House hunting? Los Angeles County is large and offers a variety of different neighborhoods and environments. Here are some tips on how to choose the one that's right for you.
Things You'll Need
- The internet
They call it Lalaland for a reason..
Consider how much you are prepared to spend-- rent and real estate in Los Angeles are among the highest in the United States. You could find yourself paying between $800 and $5,000 a month depending on the location! A good, very basic rule of thumb to remember is that the cost of rent is greater for larger complexes and real estate close to the 101 freeway or the beach.
Choose a place where you feel safe. Crime in Los Angeles has been a problem for a while. It usually involves rival gangs, but civilians have been involved as well. Research local crime statistics in the neighborhoods you're looking for. The Los Angeles Police Department typically provides this information on-line. It even maintains a daily blog. You can also request a report from the LAPD. Lists and descriptions of local sex offenders are published on-line as well.
Drive around neighborhoods yourself to get a feel for the area. Are there a lot of policemen on patrol? Are there characters you find questionable walking around at night? Do most of the buildings have bars on the windows? Are police helicopters buzzing very low and shining lights down constantly? These are all warning signs the neighborhood is probably not the safest. If the area you're looking at appears to be safe enough to suit your fancy, ensure any apartment building you plan on evaluating is completely secure. For instance, an ideal apartment would require a separate master key or keypad code to enter the building itself. Conversely, make sure any private house that you're interested in looking at has a fence or is located in an area that is on a neighborhood patrol route. It's always a plus to have gated parking area as well. Be aware that burglaries and car theft can and do occur even in the priciest neighborhoods.
Choose an urban area if you want to be in the middle of the action, want to be able to walk to the grocery store (a rare feat in LA), and don't mind the constant sound of buses zooming past your bedroom window. If you don't mind sharing your morning jogging route with hoards of "Star Tour" groups, consider Hollywood, West Hollywood and Santa Monica. For more business-oriented districts, try Culver City, Century City or Miracle Mile. Want to be around younger adults? Opt for places near UCLA.
Opt to live in suburban areas of Los Angeles County if you have a problem with noise or if you are looking to live in a private house. While Los Angeles tends to have a lot of mixed-zone residential neighborhoods -- meaning one street could be aligned with apartments while the next one has mansions -- a lot of areas are strictly light-residential. The San Fernando Valley is a good example of this. The price of homes and rent for apartments tends to decrease the farther away you go from the major freeways -- as does the city noise.
Consider your morning commute before choosing a home in Los Angeles. Traffic is a large problem in Los Angeles and public transportation is, depending on the area, not the most efficient alternative. If you're going to live in Los Angeles and work in the county as well, your daily commute to work could range anywhere between 10 minutes and two hours. It is for this reason that many people opt to live in areas near their workplaces. People who work in the entertainment industry, for example, often prefer the San Fernando Valley because it is close to Burbank, where most of the large film and television studios reside.
Choose areas with good public schools for school age children. Some schools have had problems with crime in the past, even in so-called "luxury" neighborhoods. City districts often publish statistics on their local schools online. You can also check archives of local and national newspapers for news of past incidents at Los Angeles schools.
Tips & Warnings
- Find out if the home you want includes private parking. It often doesn't state so in the listing.
- Don't be afraid to ask LA residents what they think of their local area and for recommendations on schools, realtors, mortgage loan officers, moving companies, local groceries or anything you want to consider before you move. People are often more than happy to be of help in such matters.
- No matter where you choose to live, never walk alone at night or allow your children to do so in Los Angeles, or any other city for that matter. It is better to be safe than sorry.
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