rent, you could find a nice place to live, even $2500 will get you a nice place in many areas without too far of a commute. granted you be walking distance to the beach, but that doesn't seem to matter to you. schools may be another issue. the last areas with good schools in/near LA through the high school level are the south bay (coastal area south of LAX), culver city, santa monica, beverly hills, and the west san fernando valley (woodland hills/west hills). there are other cities with good schools, but if you move there you're starting to get pretty far from the westside or downtown where most legal jobs are located. however, LA is very spread out and jobs can be found almost anywhere. there's a large court house in Van Nuys (in the valley) which may be easier to get to from more family friendly areas. you'll definitely need to do your homework before moving. in the meantime you can use this site (California School Performance Maps) to get an idea of how schools rank throughout the area.
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Old 06-15-2011, 12:34 PM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,345 posts, read 84,793,833 times
Reputation: 17581
Quote:
Originally Posted by readytoleavenyc View Post
I work for a law firm (as a librarian, not an attorney), so I'd most likely working where the big firms are, which seems to be the westside (correct me if I'm wrong, please!). Partner's a product designer. Right now, she's staying home with the kids, but plans to find work in her field in a few years. Even with both of us working, we will probably only make 100-120K combined and we're still paying a good chunk of income to student loans.

That's the tough part, finding a job first and one which will allow you to support yourself plus four others. You'd be competing with people who are already living here.
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Old 06-15-2011, 12:45 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
5 posts, read 10,586 times
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles View Post
That's the tough part, finding a job first and one which will allow you to support yourself plus four others. You'd be competing with people who are already living here.
Well, OF COURSE I'd be competing with people who already live there. Wouldn't that be the case anywhere one decides to move? I'm well qualified with many years of experience at major firms. I'd think that puts me in as good a position as possible, under the circumstances.

I either get a job in LA and we move... or I get a job somewhere else and we move there. I'm not sure what your point is.
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Old 06-15-2011, 01:18 PM
 
1,254 posts, read 1,053,807 times
Reputation: 2160
Default Listen to those trying to help, then speak

Quote:
Originally Posted by readytoleavenyc View Post
Well, OF COURSE I'd be competing with people who already live there. Wouldn't that be the case anywhere one decides to move? I'm well qualified with many years of experience at major firms. I'd think that puts me in as good a position as possible, under the circumstances.

I either get a job in LA and we move... or I get a job somewhere else and we move there. I'm not sure what your point is.
Having lived in both places I see your problem understanding what was said.

It's simple, you don't understand how people in the LA area view people moving in from the East, the person responding to you apparently does.

In NYC people moving to the City and looking for a job are treated like anyone else. In LA and the surrounding areas you will be known as a "Transient".

Transients= no job, new to the area, etc. are treated like second class citizens. People may tell you in interviews that you are a transient and that means that you likely won't stay. Anything you say about that will be discounted. This actually happened to me multiple times. However, there is good news. Once you finally do get a job, and an actual address, not a hotel, you will be a resident. You will notice the difference in how you are treated. I did. The ridiculous part is that it seems like most people in LA came from some other place.

If you buy a home, it really gets funny. Most people in the LA area rent. That is because home prices are high, even now. When people ask your address and you don't provide an apartment number, they will ask you for it. When you explain that you live in a home, not an apartment, they will actually apologize, sometimes profusely, for mistakenly assuming you live in an apartment. This never happened to me in NYC or the surrounding areas.
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Old 06-15-2011, 01:33 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
5 posts, read 10,586 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks for the clarification, Beaconowner! I had no idea that might be an issue for us... I'm glad you explained so I'll know going in.

It feels like I'm at a constant disadvantage here because I graduated from a southern state college not an Ivy... in LA, it sounds like I'll be at a disadvantage when job-hunting because I'm not living there already. That stinks.

Ah well. When the time comes, I'll put my resume out. If I get a job, great. If not, back to the drawing board. I come from a military family, so I can get used to the idea of moving anywhere.
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Old 06-15-2011, 01:53 PM
 
Location: CA
1,212 posts, read 2,362,120 times
Reputation: 1257
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles View Post
That's the tough part, finding a job first and one which will allow you to support yourself plus four others. You'd be competing with people who are already living here.

How is that helping? Look at all the immigrants in LA (like myself) who compete with Americans everyday and get jobs.

A lot of companies have admitted to me that they like that i'm NOT from California because they feel I'm more punctual and work harder whereas many (not all) Californians are too laid back.
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Old 06-15-2011, 03:49 PM
 
1,542 posts, read 5,397,626 times
Reputation: 1681
i think you have decent chance of finding the type of place you're seeking, as housing in the LA area is a bit cheaper than in nyc - this is especially true for rentals.

if you end up finding a job on the westside or in downtown, definitely look into culver city. CC is basically in between the two, so the commute is doable in either direction. it is also an independent city with its own school district, so you won't have to deal with the LAUSD, which is notoriously bad. CC's schools have a solid (though not elite) reputation; check out GreatSchools, http://www.schooldigger.com, and http://schoolperformancemaps.com/ca/ for info about specific schools.

in addition to location and schools, CC sounds like a good match for your family because it's liberal/accepting and diverse but doesn't seem to have the pretentious/snooty factor that you might find in, say, beverly hills. CC has a mix of families, young professionals, and artistic/creative types of various incomes, and it also has some interesting shopping/commercial districts with a mix of chain and non-chain eateries and shops plus some neighborhood cafes and bars.

best of all, the expo light rail line is being constructed at the moment, which will eventually connect culver city with both santa monica and downtown. the first phase (downtown to CC) will be completed in early 2012, while the second phase (CC to SM) will be completed 2-3 years after that.

OTOH, if your job is in the valley (e.g. the van nuys courthouse), i'd suggest burbank. like CC, it's an independent city with its own school district. commuting westbound into the rest of the valley during the morning rush hour shouldn't be too bad, and at the same time the commute to downtown is doable, too. it also has a range of incomes and housing prices, so i think you'll be able to find something in your budget.

and if your job is east of downtown in the pasadena/san gabriel valley area, i'd check out pasadena or south pasadena. pasadena has a really wide range of incomes (from super rich to poor/working class), and as a result its school district and neighborhoods are hit-or-miss. but overall, it's a really nice, laid-back suburban city. as long as you do your research on specific schools/neighborhoods, this could be a viable option.

south pasadena has its own school district (highly rated, i should add) and is more uniformly upper middle class than pasadena, so there might not be as much housing in your price range. but if your job is in the area, i would definitely take a look at this town, since some of the smaller/older rentals might be affordable for you. like pasadena, it has much more of a suburban midwestern vibe and feel, has some classic old architecture, tree-lined streets, and nice downtown areas; very norman rockwellian.

also, you might want to look into glendale (independent city with its own school district) and eagle rock (neighborhood of the city of los angeles). even though eagle rock's schools are part of LAUSD, they're reputed to be some of the better ones near downtown. the neighborhood has also gentrified in recent years and has its share of creative types and/or young families. you may very well have to look outside of the neighborhood once the kids reach junior high or high school, but before then ER's schools might be a perfectly viable option.
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Old 06-15-2011, 07:02 PM
 
14 posts, read 42,771 times
Reputation: 25
Default Torrance

We live in Torrance and I think it meets a lot of your requirements. Although Torrance is big, so different parts are different. But South Torrance has good schools and we love the neighborhood that we are in. We are "transients" from NJ.

It does sound strange, even to me, but I do believe what people are saying about being an outsider is true. My spouse got a job, which is why we moved here, but then when I was looking for a job, I actually even saw ads that said "Los Angeles residents only" and a lot of them ... ? Don't know what that is all about, but do what I did ... Call Verizon and get a message only phone with an LA area code. Then pay somebody (CraigsList) to use their address or get an LA address through a mailbox store to use on your resume and apps.
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Old 06-15-2011, 08:45 PM
 
10,630 posts, read 23,964,075 times
Reputation: 6716
I never experienced the "outsider" problem being described here. Unless people are referring ONLY to the job-hunting element? That's not LA-specific; we've applied to jobs in MANY states and cities, and you get the "local applicants only" line quite frequently (and as an employer in LA fielded plenty of resumes from people from elsewhere). Just make clear that you're willing to pay all relocation yourself and move quickly. Plenty of people line up jobs while still living in other places (as is clear from this forum!); we did, although admittedly that was before the economy fell apart. If you're encountering any "locals only" attitude it's probably simply due to employers wanting someone who won't be expecting relocation assistance. If you ARE expecting relocation assistance you might run into more problems, unless you have a highly specialized skill that can't be filled locally.

On to the apartment issue: I think your expectations are a bit inflated. You really do get far more for your money in LA than in NYC (although you have hit the jackpot in NYC with that rent...), and houses ARE bigger, but you're looking for a very big house by LA standards, particularly at that price point. If you could be willing to go with a 2-BR you'll probably have a lot more options. That said, don't forget that in LA you are more likely to also have year-round outdoor space, which can make your space feel much larger.

I'd give South Pasadena a close look. Good schools, very family-friendly, nice neighborhood feel. Pasadena has its own downtown, not to mention a LOT of law offices, and you could get a nice 2-BR, and possibly a 3-BR, in your price range. Pasadena itself is also very nice, but the school system has more issues (although is still worth investigating, as some of the schools are good). There are a lot of nice rental houses (although they seem to go fast, so jump on one if you see one!), and you'd fit in just fine. It's also on the Gold Line (light rail) to downtown, so it would be an easy commute to downtown, too, if one or both of you ended up working there.

Really, though, when it comes down to it I'd try to line up the job first, and then find the neighborhood. I think what you're asking for is doable, especially if you can be a little flexible.
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