LA Filter: Family friendly neighborhoods near Glendale?
July 24, 2013 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Considering uprooting the pencroft clan for a new gig in LA. Job is a great opportunity..a jump up that could save a couple years in my field. Problem? I've never even been to LA and know nothing about it.

We have a toddler and an infant and a large dog and a house and a yard and two cars and currently live in a a great, safe, walkable neighborhood in Seattle proper.

Things we want:

-Safe neighborhood
-Good schools (or private options)
-<30 min commute to Glendale
-Houses with prices in the Ks and not in the Ms.

Help me LA mefites. Tell me everything I should know about relocating to LA. What did you wish you knew before you moved there?
posted by pencroft to Work & Money (21 answers total)
When I lived in Atwater Village, it seemed to be the neighborhood people moved to to have kids. We didn't have any, so I can't tell you what the schools are like, but it shares a boundary with Glendale, the houses stay under a Megabuck, and there are lots of nice shops and restaurants. It's still LA proper, but it'a separated from the rest of the city by the hills, so it feels pretty secluded.
posted by hwyengr at 5:00 PM on July 24, 2013

I currently live and grew up in Altadena/Pasadena. There are lots of great neighborhoods here, and while the public options aren't great, there's a ton of private schools.
Similaraly La Cañada, except the schools are great but houses cost more.
If you have specific questions about Glendale/neighboring cities, feel free to memail me!
posted by ApathyGirl at 5:08 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I and my family have lived in La Cañada for several years now. We have three kids, two of whom are in the public schools, and it's been a great place to live. The people are nice, the public schools are amazing, the parks are great, and it doesn't feel like you're in a big city at all, since it's over a hill from the rest of L.A. and there's nothing but mountains to the north. And the air is a bit cleaner and the weather not quite as hot as in the valleys. It's about a 5-10 minute drive to downtown Glendale.

It's difficult to find a house in the Ks rather than the Ms, but we recently bought ours for a price in the Ks and not even close to the Ms. It's a nice house, plenty big for our family of 5, and didn't need any renovation. We were very lucky with the price of our house, but I don't think it's impossible to luck out like we did. Also, the schools have been amazing for our kids so far, including bending over backwards to set up and get funding for an individualized education program to accommodate a disability of one of our children.

I agree with everything ApathyGirl wrote, as well. Altadena and Pasadena have some beautiful neighborhoods and have lower housing prices than La Cañada and La Crescenta, but their public schools are not great.

Feel free to MeFiMail me if you need any further information.
posted by The World Famous at 5:28 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Depends on how many Ks you have, but I was also going to suggest Pasadena/South Pasadena. Super easy commute to Glendale, lots of great safe neighborhoods, tons of private schools, big leafy trees, nice old houses, cute places to eat. And the Rose Parade! I grew up in Pasadena and it was great. South Pasadena (the City of South Pasadena, not the south section of Pasadena) is very small-town feeling and charming. I always say I'm moving back from LA proper when I have kids.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 5:30 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yep, was just coming here to suggest South Pas; it's not cheap, but certainly there are six-figure houses to be found there. Great public schools, great neighborhoods, easy commute to Glendale.
posted by scody at 5:34 PM on July 24, 2013

I grew up in Claremont, which can be quite a commute to Los Angeles, although I understand that they put in a train since I last lived there.

It was a *great* town to grow up in. In all sincerity, had I wanted children, I would have wanted to raise them in Claremont. It's a college town and the schools require that the professors live nearby, so all the professors' smart kids are in public schools there. Claremont's school district is separate from the main Los Angeles school district, and it's funded well. I went to public elementary school, but went to middle school and high school at private schools in the area (including the school to which I send my imaginary children, Foothill Country Day School).

The sole drawback to Claremont, in my view, is that the smog can be really oppressive in the autumn. Benefits include the cultural aspects of living in a college town -- I saw a lot of lectures and films on the college campuses as a high school student.
posted by janey47 at 5:34 PM on July 24, 2013

Wait, have I misunderstood? For some reason I thought you were focusing on Glendale as a place to live in order to commute to LA. But you're talking about working in Glendale, yes? If so, Claremont is much more doable (I lived in Claremont and commuted to Glendale for about a year before I moved to the big bad city), although those who live there now would be better able to speak to the commute times.
posted by janey47 at 5:37 PM on July 24, 2013

South Pasadena is seen as one of THE best family-friendly, great schools neighborhoods.

Seconding La Cañada as well. Also seconding Atwater Village, but can't verify the schools.

I've heard Tujunga has good schools - that would definitely be cheaper than South Pas, but verify the schools thing.

The Ivanhoe school district in Silver Lake is very good, it's becoming more and more family-friendly but it's still seen as a hipster area.

You should also check out the San Fernando Valley, because the 134 freeway connects it with Glendale. For example, the Carpenter school district in Studio City fits your criteria.
posted by malhouse at 5:38 PM on July 24, 2013

South Pasadena is great and has great schools. When we were house hunting (which we did for 3 years), we were never able to find a house there we could afford that was big enough for our family. But it was at the top of our list if we did find a place.
posted by The World Famous at 5:43 PM on July 24, 2013

Studio City is also great in terms of neighborhoods/schools/commute to Glendate, but I don't know how affordable houses are (I know more about South Pasadena because of friends/family who live there).

Speaking of the SF Valley, there are some cute neighborhoods in Burbank (e.g., Magnolia Park), which would put you very close to Glendale, but I don't know anyone in that area with kids so I don't have any firsthand knowledge about the schools there.
posted by scody at 5:52 PM on July 24, 2013

Can you sneak a quick trip to L.A. to do a recon mission? I'm wondering if the heat might be something you and your family need to consider. The good family-friendly areas within a sane commute of Glendale get damn hot in the summer. (And our summer goes through September, so it's a long hot season.)

May be a non-issue for you folks, but I thought I'd mention it since the L.A. Times just ran an article about the best American cities to live in to beat the summer heat, and of course your Seattle topped the list.
posted by nacho fries at 6:46 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

La Canada, La Crescenta, Montrose, etc. Look for the towns just north of Glendale on the 2.

Burbank also has excellent schools, but buying a house in Burbank of OMFG expensive. My former boss - who has a shitload of money - lived in a weird little ranch style house in Burbank because that was what she could afford.

South Pasadena is also really expensive.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 7:04 PM on July 24, 2013

Mt. Washington. It's close to Glendale and has a very well-regarded public elementary school.
posted by chicainthecity at 8:53 PM on July 24, 2013

pasadena is a great city and has a range of neighborhoods/prices. it doesn't have good public schools but their private schools (polytechnic, westridge, etc.) are fantastic. overall, it is very family-oriented. it's a good mix of people. great architecture of lots of styles: craftsman, spanish revival, etc.

south pasadena has great public schools. not cheap for housing. quaint little town with horrid traffic. small town feel. more great residential architecture. i did once hear it described as "the place where old people go visit their parents" but i think it's gotten younger and more fun with some newer shopping areas & even a farmer's market. very family-oriented.

la canada and san marino have awesome public schools. san marino is very high pressure socially & academically, very old money and i wouldn't live there unless you like hanging out with the country club set and can keep up with that lifestyle. very expensive. i don't know too much about la canada other than they have good schools and nice houses and is also expensive.

altadena is a funky little town just north of pasadena at the base of the local mountains. it seems like a good mix of people. you can send your kids to private schools in & around pasadena if you live there.

glendale is sort of like a junior pasadena but not quite as nice as pasadena generally. nice for residential architecture.

other surrounding towns to check out are la cresenta, montrose, atwater village, silverlake (super liberal, artsy and funky), los feliz (can be pricey but nice, hipsterish), mount washington, eagle rock.

check out the blog curbed LA
LA Times neighborhoods guide for stats
this site looks like it has some neighborhood descriptions/info on the right side
posted by wildflower at 10:55 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding the suggestion that you and your family visit LA before making your decision - even within the next few weeks, if that's possible. My partner and I relocated to the same northeastern corner of LA that's under discussion here from a much cooler, wetter part of the country sight unseen. I've come to appreciate so much of what LA has to offer, but I still find the aridity and summer temperatures to be intense. Since you mention your yard, you might also be struck by the differences between landscaping possibilities in LA and the Pacific Northwest. LA, especially its east side, is really desert/chapparal (which, duh, but I hadn't fully understood what that meant until I began seeing cacti).

If walkability is really important to you, that would be another good reason to visit areas that interest you in person. Much of Pasadena, Glendale, and other parts of LA are walkable in that there are sidewalks to accommodate walkers, but not in the sense that you can walk to clusters of things you'd actually need or want (such as a large grocery store, or a park, or charming retail/restaurants) very efficiently. If you're thinking about walkability in terms of the latter, being close to such an area will probably translate into considerably more expensive houses.
posted by Austenite at 11:25 PM on July 24, 2013

Another vote for South Pas. My sister's lived there for a long time and her kids went through the city's public schools. (One's an animator who's worked on big movies; the other one is doing quite well as an L.A. County assistant district attorney.)

The kids and their parents have thoroughly enjoyed it, it's pretty quick and easy to get to lots of fun places for kids and adults, and I love to visit.

P.S. Don't miss Vromans and Zankou.
posted by ambient2 at 11:27 PM on July 24, 2013

For what it's worth, the smog isn't any worse in Claremont than it is in Pasadena. And overall the smog is much, much better than it was even 10 years ago.

Not sure if I'd want to drive from Claremont to Glendale except during non-rush hours. I'd say Pasadena or Altadena or South Pas.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 3:17 AM on July 25, 2013

Not sure if I'd want to drive from Claremont to Glendale except during non-rush hours.

I agree that Claremont is probably a nonstarter on the basis of the commute; it would be at least an hour's drive in heavy traffic.
posted by scody at 8:18 AM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, come visit if you can. I came in to recommend north Glendale/Montrose which has a quaint main street/small town feel and a very good public school (Fremont). See if it's an area that appeals to you. It's a little slower, closer to the mountains. I did a quick check on Redfin for houses in the 91208 area and there were some good options for homes in the Ks like this one. I also like South Pasadena for its good public schools and proximity to downtown, the train, etc but I think it's more expensive.
posted by biscuits at 10:10 AM on July 25, 2013

Monrovia is just a little farther afield, but we thought the craftsman houses and walkable historic downtown were charming. I can't speak for the school district though. On that side of town, I have always heard that La Canada has the best schools.

As far as considering Pasadena goes - bear in mind that South Pas enjoys a good reputation. North Pas (like, north of the 210) decidely does not.
posted by vignettist at 11:23 AM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've lived in Pasadena and Altadena, my kid goes to school in La Canada, and I've visited South Pasadena quite a bit. I also have a dog and a kid, and I moved here from Seattle! Here's how I would compare and contrast them based on your criteria:

-Safe neighborhood

This can be had in any of these towns, so it's not a point of discrimination from my viewpoint.

-Good schools (or private options)

Pasadena and Altadena have poor public schools in general (they are both part of PUSD). However, there are some newish dual-language programs (English/Spanish, English/Mandarin) that I have heard good things about. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to navigate the public school system involves lotteries.

South Pasadena and La Canada have good public schools.

-Houses with prices in the Ks and not in the Ms.

I think Pasadena is expensive given that it doesn't have good schools. Yes, there are really good private schools. And some are really, really expensive (by my standards). Polytechnic (mentioned above) is $30K/yr. The cheapest private schools seem to be around the $10K mark, and they are usually religious.

South Pasadena and La Canada are both expensive because of their public schools. Both are family friendly. (But I know at least one person who felt that there was a lot of conspicuous consumption in La Canada, and refused to send his kids to the public schools there for that reason.) If you had one kid, then it would make more financial sense to buy in a cheaper part of town and send your kid to private school (of which there are many, many choices). I'm not sure how the calculation works with two kids at the present time. I think it's borderline, given that it's not efficient to pay for school through a mortgage, since you have to pay interest on it.

Some more notes:

I think South Pasadena is the most walkable of the cities mentioned above.

Altadena is unincorporated LA County, so it doesn't have the same strict rules and regulations (for e.g. renovation permits) that Pasadena has. Whether you view that as a positive or negative is up to you!

Good luck! I moved here from Seattle, and I really love the sunshine!
posted by pizzazz at 2:49 PM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

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