Where in CA should my mom move?
March 3, 2010 12:12 PM   Subscribe

Where in CA should my mom move? I live in Los Angeles, but have been here less than a year and in a PhD school bubble at that, so I really don't know much about the rest of the state. Here's what she's look for:

-beach, beauty, nature
-cool, older, hippy crowd to meet and things to do with them
-reasonable prices. she'll probably rent, and it would be great if she could get a safe, nice, clean studio or one bedroom near beach/nature/beauty and things-to-do for less than $1000/month. If she could pay ALL her bills for less than $1000, that would be even better.
-southernish california, two hours or so in any direction from LA would be fine.
-ability to find work pt work, not too hard as she is a nurse. She's semi-retired, but would probably need to work a few hours a week.

Here are some places she's considering:
-Long Beach
-Huntington Beach
-Fullerton
-Is there anywhere closer to San Diego that fits the bill? Encintas? Or is everything too expensive down there?

Any thoughts on neighborhoods or tips on other resources would be appreciated!
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posted by lalalana to Travel & Transportation around California (29 answers total)
 
-reasonable prices.

Nobody looking for reasonable prices should consider moving to California. I'm not kidding. The prices she's looking for with the requirements she's got re: beach/nature/beauty do not exist in California unless she goes to really out of the way places on the central coast or something like that. Look in places like northern Santa Barbara County and north of there. Oxnard, maybe, too.
posted by The World Famous at 12:18 PM on March 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would suggest Manhattan Beach or Hermosa Beach as well as Santa Monica. She should be able to get something nice two or three blocks off the beach and maybe even an over-garage apartment on the strand. There are several large hospitals and surrounding medical buildings in Torrance, an easy ten minute commute from Manhattan or Hermosa.
posted by Old Geezer at 12:22 PM on March 3, 2010


I did see posted rents around $1000 recently in Long Beach, actually, but I wouldn't call the beach there exactly "nature/beauty". You might have a chance finding something a little bit janky outside of Santa Barbara, maybe in Goleta or Carpenteria, pretty far (but within easy driving distance) of the beach?
posted by Valet at 12:27 PM on March 3, 2010


The prices she's looking for with the requirements she's got re: beach/nature/beauty do not exist in California unless she goes to really out of the way places on the central coast or something like that.

Really? I'm not the world's biggest expert on CA but this sounds exactly like Santa Cruz to me. Too far from LA for the OP's mom, though, unless she's flexible on that point.
posted by Ashley801 at 12:31 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


$1000.00 a month will get her a studio/one bedroom in Long Beach, a couple of blocks from the beach, either close to Downtown/Broadway, or east in Belmont Shore and anywhere in between.
posted by notyou at 12:31 PM on March 3, 2010


I was going to recommend Manhattan/Hermosa/Redondo Beach as well. They're very nice and safe areas, with a lot going on. I just moved out of Redondo after living there for a year (due to our office changing locations), and I absolutely loved it there. However, the prices you're looking for are things of fantasy... I rented a studio for $1250 a few blocks from the beach, and while I visited several places before deciding (many of them bigger), I wasn't willing to be on a noisy street and in a dingy apartment building. Anything decent below $1000 is wishful thinking.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 12:32 PM on March 3, 2010


Really? I'm not the world's biggest expert on CA but this sounds exactly like Santa Cruz to me. Too far from LA for the OP's mom, though, unless she's flexible on that point.

Santa Cruz is a really out of the way place on the central coast. It is very cool, though.
posted by The World Famous at 12:33 PM on March 3, 2010


And like Valet says, our beach is not exactly pristine, but it's a beach and it comes with coastal weather and strollable shoreline and cute marinas.

Just don't swim in it.
posted by notyou at 12:35 PM on March 3, 2010


Parts of Goleta are right next to the beach, and you can find an OK studio for around $950 in the Ellwood neighborhood (Craigslist examples), a few minutes of walking away from a lovely nature preserve and swimmable beach. It's a pretty safe area by my standards. But most of the residents are young people, and you have to ride the bus or drive downtown (20 minutes) to get to interesting things to do.
posted by dreamyshade at 12:37 PM on March 3, 2010


Great suggestions! I think she is willing to be flexible on the distance thing, so Santa Cruz is definitely an option.

re: rent, I've actually seen a lot of listings for under $1000 in a lot the places listed. I feel like rent has recently gone down, even in LA. My one bedroom is $950 and it used to go for $1100 just last year, FWIW... I think she's willing to look and look and look for the right place to come along, too.
posted by lalalana at 12:40 PM on March 3, 2010


Santa Cruz is super far out of the poster's stated geographical range. Also, as a university town and a bedroom community for Silicon Valley, rents in Santa Cruz are kinda insane.
posted by mollymayhem at 12:40 PM on March 3, 2010


Also, we lived on a houseboat for years when I was a kid, so places with live-aboard marinas are also good...
posted by lalalana at 12:46 PM on March 3, 2010


I know people who live or have lived on boats in the harbors in Ventura, Oxnard, and Marina Del Rey and it has worked out pretty well for them.

I really wouldn't rule out Oxnard and Ventura, either. They are not far from LA and are both cheaper and much prettier and have better beaches than Orange County.
posted by The World Famous at 12:49 PM on March 3, 2010


Check out Oxnard/Ventura. Channel Islands Harbor / Ventura Harbor areas.
posted by dontoine at 12:51 PM on March 3, 2010


$1000/month is totally do-able in San Diego county if she's willing to settle for a studio apartment. Look for places in beach areas like Cardiff, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Point Loma, Ocean Beach (lots of older hippie folks), Del Mar, La Jolla. Stay away from places in Mission Beach and Pacific Beach (loud, lots of young party kids), and OCeanside (Marines/Armed Forces area).

Aside from the beach, though, San Diego isn't terribly beautiful near residential areas. We do have loads of state and national parks within short driving distance, though. And of course, LOADS of places for a nurse to find work.
posted by booknerd at 12:55 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


In my experience, San Diego prices are lower than LA and Orange Counties.

I live in Orange County and can tell you that Fullerton is not super close to the beach, is somewhat expensive, and definitely not surrounded by nature. Huntington Beach would fit the bill better, but I'd say San Diego County might be closer in line to what she is looking for.
posted by too bad you're not me at 12:55 PM on March 3, 2010


Or, what booknerd said.
posted by too bad you're not me at 12:55 PM on March 3, 2010


In Orange County, parts of Costa Mesa would work, and Huntington Beach may or may not. Laguna Beach would be ideal but is insanely expensive. Fullerton, while not surrounded by nature, is loaded with nature trails; I'd say there's a good 20 miles of trails for horses, hikers and mountain bikers, and shouldn't be too expensive to rent a one-bedroom or studio apartment.

I'd also check out some of the San Diego County beach cities, especially Solana Beach and Encinitas, which would be just about perfect for your mom. Some parts are pretty expensive (like Del Mar), but Encinitas would be reasonable.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:03 PM on March 3, 2010


I'm going to 3rd Ventura/Oxnard. The beaches are better, I love the communities and it seems like a more "small town" feel to it than anywhere in OC or even anywhere I've visited in San Diego. Also, Santa Barbara is only 1 1/2 hour from L.A. and Goleta is nice in most places.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:22 PM on March 3, 2010


I grew up in Oxnard/Ventura, and while it's sort of an area you want to get away from when you're in your twenties, it's a nice area for people your mother's age (especially Ventura). Ventura is gorgeous, new agey but not overpoweringly so, walkable, outdoorsy, and reasonably affordable. Oxnard is... less exciting. The beaches are nice, but other than that, it's flat, suburban/farm sprawl, with a big-box chain stores taking the place of a rundown, ill-planned downtown. Good strawberries, though.

I live in San Diego now, and I'm a little less optimistic than other posters about her finding something affordable in a non-Pacific Beach, non-sketchy beach area.
posted by changeling at 1:31 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


my parents still live in Oxnard, btw.
posted by changeling at 1:32 PM on March 3, 2010


I grew up in Hermosa, and go down there quite often to see my family.

I would think that North Redondo might have some places for that price, but it is a few miles from the ocean and not as "nice."

Unless you are fantastically lucky, you will not get anything West of Sepulveda for that price.
posted by Danf at 1:33 PM on March 3, 2010


I love a good discussion of L.A. rents. It's always fascinating how divorced from reality it gets, and how many people seem to have convinced themselves that it's like Manhattan.

I would recommend against the South Bay (Manhattan/Redondo), because it's the exact opposite of a "hippie" vibe. You can find something under $1000 (rent) in Santa Monica if you get lucky- the city does have rent control. I would actually recommend the Venice/Playa del Rey/Palms area though. It may have to be a long walk to the beach, but she will get the hippie vibe much better there than anywhere else in L.A. county. And it's convenient to various hospitals in Santa Monica and at UCLA.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:52 PM on March 3, 2010


As an example, I knew a guy who rented a TWO BEDROOM in Santa Monica for under $1000. It was rent-controlled and a mile or two from the beach, but still.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:53 PM on March 3, 2010


Santa Barbara County! It has nature, beaches, great restaurants, the best weather, and screams "cool, older, hippy crowd." You can definitely find a studio for $1000/month most anywhere in SB County - the only place I would tell her to avoid is Isla Vista.
posted by kookaburra at 3:05 PM on March 3, 2010


Really? I'm not the world's biggest expert on CA but this sounds exactly like Santa Cruz to me.

No it's totally Santa Cruz, except the reasonable rent thing. Rent in SC is expensive. You'd be hard pressed to find something for $1000.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:58 PM on March 3, 2010


Oxnard / Ventura / Camarillo
posted by cwarmy at 7:43 PM on March 3, 2010


Booknerd has it with Ocean Beach in San Diego. I grew up right near there and it's an awesome little neighborhood. Very local vibe, few tourists, great beach and culture.

You want her to live somewhere you'll like to visit, right?
posted by Aizkolari at 8:50 PM on March 3, 2010


I've lived in San Diego, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties, and played in Riverside and Orange County. If you know Weyburn, I lived there up until September. I now live in San Diego again.

San Diego: booknerd is a little too quick to dismiss Oceanside (apartments there are cheaper than Encinitas/Solana Beach and much cheaper than Del Mar/La Jolla) although your mom would want to be careful about being too close to Camp Pendleton. You can look at Oceanside Pier for the houseboat/marina type of thing. It's also right on the 5 so it's easy to get to LA, and further north than any of the other San Diego suggestions listed (Ocean Beach? That's a heckuva drive from LA and it's pretty rare that you'd make it under two hours). She could also get lucky in the Carlsbad/La Costa/Cardiff/Leucadia area, a little further south than Oceanside and variably funky (Carlsbad is rather strait-laced and probably too expensive for her, but Leucadia/Encinitas has potential if you guys are willing to pounce quickly on a good deal). booknerd is correct that most of San Diego is too inland for your mom's interests (though it can be very quick to get to the beach and rents are much cheaper, the vibe is all wrong).

Orange County: I'm less familiar, but there are parts of it that are less ritzy than others. Personally, I'm not a fan (I think most of OC is too plastic and not enough funky). I know people who rent in San Clemente for fairly cheaply and that's an area you could look at for sure. You could also try Laguna Niguel/Laguna Beach and that area, but I'm guessing it's out of your mom's price range and it's way too close to South Coast Plaza for my tastes.

Los Angeles: you could try Long Beach (the rent is definitely lower there, but there are some bad neighborhoods there that you want to watch out for). I agree with drjimmy11 about the South Bay (Manhattan/Redondo/Hermosa Beach) as being a little too much plastic rich people (much like the coastal parts of OC). Santa Monica is awesome and fun, as is Venice (watch out for dodgy areas in Venice) with again the caveat that rents go significantly up (you CAN get an apartment in these areas at the price your mother's thinking of, but it's not easy and she could be looking at roommates, granny flats, rooms, that kind of thing). Could she sacrifice a bit and look at Culver City area? It's not right on the beach and it's a little more of a suburban vibe, but there are neighborhoods (Mar Vista, Cheviot Hills) worth taking a look at in her price range (well, ok, maybe a little north of her price range).

Ventura: I know the least about Ventura. I have heard good things about Oxnard for about a decade now, though. I'm familiar with Ventura as the place where the people who work at UC Santa Barbara but who are too poor to live in Santa Barbara live.

Santa Barbara: again, starting to stretch the time limit here (not to mention the prices). Goleta is somewhat plastic, Isla Vista is way too full of UC Santa Barbara undergrads (and so, ugh), Carpinteria was mentioned to me as being expensive, and there's not much else up there. I'm thinking it's probably too expensive and too far for your mother, though it sure is nice.

My advice would be scour West LA, then look up to Ventura, followed by down into San Diego. You're really, really going to have spend some time on it at that price range. A lot of people want to live in SoCal hippie funky beach towns, and more and more of these people have money.
posted by librarylis at 10:43 PM on March 3, 2010


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