Moving to Los Angeles

Parent Q&A

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  • New job in malibu. Where should we live?

    (3 replies)

    partner got a new job in malibu. i know there are MANY considerations in deciding where to live, esp. in la, but we are thinking somewhere on the westside. we both have lived there before during our undergrad/grad years, so the area is not completely new to us. i am limiting my job search primarily to ucla.

    but we love living in berkeley - the weather, walkability, bike lanes, public transit, our daughters' daycare, food, energy of being near cal, ebrpd trail running, proximity to the city... 

    where might let us have even a sliver of our current lifestyle? 

    Probably Santa Monica? Malibu to UCLA is pretty far in terms of traffic, and Santa Monica is about in the middle. It's not the same as Berkeley, but has some similarities: walkable and bikeable, near nice parks and beaches, milder weather than inland LA, fairly liberal politics, health food options. There are a wide variety of private schools on the westside if you decide to go that route with your kid, and I'd assume there are many options for preschool and daycare (probably expensive).

    I grew up on the westside, in Santa Monica, Brentwood, and Pacific Palisades, and have lived in Berkeley for the past year with my husband and toddler. If I had to live in the westside as an adult, I guess I'd pick Santa Monica. Culver City and Venice are hipper and younger, in some ways, but there is so much emphasis on new shops and restaurants there that they feel like malls to me. 

    Would Santa Monica or Venice be too far? Santa Monica has a good school district, and a lot of parks.

    West Hollywood is surprisingly kid friendly. Or perhaps near UCLA?

    Santa Monica!! I lived in LA for a decade, moved around between West LA, West Hollywood, and Santa Monica. It's hands-down the best if you are seeking a Berkeley-ish lifestyle with proximity to Malibu. It's very walkable/bikeable, has decent transit, good parks and outdoor space, terrific food, good schools, gorgeous public pool, easy access to miles-long beachside biking trail, easy access to gorgeous mountains to hike in, perfect weather. And do not underestimate the value of living in a highly functioning municipality. Free broadband internet in public spaces! You need a parking permit, you call the city and someone picks up right away and solves your problem. It is a lovely place. I seriously want to retire there.

  • We're moving to Long Beach in a few weeks and was wondering if anyone knows of a resource similar to BPN in that area? The Facebook groups I've been able to find don't seem to have the same breadth of support. 



    You might want to try Peachhead ( We are moving to LA in  few months and I found them very helpful/useful. Good luck on the move! 

  • We are moving to LA in a few weeks.  Does anyone know of any resources similar to BPN down there?  Looking for some help finding a nanny, among other things.



    It depends which area you're moving to. For east side search for booby brigade yahoo group, it's excellent! If west side I think peachhead (another yahoo group) would be more applicable. Good luck with the move!

  • Living in the San Fernando Valley

    (1 reply)

    Can anyone give me some insight into what it's like to live in the San Fernando Valley, near Los Angeles? My husband has a potential job opportunity in West Hills. As much as we love it here, we're actively looking to move out of the Bay Area because we can't afford to buy a house here and that's important to us as we start our family. Our salaries there would probably be about the same as they are here. We want to live someplace where we can buy a house (less than 500k). We're also looking for somewhere that has a lower cost of living, good public schools, is liberal, diverse (racially, economically), has walkable neighborhoods, a sense of community, and locally owned shops and restaurants. Can we find this there? My pre-conceived notions about the area are that it's huge and generic. 

    Northridge looks like it might have some potential, but what would the commute to West Hills be like? Are there any other areas we could target? 

    Thanks for any insight you can provide into this area!

    The stereotypes are useless, ignore them. I lived 20 years in LA after 9 years in Berkeley.  It seems generic from the freeways, but it's phenomenally diverse (more so than the Bay Area). I lived closer to downtown, in hipster neighborhoods with lots of character, but my parents lived (20 years ago) in Chatsworth (in the SF Valley), which still had horse ranches.

    You'll enjoy living in Los Angeles if you find the right village/neighborhood for you AND it's a reasonable drive to work.  Generally the SF valley is thought of as being more white, more suburban, more affluent, and conservative than the rest of LA, but that's a very broad generalization. LA is Democratic and liberal, so "conservative" there is like "moderate" everywhere else.

    There are a lot of online resources to start with: Neighborhood Scout,, and Area Vibes are the ones I know best:

    For traffic, use Google maps as a guide.

    Los Angeles has a bunch of neighborhood councils, also a good way to get a feel for potential neighborhoods. Here's the map so you can see which council covers which neighborhood, and then look at the neighborhood council websites:

    You can search for properties using Redfin, Trulia, etc. but be aware a lot of these websites are not always up-to-date (that's especially true for Zillow). 

    A realtor will have more up to date info and is likely to know neighborhoods better. Interview some agents, check websites. I found houses below $500,000 in West Hills and Northridge at under Properties>Property Search. I don't know if Ms. Graff works in that area, but if not, she may be able to refer you to someone who can.

  • I'm hoping there are some folks here on BPN who grew up in the LA area and can give me some advice to pass on to my sister.  Her husband is considering a job in Santa Fe Springs (near Downey and Whittier in LA- about 30 min from Long Beach), and they have NO idea about the area.  My online searching feels like I can't find the personal kind of information I want.  It looks like they would be in Little Lake City School District? Can anyone point me the right direction or recommend good neighborhoods and schools near that area? They have 4 children- from high school age through pre-school.  Thank you so much for any advice you can give!   You can email me at laura b fig at gmail (remove spaces). 

    Tell them not to live in Santa Fe Springs - it's an industrial arm pit.  Mostly filled with manufacturing and light industrial factories. Norwalk is kind of a cute area.  Long beach can be great but definitely make sure the school district is good. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Moving from Rockridge to LA

Feb 2015

I'm moving to LA from my beloved neighborhood in Rockridge and could use some advice from the community:

1. Neighborhoods: Given the sprawling nature of LA, clearly the neighborhood one chooses to live in is central. I'd like to find a place that has a real 'community' feel to it and that would enable me to walk to purchase groceries, do some of my chores etc. A walkable, livable community but still urban (I'm an older, single professional woman)

2. Finding an apartment - There seem to be a number of website agents through whom to find apartments which don't seem to be on craigslist. Which of these is most useful/reliable?

3. Recommended movers? I may have them pack me as well and I have a very valuable grand piano.

4. Any other transition recommendations would be welcome (other than 'don't do it!').

Thanks so much anon

1. As you probably know, LA is huge, and not known for its walkability. I suggest narrowing the choices by first taking your commute into consideration, as a commute from e.g. Pasadena to Santa Monica, or Redondo Beach to downtown LA, will really suck. Larchmont and Culver City have cute downtown areas with shops and restaurants, and are somewhat centrally located. Los Feliz is also increasingly popular. Parts of West Hollywood are very walkable, which makes it a neighborhood of choice for transplants from places like New York, but it tends to be a young crowd and feels very 'Hollywood' (obnoxiously so, in my opinion). Venice is eclectic, walkable, and close to the ocean, but not very central. Downtown LA is walkable and urban, but also gritty, ugly and sometimes dangerous.

2. Westside Rentals is the most widely used site with the most listings. The people who run it are seedy jerks, but occasionally they have exclusive listings. In LA, almost all apartment buildings advertise their vacancies on signs outside, so you can usually just drive around neighborhoods you like to find vacancies. anon

Your post didn't mention your budget or whether you'll be working and if so, where, so I can't make a recommendation based on cost and proximity to your job. That said, there are many wonderful neighborhoods in and around LA that fit the bill. Some examples include Santa Monica (particularly around Main Street and Montana), Silver Lake and Echo Park, Venice, Los Feliz, Beverlywood, Larchmont, Culver City, Mar Vista, and Downtown LA, just to name a few. Take some time to explore the city and you'll start to find areas that appeal to you.

For apartment hunting, here are a few resources. I'm not sure which are most reliable, but they are worth checking out:

Unfortunately, I don't have any movers to recommend.

Finally, here is a short list of web sites that I highly recommend: (I run this site)

Best of luck with the move. I hope you find Los Angeles as great a city as I do. Jim

Looking in the Eagle Rock, Mt. Washington & South Pasadena areas

June 2012

My husband, toddler daughter and I are moving to LA later this summer. We're specifically looking in the Eagle Rock, Mt. Washington & South Pasadena areas, but are open to other walkable neighborhoods with good schools. We're both originally from the East Coast and unfortunately there don't seem to be any BPN equivalents down there, so we're not sure how to find childcare or a great real estate agent. We'd love to hear from anyone who can help us out! (And if you happen to know of anyone looking to rent or sell their homes in these areas, please let us know.) Thanks! Melanie

We moved to South Pasadena from the Bay Area a few years ago. We loooove this small town in the middle of L.A. It really has an old fashioned feel. People are friendly and there are lots of local activities. I love that my children are growing up here. You see people you know everywhere you go. Also, the schools of course are excellent. Parents are very involved, and despite the poor state budget, the schools and parents manage to include many enrichment activities each year. The quality of education is exceptional, as you know test scores are high, for whatever that's worth. Eagle Rock and Mt. Washington are both part of LAUSD, which I would not recommend. They are not necessarily safe either. South Pas MOM

Where to live for a job at USC

April 2011

My husband is being considered for a job at Univ of Southern California and we may be moving this summer. The campus is right in the middle of downtown, and we know we don't want to live there. He would also prefer to not have a 45 minute commute each way if possible!

Are there areas within a reasonable commuting distance with good public schools, walkable shops/restaurants, and green spaces? We have a baby and a kindergartener and want a place we can meet our neighbors, spend time outdoors, and have a great public school education for our kids.

We've heard so many mixed things about the LA Unified School district - most people are pointing us to self- contained school districts like South Pasadena, Glendale, Santa Monica.

If you have recommendations about communities to consider (both w/in and outside LA proper), we'd love to hear your ideas! And tell us the truth if he's really just in for a long drive every day.

May be So Cal bound

Your best bets will be Burbank, Pasadena or even Studio City (valley area). Avoid Glendale. In the last 10 years a large immigrant population has hit that area and crime, aggression, seediness has gone up with overall pleasure of living there going down. I'm not saying that to be narrow-minded because that same immigrant group has hit other areas all around LA and those areas are fine, it's just Glendale's version of it that's bad. I made the mistake of moving there for a short while and got out as soon as I could.

Anyway, to know, too, USC is squeezed between downtown and Watts. You're not so much downtown as hugging Watts that then moves into South Central. There are Victorian homes around USC but it's generally not the best place to be. And, as a family, you'll feel much more in a community, have better schools, and more shops/parks, etc in the places I mentioned. Unfortunately, LA is just a driving town so traffic should be expected, 1-2 hours each way. USC Alumni

Check out the Silverlake area (,_Los_Angeles), which I lived near. has ratings for schools (recommend Ivanhoe elementary). has interesting information on various neighborhoods. Light rail systems might make commute more bearable to other areas. Santa Monica could be an hour commute, with traffic. Anita

We actually currently live in LA and are moving to the East Bay (Walnut Creek) in July. We enrolled our two boys at an independent school to avoid all the confusion and commuting. It really is a nightmare here in LA. A very big reason for our move.

What I can tell you is that if you decide to stay close to USC you will likely have to deal with LA Unified unless you make the commitment to go the private school route. If so, there are so many wonderful schools, unfortunately you will miss the official application period as it closed for many schools in Feb. If you are interested in private schools my kids currently attend St. James Episcopal School in the Hancock Park/Koreatown areas. It is a magnificent school with an amazing preschool just down the street. I can't recommend it enough. In fact, there is a USC employee on the Development Committee at St. James who would be a great contact for you if you want to look into St. James School. Other great private schools in that area are St. Brendan's, Pilgrim and Turning Point as well as Echo Horizon.

Back to your question--Glendale, Santa Monica and S. Pasadena will mean commute. And that can be anywhere from 40 minutes to 75 depending on the day and time you manage drop-off and pick up. However, some of these districts are impacted (Santa Monica especially) and even moving to the area, especially as late as July, will likely mean wait list and being shipped to a non-neighborhood school and quite possibly an under-performing school.

A district you did not mention but is considered vast improved is Culver City. It's a nice area, a nice downtown, and smaller. It would be a pretty easy commute to USC. I would look into this district as I don't know a ton but many of my friends in education regard this as a very good district improving every year (how much in the next few years with budget cuts, however, is anyone's guess.)

You didn't mention Beverly Hills, but there are housing options in BH that are not in the $2 million range. Depending on your budget, you could certainly look into renting a condo to get into the BH district and the commute would be OK. LA Unified--you have to research specific neighborhoods and schools. Third Street School in Hancock Park has a great reputation and I think you would love the area. Lots of large homes, but also many 'cottages' with a wonderful walking area called Larchmont.

There are also good elementary schools in Mar Vista (Clover Elem.--closer than Santa Monica), Beverlywood (Canfield Elem.--a nice, diverse neighborhood). I'm totally confused by the charter school situation, but I hear great things about Larchmont Charter. Hope this helps. Please email me if you have further questions. joanna

Moving to Los Angeles - family of 5

Jan 2011

Our family of five is moving from Oakland to Los Angeles and we're having a lot of trouble deciding where to settle. My husband will be working in Culver City. Great public schools, both elementary and middle school, are our first priority. Commute time and price are tied for second place. Ideally we would also like a place that offers some diversity, a yard for our three active boys and not too conservative an atmosphere. After our recent visit, we have crossed Calabasas, Woodland Hills and Topanga Canyon off our list. Too far from Culver City and too much traffic. We have pretty much crossed Santa Monica off our list too - expensive and the schools are iffy. We liked Culver City itself but worry about the middle school. We are drawn to the South Bay - mainly Manhattan Beach. The schools are top-notch but it's horribly expensive and it offers no diversity. We're going to look further into the LA neighborhoods of Cheviot Hills and Westwood. Any and all information you can provide to help us make this very important decision would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! kari

my sister-in-law and her two kids live in westchester, the neighborhood around loyola marymount university, which is pretty close to culver city. it's a nice neighborhood w/decent-sized houses w/yards, tree-lined streets, lots of families. not sure about the diversity, but it's definitely less expensive and more urban than manhattan beach. they attend a local public charter school called ocean charter school which is a K-8 (on two campuses) and is somewhat waldorf-based. they've lived there almost 10 years and have been happy--we visit regularly and like it too. good luck!

You could try looking at Mar Vista. The elementary school (Mar Vista Elementary) is great, not sure about the middle school, though. I think it might be Palms? My niece goes to the elementary school and it has good scores.

I grew up in Culver City, but that was before the Downtown area was revitalized and there were so many great restaurants. We lived in Mar Vista from 2008 until last year, when we returned to Albany, from the time my daughter was born until she was just under two. It was a fantastic place to live with kids because it's central to several of the other cities you mentioned. We could hang out with our friends and do various activities in Westchester and El Segundo but also spend a lot of time in Santa Monica and other fun cities to the north. Leah

I used to live in Los Angeles in various parts including Topanga and Marina Del Rey. I would suggest checking out the Marina. It is very close to Culver City and close to the beach. I would recommend staying close to the water because the air is better. My sister and my mother currently live in Marina Del Rey near Washington Blvd and Alla Road. The neighborhoods are nice. I never hear them complain of crime and I feel safe when I visit. There are also great local parks and it's close to shopping, movie theatres and of course the beach. My sister also likes the public school here daughters attend. Good luck. Anon

Moving to Los Angeles - good air quality?

March 2009

Our family will be moving to the Los Angeles area this September. Im looking for any recommendations or resources that may be helpful to us as we look for cities to live in. My husband will be commuting to downtown LA for work. We are looking for: Cities with 'better' air quality than Los Angeles. Thinking we need to be located near the coast rather than the valley or east of LA.
- Affordable housing in a safe, family-friendly neighborhood. We will be looking for a single family 3 bedroom home or condo type living situation to rent.
- Parks and shopping within walking distance so that we don't have to get in the car and drive everywhere we want to go.
- Are there any resources like BPN for the LA area?
Any advice or information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! LA Bound Momma

The air quality in LA has improved greatly over the years. I grew up there and I am always amazed and how much better it is (and continues to be), therefore you might want to consider moving to areas closer to downtown if that is where your husband will be working. A commute and traffic can alter your daily quality of life. I have lived in the bay area for 2 years now and I miss LA a lot, but I do not miss the traffic. I lived in several areas in southern california and in my opinion the best and most family friendly neighborhoods are closest to downtown: Silver Lake, Hancock Park, West Hollywood (and the surrounding neighborhoods, especially the neighborhoods near Pan Pacific Park, The Grove, and Bevery Center), and Miracle Mile. You will be able to walk to get anything you need and if you get in your car you will have everything at your fingertips. Echo Park and Atwater Village have been improving recently and the rent will likely be cheaper. South Pasadena, Pasadena, Eagle Rock and parts of Glendale are also nice, but further away from downtown. However, if you live close enough to the gold line your husband can commute to work on the train. Also, the public schools in certain parts of Pasadena, South Pasadena, Eagle Rock and Glendale are often better than those in other areas - this is something that must be researched though as a high quality public school can be close to a low quality one. Private schools are everywhere. Good Luck! Anon

My family just moved to the Bay Area from Long Beach. I think you should definitely look at Long Beach when you go there. We walked everywhere- to shops, restaurants, the beach, parks, etc. Long Beach is very diverse, and it gets a bad rap for some of its bad neighborhoods, but it has some truly lovely ones too. I'm sure there are plenty of homes to rent in the walkable neighborhoods. The Blue Line of the LA metro goes right to downtown LA from downtown Long Beach, so your husband could commute that way. There's also a network for LA-area parents,like BPN, called Peachhead: Good luck with your move, and enjoy the great beach life! Rebecca

My family and I moved to the Bay Area from Los Angeles this summer, and there are a few places I can suggest for you to look for homes in. Look in Eagle Rock, Atwater Village and Silverlake and Los Feliz. They are all North of downtown and actually traversible by side roads if you want to avoid taking the 5, or 110 or 101. They're all pretty decent as far as air quality goes. Eagle Rock might rank highest because it is farthest east, butting up against the 210 fwy, which travels along the base of the Los Angeles Forest, therefore more trees! It's also close to Pasadena, which is a fun place, especially for families. They all have neighborhoods with a main strip that you can walk to with coffee shops, yoga studios, grocery stores and the like. Silverlake has a reservoir that's beautiful, and a lot of fun shops, but it is the least walkable to shops as it's kinda hilly around there, depending on where your house is, of course. They're all family friendly in a big way: coffee shops with play areas for small children, tons of shops for kids, lots of kid friendly activities... I can't tell you much about the elementary schools because our daughter wasn't quite there yet, but I know a lot about preschools if that's what you need. I used to belong to the Silverlake MOMS club, which is international, and I swear by it. It was an indispensible resource to me when I was 3 months into motherhood until we moved. If you want, email me directly and I can share more with you. I only lived on the east side, so I can't make any suggestions for the West, but if your husband is working downtown, I wouldn't suggest living on the West, not if you want to see him. The traffic is just horrendous. Horrendous. leonora

My husband and I moved ''temporarily'' to LA a little less than 20 years ago, and only moved back to the Bay Area about 4 years ago. So my info is a little old, but still I think relevant.

--Los Angeles is a series of villages grown together, and finding the right village for you is the key to having a wonderful life there. Get a map and study it, and start to memorize the freeways.

--Re air quality, check the South Coast Air Quality Management District for info on areas with better and worse air. You may be surprised. Plus, some areas, including coastal regions, have contamination issues from oil drilling, industrial pollutants, factories--EPA may be able to guide you.

--As a rule of thumb, coastal areas are generally quite expensive for housing, although the market may have improved. They are also in my experience much more congested. There's ''The Westside'' (Santa Monica, Venice, Palms, Culver City & adjacent areas) and also the ''Beach'' areas (Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, etc. ). Far less trendy but rumored to be more family friendly: Long Beach (pick your neighborhood carefully) and El Segundo (which a friend compared to Mayberry RFD.) You could also check Baldwin Hills (mostly Afro-American), West Adams (historic homes), Westchester (near LAX). Given the commute to downtown, West Adams is the best if you're driving and Long Beach is the best if your husband takes the Metro Look at the LA Metro--

I recommend North-East LA as having great amenties, good access to downtown LA, open space, plus it's got diversity and lots of busy, opinionated activists (be prepared, they can play rough, but boy are they effective). Lots of artists and people who work ''below the line'' in the film industry live in the northeast. There's Mt. Washington, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, and adjacent cities like Glendale, South Pasadena and Pasadena. Check for the closest thing I know of to BPN.

Resources: listen to KPCC and KCRW (streaming)--2 good public radio stations, also KPFK; Northeast Los Angeles Art Association at; City Data ( for discussion. Also has maps and a host of data on Los Angeles, which might help with picking neighborhoods; and the LA neighborhood council website is

Oh yes, you need to know about schools. So you will need to know about Sandra Tsing Loh at I quote: '' ... perhaps you are a person who has recently entered that Ring of Hell known as LA Parenthood. Which is to say, you are hysterical about SCHOOLS!!! Click here for my Scandalously Informal Guide to the Los Angeles Unified School District.''

I hope you find the place that feels ''right'' to you. I was born in the Bay Area and consider it home but as Randy Newman says: ''I LOVE LA!'' It can be a pain but it can be a phenomenal amount of fun, too, with lots of wonderful people. I still miss my friends! And oh my word, Los Angeles is chockfull of inexpensive ethnic restaurants with delicious food at outstanding prices. So you can even afford to eat out once in a while! still love LA

A friend who's lived in LA for ten years and has three kids had this to say about LA:

We used to live in a great neighborhood that I think fits this person's criteria. We still miss it. It's off Sawtelle just north of Olympic Blvd. It has wonderful small ethnic restaurants and shops - mostly a Japanese area but all different kinds of food. Very safe and affordable by LA standards. Good air quality. This would be my favorite pick.

Another great neighborhood is downtown Culver City. Great restaurants, movie theater, TJ's, playhouse and housing is still affordable because most of the houses and lots are small. Public schools are considered better than LAUSD. The other neighborhood I would recommend is where we currently live - Mar Vista. We live near the intersection of Sawtelle and Palms and the park here is very nice. We can walk to a Whole Foods and Starbucks, but it's a little bit of a walk. You just have to see what is near you.

General tips: to get good air quality in LA you have to be west of the 405 freeway. The wind blows inland from the ocean and anything east of the 405 gets all the freeway pollution. Even if you live pretty close to the freeway, if you're west of it, the air is good. The closer to the ocean you are, the better the air is, generally.

There is nowhere with good air that is also an ''easy'' commute to downtown. Some neighborhoods have rapid bus stops that go straight downtown but you have to be on their schedule and the busses don't run very late.

Steer clear of Venice. It sounds good - by the beach, eclectic vibe, but it has gangs and is actually kind of dangerous.

That's it. I don't know of anything like BPN here, but I'm not that tech savvy. Good luck to them! Alexandra

just saw the post from alexandra and agree w/ everything she said. i'm from l.a. and lived in sawtelle (north of olympic) for 6 years--and took walks at night. mar vista is ok, parts of culver city, palms and the east part of santa monica and around barrington. after the northridge quake the santa monica freeway collapsed and i drove venice blvd to downtown from sawtelle. it took a half hour, maybe 40 minutes max. l.a. is fun

Torrance is a great place to live. It's only 20 min or so from LAX, close to the beach, great schools and shopping. South and West Torrance has better schools and hence housing is also more expensive. Anon

Moving to LA between Pasaden & Santa Monica?

Sept 2007

Hello, we are possibly moving to Los Angeles soon and I wanted to find out if there are good neighborhoods for public schools in the general LA area.(private schools are ok too) I will be possibly working in Santa Monica and my husband near Rosemead(near Pasadena) These two areas are very far away from each other and I thought the best thing is to live somewhere in between?? Hollywood Hills? This area doesn't seem so child friendly... I've only heard that San Marino and some areas of Santa Monica has decent public schools and others are not.But I could be very wrong on this info. If anyone has better knowledge concerning this, or know of a user group regarding family in LA, please email me. Thank you!

I grew up in Pasadena and my mother still lives there. It is my dream to move back there some day because I love the warm weather and it's way too cold for me in El Cerrito. Unfortunately, my spouse is unwilling to leave a wonderful job and the kids love their local public schools and protest every time I mention moving.

Unfortunately, Pasadena Unified continues to face daunting challenges but there are very good school districts near Pasadena. La Canada/Flintridge is a bit snooty but the schools are excellent (think Piedmont or Orinda), La Crescenta/Montrose near Glendale has good schools and isn't quite as wealthy and a little more laid back. I also hear Monrovia and Burbank have some very good schools.

If you can afford the housing prices or to rent in these towns, there are some excellent public schools in each community. S. Cal girl at heart

I grew up in Santa Monica, and still go there a lot for work and to visit family. Santa Monica, Culver City and San Marino all have decent school districts, though both San Marino and Santa Monica are very expensive for housing. Look for cities that have their own school districts, separate from LAUSD, which I would avoid.

The commutes are horrible, there is no getting around that. Your idea for living in between your job in Santa Monica and your husband's job in Rosemead looks good on paper, but the reality is that you will both spend a huge amount of time commuting. (Just a few weeks ago, it took me 90 minutes to get from my work in Santa Monica to my brother's place in Hollywood). I don't have any brilliant ideas, but you might want to think of a plan where one parent works near home and the other has a hellish commute. Better than two parents with hellish commutes. Also, if your husband's work is near the metro (there is one that goes out to Pasadena), it's actually a very good system (hardly anyone uses it) and you might want to try to live near the line. Santa Monica, like most of L.A., is not well served by public transit, other than the local Santa Monica buses. anonymous

Area in LA like Mill Valley?

Oct 2006

My husband may be transferred to the Los Angeles area soon. We are hoping to find a community there that has some charming older homes, good public schools, a small attractive shopping district and isn't terribly far from the city center. Basically we are trying to find a community with as many of the qualities we currently enjoy in Mill Valley as possible. Does such a place exist in LA? San Diego has also been discussed as a possible transfer destination. Any recommendations there? Kelly

Definitely check out South Pasadena (about 10 miles east of L.A.). It has lovely homes, a main street/shopping district, nice parks, and a terrific public library. It has a small- town feel in the middle of a big-city area. Tori

check out culver city. it's certainly not mill valley, but it has it's own school district, downtown, and farmer's market, and is halfway between venice and downtown la. anon

I'm originally from L.A. and I highly recommend South Pasadena! I'm not all that familiar with Mill Valley other than passing through a few times, so I don't know exactly what kind of ''feel'' you are looking for. South Pasadena is great because it has nice older california bungelow style homes, has a smaller community feel, and a great library and parks like the other poster said. They forgot to mention that South Pasadena has a wonderful Farmers Market and the Metro! It is L.A.'s subway system. Actually I think it is mostly above ground. Anyway, the Metro station is in the heart of the most charming part of South Pasadena. You can take it into downtown L.A. near Union Station or China Town. Also the Pasadena freeway practically starts near South Pasadena, so it is really easy to hop on the freeway and go into downtown, or anywhere else in L.A. L.A. is huge and spread out, but South Pasadena is located conviniently to a major freeway and Metro, making it a good spot to get around. It is also close to some other great areas, like Pasadena and Altadena. There is a lot of history there and beautiful homes. Also you have close access to the San Gabriel mountains (Los Angeles National Forest) which is a wonderful place to go exploring and hiking. It is also very close to an amazing botanical garden, an art museum (Norton Simon) and Kids Space, a wonderul interactive museum for kids. All in or near the Pasadena area. If you prefer areas closer to the beach, then I would highly recommend Santa Monica. Unfortunately it is on the west side of L.A. which puts it much further away from the downtown area and closer to all the west side traffic nightmare. Of course L.A. has it's traffic all over the place, but at least you have the shorter distance and the Metro option if you go with South Pasadena. If you have any other questions about L.A. feel free to contact me directly. Laurey

I second the recommendation that South Pasadena is nice. I didn't read the original post but Sierra Madre is really a small town with a small town feel, picturesque tucked between Arcadia and Pasadena anonymous

Moving to L.A. near the Getty

March 2005

we may be moving to la; my husband has an offer near the getty museum. I don't know what to think- the image I have of LA is polluted, gross, etc. please advise on:places a small family can live on one relatively limited salary (my priorities are safety & cleanliness & being near coffee (who's aren't?)) (my dream local place to live is really near campus) and general liveability. this is a big change and I am nervous. also- I am a stay at home mom and will be for a few more years- can I have a mellow life or will I be driving all of the time. I think I just need a cheering up. thanks! anxious

I grew up in L.A. but haven't lived there in many years. However, if you would like to not be so car-dependent, I would recommend living near the Wilshire corridor. Buses go up and down Wilshire quite frequently, and you can actually make use of public transportation. I liked taking the bus on Wilshire because there were always so many different kinds of people on them. Lori

The Getty Museum is near the west side of LA, which is one of the nicer areas of LA to live. Of course, nice also translates to more expensive, too. The neighborhoods/towns include Brentwood, Santa Monica, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Bel Air, Beverly Hills. Santa Monica has rent control. Youmre also close to the Santa Monica Mountains/Hollywood Hills. Because youmre near the coast, the area is not polluted or gross as many people stereotypically think. Also, the LA basin has a lot less air pollution now than twenty years ago. I donmt expect you will be driving all the time, you could probably stay ensconced on the west side for most of what you need.

Now if you head north of the Getty, you end up in the San Fernando Valley, which to me is a little more of the LA stereotype these days in terms of being a flat expanse with more air pollution (and also less expensive to live).

I currently and for the past 9 years have lived in the Richmond/El Cerrito area. However I was born an raised in L.A. not to far from the new Getty Museum and think about moving back often. The area you mentioned is quite nice but it can get a little pricey. Here's the thing if you can afford to live in the Bay you can probably afford L.A. West Los Angeles, Santa Monica are two areas that I would reccomend. Just remember all locations have good and bad. It will be up to you to find your good. Just remember to be open minded and I'm sure everything will work out. klyn

How to find out about LA-area schools

May 2003

My family is contemplating a move to the Los Angeles area. We are looking in Malibu for housing. How does one go about finding good (comparable to the bay area mentality) preschools and elementary? What resources are out there for finding not only schools but desirable, family-oriented neighborhoods in the vastness of the Los Angeles area? I'm sure this network is a good place to start but I'm not sure, exactly, how to use it wisely. Any suggestions and pointers are deeply appreciated. Thanks

I was in the same situation last year. We were looking for an African-American community that had good public schools in the LA areas. So, I recommend that you get the McCormack guide to the LA area. It is a relocation guide that will also give you all school and preschool info. The only thing it does not address is the racial make-up each neighborhood, but that you get from the US Census 2000 and the school district websites. Also, once you have selected a few areas you like, look on the official websites of those cities. It will give you a good idea of what they are about. It is a big area but if you know what you are looking for, you will find it. good luck

I was visiting L.A. last week. While in a children's bookstore (Storyopolis on Robertson Blvd.) I saw a couple of hefty books about schools in L.A. I'm pretty sure they were for both public and private schools. You might want to read those books as part of your research. Nancy

Thousand Oaks

Nov 2003

We are moving to Thousand Oaks (about 35 miles NW of LA) in December with 2 kids ( ages 4 and 2). We dont know anyone in the area and would appreciate any recommendations, advice, warnings. Is it a racially/culturally diverse population? What are good areas near by to live/buy a house in? Thanks in advance.
Sorry to move, excited about a new adventure

Thousand Oaks is a lovely community. It is a great place for raising kids and is very family oriented. People who live there are extremely nice and friendly. It is a quiet suburban neighborhood with a good school district. (School districts are of utmost important in L.A.) However, in terms of racial diversity, it is not diversed at all. It is mostly Caucasin and very little in between. Good Luck. anon

I grew-up in Thousand Oaks. It was a great place to grow up. Very safe, suburban fun place as a kid. It is or was not diverse at all. Everyone was the same. it may be different now. I lived in Lynn Ranch area near to the Mall and easy freeway acess. close to some good schools. the area was built in the 70's mostly ranch style homes. with decent backyards. My father lives in westlake. Nice homes there and newer shops and movie theaters ect. very quite around there not much happens. which is good for kids growing up. we were able to play outside all the time with out any problems. I wouldn't do that in Oaklland. Good luck danielle

This was sent to me by a friend who lives in Agoura Hills (next door to Thousand Oaks) and who moved there five years ago after living his entire life in the Bay Area.
Thousand Oaks is the only large city in what is known as the Conejo Valley. Other ''named'' areas include Newbury Park (actually a part of Thousand Oaks), Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, and Oak Park (actually a part of Agoura Hills). Thousand Oaks is perhaps 120,000 people, the whole valley is perhaps 180,000. Lots of detailed information is available at The valley is bordered on one side by the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The other side of the Santa Monica Mountains is Malibu, then the Pacific Ocean. If you drive ''up'' the coast (actually West right here), you reach Camarillo, Oxnard, Ventura, and Santa Barbara (about 50 miles away). If you drive ''down'' the coast (actually East), you immediately enter the San Fernando Valley. Burbank/Hollywood is 30 miles, as is Beverly Hills. Downtown LA is perhaps 40 miles, LAX is 45 miles. Inland (actually North) is Simi Valley. Thousand Oaks (actually the whole Conejo Valley) is basically a bedroom community for the entertainment industry, with a bunch of biotech and a little high-tech thrown in. There is a reasonable amount of cultural/ethnic diversity -- not as much as most of the Bay Area, but much more than neighboring Simi Valley. There seems to be a fairly large Indian community, including a large Hindu temple near town. Food diversity is not too great, but is getting better. Lots of Italian, Mexican, and Asian (Chinese, Japanese, and a couple Thai), we finally have decent Indian and Mediteranean. We also finally have a brewpub, but it's the only one for many miles so you can't even get into it. Most people go to the appropriate ethnic areas of San Fernando or Los Angeles for real ethnic food. Los Angeles is an ethnic goldmine, much more so in my opinion than San Francisco or even Berkeley. I went to lunch at an Uzbecki restaurant the other day. There is a huge variety of housing possibilities. Lots of typical suburban housing tracts, new and old, side by side with lakeside communities, horse properties, ranches, and anything in between. Housing is a lot cheaper than the Bay Area, with a lot more variation. There is more emphasis on newer houses, but there are plenty of older neighborhoods. Not always as much character, since most of the houses are originally tracts. The weather is quite a bit warmer than the Bay Area, but with a lot of gradation -- the West end of the valley (Newbury Park) is typically 10 degrees cooler than the East end (Agoura). It's dry and sunny, but not quite as hot as neighboring San Fernando Valley. There are a lot of possibilities for recreation. The Santa Monica Mountains are 10-20 minutes from anywhere in the valley: camping, backpacking, day hikes, rock climbing, mountain biking, you name it. Malibu is 20 minutes away, Ventura is 30, for surfing, scuba, ocean kayaking, or just lazing on the beach. Several of the best beaches in California are less than 30 minutes away. Skiing is 3 hours away, the desert is less than 2. Las Vegas is a 5 hour drive, or a 45 minute flight. Horseback riding is very, very big, as is golf. There's not much in the way of nightlife. Limited music scene, no clubs or anything like that. Hollywood club district is 40 minutes away. There's not much in the way of cultural events. The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Center has a couple of small auditoriums, which host smaller concerts. No real museums, no arts scene. For real arts exposure or theater, Los Angeles has a ton, and most of it is less than an hour away (Getty, LACMA, etc). Open Space is a big deal, much bigger than the Bay Area. It is central to all discussions of politics, planning, development, etc. The people who live here do not want it to become an extension of the San Fernando Valley, and they have the clout to make it stick. Conejo Valley schools are supposed to be great. Two districts, Las Virgenes and Oak Park, are supposed to be among the best in the country. The place is littered with ''Presidential Blue Ribbon'' schools. The popular phrase is that people move here from Los Angeles or the San Fernando Valley and take their kids out of private schools to get them into the local public schools. I can't really vouch for the truth of this, but it's a popular topic of conversation. There's certainly a lot of money available, and some serious big names: Heather Locklear, Erin Brockovitch, Wayne Gretsky, etc. Big differences from Northern California: lots more movie theaters, most restaurants have outside seating, warmer, drier, high-tech is an after-thought. I have not found traffic to be any worse than the Bay Area, in fact in most cases it is better. There are a few exceptions, but they are generally avoidable. Everything in SoCal is spread out much more, people do a lot more driving to get to places. You'll encounter celebrities you actually recognize when you go out to dinner. LAX is a WAY better airport than SFO. As far as where to live, there are a lot of options, depending on what you want and how much you want to pay. Do you want a new house or an older one? Large lot or small? Middle of town, outskirts, or even rural? Want to live downtown, or have a horse trail instead of a sidewalk? You could even live in the city (West LA, Sunset, Santa Monica) and drive a reverse commute. For new, fairly upscale homes, lots of open space and a little far from town, fairly cool, there's Dos Vientos (lots of info on the web). Not quite as new but still very recent, less expensive, less open space, warmer, is Oak Park. Nice homes in older neighborhoods, less expensive, warmer is Agoura Hills. Large lots, horse properties, older, less expensive is Old Agoura (warmer) or Lynn Ranch (cooler). Very rural, multi-acre lots, older houses, more expensive is Mulholland, less expensive is Moorpark. Middle expensive, beautiful houses near or on the lake, Westlake Village. Very expensive, new or older homes, beautiful custom architecture, snazzy neighborhoods, potentially on the golf course, North Ranch. Want to live on the beach? You can pay millions in Malibu or get a more reasonable place up the coast in Oxnard. A few fun (sort of touristy) things to do after you move here: - California Poppy Preserve (Antelope Valley, in the desert) - Getty (gardens are ok for small kids) - LACMA (usually some good kid-friendly exhibits) - Brea Tar Pits - VIP tour of Warner Bros Studio (the best studio tour) (not for kids) - see a taping of a sitcom (doesn't matter which one) (not for small kids) - the beaches (start at Malibu Creek and work your way up) - Hollywood walk of stars / Mann's Chinese Theater / Kodak Theater - Beverly Hills shopping district (Rodeo drive) - Sunday tea at the Beverly Hills Hotel (not for small kids) - Joshua Tree, Death Valley (not a day trip) - LA Zoo (huge, easy to get to, hot in the summer, crowded) - Santa Barbara Zoo (small, easy to get to, much cooler, less crowded) - EATM (America's Teaching Zoo, at Moorpark community college) - Santa Monica Boardwalk - Santa Monica Third Street Promenade - Venice Beach Boardwalk (tacky, but you gotta do it)
forwarded from a friend, still glad I live in Northern California