Lostinla, Other/Just Looking in Los Angeles, CA

My fiance and I are moving to LA. He will work at Thousand Oaks and I will at UCLA. Which is the best place to live for an okay commute for both/one?

Asked by Lostinla, Los Angeles, CA Thu Nov 11, 2010

If we live in Thousand Oaks, it looks like it will be a very long commute for me on 101 to LA. I am not even sure I will be able to get parking at UCLA easily. UCLA offers vanpools but the hours are not very convenient as I may be working late and my hours are unpredictable. We are thinking about areas like Calabasas but then both of us will be driving. Is it worth considering living in LA itself? How is traffic driving to Thousand Oaks from LA? Or is it best to live in the more subarban areas?

Any advice on what place would be ideal to live in for the most manageable commute would be helpful (and what to expect in terms of commute). Ideally, we would like to take public transportation, like a train, but that doesn't seem to be a viable option.

We will be moving from Baltimore where we had 5-10 minute commute a day (by walk or shuttle) so this will be a big change!

Any info on whether it is a good time to buy property if we plan on selling in 3 years will also be helpful.


Help the community by answering this question:


Lee Fruchter’s answer
Traffic from the valley to UCLA is getting worse and worse every year. I would look at your budget and see if you can afford a condo on the Westside. I sold a condo to a faculty member at UCLA. He decided he it was ideal for him to live close to campus. There are great areas such as Culver City and Mar Vista.

Good luck,

Web Reference: http://www.homesbylee.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 12, 2012
depends on your budget. for right now you are probably best off renting. LA home values are on thier way down and will soon be more affordable
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 18, 2010
Dear Lostinla,

Wow. You are probably overwhelmed with all the answers you received from your question. I will try to keep this as brief and to the point as possible. My husband and I are both in our cars daily and we have 3 kids, one in college, one in high school and one in elementary school. I really do feel like an expert on this city and the school system. Here are my points of advice:

1. Do NOT live in the San Fernando Valley, or NO FARTHER THAN Sherman Oaks or Studio City. If you do, you will curse every day you're here on your drive to and from UCLA. Your husband should do the commute as his will most always will be against traffic.

2. Now is a great time to consider buying a home with interest rates at their historical lows and expected to rise in 2011. L.A.'s prices are at their lowest in 7-8 years. As a Buyer, you have all the power right now, especially between now and spring. Inventory may be lower than spring and summer, but Sellers are more motivated.Holding on for 3 years is a good plan, but 5 would be better - and that goes for anywhere in the country. Renting is just throwing money in the trash. Renting for $1,500 could get you a nice one-bedroom, but not a great two-bedroom anywhere worth considering.

3. There are specific areas where people walk a lot in L.A. and where there are cafes, bars, theaters, etc. I would recommend: near the Grove/Farmer's Market, Los Feliz, Culver City, Westwood and Santa Monica. To travel between them, you will have to drive.

4. Do not expect to depend on public transportation whatsoever. There are no trains on the westside yet, with Hollywood and Highland as the current endpoint. The addtional lines will take years to complete. Buses to/.from the valley and the city are not reliable. Plan on using your cars.

I do hope I was helpful. Friend me on Facebook , Follow me on Twitter or join my LinkedIn Network to ask me more questions or to just learn about me.

I wish you luck on your new path and feel free to contact me if you need any additional advice.

Michelle Menna
Keller Williams Realty Westside
(323) 559-4422
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 18, 2010
Hi LostinLA
I know that commute very well and use to do it all the time.
If commute is your biggest concern,....
Calabasas would probably be a smart idea.
The person going to UCLA if you go by 615am you are set. after that it gets worse as time goes on til around 945am.
The other direction to T.O. aka Thousand Oaks, is usually a decent drive.
Here is a way to look at it.
in the morning on a weekday, at the times you would go to work, take a look at google maps and click on that traffic icon. you will get an idea.
Time frames are important.
Should I guess someone is working at AMGEN.
UCLA is in the middle of traffic gridlock no matter where you live.
You can be 5 miles away and take 45 minutes.
If you live in LA by UCLA, and someone drives to T.O. that could work, in the morning commute but the evening back will be a nightmare.
Then there is the side track option of driving by way of Malibu, Malibu canyon.
The 101 and the 405 freeways in the areas you are thinking are going to be tough.
I left it a year and a half ago for a reason. SANITY.
You may want to check jetpack.com as well,.. J/K
If you were going to do the fair thing for both,...
I would say I would say try to find a home in the area South West of the 405 and the 101 around Encino.
Then you are looking at around a 30 minute commute each.
Leasing might be the way to go on this one.
The next 3 years could be iffy. Could be a great time to buy if you were staying 5-7 years.
I am sure $$$ is a factor.
South of Ventura blvd is usually pretty good and pricey.

Harold Sharpe - Broker
So Cal Homes Realty
(951) 821-8211
California Department of Real Estate License # 01312992
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 18, 2010
I would recommend moving closer to UCLA, the 405 freeway has very heavy traffic in the mornings. Santa Clarita is also quite far, you might want to consider West. Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, or Malibu, all of these areas will get you there usually within 15 minutes or so. A commute from Thousand Oaks can be up to 2 hours in the morning and supper time traffic, you want to enjoy LA, not spend your life on the freeway. Los Angeles does also have great public transportation, this may also be a good alternative for you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 18, 2010
Definitely Calabasas is too far to comuute to UCLA. There are great cities such as Santa Clarita Valley where I'm located. I travel all over Southern California to meet with clients. Does the drive take some patience. Yes. But Santa Clarita Valley is a fabulous place to live! Great schools. Simi Valley and Burbank have some very nice homes. Keep in mind, the closer you get to UCLA, homes become more expensive, the less sq. ft you're money will buy you.

I would be happy to refer an exception Realtor who could help with your decisons.

If you need further assistance, I'd love to talk. I can be reached at (661) 255-3335.

Cheryl Garner, Mortgage Expert
Fairview Mortgage Capital, Inc.
Web Reference: http://www.cherylgarner.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
Traffic from Woodland Hills to Westside UCLA area is thick in the morning. You may wish to consider living closer to UCLA so the commute time would be reduced substantially. By comparison prices on the Westside are usually higher than those in the Valley, Woodland Hills area. If you are looking to rent, I have a great home in the hills of Encino for lease, more or less 1/2 way between the two. Let me know if you have interest in seeing it. Great neighborhood in an excellent elementary school district.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
Another respondent may have already given you this answer, but I think Woodland Hills might be a good bet. There are decent shops and lots of restaurants, and the value is in line with what you're looking for.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 16, 2010
Hi Lostinia,
I lived in Thousand Oaks and commuted to Beverly Hills for a few years. This was before Thousand Oaks became so popular. Sorry to say, our public transportation is really not up to speed, hence the traffic problems you hear about on the news. There were times the commute took 2 hours when there was rain or an accident on the 101.
I would recommend that you consider living closer to your work. Take a look at my area Which is Culver City and Playa Vista areas. You can learn more about Culver City from my localism site at http://localism.com/ca/culver_city.
From Culver it's a straight shot to UCLA no more then 20 minutes even with the worst traffic.
As far as timing for purchase, home prices are down and so are interest rates. We don't expect home prices to drop much more then they already have in WLA.

Web Reference: http://www.doreneslavitz.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 14, 2010
Hi LOST, the specific bus route that I referred to is a safe bus. It is full of students and others working in Westwood.
Traffic westbound on the 101 can be congested depending on the time of day. The fastest way to get to Westwood from the west end of the Valley and Thousand Oaks is the 101 freeway. yes you can take Kanan Dune rd or Los Virgenes to the Pacific Coast Highway and then to Sunset blvd and then to Gayley to the parking lot you need. That trip could add as much as an hour to your commute. the freeway is the least problematic way to commute to UCLA. Rental rates are similar in the areas along the 101 freeway. Buying a home is totally different in some of the areas along this 101.
Sincerely, Hayden
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 14, 2010
Hi, distance wise Sherman Oaks & Encino which is pricey is the ideal location for both of you. Tarzana & Woodland Hills are your other options. Traffic is slow during rush hours but I dnt think it will be more than 30 minutes commute. Great time to buy, rates are very low and prices are not as high as they use to be. Find a short sale and you have a deal. I am not sure about selling in 3 years, depends on how the economy will turn out specially employment. You can always buy and rent out after 3 years if you can't sell, keep it as income property since it is also a good time to buy investment properties. If you like I could add you on an email alert where you would receive emails of properties new to the market daily. It will give you a good idea of what you can get for your money. Email me @ shahomes@pinprop.com

Shaw Sadat
Pinnacle Estate Properties Inc.
DRE # 01456976
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 13, 2010
Lost in LA,

I agree with Caroline. Rent for a while until you get a good "feel" of the area. Very few folks are blessed as you in Baltimore as far as commuting. Finding an appropriate mid-ground between Thousand Oaks and UCLA to settle in will take a while. Only fools rush in. Don't be foolish. Happiness overshadows price or rates.

Happy funding, Rudi
Web Reference: http://www.umboc.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 13, 2010
Hello Lost in LA,

I went through a similar decision making process when I relocated to LA from the east coast a few years ago. Here are a few of my thoughts.

Living in Los Angeles can be fun and exciting, with great access to all the city has to offer. But it is also a huge city, and getting around can be difficult when traffic is heavy. A commute from LA to Thousand Oaks might be slightly easier than the other way, but traffic is typically heavy in both directions. If you are likely to work late frequently at UCLA, traffic may be lighter for you on your commute during the off hours than it would be during rush hour.

Somewhere in the San Fernando Valley would offer a good compromise to equalize your commutes, but most areas in the Valley have a suburban feel, and you'll have to be selective if you want to be within walking distance to restaurants and shops. You can get more house for your money in the San Fernando Valley, but average temperatures are also higher there.

There are beautiful areas of Thousand Oaks that make feel like you are out in the country. I think it comes down to what kind of area you want to live in - urban, suburban, or exurban. They all have pros and cons. My recommendation would be for each of you to test your likely commutes during your typical drive time, and see what feels reasonable.

Another way to think about it is if one of you has a long commute, the other partner takes on more responsibility for household chores and errands - that strategy has helped us over the years.

Now is definitely a great time to buy - interest rates are unbelievably low. Good luck!

Tom Tostengard
DRE 01880441
Prudential California Realty
Web Reference: http://tomtostengard.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 13, 2010
Traffic from Thousand Oaks to UCLA can be horrific, but I also think you can split the difference by exploring Sherman Oaks, Encino, and maybe Studio City. Living the valley, you get more bang for your buck, and experience less traffic on a day-to-day basis. Living in the city, you experience traffic as soon as you get onto a major road. In the 'burbs, you're less likely to experience it as severely.

LA is a driving town so the public transportation is more limited than in other metropolitan cities. I would say come visit for a short trip and explore which neighborhood you feel comfortable in. Rent, see what's comfortable, and spend the time to see which is the best option for you both. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 12, 2010
Hi. A lot has to do with your housing budget. What kind of property are you looking for and how many bed, baths, etc, as this will play into the neighborhood and commute as well. Price ranges vary vastly from Westwood to Reseda for instance. And yes, it is a fantastic time to buy... if you have the means, credit and downpayment, owning may be cheaper than renting. Always happy to assist.

Richard "RJ" Kas (SFR, SRES)
"Representing the finest properties from Los Angeles worldwide"
KAS Properties - Coldwell Banker Previews International - Beverly Hills East
9388 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310.859-5334 office - 310.488.9826 mobile - 310-273-0670 fax ATT: RJ
RichardKas@gmail.com - http://www.RJforLA.com - DRE: 01352771
Sellers Buyers Investors Leasing Consulting
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 12, 2010
Hi Hayden,

My fiancé will work in Thousand Oaks. Is it true that 101 can also be a nightmare heading west? What about places like Topangs or Calabasas - could I potentially take side roads and the coastal highway to UCLA?

Also, are the city buses you mentioned considered safe in LA?

Thanks a lot!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 12, 2010
Hi LOST, if you decide to live and rent in the San Fernando Valley, I would suggest Sherman Oaks as the place to find a rental. Ventura Blvd in this area has great restaurants. Presently there are 11 available rentals in this city. 1 to 3 bedrooms from $1300 to $2000/month. Where will your fiance be working? There is a city bus that will take you to UCLA from Sherman Oaks.
Hayden Healy
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 12, 2010
Thank you all for your input. To address questions about lifestyle -

we certainly can not afford a luxurious lifestyle but we should have plenty to live comfortably (I hope!). If we decide to rent, we wouldn't want to spend more that $2,000 a month - ideally around $1,500.

it would be nice to be in an area which is quieter, yet has cute restaurants, shops and bars around. We are not a big fan of typical suburban chains and strip malls so avoiding this atmosphere will be nice. Something more cultural would be ideal.

Neither of us are big fans of driving (terrible traffic and the probability of very car insurance for two cars is not very attractive) yet it looks like that is inevitable. We can deal with that for a few years! But the easiest, shortest commute for both of us would be a big determinant in our choice of place. It is hard to have much of a life when back home if you are tired out after a long and painful commute!

We would be open to buying or renting but will have to think about it more since we have received some conflicting advice here.

We don't really have friends or relatives in the area so that does not tie us to any place.

Thanks again!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 12, 2010
Good afternoon LostinLA, There are so many questions that I need to ask you in order to give you good advise. I will make this simple, live in an area that you are familiar with. If you have no knowledge of this corner of greater Los Angeles, ask friends , relatives, future co-workers for their advise. If this source of information is not sufficient then rely on a realtor who can answer with very specific information. I have re-written this answer 5 times. The areas you have indicated interest in are very diverse. The amount of money that you have to use to rent or buy will dictate the areas you should focus on. Driving in Los Angeles and Southern California is not about how many miles you need to go, rather it is the amount of time it will take to arrive at your destination. Think more about the quality of life outside of work when deciding where to live. Enjoying life in Southern California revolves around the weather. We can play outside at least 350 days a year. Work is work, career is career, but life after work is great in Southern California. Contact me if you have specific questions about areas in the San Fernando and Conejo Valleys.
Hayden Healy
DRE# 01302825
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 12, 2010
Thank you all very much for your replies! This is certainly useful information. I am glad there is hope :)

After discussing this with my fiance, I will certainly be in touch!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 12, 2010
Hi Lost;
I have lived here by UCLA my entire life, and worked here in residential real estate with relocating buyers for 35 years, and I have learned one thing: Every housing problem has a solution, and yours certainly does.
Right now the public transportation (light rail, etc) into UCLA does not exist. (There will be a Westside Metro Line forthcoming, but not that fits your time frame.) There are dedicated bus lines from Santa Monica as well as the shuttle you mention, and I believe that carpools are set up through Human Resources(LA has a lot of diamond lanes for multi-passenger riders, which save lots of commuting time).
Now to housing. First of all, you need to determine whether it makes sense to buy or rent. I work with my buyers to have an "out strategy"; can the property they want be an easy sale in a tough market? What are the odds of it gaining equity (by making subtle improvements, by buying low in a great neighborhood, etc.) I have a great report that uses a reliable algorithm to place valuation in the poor-fair-good-very good-great category, and it allows you to compare that property with others around it. It can tell you at what price you need to buy in order to make the property a great value.
If we can't construct a good "out strategy", then it is better to rent. Let the landlord absorb the market concerns. Allow your savings to grow, until a purchase makes sense.
None of the above is really answerable in this forum. That being said, when you know if you are a buyer or tenant, it is time to look at property. You should take into account your lifestyle, commute time, type of community and amenities you like, walkability (YES WE DO WALK IN LOS ANGELES!), budget, etc. Sites like Walk Score will let you know just what amenities can be found in walking distance, and how easy it is to get around on foot.
Can you afford the area you want? What concessions are you willing to make? These are all important considerations. Are you open to looking at some of the many architecturally or culturally significant areas? Would you like to live in one of Los Angeles' thriving ethnic mini areas, with shopping, food, and culture all alive throughout? Until we can delve a little deeper, it's hard to give a proper answer, but the answer is there. And lease or buy (or lease for a year to get your feet wet, and then buy) you will find it.
Understand that Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolis with most everyone in your identical situation, and we all make it work. You will, too, with the right guidance.
Best of luck,
Deborah Bremner
The Bremner Group at Coldwell Banker
REALTOR, 00588885, Accredued Buyer Agent, Certified Relocation Specialist
(O) 310-571-1364 DIRECT
(D) 818.564.6591
Web Reference: http://www.walkscore.com/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 12, 2010
Hi Lostinla,

Your best bet can be the south western San Fernando Valley communities of Sherman Oaks, Encino, Woodland Hills, all of which have great access to the 405 and 101 freeways and surface streets for shortcuts to your commute...and believe me, we all use and rely almost all of the time, on these shortcuts to get around! They are very central for both of your commutes and these areas hold their values and you can get so much more here than on the Westside near UCLA.

Now is an amazing time to buy because not only are prices still low and we are in a buyers market, interest rates are very low as well. You can get a FHA loan with 3.5% minimum as a down payment on a very low interest rate that is locked for 30 years...this low interest rate does increase your buying power tremendously.

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley and also have lived in Westwood by UCLA...I love both areas but definitely love the Valley much more because it is less crowded and more relaxed, less busy, yet you are still in Los Angeles and still have all of the great restaurants, stores, coffee shops, and entertainment.

I would be more than happy to help you guys find a perfect home. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments.

Thank you and take care,
Andrew Demirchyan, Realtor
Keller Williams Realty Hollywood Hills
(818) 919-2018
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 12, 2010
I think this is so cute ! I understand why people would want to take public transportation, I was once in t he same situation: I did not drive until I move to LA, there is nothing you can do about it. Now I drive to go 2 blocks away. Welcome to the Los Angelino way of life! If you end up both driving, you will be just feeling right at home in LA. That's fine, as long as you enjoy the ride and you take the easiest route, as Marjorie already wrote. Make you car comfortable, always have snacks ready, plenty of gas and happy music .

For the real estate situation, look at the graph on my home page http://www.muriellevin.com at the bottom. We have reached a plateau. To buy or not to buy really depends on what else you would do with that money and how much you'd gain.
Always happy to help you,

Muriel Levin, Realtor
Coldwell Banker
Agent immobilier a Los Angeles et la region
Web Reference: http://www.muriellevin.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 12, 2010
To kind of equalize the commute for the both of you, I recommend Woodland Hills, Encino or maybe even Sherman Oaks. Either way you are going to hit traffic, but traffic is slightly less going from south to north during the traffic hours so you might consider living closer to UCLA. There are other things too consider also such as property values, air quality and weather. The Valley is more affordable than the west-side, but the air quality is higher and the weather nicer on the West-side.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 11, 2010
Hi Lostinla

Thousand Oaks and Ucla (westwood) are two different directions. I suggest somewhere in between (without calculating distance) maybe Tarzana or Encino? If you would like to buy, you would definitely get more for your money in the valley compared to westside. It's a great time to buy!

Good luck.

Sara Mehrpouyan, CDPE
Rodeo Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 11, 2010
One thing you will love about LA is our weather. One thing you will definitely miss about Baltimore will be a short commute and public transportation options. I think it makes more sense to live closer to UCLA, as morning commute going N on the 405 and W on the 101 will be easier (against traffic). On the other hand if you will be keeping late hours, financially it will be much more beneficial to live along the 101 - The Valley is much more affordable that the West side. My recommendation is to arrange for temporary housing for a couple of months and try the different routes to see which is the better option for you, and then rent/buy.
Given the current market conditions, I am not recommending that people buy if they don’t plan to hold for at least five years. Is the 3 years, because you will be going home at the end of that period? If that is the case then rent. If someone is paying for your relocation on either end, then it makes sense for you to purchase. Don’t underestimate the power of California sunshine, it just might grow on you and now is a great time to buy.

Welcome to California. Feel free to contact me in you need help finding the right home to buy or lease.

Best Regards,
Catherine Bedrossian
Home Sales Pro
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 11, 2010
First and foremost WELCOME TO LA!!!
Not to sound cliche' nobody walks in LA or takes public transit, at least if you don't want to leave the night before to arrive on time!
I lived in Westwood for 30 years and while your husband may be a gentleman and defer to you having the short commute to school, his drive through the Sepulveda Pass will get very tired, very fast. Also, unless you have a liberal budget for rent you might want to consider the West San Fernando Valley. As the other agents mentioned, Woodland Hills (I have lived there too!) might be a viable option, although I must warn you it's hot in the summer. Both of you would have a bit of a commute but it would be somewhat equal in length. In WH both of you can take "surface streets" to get to the Westside & T.O. You for example, can avoid the 405 by taking Van Nuys 'over the hill' or even Coldwater Cyn which will take you right to Sunset whereby you can shoot right into Westwood to the campus. Your husband could avoid the 101 by taking Topanga to the 118 Fwy West which is less congested and will deliver him safe and sound to Thousand Oaks! So, before you know it you'll be navigating the surface streets and freeways like a 'native' and nobody will know you're transplants from Baltimore! Incidentially, thank you for all the contributions Baltimore as made to us like John Waters and Hairspray! Again, welcome to LA!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 11, 2010
I am absolutely sympathetic to losing out on a quick, public transit commute, having moved here myself from the SF Bay Area. However, my approach would be a little different--how do you want to live? What do you like to do? Place yourself where you can get the most for yourself. My (now) ex and I had a deal, he got the nice car stereo, and I got the short(er) commute. That part of the relationship worked.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 11, 2010
Hi Lostinla!! You are talking about a subject near and dear to my heart-- avoiding traffic in Los Angeles! If I were you, I think there are two options here:

1) Live somewhere in the middle-- like Sherman Oaks or Encino, which has a lot of restaurants and is basically half way for both of you.
2) Live closer to UCLA -- either Westwood or Culver City. Your hubby may have to drive farther, but he will be going against traffic for the most part. Both of these cities have great weekend walkaround areas with shops and restaurants.

Of course, this all changes depending on what your price point is. If you can afford a little more, Century City or Brentwood might be great. If you need more modest accommodations, Tarzana, Reseda or Woodland Hills may work better for you.

Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 11, 2010
One thing is for sure, the 405 South coming down to UCLA in the morning is a nightmare and the 101 (Ventura Freeway) is classified as the busiest in the world. That would not be a stress-free commute. Later at night it would not be such a problem. The better commute would be against traffic, i.e. South to North. Given that somewhere in the San Fernando Valley, Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Encino might be a compromise as it is more or less half way, but then you deal with the heat in the summer. It also depends on your budget. The Valley is less expensive than the Westside of Los Angeles. It certainly is not the wrong time to buy right now, but no one has a crystal ball as to what prices will be in 3 years. If you are thinking of only staying three years then you might consider renting. You have some tough choices.
Web Reference: http://www.homejane.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 11, 2010
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2016 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer