Moving to South / West LA from Europe - help from locals?
December 11, 2017 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Moving to LA and trying to find a nice apartment, not far from my workplace, trying to avoid traffic jams and airport noise, affordable but close to the beach... if it is possible?

I am an experienced engineer and have been living for several years in Oxford (England) and I am relocating to LA as I have landed a fancy job -- will be working next to Hawthorne Airport. I am relocating with my wife, both of us in the early 30s.
I am Spanish and enjoy sunny, warm weather, I lived a few miles from the beach during my childhood and I am very excited to come to LA and have again great weather and laid back people around!
However, they have warned me that traffic is terrible -- is it possible to live within 15 min commute to Hawthorne airport? I was looking at Marina del Rey, Fox Hills, Del Rey, Playa del Rey, EL Segundo, Manhattan Beach... are all of them within 15min commute? (Googlemaps says so, but not sure if it is reliable with LA traffic?).
Also, my main concern is airport noise -- is this something that can bother more than road traffic? How far should I live from the airport, is 1 mile far enough?
Also, I am a big fan of surf -- although I haven't much experience -- which are the best beaches around -- is it easy to get there -- i.e. parking /public transport?
I was looking for a nice 1 bedroom apartment, but looks like I can only find them close to the beach - I was looking around Hawthorne area but couldn't find many -- looking for 2500 USD /month max. but lower would also be welcome!
We have also been told that it is better to live on the west side of the 405 as it is a safer area -- how unsafe is this part of LA -- compared to a big city in Europe i.e. England, Spain, etc.?
It would also be preferable a place with shops/restaurants/etc. within walking distance -- this is very common in Europe, but is this possible at all in LA?
posted by raiguabe to Work & Money (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Anything that involves crossing where a highway is will add 15-30 minutes to your commute at rush hour. I have a colleague who solves this by getting to work at 6am. Google Maps will show you optimal conditions; pull it up at 9am Los Angeles time and turn on traffic to get an idea of what the commute is like during rush hour.

There are walkable areas of Manhattan Beach and El Segundo; I'd recommend using to find out how walkable the neighborhoods you're looking at are.

The area immediately around Hawthorne Airport is not ideal; points east of there are very sketchy. However, Inglewood is becoming quite nice and busting the "east of the 405=bad" rule.

I'd recommend looking at to get an idea of the crime levels.

If you're concerned about airplane noise I'd suggest this noise map:

I hope this helps!
posted by rednikki at 10:12 AM on December 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

Just to clarify a comment above, you don't have to pull google maps up at a specific time to find the conditions at that time. After you put in a location and ask for directions, there's a "Depart at" field, and you can change the day and time to experiment that way.
posted by pizzazz at 10:45 AM on December 11, 2017

In general, the US is built around cars, not people. This is especially true in LA. There are exceptions, but they're uncommon and generally pretty expensive. You *will* need a car in LA, and almost certainly two. Public transportation is improving slowly, but right now, it doesn't go near everywhere you'd want, is unreliable and slow. Figure public transportation for most local trips will take three to four times as long as driving. That ratio is cut a little during commute time, but driving is generally faster if it's not a single bus or train route.

You can use a few tools to find out some of this information yourself:

On Google Maps, areas where people gather are slightly darker than the rest of the map. However, one thing to watch out for is that, especially in LA, many of these areas are malls, strip malls or big box retail with huge parking lots in front, so they are essentially pedestrian hostile, not pedestrian-oriented.

Use Google Street View or Satellite View on maps to see the neighborhoods for yourself. A few examples from the area:
* The darker area around Rosecrans Avenue in Manhattan Beach is shown on the map as an area where people gather. That's true, but it's all shops set way back behind huge parking lots in between an eight lane road that's essentially a highway. You can walk this, but almost no one does. There are so many driveways with cars going in and out at high speed that it's fairly dangerous to walk along sidewalks in the area.
* The darker area around Highland and Manhattan Beach Blvd is a smallish, pedestrian oriented downtown that's probably more what you're looking for. However, see towns/areas list below.

* overrates walkability in LA. I would take all of their grades and deduct 20 points to get a more accurate representation.

There are also interactive crime maps for many cities, though I'm not sure what there is for specific cities in the South Bay. In terms of crime, generally east of the 405 and West of the 710 is probably worse than anywhere in Spain in terms of crime. These areas have absolutely improved over 15-20 years ago, and they're not necessarily bad places to live. But the crime rate is probably higher than you're used to, and there's little to no walkability in terms of nearby services. Someone mentioned Inglewood above, and that's fine, but it's absolutely in the LAX flight path, and doesn't otherwise meet your needs for walkability or closeness to the beach.

Craigslist has apartment listings, so that should give you an idea of what's available where for a specific price. There are a lot of housing scams on Craigslist, so DO NOT send anyone money, and if a place seems too good to be true, it probably is.

In terms of walkability, your choices primarily are:
* Downtown Manhattan Beach - Mostly multi-million dollar, single family homes near Downtown. There are apartments across Pacific Coast Highway, but those aren't super walkable to downtown.
* "Downtown" Hermosa Beach, which is much smaller, but has some apartments. Not sure if there's a grocery store there?
* Redondo Beach between Pacific Coast Highway and the beach - A lot more apartments available and maybe a little less expensive, but is also a longer commute to Hawthorne Airport. Not a "Downtown" per se, but walkable if you're on the beach side of Pacific Coast Highway. Surface street commute to Hawthorne with a thousand stoplights. Probably 45-plus minutes in the evening.
* Venice - Lots of services and fairly walkable, but a longer commute. Look around Abbott Kinney Blvd (or close to the beach). Probably 40 minutes in the evening?
* Santa Monica - Longer commute, expensive, but lots of apartments, and the further you are from the beach, the cheaper the apartments are. Opposite-ish highway commute, but likely 30 minutes in the morning and 45-plus minutes in the evening.
* El Segundo - You basically can't walk to the beach from here because it's blocked by a giant wastewater treatment plant, and you may get plane noise from being right next to LAX.

In terms of airplane noise, planes generally land west into LAX (over the city) and take off east over the ocean. There isn't much plane noise in the beach cities.

If I were you, I'd look in Venice, around Abbot Kinney. I think it meets most of your criteria except a 15 minute commute, which is basically impossible with your other criteria if you're not a multimillionaire.

If you want to prioritize commute time, you could do Manhattan Beach east of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). But crossing PCH is only safe(ish) at stoplights, so it isn't super walkable to a ton of local places.
posted by cnc at 10:58 AM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

* Pacific Coast Highway is Sepulveda Blvd.
* When I say "Walkable" I'm referring to having services nearby and walking along narrowish streets, not wide, multi lane roads.
posted by cnc at 11:08 AM on December 11, 2017

I have had Hawthorne recommended to me several times recently as a still-affordable place to live on the westside. I would recommend you try living in Hawthorne (or otherwise within 5 miles of work) for your first year while you get the feel for the city as a whole. I would recommend spending time in Google Maps "driving" around Hawthorne looking at the commercial areas and using streetview on the residential streets, also use Yelp to figure out where you're seeing big clusters of desirable shopping/entertainment. If you find a corner that has a big store like a Target, a big grocery store, a lot of varied restaurants (note: these are 90% in strip malls, which might mean "bad" in other parts of the US but is totally normal here - you can valet park and eat $150 meals in a strip mall here), that will be walkable if you get a place to live near there, but that's as walkable as LA gets under $3500 a month on that side of town, I think. (There is an additional issue all over LA though that trees that used to be very small were planted next to sidewalks by developers and now, 50 years later, the sidewalks are unusable if you have a cart or stroller. Use Google Streetview to check out any areas you're looking to live in.)

But it won't be as much like Europe. It'll be more like this, if you want to poke around in both Satellite and Streetview around the blocks in this area. (Which is about a 20-minute walk or 5-minute bike to work.)

Also, LA is really noisy. Yes, do avoid living next to a runway if you can, but there's never NOT an airport somewhere close enough to be annoying. LAX is the beast, but you're going to be near the Santa Monica airport pretty much anywhere you live too. Also, you will almost always be living within hearing distance of at least one elevated freeway anywhere on the Westside. It's just not quiet in a lot of LA unless you are close to a big greenspace on the map, which in LA is often a hill too steep to build houses on, so you just have less noisy things around and the hill itself tends to dampen some of the helicopter/airplane/siren/traffic noise.

I always advise people to spend their first year as close to work as humanly possible and then decide in a year what their priorities are. It is difficult to explain how incredibly terrible the traffic is on the Westside - as an example, while I was watching the news a lot last week because of the fires, there was an accident on the 110 in Carson that backed up traffic to Wilshire Blvd (downtown basically) that predicted delays of OVER TWO HOURS. The 110 is likely going to be part of your life if you work in Hawthorne, and all those surface streets around it take the impact of traffic trying to reroute when that happens, so that even driving from the link I gave you above to the airport 2 miles away could theoretically take you half an hour.

I can tell you want to live closer to the beach than that, but it's worth spending the year deciding which beach and if you still want to live near it. There are real disadvantages to living west of the 405 if you ever want to go east of the 405, or in fact north or south from home more than a few miles. Also our beaches are cold and the water is cold and many of them get closed down occasionally because of sewage so it is not, maybe, quite the beach life you were imagining.

I would advise not limiting your search to number of bedrooms, just price. I see a ton of 2s and 3s in your price range on Zillow.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:06 PM on December 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have friends who live just west of Hawthorne Blvd near Redondo Beach and work in Long Beach and the neighborhood is fine. They surf too and its very close to the beach, although you do need to drive. It's walkable in terms of corner stores etc but not walkable to big stores or the beach or work for you. All the beach towns have a small walkable area. Traffic isn't bad as long as you stick to the surface streets. There are decent surf spots all along he coast but mostly short board spots and yeah, people drive to them a lot.

I wouldn't even consider living in Venice Beach as suggested above, you'd have to deal with the whole LAX highway mess for a commute. Nightmare. Stay south of the 105 for sure.

I'm not sure why people say just crossing under the 405 will add 40 minutes, that has not been my experience at all. As long as you stay off the freeway and figure out some good routes to work I can't see it taking 40 minutes from anywhere in Hawthorne to Hawthorne Airport on the regular.
posted by fshgrl at 12:55 PM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

That is great info thanks.

I did some research, found some interesting apartments in the "Del Rey" area; this is the kind of apartment I am looking for: LINK
Ideally, if it is a block of apartments with gym and swimming pool, I guess it is not so important beach access and walking distance to shops, leisure, etc. (I am thinking about going to the beach during weekends to do some surf but not during weekdays). Commuting time being as short as possible is key -- at least for the 1st year as advised in some other reply!
Looking at googlemaps, it seems like this is 10-18 min trip (8am) and 12-22min (5pm) from Del Rey. It seems quite reasonable -- however the "inverse trip" is 30 to 50min. Is this because the 405 & PCH are really busy one way, but not so much the opposite?? i.e. in the mornings to go to downton LA, and in the afternoon to do the opposite?
Just mentioning this because living in Oxford I had the same situation -- traffic going is terrible, but I work 20 miles away, so as I am doing the opposite trip, it takes me 30 min, whereas people trying to come to Oxford need more than twice.
posted by raiguabe at 1:00 PM on December 11, 2017

I live very near the Hawthorne airport, and am happy to provide any advice if you'd like to PM me. I can give very detailed information about safety, desirability, and traffic!
posted by Dilemma at 1:08 PM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another quick example of great apartment and very close to Hawthorne airport: LINK
The only problem is that it is right next to the airport... is it too noisy to live there? Are this kind of apartments soundproof?
The second problem is that it is next to the 405 / 105 -- I wouldn't be using them -- however would I find a traffic jam in my way? Googlemaps seems to say 8-16 min at 8am, same for the opposite trip 5pm - which seems quite reasonable.
posted by raiguabe at 1:19 PM on December 11, 2017

Hi there! I live in Del Rey. Almost nobody in L.A. has heard of it or knows where it is. I love it for that reason, as well as a number of others. That place you linked to is only a few blocks from me, so let me share my experience about the neighborhood.

Del Rey has so far been spared the overdevelopment and price-surging of pretty much every other place in the city. It's mostly smaller residences and low-lying apartment buildings. We're only getting our first trendy coffee shop, and I'm sure it will be a rapid slide into gentrification from there, but as of today it's still very local and low-key. I personally love it here, but there is nothing from the outside to distinguish it.

Fortunately, Culver City is super-close, and there's a bunch of stuff to do over there. A few terrific bars and restaurants, a major movie theatre, a Trader Joe's grocery store, an excellent live theatre venue. It's not world-class, but it's a nice little neighborhood and a staple of Westside living, particularly in our neck of the woods.

You'll be living right on Culver Blvd., which is a major East-West thoroughfare, but not nearly as bad as its cousins to the north (Venice Blvd. or Pico Blvd. or others). So don't expect peace and quiet. It's busy and narrow and loud, and the traffic almost never calms down. But it does go straight to the beach if you follow it West into the small community of Playa Del Rey, which is currently my favorite place in all of L.A.

There is pretty much nothing around, so walking is a non-starter unless it's strictly recreational. I'm grateful for a few great restaurants and a weed shop on my block, and I can walk to the corner store near me, but the nearest major grocery store is a mile-plus walk through long and inhospitable city blocks, broken up by insane major intersections. You'll need a car for errands of any importance. This is your neighborhood strip mall.

HOWEVER... if you get a bicycle, the Westside magically opens up to you. One of the nicest things about our neighborhood is the bike path that runs directly through it. I can hop on in one direction and get to downtown Culver City, whereas the other direction goes directly to the beach in 15 minutes via the Ballona Creek bike path connector. And from there, you can get to Venice, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Manhattan Beach, and any other southbound points, down to Palos Verdes via the bike path(s).

They've also been doing a lot of work on bike-friendly infrastructure on the main arteries, and there are many side streets and back alleys you can take on our side of town. So biking over here is a piece of cake.

But in terms of going out, getting to work, etc.? I'm afraid it's cars all the way. We've been a one-car household for the past week, and I'm going stir-crazy. I have to take a Lyft just to do my laundry. That's not a specific criticism of Del Rey, though. It's just a fact of living in Los Angeles.

I think working in Hawthorne and living in Del Rey will be mostly pleasant. That's pretty damn close, as far as those things go. Yes, you'll potentially have to negotiate the 405 freeway for certain parts of your trip (see below), but you also have surface street alternatives. I wouldn't hesitate to live in Del Rey if you're planning on working there or in any other coastal-adjacent communities.

However... working downtown and living in Del Rey will indeed cost you, in terms of time, gas, and sanity. Most folks don't work on the Westside, generally speaking; they live by the beach and work elsewhere. So if you work downtown, you'll be getting stuck in the commuter traffic going all along the 10 freeway through L.A., plus all the traffic that spills onto the 405. The only way back to Del Rey is either the 405 South (a nightmare of epic proportions which can take MORE than an hour from downtown in the evenings) or to get off at Centinela or Bundy on the 10, which is a straight shot back into Del Rey ... but you then have to crawl via surface streets through some of the most congested sections of West L.A. So, yeah. I seriously advise against working anywhere east of the 405 if you're going to live in Del Rey.
posted by mykescipark at 1:41 PM on December 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I lived on the west side and had a hellish commute during my recent time in LA. Lots of good advice above.

I would very strongly advise you to make your commute as short as possible. For instance, given your criteria, I would prioritize the shorter commute that comes with living south of the 105 than I would the better noise/walkability of a location in Venice (all other things being equal).

In terms of finding an apartment rental, I had more luck with than with craigslist, and I got a lot of advice saying the same. But everyone (myself included) seemed to have much more luck physically looking for rental signs on foot or car in the areas you want to live. Many places on the west side are not advertised online, and the agencies/landlords don't respond to email as quickly as phone calls. Apartments tend to go quick and you'll want to be able to show up on the same day and sign a lease agreement. If I were moving back to LA, I'd get an AirBnB or other short-term day-to-day or week-to-week rental while I looked for a place in-person.
posted by hootenatty at 2:34 PM on December 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

But everyone (myself included) seemed to have much more luck physically looking for rental signs on foot or car in the areas you want to live. Many places on the west side are not advertised online, and the agencies/landlords don't respond to email as quickly as phone calls.
Also, yes, this. Absolutely this.
posted by mykescipark at 3:00 PM on December 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

If I were moving back to LA, I'd get an AirBnB or other short-term day-to-day or week-to-week rental while I looked for a place in-person.

I meant to say that too. Landlords here are spoiled for choice, so you are better off being able to show up and look one in the face, sign paperwork and hand it back, have a US bank account and ID and a job you've already started, ready to pay rent starting the first day the unit is available. In return, you'll be far less likely to get for-real scammed or bait-and-switched, or low-key scammed with an apartment/building/neighborhood that's crappier than it seems from pictures or questionable sources. You won't be able to figure out everything from visiting the street once or twice (like when you find out you live next door to the Saturday Morning Screaming Academy, or if the entire neighborhood smells like soup every night from midnight to 5am), but at least you'll see if one of the neighbors has big "I will shoot you" signs on their door or there's piles of garbage in the street or whatever.

Driving around looking for For Rent signs is one of the ways you discover neighborhoods you might really like anyway, and start learning how to adjust your eyes to the way LA looks. The exteriors of commercial and residential property here, especially if it's not brand new construction, often looks sort of sad and washed out or coded to a really distinct style (like all the apartment complexes here built in the exact same architectural style as a 1971-constructed Motel 6) and from the outside you're like "this is where I get murdered, isn't it?" but inside it's been remodeled to look just like the newly-built mixed-use block constructed in the Vaguely Tuscan style. (But then sometimes you go in and you're like "wait is this a crime scene?" so that's why it's best if you can go in and look yourself.)
posted by Lyn Never at 3:13 PM on December 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thanks very much for your help!
I will be working in Hawthorne for a few years probably (as they are may VISA sponsors), I doubt I will ever work in downtown, so looks like Del Rey is a winner so far! Is it realistic 15-20min commute from there to Hawthorne airport?
How about airport noise in there?
PS luckily my company pays for a month an apartment in downtown LA, so I have time to explore the area around Hawthorne and decide where do I prefer to live!
posted by raiguabe at 3:16 PM on December 11, 2017

No airport noise whatsoever from LAX here in Del Rey. Traffic, on the other hand, is loud.

Waze says it takes ~15 minutes to get to Hawthorne Airport from Del Rey in the morning. It says about the same coming home in the evenings. I'd personally add 10 minutes to Waze, accounting for the usual L.A. traffic nonsense ... so 20-25 minutes at the outside, I think.
posted by mykescipark at 3:25 PM on December 11, 2017

FWIW, I recommended Venice and Fshgrl noted the very valid LAX highway mess as a reason not to do it. Del Rey doesn't really avoid that issue. It's just a few miles closer. That route shouldn't be terrible every day, but Fshgrl is 100% right that you will run into times it takes an hour plus, especially around holiday weekends. You'd be shortening your evening commute 10-20 minutes by Del Rey over Venice.
posted by cnc at 4:57 PM on December 11, 2017

Thanks for the help!
Following suggestions of living south of the 105...
Would this be a good place to live to avoid traffic jams? LINK
I still have to cross under the 405, but googlemaps says 8-18 min to work (worst case I am guessing in a really bad day would be 30min?).
My main concern would be airport noise... however based on previous comments... would the highway traffic be more noisy than the airport -- in which case perhaps I don't need to worry too much about airport noise and more about traffic noise?
I have actually checked and it is 17 min cycling -- which is not too bad, I could easily do it in case of massive traffic jams... as it is pretty much straight line.... is it realistic to try to cycle this distance?
posted by raiguabe at 2:39 AM on December 12, 2017

Your problem with that particular complex is that you are intimately, terrifying close to the freeway. Google about health problems from freeway air - and you'll have a constant roar of traffic, depending on which way your windows face.

AND you're right there by the LAX runways, at the noisy end. The planes land in from the east to west. They're fairly quiet as they come in to land, since they're basically coasting. As soon as they hit the tarmac, however, they do some sort of air braking to slow down, which sounds like they are gunning the engine (maybe in reverse or something, idk). Really really loud right at the east end of the runway. Also, when they take off, they start at the east end of the runway and put the pedal to the metal to accelerate to takeoff speed. So there's a lot of engine noise until they get up to speed, when they relax a little on the throttle. What I found in shopping for a house in Westchester is that around the east end of the runway is the loudest, and from about the middle of the runway toward the west is quite a lot quieter, unless you get too far west where the planes are coming close to your house as they turn to go up or down the coast. That said, airplane noise is WAY less annoying than street noise. So choose airplanes over having your complex back up on any large street.

There are some similarish apartments down around Rosecrans/Aviation where you might be in a better air quality/noise situation, (by the aforesaid described REI strip mall), with only a slightly longer commute.

The key to crossing the freeway is to cross at a street that doesn't have any onramps. The onramps are bottlenecks that back up the traffic and clog up the intersections. Being nearish the freeway is actually good, as it increases weekend accessibility. Things are pretty easy to get to on weekends - unless you have your heart set on morning walks on the beach, prioritize commute for now.

When house shopping, I started to hear a lot of great things about Ladera Heights. And there appear to be a lot of apartment buildings there. You might need to let go of the idea of the big apartment complex with gym/etc, since most of ours are more of the "8 or 10 units around a concrete courtyard" type. But something to consider.

I think you should wait, and when you get to work (Congrats on the Fancy Job, btw, only the coolest fanciest jobs are to be found at HAX!!!) ask your co-workers where they live and copy them.
posted by bluesky78987 at 7:54 AM on December 12, 2017


Before we moved away from LA, we lived in the small beachfront section of Playa del Rey that's colloquially known as the Jungle (we lived on Sunridge St.). It's arguably the last remaining slice of "affordable" beachfront living in LA county, for a few reasons: the constant noise of the LAX runways, the north-south transportation barrier that is the Marina, the relatively poor water quality that results from the Marina and the outwash from the Ballona Creek watershed, and so on. All things considered, we loved living there, and it's very close to the Hawthorne airport.

There are many great things about the Jungle's little enclave. It's small and a bit off the beaten path, so there's a strong community. There's an annual all-neighborhood cleanup day shortly after the tourist season ends in September, and the whole place turns it into a weekend-long party. After Christmas, there's an annual Christmas tree bonfire on the beach--permitted and everything--that is also a great neighborhood excuse for parties. There are a cluster of wonderful bars and restaurants within walking distance along Culver Boulevard (including Señor G's which I miss dearly).

There's no way around the fact that living within 5-10 miles of LAX (and the municipal airports like Hawthorne and Santa Monica) is going to be a noisy experience. The Jungle is practically underneath the LAX flight path, but it's a sound that to many people recedes into the background of life after a while. LA in general is a noisy place--I was bothered less by airplanes than the perpetual sound of news helicopters hovering overhead covering traffic and the like. Homes in the area tend to have double paned windows to cut down on noise pollution, but conversely the noise has helped keep the area's rents a bit below average.

I don't miss living in LA, but I am very grateful for the years we got to live on the beach in Playa.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:12 AM on December 12, 2017

One last thing: it's hubristic to expect that one can live in Los Angeles and not have to deal with automobile traffic. If you want to avoid traffic as a part of your commute, live near where you work. As put in this recent article, "The expectation that someone should be able to get in their car and drive through one of the largest cities in the world unimpeded from one end of the metropolitan area to the other is an expectation that could have existed when L.A. wasn’t a global city of that scale. We now have 17 million people. It’s just not going to be possible for them to live in in Pasadena and drive to Santa Monica and feel like they can do that comfortably. Those days are over."
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:16 AM on December 12, 2017

Very interesting point regarding air quality -- I did not take into account this parameter as I assumed proximity to the ocean would help to clean up the air.... but I guess that a minimum distance to the freeway would be preferable in terms of air quality & noise...
Also, very good point regarding onramps, will try to find a route and avoid them...
The airport noise is quite a big concern on my side, I guess then it is perhaps better to leave 5 minutes to the east of the 405 just for avoid airport noise / air pollution... I am doing 35min commute at the moment, so I guess 15-30 min is still an improvement!
posted by raiguabe at 9:19 AM on December 12, 2017

Hi! I’ve lived in L.A. almost my whole life, and I have friends who live in Hawthorne because the husband works near the airport—likely at the same company you’re moving for!

My first piece of advice is agreeing that you should AirBnB or sublet for the first few months while getting your bearings.

But otherwise—my friends live near El Segundo and Inglewood and the husband takes the bus to work every day. They only have one car, by choice (not financial necessity) and it works for them. The husband is from a Latin American country, which may a bit influence his more pro-public transport sense. They have never complained about airport noise (although I’ve never specifically asked).

My personal preference would absolutely be to live east of the 405 because traffic, while still unpleasant, is markedly less so (and this is true of L.A. in general—while the whole place is crowded, the Westside is notorious), and it will be less expensive. Plus, living in a non-beach/hot Westside area means you get somewhat of a reprieve from the noise and crowds on the weekend—the inverse is true for beach/shopping areas.

Also, living in/near Hawthorne already puts you south of the 10/405 interchange and makes your commute to some of the best surfing beaches exponentially easier. Additionally on that note—the best surfing (here? Everywhere? I’m not much of a surfer, I just know about my city) is generally in the early-ish morning, and you will find weekend early morning traffic in L.A. blessedly significantly more open than weekday rush hour commutes (which is also a good protip for any errands: l.a. wakes up late, so pre-noon weekend activities are a breeze). So if you plan on weekend surfing, you may be “closer” to the beach than you think.

A final note: a lot of people will correlate “safety” with “the number of disadvantaged black/brown people living there”—not saying anyone in this thread has done it, but I hear it living here. And that advice is, frankly, racist and one-sided at best. Crime in disadvantaged areas for people not involved in criminal activities is mostly petty theft (including package theft) vandalism and business robberies, probably similar to any large European city. One can take steps to mitigate risk (don’t leave valuables visible in your car, be alert, etc). It is not some 1980’s white-fear dystopian hellzone. On the other hand, beach cities, particularly Venice, do have high petty crime rates.

Welcome to L.A.! It’s my favorite city I’m the world and a place I’m so glad I can call home.
posted by tyrantkitty at 7:12 AM on December 14, 2017

That is great advice tyrankitty, thanks!

At the moment we are looking to rent a flat in an "apartment complex" - i.e. with swimming pool / gym inside, etc. that is mainly because my wife will not work, so it will be quite goof for her to take advantage of the facilities while I am at work - and with no need of taking the car & in with no concerns over safety. And perhaps easier to make friends - we don't know anyone in LA!

I might be wrong, but it seems like a good compromise (it is a bit more expensive), but at least for the 1st year probably worth it???

The problem is that I only find this kind of properties West of the infamous 405. Couldn't really find any around Hawthorne or east from the 405 in general (which I am a bit surprised, but perhaps they just don't have a website as Hawthorne is less touristic, and I am doing all my research online). If this is the case and anyone knows, please let me know, it would be very appreciated.

So now our apartment search is pretty much just North of LAX (Playa del Rey, Westchester -- Googlemaps says 14-24min commute) or South of LAX (El Segundo - 9-18min commute). If Googlemaps is accurate, it does sound like a pretty good commute. And if the difference is 5min, I am willing to sacrifice this to get our favourite apartment!

Is it possible that the commuting times look good because the 105 eastbound in the morning is a good way to avoid the 405 traffic????????????????

Am I right to think that living West of the 405 may have some advantages? -- i.e. less noise / less air pollution / safer area / proximity to the beach and even slightly lower /more pleasant temperatures (I guess due to sea breeze and/or less air pollution)???? -- I am willing to have 10min extra commute for all this!

So far this is our favourite apartment complex: LINK

If there would be something similar around Hawthorne area, I would definitely take it, but I couldn't find any online!

posted by raiguabe at 2:06 AM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

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