Moving to LA
April 18, 2010 11:50 PM   Subscribe

Yet another moving-to-LA thread! Personalised, though.

I will be moving to LA for college in september.
Going to UCLA, so ill probably want to live in westwood.
I will not have a car (as parking on campus is disgraciously expensive) so i dont want to live too far from the uni.
What do you think of commuting by bus? Or would that be too much of an annoyance?
Is there a website or a resource for LA where i can find out little tidbits of information, say "which bus can take me to the sunset strip?" or states little wisdoms about La that would be useful to know? Feel free to use this thread for that purpose too.

Really, will i survive without a car?
posted by freddymetz to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I had a long answer, which involved Big Blue Bus and the way its routes pretty much all hit UCLA at some point, and how you need the Metro trip planner... but my browser shit its pants. For now, Google "Big Blue Bus" and "Metro trip planner" and all will be made somewhat more clear.

I do not drive, although I have access to a car and a willing spouse with a license, and I think I'd get by OK in Westwood or Santa Monica even if Mr. F wasn't so nice. Westwood is very walkable and has a lot of public transit/ UCLA transit. I live in Santa Monica and take the Big Blue Bus up to UCLA for doc appointments all the time, and down into Venice for work and dining.

Miss Lynnster's Hidden LA website is a must, too.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:00 AM on April 19, 2010 has a bus trip planner. Google maps also had transit data for the Los Angeles area.

The 2 bus goes down Sunset and runs right past the UCLA campus.

Whatever money you save by not paying for parking is going to go to paying for living in Westwood. On the other hand Westwood is probably one of the easier places in Los Angeles for the carless. If you're a UCLA student trips on Big Blue, the Santa Monica bus systsem, and metro, the Los Angeles bus system, are subsidized. Big Blue will cost you a quarter and UCLA will pay a sizable chunk of the cost of a three month Metro pass. As a bonus about once a year the UCLA transportation department will send you a gift card of some sort. Bicycle commuters can arrange for lockers and access to showers on campus.

Los Angeles is a huge city. Any non-local bus trip is going to take you more time than driving. On the other hand you don't have to worry about driving so if you can organize your time riding the bus can be enjoyable. I know most angelenos won't believe that but it's true. West Los Angeles can be a frozen traffic hell so letting someone else deal with navigating it is a definite win.
posted by rdr at 12:23 AM on April 19, 2010

I got my M.S. from UCLA a couple years ago and still live in Westwood. It's totally walkable for almost everything. Fire up this map and I'll give you a little tour...

There are three big clusters of apartment buildings that you'll probably be looking at. The first is up on the hill immediately to the west of the Medical Center, between Gayley and Veteran. The second is south of Wilshire roughly between Westwood Blvd. and Sepulveda. The third is pretty much everything west of the freeway (which makes it outside of "Westwood", incidentally). The whole general area is expensive; many (probably most) students share bedrooms.

Area #1 is a mix of fancy-ass large buildings and cheaper small ones, and also has a whole lot of frat houses. The biggest downside there is the terrible parking situation, so this could be a relatively good deal for you. Walking to campus would be easy.

Area #2 is all fancy-ass large buildings; this is the most expensive of the three, although there are still a few normal, non-ultra-luxurious buildings. Getting to campus is still very easy--there's a shuttle bus that leaves from the corner of Ashton and Midvale.

Area #3 is mostly cheaper, with larger apartments. North of Wilshire starts to get expensive again, but from Wilshire south to about Olympic is relatively reasonable. You'd be grabbing a city bus somewhere along Wilshire or Santa Monica. The buses are pretty reliable, but they have to deal with traffic, so it can take anywhere from 20-60 minutes to get to campus, depending.

Food, household supplies, etc. can be found in Westwood Village (which is the little shopping district directly south of campus) or along the major streets: Westwood Blvd., Santa Monica, Wilshire. If you like food of many different ethnicities then you will be very happy. (This applies to all of West LA, not just Westwood.) If you prefer McDonalds and Taco Bell, you'll still be happy, but area #3 may be better than the others. You can walk to anything you'd need from any of the three areas, with one major exception: groceries.

There's a Ralphs supermarket in the village at Le Conte and Hilgard, and that's the only one anywhere near areas #1 and #2. From #2 you can take the UCLA shuttle there, but from #1 you'd have a bit of a walk. There are more supermarkets in area #3, but not necessarily within walking distance, so you might have to ride the crowded city bus. Cheap student food like ramen and soup and pasta can be found more easily, though--you can walk to a convenience store or drugstore from pretty much anywhere.

For entertainment you'll be doing a lot more bus riding. Westwood has many movie theaters but not a lot of bars, etc.--for that you'll have to head west on Santa Monica or Wilshire. Museums, LA landmarks, etc. will also require bus trips. Again, the buses are reliable but the trips can be long.

So, yes, you can definitely survive in Westwood without a car, although ideally you'd be able to tag along with a car-owning roommate for grocery store trips. Other parts of LA are fine, too--there are plenty of walkable areas. (Just expect a long commute to campus.) Walking in LA is not nearly as bad as legend would have it.

A bicycle could also be useful for commuting. Might even be faster than the buses. Gotta be very careful around the crazy drivers, though.

Jeez, I wrote a lot. Sorry about that.
posted by equalpants at 2:54 AM on April 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Equalpants offered a ton of local advice I couldn't hope to match. I would just offer that if, upon research, you find that Westwood prices make you go GAH! ACK!, I know that it is a fairly easy commute from Culver City, Palms, Santa Monica areas, and Nthing the BBBus.
posted by beelzbubba at 4:48 AM on April 19, 2010

Lots of people go to UCLA and don't have a car. The problem with LA isn't getting to school/work by bus. It's having a social life by bus, when wait times can be forever.

People have covered Culver City, Santa Monica, etc. There are options in the city as well. One commenter noted the Sunset bus. West Hollywood is half an hour to forty minutes away. Koreatown is good if you catch the Rapid bus on Wilshire, you're looking at half an hour or so. Further east is a really nice part of LA: Silver Lake, Echo Park, Chinatown, and the Eastside past downtown. But that's going to start getting up to 1.5 hours away. Some people like this because you can do your homework on the bus.
posted by kensington314 at 8:09 AM on April 19, 2010

If you're going to be an undergrad, you may be happiest living within walking distance of campus - that way you can sleep in, go to the library whenever you want, walk to your friends' apartments, go to parties, etc. All of that will be a lot more difficult if you're a bus ride away.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:10 AM on April 19, 2010

If you are confirmed for fall, take advantage of the UCLA Housing office now, and look for an optimum living arrangement. Look at a lot of situations. If you start looking now, you will have more options than in September, which will be crush city, both off campus and on campus. It sounds like you want to live off campus, and most landlords want graduate students, but it's a buyer's market during the summer. Close proximity to the campus and the ocean really increase the rent. You may find that a compromise between car and rent is in order.
posted by effluvia at 9:48 AM on April 19, 2010

Thanks for the tips! any more LA resources?
I found out about COOP campus housing near UCLA, and it costs 500 dollars a month including three meals a day! Almost half of UCLA official campus housing!
posted by freddymetz at 8:58 PM on April 19, 2010

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