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.
Keller Williams Realty Westside
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
California Department of Real Estate License # 01312992
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.
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
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.
Pinnacle Estate Properties Inc.
DRE # 01456976
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
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!
Prudential California Realty
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!
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
My fiancÃ© 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!
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.
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,
The Bremner Group at Coldwell Banker
REALTOR, 00588885, Accredued Buyer Agent, Certified Relocation Specialist
(O) 310-571-1364 DIRECT
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
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
Agent immobilier a Los Angeles et la region
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!
Sara Mehrpouyan, CDPE
Given the current market conditions, I am not recommending that people buy if they donâ€™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. Donâ€™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.
Home Sales Pro
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!
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!