Where to live: Greater Los Angeles/ San Fernando/ Conejo Valley filter
September 26, 2018 11:51 AM   Subscribe

My family is relocating to the LA area. I will be working in Thousand Oaks, where my toddler son will also be going to a school next to where I work. My boyfriend will be working in El Segundo. Where is the best place to live to optimally balance childcare responsibilities with a commute?

I realize that my boyfriend will have a horrendous commute pretty much anywhere north of Santa Monica, but he is resigned to doing that for at least a year, after which we will re-evaluate. Our choices right now are to either: 1. live in Moorpark (the only place where we've been able to find a decent rental for reasons) which will be an easy commute for me and my son, given that I'll have total childcare responsibility in the mornings; or, 2) live in Woodland Hills, where my boyfriend might shave about 30 minutes of brutal traffic off his commute and be able to help with childcare responsibilities in the morning.

I'd really appreciate the input of people familiar with the area on whether Moorpark-TO is a similar drive (traffic-wise) to Woodland Hills-TO, whether we should live even closer to my work so I'm not dealing with much of a commute at all in the mornings, or if Woodland Hills is even a worthwhile savings in commute time for my boyfriend.

Thank you all very much!
posted by Everydayville to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
This is a tough one, is this a move you must make? Those two locations are far enough apart to make living together full time potentially impossible, or at least very difficult. He might need to rent a room near work and stay there 3-4 nights a week.

Moorpark is not a reasonable place to live for someone working in El Segundo 5 days a week, he will spend 4 hours per day in the car minimum. I'd cross that off my list.

Woodland Hills to TO is a reverse commute mostly so probably not horrible but it's definitely going to take longer for you than commuting from Moorpark. It's also not great for commuting to El Segundo.

I realize that my boyfriend will have a horrendous commute pretty much anywhere north of Santa Monica

Your BF will have a horrendous commute anywhere north of LAX. Santa Monica is actually probably the best split the commute location, with you commuting up the coast and taking Las Virgenes. You'll likely still spend less time in the car than he will but you'll both commute an hour+ each way
posted by fshgrl at 12:24 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

There is a Commuter Express bus that goes from the Valley to El Segundo, that's not a terrible option (though getting to the Park & Ride is probably not awesome if you're in Moorpark.)
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:44 PM on September 26, 2018

Does he have any leeway on his work hours? The people I know who are having to live like that usually try to wrangle a work schedule like 6a-2p (works great if he has to deal with the East coast, and he could probably do afternoon pick-up) or 11a-7p (less ideal all around, but would give you the morning reprieve you're looking for).

You can get a really accurate look at your likely commutes by either watching Waze and Google Maps in real time, or scheduling commute-time trips to see what the aggregate traffic data looks like.

I would do my best to not be beholden to the 101 if at all possible, so Moorpark would be my choice of the two. My advice to new arrivals is always that one person needs to live as close to work/child's primary daytime location as humanly possible if you do not have a backup person/caretaker to do kid pickups.

I wouldn't do anything based on trying to shave just minutes off his commute, because those minutes are very fungible. I know it feels more fair to try for Woodland Hills but that close to the 101 runs the risk of it taking him an extra 20 minutes to get to/onto the highway. I haven't even spent any time in Moorpark or Simi on weekday mornings, so I can't speak to how bad it might be, but I'd run the numbers on map apps.

I feel your pain, but the commute he's facing is basically incompatible with anything that looks much like "help" unless he can skew his work hours, so you might as well make all your arrangements to suit you, the de facto solo parent, for the foreseeable future. This is the tradeoff people make here. A lot of people DO make these horrendous commutes, but that's pretty much all they do, and there's no way to be reliable for any time-related commitment. Our geography doesn't allow much for alternate routes, and an accident or fire can cause hours-long delays at any moment (which is why one of you needs to be near your children if you have the privilege to do so, because when a fire shuts the schools down you need to be able to get there).
posted by Lyn Never at 1:56 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Waze and Google are good to see the major freeway routes but if I had to travel from TO to El Segundo at rush hour I would take Kaman or Los Virgenes maybe to the PCH, surface streets around Marina Del Ray then head west at Ballona and bypass the airport on the Playa Del Ray. It makes no sense on paper but I'd do almost anything to avoid commuting via Sepulveda Pass.

Still, it's going to be an unbelievably sucky commute for him no matter how he does it and some days he's simply not gonna make it home. If he's on the coast at least he can stop to pee and eat.
posted by fshgrl at 2:15 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you have (or can get) an electric vehicle, I suggest Moorpark as that means your bf can use the carpool lanes on the 118 and 405. The 101 (where Woodland Hills is) has no carpool lane, and the 101/405 area is unique in that it's the rush hour in every direction at almost all times.

My father lives in a town that's similar in distance from El Segundo as Moorpark (Santa Clarita), and with the carpool lane EV thing and working 11am to 8pm, he has about an hour each way.
posted by sideshow at 2:48 PM on September 26, 2018

Just for some further background, my boyfriend works in hospitality. His hours are flexible since he's able to make his own schedule, and he can also crash at his hotel should he need to stay overnight. However, this is a new job so he'd prefer to get there early. He plans to start his commute around 6 AM, and then get back on the road around 3-4 PM. I think in a way he just uses the drive time as his quiet(!!) time that he doesn't quite get at home, listen to his podcasts, etc.

My own job, once I've had a chance to get to know the team and be productive for about a year, should allow me to work remotely after a year or so which will then give us some flexibility with where we live (and I fully intend to move south to where I've previously lived in LA for almost two decades - the South Bay and/or Long Beach.)

We will also probably get some help with childcare in the mornings, which definitely helps me, and which is also why I'm trying to alleviate some of the pain of my boyfriend's commute. I'm just not sure that moving any further south than Woodland Hills is a smart idea, just because that's still a long drive for me with a small child both ways.
posted by Everydayville at 3:15 PM on September 26, 2018

He plans to start his commute around 6 AM, and then get back on the road around 3-4 PM.

That's rush hour and he's looking at 3 to 5 hours per day on the road if you live in either Moorpark or Thousand Oaks. It's 60 - 80 minutes with no traffic and there is always traffic, especially leaving LA in the afternoon. Plus time on surface streets.

If you lived in Woodland Hills he'd have more like a 2 - 3.5 hours per day commute and you'd have about 30-45 minutes reverse commuting Woodland Hills to Thousand Oaks depending on exactly where you live and work.
posted by fshgrl at 3:48 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

I had a relationship (with a woman who had kids) that didn't survive me living in West LA and my her living in Camarillo, without either of us trying to commute daily (granted, it wasn't our only problem). This is similar. Even though these hours are probably as good as you can get for avoiding the absolute worst of the traffic while still having a reasonably normal schedule I'd think very carefully about whether this is livable.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:56 PM on September 28, 2018

And Encino or Van Nuys right around the 405/101 interchange would be the fairest compromise (and I'd suspect it's cheaper than Woodland Hills if you're looking north of Ventura Blvd.), but that's probably still going to be too far for you from TO to deal with the kid and getting to work.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:13 PM on September 28, 2018

Presuming he works at one of the hotel chains near LAX -- Downtown, Studio City/Burbank, Ventura or even Santa Barbara would all be better choices and workable from Moorpark/TO, if a different location within the same company is a possibility (those are just the areas I can think of with significant hotel clusters).
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:31 PM on September 28, 2018

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