So many great places, so little time, need help sorting through the endless possibilities!
March 9, 2009 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Moving to LA from NYC, need help picking a neighborhood with easy commute to LAX.

I'll preface this by saying that I've looked through the archives and they've been helpful, but I can't find anything that is exactly on point.

I'm originally from California but I don't actually know LA that well and am having trouble figuring out where I want to live. I'm going to be working very close to LAX and I want to have a short commute, taking into account that I will most likely be driving there during prime commuting/traffic hours.

I have a short 10 day period to find a place and I am absolutely overwhelmed by the variety of options available to me on craigslist. While it's absolutely amazing what I can get in my price range in LA compared to NYC (Omg I might have a pool! and to think I was thrilled at the prospect of having a dishwasher!)

So here is my criteria:

Short commute (under 30 minutes) to LAX with traffic taken into account

Closer to Westwood as I have a friend there, but definitely not a requirement.

I'm 26 so I still like to go out on the weekends and I'm concerned about having to drive everywhere. I refuse to drink and drive so somewhere near some sort of nightlife or a vaguely reasonable cab ride away would be perfect. I know a lot of people go out in Santa Monica, but honestly that's where my knowledge of hot spots in west LA begins and ends.

I would like to live somewhere safe and with something cool about the area, whether that is fun cafes/shops, the beach, etc basically something interesting that will make walking around the neighborhood enjoyable on the weekends. I'm used to living in a place where everything I want is within walking distance and I'd like to find something similar if at all possible.

Bonus questions, any recommendations for house and car movers would be appreciated!
posted by whoaali to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo Beaches are just south of LAX and are awesome beach cities (albeit they can be expensive), although not closer to Westwood. You could commute to work on streets and not contend with 405 traffic.
posted by Asherah at 2:43 PM on March 9, 2009

It sounds like you maybe want the Play del Rey/Marina/Palms area, or maybe even Venice.

All of those are close to the airport, and have decent access to nightlife, depending on what you consider "hot spots." (for me, nothing at all on the westside, but ymmv).

Venice is pricier in the good parts, but offers way more in terms of stores and activities. You can probably find something cheaper there on the backstreets if you're willing to compromise a bit on "safe."
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:45 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: drjimmy11 could you elaborate on what the safe parts of Venice are? The neighborhoods in LA are so big it's hard to know what part of the neighborhoods I should be aiming for.
posted by whoaali at 2:48 PM on March 9, 2009

I'm used to living in a place where everything I want is within walking distance and I'd like to find something similar if at all possible.

Well, with the caveat that very few neighborhoods in L.A. meet this criteria, I would say that Culver City, Venice, or Santa Monica might be your best bets in terms of combining closeness to LAX with cool things to do in the vicinity.
posted by scody at 2:48 PM on March 9, 2009

Ummm, Venice is confusing. The best i can offer is kind of general guidelines coupled with, "you'll know when you see it."

Abbott Kinney Blvd. was once a major gang hangout. However today it's a ritzy shopping district- my friend owns a really cool stationery store there, and movie stars live on the side streets around there and down by the canals. On the other hand, two people were shot at last year's Abbot Kinney Festival.

Generally, I'd say anything from Abbott Kinney west to the beach is fairly safe, if "funky." Down by the boardwalk is definitely interesting, but as far as I know it's more nusicance stuff like loud people are drug use than violent rrime.

Another friend of mine used to live further east, nearer Lincoln, and seeing drug dealers on her street was a given. On the other hand, she was a petite woman and she never had any trouble living there.

From what I hear, Venice is night and day from the gang days of 10 or 20 years ago. However, isolated pockets remain. I can't name all the bad streets or areas, but you'll know them when you see them I think.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:56 PM on March 9, 2009

I work in El Segundo, and the Green Line has made my rush hour commute much more predictable.
posted by Space Kitty at 2:56 PM on March 9, 2009

wow. bad typos.

nuisance stuff like loud people and drug use than violent crime.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:57 PM on March 9, 2009

Best answer: There are a ton of areas that meet your requirements. Santa Monica, Playa/Marina del Ray, Venice near Main St. or Abbott Kinney, and the booming "arts" district of Culver City are all options. Westwood itself works if you don't mind being around the college kids.

Pro tip: You can even look further eastward to Mid-Wilshire, Beverly Hills, Fairfax district, and parts of WeHo. Heading south from most of west LA down on La Cienega, the street turns into a 60 mph highway straight down to LAX. I find that nobody I know has figured this out and taken advantage of it. It's a pretty decent way to avoid the 405 and opens up a lot more of west LA as options.
posted by drpynchon at 3:09 PM on March 9, 2009

Response by poster: I hadn't really considered Culver City, I guess just because it doesn't sound very nice even though I have no basis for that assumption whatsoever, so I'll have to check it out. Thanks for all the suggestions and keep them coming!
posted by whoaali at 3:23 PM on March 9, 2009

Note that LAX airplane noise will make life in Playa del Rey irritating.

Redondo Beach is too far away, and el Segundo is too conservative and corporate.

My years spent in Hermosa were golden -- it's more funky than Manhattan beach, which is a little too yuppified for my taste. I'd ride through it when commuting to my el Segundo job by bicycle, along the Strand bike path.

These are all South Bay communities, an area which doesn't exist to those who live north of the Marina del Rey boat channel.
posted by Rash at 3:25 PM on March 9, 2009

Heading south from most of west LA down on La Cienega, the street turns into a 60 mph highway straight down to LAX. I find that nobody I know has figured this out and taken advantage of it. It's a pretty decent way to avoid the 405 and opens up a lot more of west LA as options.

Shhh! You'll blow the super-secret surface route to the airport!

Actually, because of the aforementioned super-secret route, it's true that parts of Fairfax district can be LAX-accessible in under 30 mins. The problem is that it can be unpredictable (especially if there's something crazy going on with the 10 or the 405, causing people to get off the highways and onto surface streets to look for alternate routes) -- there have definitley been times I've gotten from Fairfax/Miracle Mile to LAX in rush hour in 25 mins., but other times when it took nearly twice that at the exact same time.
posted by scody at 3:40 PM on March 9, 2009

(which is not to say that drpynchon's point about being able to go a little further afield doesn't hold true -- because living somewhere with access to that part of La Cienega does indeed open up some other options, as he points out.)
posted by scody at 3:44 PM on March 9, 2009

Definitely don't blow off Culver City. It's really on the rise. As a foodie I find myself headed there more and more. Basically all within walking distance are: Fraiche, Beacon, Father's Office, Tender Greens, K-Zo, Akasha, Rush St., S&W, Tender Greens, Ford's Filling Station, and a bunch of other decent wine bars and restaurants including a decent enclave of Brazilian, Mexican. and Cuban food nearby. In short, there are plenty of decent (if albeit somewhat yuppified) places to go out at night and have a drink or bite.

Shhh! You'll blow the super-secret surface route to the airport!

I hesitated to even mention the super-secret route, and at this point I half-regret it... Sincere apologies.
posted by drpynchon at 3:46 PM on March 9, 2009

I live in 90035, Beverly Hills Adjacent or Little Israel and there are some great places to walk to for groceries and little neighborhood restaurants and the sooper seekrit La Cienega route...Fairfax District isn't far, Miracle Mile isn't far, but believe it or not just getting past Wilshire and Olympic will be enough of a pain that it's not worth it. My sister lives in Mar Vista (90066) which is also a little neighborhood with funky places and a nice surface route to LAX (bro in law works down there) Westwood is nice but $$$ because the landlords like to rip off the parents sending their spawn to UCLA but it is walkable. Culver City is nice nowadays (tho I find Fords Filling Station to be uneven unless you are just getting apps and charcuterie) but there are TONS of walkable places in Culver City.

I can't suggest any house movers from NYC but take a look at for reviews.
posted by legotech at 3:57 PM on March 9, 2009

Best answer: Not driving in LA is really tough. I'll second the suggestions to look in Santa Monica, Venice and the Marina. I put those three in order of preference, personally. The Marina doesn't really have anywhere you might want to walk to (except nearby restaurants), unlike Santa Monica. Culver City does have some great areas and some crappy areas, but I don't know the borders enough to be able to describe them to you. Areas of West LA are also good - generally the more west, the better, but this is not a hard and fast rule.

Santa Monica is great, and if you're looking for an apartment you can get something decent around say 4th and wilshire, which is a safe area, close to the beach, shopping and nightlife (what there is in SM). For real nightlife, you need to move somewhere like West Hollywood, but I think that fails your commute requirements. The general rule for Santa Monica is that the further north you go, the more expensive it is.

Playa Del Rey is cute and funky, but you would have to be tolerant of the airport noise. The beach there is huge and often very quiet, because 747s fly overhead at about 200ft in the air :) The town itself though, is nice. Playa Vista is a new development just in between Playa Del Rey and Marina Del Rey, there are plenty of apartment rentals there, but I'm not sure what there is to walk to. I personally thinks its got that new development soullessness to it, but maybe I'm a snob.

Also, Rash is correct - I have no clue about the south bay, because I live north of LAX, and somehow never end up going to Hermosa/Manhattan beaches. I'm not sure how this north/south divide happens, but it does.
posted by Joh at 4:03 PM on March 9, 2009

I don't know if this is still the case, but when I rented in LA refrigetrators were not a given.
posted by brujita at 8:12 PM on March 9, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for everyone's advice it's really helpful! The fly over factor in Playa Del Rey is not something I would have thought about at all and probably wouldn't have noticed in a ten minute visit, so that's really helpful! Any place I take there will have to have good insulation.

Manhattan and Hermosa Beaches look great and affordable, I'm just a little worried I'll be isolated down there. Very reasonable rents down there though for being so close to the beach, it's definitely tempting.

Marina Del Rey is sounding pretty, but kind of boring, so I think I'm going to avoid it.
posted by whoaali at 11:35 PM on March 9, 2009

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