Most of my attorney friends fall into 2 camps--those who work downtown, and those who work in Century City. As you alluded to, LA is big, and there are lots of great choices, but two immediately come to mind.
Living in Downtown itself is an interesting choice that a lot of young people are turning to. If your job is there, you might want to consider it. This area has been going through a lot of development recently, especially new lofts, and living there, you may feel, in a way, part of the avant guarde. 18 months from now, it will have changed further. There are a lot of great goings- on downtown, in addition to resturants and bars, lots of fantastic arts stuff: the LA Phil, LA Opera, REDCAT, Museum of Contemporary Art, and more.
The other choice that comes immediately to mind is the area around Sawtelle Blvd (just West of the 405 freeway, North of Olympic, South of Santa Monica Blvd, East Barrington). There are a lot of young professionals there as well, and this is another area that's undergoing substational changes, although on a much smaller scale. Many of the older 1940s bungalows are being transformed into architectural showpieces, some by first time designers, and some by internationally recognized architects (Frank Gehry has a little design there, though most people overlook it). The intersection of the old and new, as well as the diversity of cultures that exist there, make life interesting. Also, that section of Sawtelle Blvd has a huge number of really good places to eat.
Good luck, and have fun thinking about your move to LA!
As a former SoCal resident, I would recommend that you look at Belmont Shores and head north up the coast to Santa Monica. If you end up in downtown LA, the commute from Belmont (Long Beach) might be bit trying, but possible. Check out the beach communities of Hermosa, Manhattan, Marina del Rey, Santa Monica, and Venice, and all the communities not mentioned but located in between the points mentioned.
Have fun in SoCal.......loved it while I was there.........a different time and different lifestyle. I am quite happy and settled on the Jersey shore now. (Still sticking close to the ocean/shore!)
My guess is that your going to be in Century City, Beverly Hills or Downtown (all the law firms are there). If this is your first home I think a Condo is a good option. People new to LA tend to love Santa Monica. Close to the beach and the Westside. Brentwood is also a good option. That would put you in close proximity to Century City and Beverly Hills. If you end up Downtown and you choose to live there than prepare yourself for about a 1 hour commute in traffic every morning. If you choose Downtown you might want to cosider Silverlake or Echo Park or a loft downtown. To enjoy life in LA the best way to do it is to spend as little time as possible in traffic.
You can always count on a good urban investment walking distance to the best shopping areas such as Beverly Hills or the Melrose area. You will always have a viable rental alternative regardless how the market is performing. If your salary doesn't allow you to buy near Beverly Hills, as close to the Melrose or Beverly district will give many Duplex options to help cover your carrying costs. You will find that should a revitalization of a downtown become too oversaturated, you may be stuck in an upside down position if the developers cut their per square foot sales prices too far below what you pay for your unit. Remember, unless you are a savy real-estate investor or get in very early in the game, the real-estate developers will do their best to unload their product to please their lenders, not protect your interest. Engage a real-estate professional who is familiar with more than one area and can show you trailing comparables in areas that you expect to spend your valuable free time on your days or time when not working.
Musikantow & Associates
Keller Williams Beverly Hills
439 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, California 90210
Los Angeles is a great and vast city. There are several neighborhoods with young professionals, several of which have been mentioned by the previous real estate professionals. I really like the Los Feliz/Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles. It is an area which is centrally located and maintains its classic appeal intertangled with contemporary style. The houses and condos in the Los Feliz area have maintained the average home price even in today's market. It is very close to the bling bling of Hollywood, the posh of Beverly Hills, the artsy of Atwater/Silverlake/North Hollywood, and the buz of downtown LA.
To get more information on Los Feliz or the Hollywood Hills area please feel free to give us a call. We can help you find a home or investment property. We usually put together a neighborhood portfolio for our clients which describe each neighborhood they may be interested in, and give them the average sqaure foot pricing, and the average molnthly rentals in the area.
Lou and Alex
LA Real Estate Group
LA can be expensive and "safe" is relative. As for where I would recommend looking... I have lived in the Fairfax district (near Melrose Avenue and alongside West Hollywood) and in the Hollywood Hills. Both areas were teeming with interesting things to see and do. One of the things that I would recommend your doing is allowing me to set you up to start viewing some listings now - not with the intention that you will be buying one of these homes specifically, but more so that you can get an idea of what is available and what your dollar buys.
After you have begun educating yourself about what you get for the money and what amenities are important to you it would be easier to help focus your search and give you more specific information.
I would suggest looking at properties in Silverlake, West Hollywood, Fairfax, Santa Monica or Venice if you like the beach, the Hollywood Hills and of course good old down town LA. You might also be interested in exploring the possibility of living outside of the city proper and commuting in using MetroLink.
Feel free to get in touch with me. You are under no obligation to choose me as as your representative, but the sooner you start your education the better informed you will be.
Tisza Major-Posner, Realtor, Keller Williams (909) 837-8922
You need to narrow down your price range to get a good answer of where to look. A 1br condo can cost from $125k - $2M+ depending on what area you're looking in. It will also help to let us know where your job will be, because that can make a huge difference on where you will want to live. If you're working in the Valley I'm not going to suggest Long Beach. Or, if you're working in Venice I won't suggest Silverlake, etc. Unless you're ok with sitting in traffic for 1-2hrs each way I'd suggest staying pretty close to your work - 5mi and under.
At least a general idea of those two things will help you get a much clearer answer. I'd be happy to discuss your options in more detail at your convenience. You can find all my contact info at http://www.bestonthewest.com.
For example, Los Feliz/Silver Lake/Echo Park are all easy commutes to downtown, plus if loft living is good for you there are all kinds of new places downtown.
If you are working in Mid Wilshire, West Hollywood and Hollywood are not far off and can be very appealing on your off time.
Much of "The West Side" (west of The 405) is fun, Santa Monica comes to mind. Little downtown Culver City
is way cool.
Broker, Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills
I agree that Downtown is up and coming, but the areas I mentioned are established.
The L.A. Condo Store
We ARE Downtown L.A.'s Urban Living Experts
There is also a train that takes you into downtown and Hollywood.
Best of luck.
Hi, you received many good answers and some great locations to check out. I believe I didn't see any comments from the Long Beach area. Are you going to be working in the downtown area of L.A.? The commute from L.A. to Long Beach can be around 30 min. to 45 min. of course depending on traffic.
The Long Beach coastal area is still regarded as one of the most affordable locations. Just to name a few, Belmont Shores, Belmont Heights, Alamitos Heights, Naples, etc. If this should be an area that you would like more information on, don't hesitate to contact me, I work for Coldwell Banker and it would be my pleasure to show you our city.
Plus, it is much cheaper than most other areas on the Westside. I have lived in Westwood, Venice & Hollywood and I now live in Culver City and I love it. It is a little town in the middle of the big city. Check it out.
My suggestion in regards to your house hunt is to plan a trip to LA in the near future to visit many of the cities the previous Realtors have mentioned. If that is not an option, I would recommend signing a 6 month lease near your law firm so that you can become acclimated with the different areas out here and the good and best driving routes to and from work.
As for where to buy, one of my favorite cities is Westwood. Westwood Village borders the UCLA campus and its shops, restaurants, and nightlife is frequented by current UCLA (undergrad, graduate, medical, etc.) students and young professionals. As well, many movie premieres are held at the two movie theatres in Westwood Village. All in all, it's a really happening place!
Next on my list would be Brentwood. There are a number of law firms located in Brentwood, however the median home price in Brentwood is quite a bit higher than that of Westwood. You will still be able to find "affordability" in Brentwood, but your options may not be as abundant. And depending on where you will be working, Brentwood may be too much of a hike.
A few of the previous Realtors mentioned Century City. To me, Century City is best of both worlds. It is not quite as pedestrian friendly as Westwood or Brentwood, but it is a short distance to the heart of Beverly Hills (where many law firms are located). Obviously, the shops, restaurants, and star-sightings are a-plenty in Beverly Hills! Century City is close to enough to the Beverly Hills chaos, but also a short distance to Westwood and Brentwood where the younger, "hipper" crowds may gather. Also, there is a great Westfield Shopping Town (shopping mall) in Century City with, I believe, LA's only Tiffany store!
Lastly, if you are working in downtown, I think you will want to live downtown. As Ron mentioned below, a ton of money has been pumped in to redeveloping the downtown area. Parts of downtown are much safer and prettier than they were 3 to 5 years ago, and the metamorphosis is not yet complete! A friend of mine just bought a condo downtown in an old, but recently updated building. She loves her condo and the charm of the building, but her parking is a block and a half away! That should definitely be a consideration on your part - when you're buying your condo, make sure you know your parking situation before you finish the deal!
Anywho, that's my two cents. All the best Abby and welcome to the jungle! =P
The answers that were given below are all informative. I would also add to the comments that there is definitely a price difference between a condo and a house in LA. Since you mentioned buying a house, you may want to consider finding a place in the "Valley" (Sherman Oaks, Encino area) verses the LA vicinity (Westwood, Downtown, Century City, etc) . Depending on where you will be commuting to/from, the drive may or may not be as bad from the Valley. You can browse through my website and run some searches that will provide you with statistical data on the various locations.