There's a freeway running through the yard
May 23, 2012 11:47 AM Subscribe
I could use a reality check, before we get any deeper into planning. Can we buy a house/condo in a livable neighborhood in Los Angeles for $400K or under? Is this doable or do I need to remove my rose-colored glasses? And if it is doable, which neighborhoods should we be looking at?
posted by agentmitten to Work & Money (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The babes are growing fast, and 3 years from now, will both be done with HS, thus freeing us to move away from Michigan (shared custody has kept us here). 3 years seems like both an eternity and a blink of an eye - but we're beginning to lay the groundwork and planning.
We live in Ann Arbor, so a move to the west coast will be somewhat less of a sticker shock from here than from some other parts of Michigan, but I'm worried about whether a $400K purchase price is going to get us into a neighborhood we'll like. I've been looking at Trulia, etc. and there are definitely houses/condos that fall under $400K listing price-wise, but it's hard to tell what the neighborhoods are like from those kinds of sites.
We're not looking for swanky or fancy, we're totally okay with the idea of it being a modest or even "transitional" neighborhood. Would like it to be a real neighborhood, though, with a little bit of retail/services included in the area - don't want a must-have-car-for-every-single-errand affair. We're actually looking forward to living in a real city, so an urban feel is fine - even desirable.
We've visited Los Angeles (stayed in Pasadena and generally liked it) with a mind to moving; we're planning another exploratory trip in the fall. We're also considering Seattle, but my husband's field of work seems to favor Los Angeles, which I actually like very much (weird for a Great Lakes girl, I know).
* He's a filmmaker (and British, been here almost 10 years)
* I'm a web designer (lived in MI & IL almost all my life)
* Both work freelance, from home
* Late 40's (not kids anymore, but we certainly ain't dead yet, either)
About what we want:
* Can afford up to $400k (maybe a bit less if it's a condo with fees)
* 2 bedrooms must, 3 would be better
* Don't need "good schools"
* We both like the idea of more urban, more dense, more cosmopolitan
* We understand that there will be more crime in a more urban area, but don't want someplace so rough that we'd be afraid to walk around in our own neighborhood. (We do know how to comport ourselves in a city and are not overly skittish; he lived in London, I lived in Wash DC & Chicago previously.)
* Things that would be nice to have nearby (less than 15 min walk): train/subway stop, major/frequent bus route, grocery (just milk/bread/eggs/beer is fine), bar, restaurant or two, coffee shop, library
* Liberal, creative, even artsy-fartsy neighbors would be nice
* Would like to live with just one car
* He's also a member of the camera operator's union and it would be good to be near-ish to where the bulk of that sort of work happens (wherever that is)
* I'm assuming we will rent for a little bit before buying
Can we get all that for $400K in LA or do we need to be able to go higher than that? And if we can do it, what neighborhoods would you recommend we look at? Or should we bail on LA and look at Seattle instead?