Moving to LA Question Part Nth: The Movening
January 31, 2014 7:51 PM   Subscribe

It never rains snows in California. But a blizzard of questions about moving to LA is blanketed beneath the fold.

Me: Forties, female, slave to two felines.

Done with my present location (I love a lot of it, but see myself getting bored here eventually and I don't have a large tribe.)

It looks like a very lucrative (for me) contract gig will be coming through for me later this month. The firm is based in San Francisco, but don't want to live there and they'll be happy as long as I'm in LA to fly in once a month or so. I don't have to relocate right away, and won't until I'm more sure of the gig. I'll be making about $80K minimum. This is almost twice what I'm making here, and as a writer I have some interest in the industry. It means leaving a full-time "real job," but those are never stable. At my current company I have no opportunities for networking or advancement.

I don't have a car, and a recent mishap wiped out my savings. I *like* public transportation, I like big cities, I lived in Asia for years and LA feels ... right ... in a way that's hard to explain. (I was there last week for work, and stayed downtown.)

The current plan is to stay in place for three to six months, socking away some money, and then make the move. I'd like to spend not more than $1,500 a month. Working from home, so a place with a little space is ideal (no tiny studios). Bonus: no commute should make living without a car much more doable.

Am I nuts? Where should I live? What's the best way to start looking from a distance, and (most importantly) will some you LA MeFites be new friends? Thank you!!!
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't live in LA but wish I did. I've stayed in Venice, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Hollywood. All are perfectly doable without a car, regardless of what locals tell you.

In order to figure out where you should live, why don't you let us know what you like to do? Movies, architecture, music, walks, museums, hikes, the beach, clubs... ?

It might sound silly but if you don't have any stuff, you might want to stay in a few different places over a few months using AirBNB. That way you can "move" once a month and experience different parts of Los Angeles before you make your final decision.
posted by dobbs at 8:05 PM on January 31, 2014

I've lived in LA for a quarter of my life, and if you don't want to spend more than 1500 a month you may have to settle for some pretty lousy housing. Rent starts at 1500 a month for a 1 bedroom apartment in most parts of the city IME (and I've looked all over lately thanks to an upcoming job hunt) and pets are often not allowed in many of the nicer complexes without a huge fee. Would you be open to having roommates and renting a room in a house, perhaps? Would you want to forgo the occasional really expensive taxi trip to get to LAX or Burbank Airport by living close to either?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:14 PM on January 31, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, dobbs. The cats rule out airbnb but I may be able to leave them with a friend for a bit and I can take scouting trips.

I like to do EVERYTHING! Laid-back bars, live music, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, museums, art walks. Not in nightclubs so much but in the right company will dance all night. Farmers markets make my heart sing (I'm a pretty serious cook). I burst into tears in the Flower Market. (No one batted an eye.) Love beaches and just sitting outside. Hot weather is my friend.

Here I'm a member of the local film society, the art museum, a couple food groups, always seeing what's going in the weekly free paper and just checking out new things in general. I rent a car (or go with friends) on weekend road trips for hiking in the mountains or just exploring a new place. Fly to scuba diving destinations when I can afford it. Sail with friends on a local tiny reservoir. Diversity of interests R us.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 8:14 PM on January 31, 2014

Rent starts at 1500 a month for a 1 bedroom apartment in most parts of the city IME (and I've looked all over lately thanks to an upcoming job hunt) and pets are often not allowed in many of the nicer complexes without a huge fee.

That's not quite what I've noticed lately, though maybe it's a matter of not looking at large complexes. For example, I work in Miracle Mile (great neighborhood, walking distance from LACMA) and recently I've seen rental signs for 1-BR's under 1500 and studios under 1200. Nice areas of the Valley, just over the hill from Hollywood (e.g., Burbank, Toluca Lake, etc.) go for a few hundred bucks less. I've also noticed a good number of places that allow pets, though often with a deposit (usually 250 for cats, from what I've seen over the years). Especially if the OP isn't looking for a place with parking (which many older buildings don't necessarily have), I don't think 1500 is that unrealistic, particularly if you're looking more for vintage buildings and guest houses rather than large, modern complexes.
posted by scody at 8:43 PM on January 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

LA's great. I used to live on the Los Feliz/Silverlake border, which is nice because it's walkable and also near a Metro line to go other places. Near plenty of restaurants and shops and Griffith Park. $1500 seems reasonable to me (and it's really good you're not moving to SF, which is way more expensive at the moment).
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:45 PM on January 31, 2014

With a $1500 budget try Koreatown.

If you can bump up your rent budget to $1800 you can find a 1BR almost anywhere besides Santa Monica and Venice. The niceness of the apartment will vary depending on location. With no car, I'd take a serious look at DTLA.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 9:16 PM on January 31, 2014

Seconding Los Feliz. Your activities list sounds just like it.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:28 PM on January 31, 2014

I lived in a great one bedroom near Fairfax High for 1250/mo. It can be done, you just have to find the place!
posted by buzzkillington at 10:56 PM on January 31, 2014

I think you'd love Santa Monica (it's got culture, entertainment, and the beach, plus it's not terribly far from the airport) but you'd probably have to rent a room rather than an apartment. Santa Monica will have rail in 2016.
posted by Dansaman at 9:01 AM on February 1, 2014

Focus on the LA metro rail map for your public transport needs. The bus lines run too infrequently and unreliably outside of rush hour. This means places like Venice, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, the Valley are out.

That's true for Venice, WeHo, and Santa Monica, but not for a couple of nice parts of the Valley just over the hill from Hollywood -- on the Red line, the Universal City stop is in Studio City, and the North Hollywood stop is in NoHo, with Toluca Lake halfway between both. (But I definitely agree that the most efficient way to rely on public transportation here is to live close to a rail line.)
posted by scody at 9:44 AM on February 1, 2014

I'm going to suggest Culver City or the southwest part of Mar Vista.

The rail actually goes to Culver City now, and it would be a short bike ride there from Mar Vista (there's even a bike path on Venice Blvd.) Some pros:
• Proximity to Venice Blvd. gives you great East-West access

• You're just a few miles to the beach, easily accessible by bike or bus (it's all downhill to the beach, so you can throw you bike on the bus for the return trip!) so you also have access to all the galleries, restaurants, bars, shopping, and movies that Venice and Santa Monica has to offer

• Rents in Mar Vista, in particular, are probably the least expensive on the Westside

• There are fantastic North-South shortcuts that can take you to other parts of the city if you do drive

• Culver City has arrived, and has lots of trendy eateries and shops, but while Mar Vista is coming into its own its still has a neighborhood feel.

• The greater L.A. area is compromised of many micro-climates. On the hottest days there can be a 30F difference between the beach and the valleys.

• Fairly easy access to LAX

• There are great farmers markets all over now, and a neat night-time market in Culver City, but you'd also be close (via the blue bus) to the world-renowned Wednesday market in Downtown Santa Monica.

• And since this is question about L.A., I'm obligated to mention that The Museum of Jurassic Technology is located in Culver City.

Another surprisingly central area is the "Beverly Hills Adjacent" area but I don't know how convenient it is these days without a car.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:45 AM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wanted to chime in again regarding Venice. Venice is awesome and easy to do without a car...if you never leave Venice. There is a really easy bus you can take to LAX and back. I spent 3 months in Venice without a car and hope to do it again. A basic one bedroom will cost about $2200 instead of $1500 though, but maybe worth it, especially if you like the beach.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 11:17 AM on February 1, 2014

Since you're probably going to be commuting to LAX for your job and you plan to use public transportation, you may want to know about the Flyaway Bus. The Flyaway Bus is basically a direct express bus to the airport, from one of a couple destinations around LA (including a couple in the DTLA area).

I should note that apparently you can use Metrolink/Amtrak to get to and from Union Station and Burbank Airport as well as a free shuttle to connect to the Red Line so there's public transit options there, too.

My advice on the housing market's pretty out of date, so I'll leave that for the locals.
posted by librarylis at 8:11 PM on February 1, 2014

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