Nice places to live in the middle of LA?
March 4, 2015 1:30 PM   Subscribe

I just started a new job... as did my wife! We love our sleepy small town but my new commute is pretty killer, so I'm tentatively looking for someplace new to live. Any suggestions? Criteria below the fold.

Right now we live in South Pasadena which we LOVE: it's got a really small-town atmosphere, it's highly walkable, we're just a short distance away from the Gold Line station and the Thursday farmer's market, and there's tons of good Chinese food in the SGV.

The issue for me is that I just started a new job in Santa Monica (kind of near where the 405 and the 10 intersect). I'm definitely eager to reduce my 1.5 hr commute, but at the same time my wife works pretty close to where we currently live and I don't want to be selfish about things. I don't completely hate driving, I could probably do 45 min - 1 hour each way without complaining.

Things we'd be looking for:
-A highly walkable, safe environment
-Small-town atmosphere, if that's even possible
-Great food!!
-Trees, nature
-Ideally with decent apartments around $1500?... but we could probably go a bit higher
-Somewhere near a Costco?
posted by miltthetank to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe Culver City?
posted by bluecore at 1:33 PM on March 4, 2015

Downtown LA? You're about in the middle at that point, although I don't know that $1500 would bring you much there and you won't have any "nature".

I lived in Redondo Beach while I went to grad school at the USC medical campus in East LA, and continued to live there when I did a post-doc at UCLA. The commute didn't suck more in one direction or the other, although I did end up moving to Culver City, which was THE BEST in terms of your other requirements (your wife's commute would be a lot longer than yours if you moved there).
posted by Everydayville at 1:47 PM on March 4, 2015

Culver City is going to give you the same problem in reverse ; your wife will be the one stuck in traffic. Are you taking the metro now? Could you have someone pick you up from the Culver City station?

You may need to overlay a copy of the Metro map with a copy of a map with the locations of Costco stores in So Cal. You aren't going to get away from traffic if you continue to work in Santa Monica (I know people who live in Culver City and it takes them 45 minutes to get to Santa Monica in the morning), but what you can do is make it somehow more palatable by using public transit or a carpool or vanpool.

Your only other option would be to move somewhere more central, like Silverlake, Echo Park, Los Feliz. Funky small town atmosphere and plenty of good Asian dining Koreatown and Filipinotown. But I can't speak to the rents there and they are probably high.
posted by vignettist at 1:56 PM on March 4, 2015

Culver City could fit your price range, plus there's a Costco about a 10 minute drive away. The Culver downtown area isn't too big, but it has a bit of that smaller-town atmosphere you're looking for, at least compared to downtown LA.
posted by ManyNinjas at 1:56 PM on March 4, 2015

DTLA isn't all that convenient--the nearest Costco will be Los Feliz.
You could try Toluca Lake or Studio City, so you both have a drive. Or BH, which is walkable, but not cheap. I used to live in South Pas, and frankly, I'd just look for a new route to work, if I were you. No place is going to be perfect. If you're taking the 101 to the 10, you might want to try 134 to the 405 but I'd take surface streets south instead.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:07 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's not really any great solution in your case. Someone is going to have a bad commute. But a lot could depend on where exactly your new job is. I'm guessing from your description that your job is at the eastern edge of Santa Monica, near the airport. Assuming your job is in that area, and not over by the ocean, West Adams or central LA (near the Expo line) would be closer to South Pas & give you a maybe not-too-bad Adams/Washington/National commute. Not sure about walkability, though. It's safe enough but I can't think of any area set up for the kind of lifestyle you're describing. Downtown seems to mark off the most of your checkboxes, but as has been noted, you don't get trees there. If you're paying around $1500 now and don't want to pay more, you might want to stay where you are after you look at places. The average LA rent is around $1800.
posted by univac at 2:33 PM on March 4, 2015

From LAist last week: Map: How Much A 1-Bedroom Costs By Neighborhood

Santa Monica resident, here. Keep in mind that the Expo line is scheduled to make it to the beach this year. (Really! There is a freaking train station platform at Ocean and Colorado!) I would definitely consider this for long-term planning.

Culver City seems iike your best bet for all your requirements and the Expo line already goes there. Forget tons of Chinese food, though; you get Hu's.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:37 PM on March 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

I live in Los Feliz near Silverlake and it's safe, walkable, good food, near a CostCo. It's expensive to have your own nature or outdoor area (like a yard, patio, or balcony) but Griffith Park is nearby. 1 or small 2 bedrooms in older buildings without a yard can be had for $1200-1500/month. But getting out of this area to go southwest specifically is a pain, as there are no big streets or highways in that direction. You'll end up going south and east to get onto the 101, or have to go far south on surface streets to get to the 10, and I don't think it will shorten your commute to Santa Monica any.
posted by holyrood at 2:41 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Costco is actually in Atwater Village, which in itself is a pretty cool place to live. Sort of nestled away from the rest of LA behind Griffith and with two Main Streets for commerce. Still a nasty commute to Culver City since you would have to take surface streets over the hill if you wanted any semblence of a direct route that didn't involve the 405 and the Sepulveda Pass.

But it would be a super easy commute to Pasadena. Nobody goes that way on the 2 or 134/210 in the morning.
posted by hwyengr at 3:06 PM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Los Feliz! It's infinitely walkable. You will literally only get in your car to go to work, and it would be a nice split for both of you. There are tons of fantastic restaurants as well as 3 farmers markets. We have our own independent movie theaters, shops etc but are only a quick shoot down Los Feliz or up the 5 to a Costco/everything else. I sympathize with holyrood's comment that there's no easy way to get from this area to Santa Monica. However, Los Feliz is so complete in every other way that I find I literally ONLY get in a car to go to or from work. If you go in early early, like 6am early, it's no trouble at all - I frequently make this drive on weekdays for a workout on the pier.
posted by le_salvo at 4:14 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Los Feliz to Santa Monica? That's maybe even worse than South Pasadena to Santa Monica. I'd actually suggest Echo Park instead - it's much, much closer to the freeway nexus than Los Feliz. You're on the 10 very, very quickly. Still, I commuted from Echo Park to Santa Monica and I was effing miserable. Driving to the westside is pretty much always awful.

You won't get anything for $1500 in Downtown LA. Maybe a studio.

I think Room 641-A is onto something: the train to Santa Monica. It's happening! Could you drive downtown and pick up the expo line, or take the gold line downtown? If that works, I'd just suck it up and commute for a while longer. Even if it's a long train ride, sitting on a train is much less stressful than sitting in a car in traffic.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 8:11 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh my gosh you need to move to my neighborhood! Palms (in west LA) is right at the intersection of the 10 and 405, it's a little cheaper than Culver with lots of apartments, Costco is close (and shopping in general is super convenient, Target is convenient and there are 6 grocery stores within walking distance), there are lots of tree lined streets and parks, Kenneth Hahn is really close and the Santa Monica mountains easy to get to for more nature. Also, for your wife, the commute is waaay better going west to east, I work just east of downtown and it only takes me 20 minutes to get to work in the morning (that's for 7am, it's 35m for 8am) and about 35-40 to get home at rush hour most days. The main downside of west LA is mostly mediocre Chinese food and no Ranch 99, but it's right by Little Osaka now officially Sawtelle Japantown, and there is plenty of other good food.
posted by ellebeejay at 8:14 PM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was thinking West Adams, but it's not South Pas in terms of a walkable, small town feel. Culver City is, (though still not South Pas), but then your wife has a bad commute. Maybe downtown? There or West Adams.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:30 AM on March 5, 2015

Santa Monica resident, here. Keep in mind that the Expo line is scheduled to make it to the beach this year.

Came in to say this. I basically live where the 405 and the 10 meet, and there is a train station for the Expo line going in walking distance from my house. That commute could be a little bit transfer heavy for a metro commute but maybe it's doable.
posted by weston at 2:09 AM on March 5, 2015

I haven't lived in this neighborhood for many years so maybe people can weigh in on current amenities and livability, but Pico/Robertson was always an overlooked, (relatively) affordable, and neighborly area with lovely old duplexes and apartments. More importantly, it is (was?) deceptively central, with sneaky surface street shortcuts to points south, west, and north.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:29 AM on March 5, 2015

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