Moving to Marina Del Rey area - any hints?
September 18, 2014 3:06 PM   Subscribe

I've just accepted a job offer in the Los Angeles area - the office is in Marina Del Rey- near the intersection of Washington blvd and Lincoln blvd. I'm now facing the (always fun) process of finding a place to live and figuring the area out.

I'd like to be in bikable/walkable distance of work (so, less than 3 miles for walking and less than 5 miles for biking) and preferably in a place that doesn't cost too much (whatever that means) - but I'd rather live alone than have a roommate. Are there good places to look other than Craigslist? Are there places to avoid?

Best grocery stores? Good used book shops? Good stores for housewares (cooking stuff, shelving...)? Good place to buy a beater bike? Any other information worth knowing before I get down there?
posted by Death and Gravity to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Marina del Rey is expensive and high end. Live in Venice--still expensive but much more laid-back. That particular location is a triangle of Venice, MDR and Culver City.

Best grocery store?
posted by infinitewindow at 4:00 PM on September 18, 2014

A good map of L.A. neighborhoods here. Del Rey, Mar Vista, Culver City and Palms would all be within easy cycling distance. Venice and Santa Monica are also close but considerably more expensive. Generally, the further East you go, the lower the prices.

Do not plan on cycling on Lincoln Blvd because it is very unfriendly to cyclists. But there are alternative routes through the residential neighborhoods. You would do well to live near Venice Blvd which has a bike lane or near the Ballona Creek bike path. Both are east-west corridors for bicycle traffic.

A widely used broker of rental properties is Westsiderentals.

A good place to buy a beater bike is Bikerowave, your local bicycle repair collective.

Grocery shopping - use a combination of Farmer's Markets (there is one every day of the week somewhere on the westside), Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Mitsuwa (the awesome Japanese grocery store in Mar Vista), and Samosa House (fabulous Indian grocery store & restaurant).

Surfas in Culver City has you covered for restaurant supplies & gourmet food items - if you love to cook you will be spending time there.
posted by conrad53 at 4:03 PM on September 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Westside Rentals is kind of the monopoly on subscriber rental listings; I recommend using them because the pricing structure means that scams are almost nonexistent there. It was worth the price for me. But other people report good results with Padmapper, though that pulls in Craigslist data and you do need to be suspicious of anybody asking you for money or information they shouldn't be asking for yet.

MdR is a nice part of town, generally speaking rents here go up the farther west you go until you run out of land, and that happens right there basically. Just a quick random click around your office intersection on Padmapper looks like you can get 1/1s to 2/2s right there starting around $2600-3500. There are apartments under $2000 but you need to go toward Culver City and Palms.

You'll want to look at an elevation map before committing to a bike commute. The geography is pretty crinkly there and you could end up at the top or bottom of a death hill that may not be to your biking preference.

It's LA; all things are bad and good, but we do have all things. Everyone has a Trader Joe's they like better than the other Trader Joe's, and the Vons they go to for a little shop and the other one they use for the big shop. We also have places like Fresh And Easy which you may not have where you come from.

We have 3 (4?) IKEAs on one hand, and we have furniture boutiques that require an appointment on the other, all our Targets have incredibly shitty parking. I like to wander around Urban Home, which has pretty nice furniture at not-much-higher-than-IKEA prices but I haven't bought anything there so I don't know how well it holds up.

Yelp is useful. I still like the Waze app better than Google Maps even though Maps is using Waze data, but you absolutely must use a charger because it will kill your battery. I think The Last Bookstore does used books; it's a pretty cool place I haven't been to yet.

You may want to browse around the archives at /r/AskLosAngeles as there's a lot of information there.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:03 PM on September 18, 2014

Response by poster: The company I'll be working for has given me a 90 westside rentals subscription which I've been browsing pretty much every day, but without being down there I can't do much more.

I don't mind ups and down for bike commuting. I'd prefer a downhill at the end of the day but given the office location that seems unlikely.
posted by Death and Gravity at 4:15 PM on September 18, 2014

With Craigslist and anything using the data...not only should you be suspicious of anyone asking for inappropriate data but be suspicious of any place that has super low rents...chances are they are scams as well. And only consider places where they have posted photos. I hope you are able to come down [over? up?] so you can preview rentals and neighborhoods. I would say that even if you have to do temporary housing it would be worth it to help you avoid the scams.
posted by calgirl at 4:20 PM on September 18, 2014

I live in this part of town. Coincidentally, my relationship is collapsing as we speak, and I’m officially on the market for a 1BR here too. As others have said, Westside Rentals is the way to go if you can’t physically look here in person, but there are quite a lot of listings just out on the street if you drive or bike around the neighborhood you want to live in. I drove by two dozen listings on my lunch break today.

You won’t find anything (or much) within your price point within walking distance, that’s for sure, but if you are OK with the 5-6 mile option, it opens up a lot. The cheaper areas right now are Mar Vista and Palms, both perfectly fine but filling up quickly, as prices have totally flared up in Venice and SM with the tech explosion of “Silicon Beach.” I have a cat, so my options are significantly more limited than yours, but you can find a place in that neck of the woods for $1300-$1500 pretty easily if you’re pet-free.

I’m also a cyclist, and the land is flat if you stay south of Venice Blvd. You get a fair bit of hilliness as you travel further inland north of Venice Blvd. It’s not awful, but I have legs like tree trunks and no fear of cars, so YMMV. Bike lanes are becoming more of a thing in L.A., but most streets still just have “sharrows.” Riding on the sidewalk is mostly illegal, but sometimes necessary if you’re going through a suburban area where the roads are too narrow and the climbs somewhat steep, like on Hauser Blvd.

In my experience, as far as book shops go, you’re mostly fucked on this side of town. All the best ones are either in downtown L.A., West Hollywood, or Echo Park.

Bikerowave is worth supporting, but in a pinch you can also Craigslist it for a beater bike. If you don’t like fixing your own wheels, cruise over to Helen’s Cycles on Lincoln.

Also, Westside MeFites like an excuse for a meetup, so let us all know when you land!
posted by mykescipark at 5:13 PM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

but without being down there I can't do much more.

Yeah, I meant to mention too that unless you go with a big corporate apartment complex, you may have a hard time renting anything sight-unseen (as in the landlord seeing you), and nobody holds apartments. So if you did happen to find something that was your One True Apartment and you don't want to lose it, you'd have to rent it as of the day it was available, even if you won't be here for days/weeks afterwards. Otherwise they'll give it to someone who will take it right away.

If your employer is putting you in temporary housing for a month or so, it will be much much easier to get a place.

Somewhere else you might browse just in case is airbnb. I noticed while I was working on my move and needed to come up for a few days that I saw a number of guest houses, rooms in a shared house, garage apartments etc available both for short-term vacation rental or multi-month rentals. If you don't find anything that you really want to commit a year or more to right away, you might do that (especially if you want to "try out" a neighborhood) rather than being forced to choose something just because the clock is ticking.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:30 PM on September 18, 2014

I would also look in Mar Vista, especially between Venice and Culver City. Super easy to bike and one of the last under-developed pockets in the area. That would be my first choice, really. Don't overlook Westchester and El Segundo, either.

Between LAX and Santa Monica, avoid Lincoln going northbound in the am and southbound in the late-afternoon/pm.

The Expo Line light rail extension to Santa Monica is on schedule to be finished in 2015. This will be a game changer, especially with the rental market. It will also dramatically expand the area now considered a "reasonable commute."

In-N-Out is on Washington, just east of Lincoln.

I'm in Santa Monica; feel fee to MeMail.

If you like to run, sign up for the SM/Venice turkey and Xmas runs before they sell out. Last year it poured during the Xmas race. It was so freaking awesome!

My favorite Mexican Restaurant on the west side is La Fiesta Brava on Rose in Venice.

You have 22 miles of amazing bike path along the beach, from the Palisades south to Torrance.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:36 PM on September 18, 2014

n-thing the more westerly parts of Palms and Mar Vista. Let's say north of Venice, south of Ocean Park, west of Centinela and east of Sawtelle. Lots of little apartment complexes here, a Whole Foods and a Ralph's in walking distance, and rent's around $1600 (with a cat). You could have a pretty flat bike commute so long as you headed south down anything east of Inglewood to Venice/Washington -- there's a big hill just west of Barrington that makes taking e.g. Palms over a more challenging proposition.
posted by Alterscape at 6:38 PM on September 18, 2014

I used to live in Playa del Rey and quite liked it. It's under the LAX glide path -- the planes turn there so they won't have to fly over the rich people in MDR -- so there's a bit of noise, but I barely noticed it from inside. It's close to the Marina and it has the unusual-for-LA feature that it's not on the way anywhere; the only reason to go there is to go there, so traffic is light and it has more of a small-town feel than other LA neighborhoods.

My experience is about ten years old, so if somebody here tells you I'm wrong about any of this, I probably am.
posted by bac at 6:57 PM on September 18, 2014

I lived in Marina del Rey right on the water (in one of the big corporate complexes) and I absolutely loved it. Yeah, it's not cheap, but I thought it was worth it. I always felt like the Marina was a nice bubble of calm within LA. Close to lots of stuff, but it didn't feel as crowded and crazy as LA. Venice was an easy walk, Santa Monica and the airport both a short freewayless drive. I don't know what your budget is, but IMHO if you can afford it, live in the Marina. Also IMHO, all else being equal stay as far away from Lincoln as possible (both in terms of housing location and driving/biking).

We shopped at Ralph's right there on Admiralty. I love Mendocino Farms (sandwiches) and Sugarfish (sushi) right there, and Killer Shrimp a little further down the road.

I'm very happy where I live now, but there are definitely times I miss the Marina.
posted by primethyme at 8:03 PM on September 18, 2014

Your office may technically be in MDR, but you may literally be across the street from Venice (the city, not the street.) I'd include Venice in your searches for local goods and services.

A few blocks from the Ralph's on Admiralty is a Gelson's, a fancy market. (That Ralph's is plenty fancy, though.) There are two Bristol Farms reasonably close. There's tiny gourmet store on Abbot Kinney, just south of Venice. Lots of Whole Foods, with a flagship store on Lincoln and Rose in Venice. (Sadly, you will not be able to avoid Lincoln completely.) Every farmers market has their own personality; it's fun to visit them all.

It has its detractors, but I love The Counter for burgers.

There are two Washingtons in the area: Boulevard and Place. They intersect. It can be confusing.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:05 AM on September 19, 2014

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