Life in Los Angeles with one year old?
September 22, 2021 2:11 AM   Subscribe

We are moving to Los Angeles from New Zealand with our one year old baby. What should we prepare for mentally, or in practical terms to make the landing softer?

It's difficult for us to picture how things will be for our baby once we get there. One thing we know is that both of us will be working remotely from home.

For instance, we worry that "social" life will be very restricted for our baby because of covid precautions, but maybe it's fine? Are play groups happening? Are day cares open? Are there baby friendly neighborhoods or cities nearby? (does that even exist in Los Angeles...)

Any comments or ideas you have on how life will be once we make the jump would be super helpful!
posted by haemanu to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
 
>Are there baby friendly neighborhoods or cities nearby?

"Nearby" to where? LA is huge. 500 square miles. Almost all of LA is not even nearby to itself.

Do you know what neighborhood you're ending up in? Or are you asking for advice for one?

Do you like driving and/or sitting in traffic?

Angelenos talk about driving routes the way the French talk about food. This is adaptive to a messy situation because of distances and traffic. I'd use a trip estimation tool / live traffic map and a handful of places to get a feel for this.

Different patches are very different. There's bits where you don't need a car. Bits where you need a car. Some neighborhoods are walkable. Others, not. Bits with different air quality and climates.

It has some public transit, some of which is probably highly functional, but not evenly distributed. etc

And there's class, race, and urbanism issues that I can't knowledgeably address.

Maybe rephrase for clarity, "We're looking to spend $x a month, we want a walkable neighborhood with good schools? We can drive but would use Uber and an hourly app driven car rental sporadically. We need some greenspace around. Not too yuppie."

Aside from the green, maybe spend some time asking for advice on reddit.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:13 AM on September 22, 2021 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Hi! I live in LA and I have a 15 month old baby. Daycares are open and have been open since the beginning of the pandemic, as they are considered 'essential' in some ways that schools are not. (???)

Many daycares are full or have a waiting list right now as people return to work. So, plan to be flexible.

Not a lot of baby-friendly indoor activities exist still. For instance, my baby never has been to the library for story time. But, outdoor parks are available and in heavy use by people with babies, and considered safe.

Please be aware that Delta is still absolutely raging here, at least partially driven by schools reopening more or less fully. I'm a teacher and the number of kids out on quarantine on any given day is staggering. You're likely in for culture shock in many ways, not the least of which will be how you see people and the government in the US dealing with or not dealing with Covid.

Once you pick a neighborhood, check in again here. There are plenty of Mefites in the LA area with lots of good advice for specific areas.

Good luck and welcome to LA!
posted by Temeraria at 6:28 AM on September 22, 2021 [2 favorites]


IMO you should prepare mentally that LA is huge, that fun stuff is generally far apart, and that you will probably spend a lot of time driving unless you are very wealthy. You should prepare for spending a lot for housing, you should prepare for the heat (LA is hotter than most might imagine) and drought. You should prepare to smell wildfire smoke more than you probably have in the past. You should prepare for the extreme income inequality (lots in general in the US, but really really noticeable in LA).
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:56 AM on September 22, 2021 [5 favorites]


I would also say that nowhere in the US is 'baby friendly'. Generally in the US, even 'family friendly' means something like: 'no loud clubs nearby, fair local park quality, easy to drive to paid activities (mostly sports) for kids.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:00 AM on September 22, 2021 [5 favorites]


I feel like folks are well covering some of the downsides/difficulties of LA, and so I am going to focus on some positives to look forward to:

1. The weather, for most of the year, is quite lovely.
2. So many beaches! Take your little one to Point Dume in Malibu to see whales off the coast during their migration period.
3. Excellent food, particularly Mexican. I feel very sad when I remember the asada I used to be able to get from trucks on every corner.
4. Your baby is too young for it now, but in the future Disneyland will be fun and memorable for them.
5. It's a big city with all the attendant cultural things that accompany that; museums (when they re-open), concerts, theatre, etc.
6. Because of the mild and pleasant weather, outdoor activity is a huge part of the lifestyle and very COVID-friendly.

Good luck on your move :). I left SoCal a year ago and still miss it terribly.
posted by nancynickerson at 9:12 AM on September 22, 2021 [6 favorites]


LA is home to movie and tv studios, so it's well-known in a specific and artificial way. But it's a real and diverse city and varies greatly by neighborhood. Driving is a constant, you have to build it into all your plans. Go to Watts Towers, Griffith Observatory, various beaches, hiking, so many parks, so many cultural opportunities; all those wealthy people have endowed theatres, museums, concert venues and performers, etc. There are palm trees, but there are snowy mountains quite nearby.

I'm not sure anywhere in the US will feel safe with a baby right now. Vaccination rates are @ 80% on casual googling, and it's not a hot spot compared to the rest of the US, but I expect it will be a real transition from NZ. People in California can be hard to really connect with, but follow your interest and you'll find your community.
posted by theora55 at 10:39 AM on September 22, 2021 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Things are open here, but do not assume open = safe. That's not how the US works. Basically everything is open because The Economy, and you use it at your own risk and liability. There were 1200 new cases yesterday and 32 deaths and our ICUs are at 95%+ capacity. I suspect cases are wildly underreported because testing is complicated and confusing here, but also people are getting sick and avoiding testing so they don't have to quarantine. That is working out...pretty much like you'd imagine.

You should plan for a pretty limited social life for now, to be safe.

You don't say if you already have housing secured, but really in most of LA you can live your entire daily life in a 2-4mi radius - we are pretty well-distributed in shopping, restaurants, schools, medical services. LA is a series of neighborhoods, and demographically they will shift some so that a few are extra young/hip or extra old/few small children (my immediate neighborhood is like that, but the middle and primary schools down the street are full), but mostly there will be families anywhere you go and a range of local services and opportunities for enrichment and entertainment. And with our good weather, it's been very common to move indoor-type activities outdoors when possible.

You can generally scope a neighborhood using Google Maps to see what's there (as an example in my little town-neighborhood, you can look at CSUN and scroll around the surrounding neighborhoods and intersections to see a reasonably representative distribution of schools, shopping, housing, and services. Our blocks are a little bigger out here in the burbs, but you can find much the same on a tighter scale from Santa Monica to Pasadena.

LA is a challenge in a number of ways even in the best of times, but this many people live here because there are benefits. Viruses aside, LA is not a the scary place it's sometimes made out to be. People tremble at the traffic but honestly it's all moving 25mph so as long as you can keep your car in a lane it's not hard. Yes it's huge but most people don't need to cross it all day every day - what you need is likely nearby. The weather almost makes the housing prices worth it. The access to nature - something I was honestly unaware of until the first time I visited and set in motion the steps that led to living here - is just about unparalleled. There's hiking all over the middle of the city and completely surrounding it, and if you time your traffic right you can be at the beach or littler mountains in an hour or less and up at legitimate mountain elevations, or in real actual desert, in 2-3.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:21 AM on September 22, 2021 [5 favorites]


Prepare to love the street food. Find out which day of the week is dollar taco day. Having a one year old and getting yourself fed makes life easier. The beaches more north like Oxnard, Hueneme, and Ventura are pleasant. Baby can nap while you take a nice drive, can work for grownup conversation time. Even Malibu is OK and closer by.
posted by Oyéah at 12:45 PM on September 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: We are trying to make this move happen, and it's not that easy with a baby around! Your answers have provided good anchors to start pulling the thread, and a reality check to our worries. Thanks all for taking the time to answer this vague question!
posted by haemanu at 11:43 PM on September 22, 2021


If you're not dead set on moving to a hip neighborhood in the heart of the city, I'd look at some of the sleepier small towns around Los Angeles proper, like South Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Montrose, Alhambra or Claremont, or even up the coast in Carpinteria or Ventura. Any one would be a pleasant home base from which to explore the Southland, which is going through a very tough time with a large population living on the streets without sufficient hygiene stations, and more random violence than I've ever known.

I'm probably the biggest Los Angeles booster you'll ever run into, and my advice for people coming to L.A. right now is... pardon our mess, and just put a toe in. Also, if you end up anywhere near San Marino, get a Huntington Gardens membership. I see a lot of young parents pushing strollers and socializing there.
posted by Scram at 10:29 PM on September 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


or even up the coast in Carpinteria or Ventura.

I'd look hard at Santa Barbara, even.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:10 PM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


And agreed with the sentiments above - if you don't NEEEEEED to be in LA but only need to be westcoasty or maybe in the state, there are smaller more accessible (unfortunately not all of them cheaper) communities out around the outer edge of the county and out in the 1-2-3 hours distant rings and up the central coast. But if it's going to be a situation where eventually someone's going to need routine major international airport access or an office commute, you should prioritize proximity to those.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:33 PM on September 25, 2021


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