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Old 05-09-2008, 07:14 AM
 
45 posts, read 258,736 times
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I currently work and live in Ann Arbor, MI but I am contemplating an offer from UCLA. I have a wife, toddler, and infant. We have family near Burbank and friends in Studio City. People have suggested Santa Monica, Westwood, Brentwood, and Laurel Canyon, but we know very little ourselves about these areas. We would need daycare for our toddler but we don't have to worry about public schools for a while. We like the walkability and bohemian atmosphere of Ann Arbor, which is why Santa Monica was suggested for us. Our priorities are:

1. safe and walkable neighborhood, preferably scenic and not non-descript tract homes - we get most of our exercise now from walking and biking

2. ~$2000/month 2br house/apartment/condo/etc. - we don't mind and even prefer older, pre-WWII homes and we don't need tons of space, but 1000+ sq. ft. would be nice. We could stretch this closer to $3000 but prefer not to.

3. Commute to UCLA - I presume this is why Westwood would be nice. Do people living in Westwood bike or walk to UCLA for work? Is that crazy talk in LA?

4. Visit friends in Studio City on a regular basis and relatives in Burbank at least once or twice per month.

5. Proximity to Trader Joe's and Costco, but I heard LA has this covered quite well.

Any comments would be much appreciated.

TIA!
CC
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Old 05-09-2008, 08:39 AM
 
Location: Hot Springs, AR
5,612 posts, read 13,804,003 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowcat View Post

1. safe and walkable neighborhood, preferably scenic and not non-descript tract homes - we get most of our exercise now from walking and biking

2. ~$2000/month 2br house/apartment/condo/etc. - we don't mind and even prefer older, pre-WWII homes and we don't need tons of space, but 1000+ sq. ft. would be nice. We could stretch this closer to $3000 but prefer not to.

3. Commute to UCLA

I agree with whomever suggested Santa Monica, they were covering all three of these for you.

I presume this is why Westwood would be nice. Do people living in Westwood bike or walk to UCLA for work? Only the students who go to UCLA and live in the Westwood Village or on campus
Is that crazy talk in LA? YES.

4. Visit friends in Studio City on a regular basis and relatives in Burbank at least once or twice per month. This is comfortably doable from the Westside or even Larchmont Village.

5. Proximity to Trader Joe's and Costco, but I heard LA has this covered quite well. Yes it does.



Any comments would be much appreciated.

TIA!
CC
I'm thinking that maybe you might like the Los Feliz area or Larchmont Village. (near Hancock Park bet 3rd and Melrose off of Rossmore). Your friends who live here should be able to tell you about it. They fit your criteria pretty well, just not near the beach. Good Luck.
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Old 05-09-2008, 09:54 AM
 
Location: South Bay
7,141 posts, read 19,535,235 times
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Your commute from the place mentioned by CESpeed would be pretty terrible during normal commuting hours.

As for living in Westwood, lots of people walk and ride bikes. Most are students, but not all. Westwood would probably be a great location for you to live, but do your research and make sure you don't end up in a building filled with students.

Another good thing about UCLA is that it has atleast 10 bus lines that run directly to the campus. You can live just about anywhere on the westside of LA and have easy bus access. Some people here are highly against this, but the Big Blue Bus is very clean and efficient and only costs $0.75 to ride. I was a bus rider for a while, and its not as bad (especially on the big blue bus) as people make it out to be, especially now that gas is at $4/gallon.

Anyways, if you choose to live outside of westwood, i would look west of the campus especially in eastern santa monica and mar vista. most traffic comes from the east in the mornings so your commute wouldn't be too bad heading towards the campus from the coast. you could probalby find something in your price range in those areas. seeing that you also have kids, i would probably go with santa monica over any LA neighborhood since the schools in SM are rated much higher than those in LA.

and finally, no, nobody is going to think your crazy for walking. if there is anyone out there who thinks this, they are the ones that are crazy. biking and walking are becoming much more popular now that gas prices are so high. we're certainly not like manhattan here, but you shouldn't have any issues.
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Old 05-09-2008, 10:02 AM
 
45 posts, read 258,736 times
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Larchmont Village looks like a great candidate from what I can gather on Google Maps streetview! I will add it to our list along with Los Feliz. I've noticed that there is a bus system called Big Blue Bus. Do people regularly use this system to commute to work at UCLA? Is it practical? Many thanks!

Last edited by cowcat; 05-09-2008 at 10:04 AM.. Reason: Never mind, BRinSM just answered this post!
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Old 05-09-2008, 10:11 AM
 
45 posts, read 258,736 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BRinSM View Post
Your commute from the place mentioned by CESpeed would be pretty terrible during normal commuting hours.

As for living in Westwood, lots of people walk and ride bikes. Most are students, but not all. Westwood would probably be a great location for you to live, but do your research and make sure you don't end up in a building filled with students.

Another good thing about UCLA is that it has atleast 10 bus lines that run directly to the campus. You can live just about anywhere on the westside of LA and have easy bus access. Some people here are highly against this, but the Big Blue Bus is very clean and efficient and only costs $0.75 to ride. I was a bus rider for a while, and its not as bad (especially on the big blue bus) as people make it out to be, especially now that gas is at $4/gallon.

Anyways, if you choose to live outside of westwood, i would look west of the campus especially in eastern santa monica and mar vista. most traffic comes from the east in the mornings so your commute wouldn't be too bad heading towards the campus from the coast. you could probalby find something in your price range in those areas. seeing that you also have kids, i would probably go with santa monica over any LA neighborhood since the schools in SM are rated much higher than those in LA.

and finally, no, nobody is going to think your crazy for walking. if there is anyone out there who thinks this, they are the ones that are crazy. biking and walking are becoming much more popular now that gas prices are so high. we're certainly not like manhattan here, but you shouldn't have any issues.
Why is bus riding considered undesirable? Is it slow? Packed? Dirty? Smelly? If it's just your "normal" negatives that you find in most big city transit systems we're used to it from NY and SF. What you said about the commute makes sense - we will concentrate around Westwood, the Westside, and Santa Monica.

What is the best way to look for a place to rent? Craigslist? Some UCLA listserv? We are looking to start a lease around Sept 1, but this is flexible. It seems a bit early for listings with leases starting at that time. Optimally, we would like to do some research over the internet and spend a week out there this summer looking at these and additional places we find while there. Would it be better to go out there in May, June, July, or August?

Many thanks!
CC
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Old 05-09-2008, 11:25 AM
 
Location: SoCal
14,527 posts, read 16,129,514 times
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Have a look at Santa Monica. Or maybe Venice which is a bit more on the wild side. Or even consider living over the hill in any of the nearby communities in the Valley. I commuted my four years at UCLA from Van Nuys. Go Bruins!

Maybe even Studio City near your friend. You'll find traffic in your commute anyway but if you don't get too far into the Valley it shouldn't be too bad, maybe 30-45 minutes each way. I used to pick my classes so that I'd have three days with classes fairly late in the morning, and two days with classes ending fairly early in the afternoon, or vice versa. That way half of my driving would be off peak hours.

Have a look at Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, maybe Encino, Tarzana, or possibly one of the nicer parts of Van Nuys. I think your $2K-$3K could find you a reasonable place. Try Van Nuys west of the 405 Freeway (Victory Blvd. to Roscoe Blvd., out to White Oak on the west, or even into Reseda.). That's all about 1950 construction 2-3 BR homes in a nice, quiet safe, neighborhood. I myself live nearby that area. By the way, you'll just *LOVE* Lake Balboa in nearby Anthony C. Beilenson Park. It's an artificial lake with lawns, trees, picnic areas and bike paths. If you move to the area I linked above you'll be within easy bicycle range, or maybe even within walking range. It's a perfect place to walk, bike or just pass a lazy afternoon watching the pedal boats, picnickers, joggers and bike riders.
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Old 05-09-2008, 12:34 PM
 
Location: South Bay
7,141 posts, read 19,535,235 times
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also try Apartment Rentals in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego for rental listings. it does cost $60 but it is a comprehensive site with listings all over the city.
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Old 05-09-2008, 07:57 PM
 
45 posts, read 258,736 times
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Thanks for the tips on the Valley and the link. We're thinking now about making two trips this summer - one in the next month to get a feel for some of these areas and an official apartment hunting trip in August. We figure the extra investment will be worth it if it helps insure that we'll be in an area where we'll be happy.
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Old 05-10-2008, 09:22 AM
 
Location: SoCal
14,527 posts, read 16,129,514 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowcat View Post
Thanks for the tips on the Valley and the link. We're thinking now about making two trips this summer - one in the next month to get a feel for some of these areas and an official apartment hunting trip in August. We figure the extra investment will be worth it if it helps insure that we'll be in an area where we'll be happy.
If you're considering the Valley be sure to visit Lake Balboa there just south of Victory Blvd. between Balboa and Woodley. If you're considering Van Nuys in the area I pointed out, a visit to the lake should convince you.

One thing though, I warn you that you will have a moderately serious commute to UCLA. I doubt you could make it either way rush hour in less than 45 minutes. On occasion it could take an hour, one way. Traffic starts building as early as 5 a.m. and is grand mal by 7 a.m. Be prepared for it before you choose to locate in the Valley. I don't see any negatives other than that. The Valley is very affordable in L.A. terms, and comfortable too.

Oh and proximity to TJ's or Costco will thrill you since there are several of each to choose from in the Valley.
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Old 05-14-2008, 07:02 PM
 
45 posts, read 258,736 times
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Okay, we've decided to accept the UCLA offer. We head out there for several days in June to visit and scope out some neighborhoods.

We are going to concentrate on neighborhoods in Santa Monica and in Westwood. Are there any particular neighborhoods to focus on? Maybe a better way to phrase that is, are there particular neighborhoods we should absolutely avoid?

Using our TJ's proximity method of house hunting, we noticed that there is a TJ's on Pico Blvd and one coming soon on Glendon Ave just south of UCLA. Are these two areas what you would call nice, walkable, family-friendly neighborhoods?

TIA,
CC
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