reasonably priced homes in LA
January 3, 2012 5:04 PM   Subscribe

Where in Los Angeles can I buy a house for a reasonable price in a safe neighborhood. Is Winnetka, CA safe?

My wife and I have been searching for a house in Los Angeles for about 8 months now. Currently we live on the west side but have been searching in the valley because it's all we can afford. Ideally we want a house that's close to 300K. We could probably go up to 370K but it'd be a push. The problem is, houses in LA are so expensive...even in so so areas. Financially our combined income is in the low six figures. We're both young, college educated, and laid back. We don't have to have a fancy house. But it should have 3beds/2 baths. It should be in a safe, quiet area, hopefully with half way decent schools as we plan on having kids. We've been trying for Woodland Hills as it's considered a good area but unfortunately most houses are 400k and higher. We've seen much less expensive houses in Winnetka, CA but we're unsure about the area. 2 main questions:

1. Is Winnetaka, CA a decent, safe neighborhood?
2. Is there anywhere else you'd recommend in the Los Angeles area or even a little outside Los Angeles that meets our guidelines?

Thank you for your suggestions.
posted by ljs30 to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You live in LA now yet you're this flexible about the area of LA that you're willing to live in? Do you both work from home or something?

When we lived in Southern California (up until last year), we determined that it was more cost effective to rent versus own. We lived in much nicer neighborhoods than we could have afforded to buy in and we were okay with that. Many of our friends that bought were/are under water on their homes. And it was/is totally normal for our friends in their 30s and 40s with small kids to rent in Southern California.

Plus, even if you get pregnant tomorrow, it will be 5 years before you need to worry about schools.

So I suggest that you rent and save the money versus owning.
posted by k8t at 5:12 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

A house of that size in a good neighborhood with a good school district is going to be very tough to find. I am not familiar with Winnetaka, but you can always research stuff like that using the LA Times Crime Map.

You might have luck in the outlying parts of the San Gabriel Valley? (I grew up in Pasadena, so I know those Valleys better than the San Fernando.) Altadena/Glendale, perhaps?
posted by Countess Sandwich at 5:18 PM on January 3, 2012

There was a great one with a bomb shelter in Reseda for a decent price. My feeling is, once you're out in the valley past Van Nuys, it's all pretty safe. And pretty far from LA.
posted by rileyray3000 at 5:23 PM on January 3, 2012

Check into La Crescenta.
posted by zagyzebra at 5:36 PM on January 3, 2012

I second renting vs owning. It's going to be tough to buy a house in LA for that amount (unless you are open to condos which is its own subject) AND have a good school nearby. Also, k8t had a good point: do you both work from home? The commute to the Valley from the westside is a killer.
posted by biscuits at 6:19 PM on January 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I cannot imagine a world in which one could find a 3 bedroom house in La Crescenta for 300k. I think the Altadena/Glendale suggestion is also a stretch, but there might be some less well-maintained bungalows you could get for that in some parts. Honestly 300k is more of an Ontario/Chino Hills house budget than an LA-area house budget. (I mean no disrespect...I'm an LA renter myself.)

Also, will you need to commute back to the west side? Knowing what your outer limits are, commute-wise, makes it easier to answer this question.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 8:58 PM on January 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Speaking as someone who owns in the valley but commutes to the westside... Buy a condo on the westside instead. Lots of safe areas with good schools, you will have a reasonable commute and be able to enjoy good quality of life. I own a house in the valley, and have small kids. The commute sucks way beyond what you might be imagining. I spend two hours a day in the car :(
posted by Joh at 9:46 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

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