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Apartment Hunting in Los Angeles - any Recommendation?

Apartment Hunting in Los Angeles - any Recommendation?

Old May 11, 20, 2:13 am
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Question Apartment Hunting in Los Angeles - any Recommendation?

I am moving to Los Angeles from New York City. Searching for a good 1-bedroom (or, nice studio) apartment preferably in Santa Monica or in a nearby location. Any recommendation?

I lived in NYC and Chicago for long time, but never lived in Los Angeles. Most luxury apartments in NYC or Chicago are high rise buildings with doorman, concierge, live-in super, reasonable appliances, etc. My sense is, those type of apartment buildings are rare in southern California (perhaps outside of downtown Los Angeles, where I prefer not to live). I am not necessarily looking for a doorman building or high-rise. I want to find a well-managed clean secured apartment with a well-functioning package handling (Amazon, etc.) system in-place.

I lived in San Diego for a year. Based on my experience, most rental apartments in San Diego (Little Italy, Downtown, La Jolla, and Mission Valley neighborhoods) are very poorly managed, staffs are liars and crooked, very poor quality of appliances and maintenance and other services, creepy neighbors, packages are stolen, and the rent is super-high (nearly as high as New York City, some buildings rent higher than New York City). I absolutely want to avoid these type of apartments.

Pasadena, Culver City, Westwood, etc. could be other options. Pasadena is a student town, so I am assuming, rents are high and quality is low in Pasadena. In fact, I am open to consider any west side neighborhood if the apartment is good. So please don't hesitate to suggest apartments in other neighborhoods.

If you happen to manage apartments (and not a scam) I will be happy to chat with you.

Any suggestion?

Last edited by Tintin; May 11, 20 at 2:29 am
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Old May 11, 20, 2:28 am
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Originally Posted by Tintin View Post
Any suggestion?
No suggestion.

You practically give no useful information other than just saying Santa Monica.

How can anyone, in that case, suggest anything?

You need to give more information, like budget, accessibility, commuting distance, etc.

Originally Posted by Tintin View Post
My sense is, those type of apartment buildings are rare in southern California (perhaps outside of downtown Los Angeles, where I prefer not to live).
Not only in southern California, but the entire California, because the entire California is an active earthquake zone.

High rise is a risk by itself.
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Old May 11, 20, 2:52 am
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Originally Posted by garykung View Post
No suggestion.

You practically give no useful information other than just saying Santa Monica.

How can anyone, in that case, suggest anything?

You need to give more information, like budget, accessibility, commuting distance, etc.



Not only in southern California, but the entire California, because the entire California is an active earthquake zone.

High rise is a risk by itself.
Thanks. Let me know what you need to know. Specifically, here are my answers to your questions:

Budget: I am flexible. Prefer not to pay more than $3,000 per month for a 1-bedroom (or great studio). But open to consider any "good" place.

Accessibility: Like to use Metro, at least, at the initial stage of moving. I lived in NYC and Chicago for more than 20 years and so I am used to public transit and never owned a car. Will buy a car after moving to LA, but I have to learn "how to buy a car" and basic "car maintenance" before making the purchase. Covid-19 is changing everything, and I prefer not to use public transit. That's why Santa Monica is probably a desirable choice (over Culver City). Everything is within walking distance in Santa Monica.

Commuting Distance: As crazy as it sounds, this is my per-retirement break year . Covid-19 helped me to make the decision. So no specific commuting, expect nice access to LAX. Santa Monica is a great choice because there are 2 or 3 Big Blue Buses to LAX.

Thanks for educating me about the lack of high-risk in Southern CA. It makes sense. There are few high-rise in San Diego downtown. They are about 25 stories high (not like 40-75 stories in NYC). Mostly condos. 2 or 3 rental buildings. I lived in one of them. It was a nightmare experience compare to living in NYC/Chicago.

Let me know if you have any suggestion/advice, or if you need any additional information. Many thanks indeed.

Last edited by Tintin; May 11, 20 at 3:00 am
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Old May 11, 20, 4:34 am
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You should really pick based on what you want to be near. From Pasadena, it's faster to get to San Jose (via BUR) during commute times than it is to get to the west side. And you don't want to have to go through DTLA on a regular basis - it really chokes traffic. In or out is ok, but through isn't fun.

I'm most familiar with the Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley area, having been here over 20 years. It's not really a student town - Pasadena grew up somewhat separately from LA as a sanatorium town for people from the east with TB to live in a dry, warm climate, and eventually it all merged in the sprawl. Caltech and Art Center have fairly tiny student populations, and PCC is a commuter school for the whole valley. That said, you won't find a lot of luxury apartments - there are quite a few small complexes, and a few that are newer, but it's mostly single family houses, sometimes that have been split, but more often have a single-unit front house and a back house/granny flat that's anywhere from 1 to 3 units, sometimes attached to a garage that goes with the front house. There are a few fancy-ish places in and near Old Pasadena - I'm not sure any are even over 10 stories, though. When I've visited people with nice apartments, I don't think any had doormen. And it's nowhere near cheap - it's hard for people on experienced engineer salaries to afford a place in/near Pasadena. It is convenient to BUR, but not LAX - you don't want to have to go through DTLA to get to/from LAX if you don't have to worry about a commute the rest of the time. Anything near Old Pas or South Lake would be walkable, but it's mostly a residential car-town. The Gold Line to union station + Flyaway Bus isn't bad, but it's not faster than driving most of the time, though it's much cheaper than a ride share or parking. The Chinese food on this side of town is definitely better than on the west side.
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Old May 11, 20, 5:28 am
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One thing people from the East have trouble grasping about Southern California is the remarkable range of climate. Pasadena is much hotter, sunnier, drier, and smoggier than Santa Monica. If you live in Santa Monica, you'll quickly learn that you have to strip off a layer or two if you want to be comfortable on a trip inland.

Which climate you prefer should be your first factor in making your choice. Will you be shivering and miserable much of the year as you face mornings in the fifties and sixties in Santa Monica? Will you drown in sweat as the thermometer hits the high eighties and nudges into the nineties in the summer in Pasadena?
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Old May 11, 20, 6:16 am
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Originally Posted by Tintin View Post
Thanks. Let me know what you need to know. Specifically, here are my answers to your questions:

Budget: I am flexible. Prefer not to pay more than $3,000 per month for a 1-bedroom (or great studio). But open to consider any "good" place.

Accessibility: Like to use Metro, at least, at the initial stage of moving. I lived in NYC and Chicago for more than 20 years and so I am used to public transit and never owned a car. Will buy a car after moving to LA, but I have to learn "how to buy a car" and basic "car maintenance" before making the purchase. Covid-19 is changing everything, and I prefer not to use public transit. That's why Santa Monica is probably a desirable choice (over Culver City). Everything is within walking distance in Santa Monica.

Commuting Distance: As crazy as it sounds, this is my per-retirement break year . Covid-19 helped me to make the decision. So no specific commuting, expect nice access to LAX. Santa Monica is a great choice because there are 2 or 3 Big Blue Buses to LAX.

Thanks for educating me about the lack of high-risk in Southern CA. It makes sense. There are few high-rise in San Diego downtown. They are about 25 stories high (not like 40-75 stories in NYC). Mostly condos. 2 or 3 rental buildings. I lived in one of them. It was a nightmare experience compare to living in NYC/Chicago.

Let me know if you have any suggestion/advice, or if you need any additional information. Many thanks indeed.
If you can, send a PM to SFO777 first. He recently moved from CO to Southern California (LAX/SNA). He should be able to give you some advice. If needed, drop my name as well. He should remember who I am. And please ask nicely.

I have several questions that I need to ask further:

1. No offense - but how old exactly are you, i.e. are you in early retirement or actual retirement age?

2. How healthy are you?

3. Are you single or not?

I understand it sounds discriminatory. But based on what you provided so far, Santa Monica does not seem to be a suitable place for you, mainly due to your age.

Santa Monica is literally walking distance away from the Pacific Ocean. Because of such proximity, it will be humid and salty. To mature persons, the weather can make them feeling discomfort.

Also, how healthy you are affects your travel distance, due to doctor visits and check-ups. Santa Monica is not exactly known for that. So you may have to cross town to get things done.

Santa Monica is not exactly close to the airport (Venice is closer). In fact, Santa Monica is one of the worst city for going to LAX due to lack of alternative (as you have to stuck in I-405, the worst freeway in the entire CA).

So feel free to tell us more. But at the mean time, I would suggest you check out the San Gabriel Valley. Guilty as charged - I am Chinese. But the Valley has some good characters: low crime rates, convenience, good environment. Personally, I would prefer the Valley over the Ocean.
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Old May 11, 20, 7:42 am
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No place in Santa Monica is more than a half hour from LAX by car or an hour at worst by bus. There are lots of alternate routes when the 405 is jammed, as it so often is. Excellent medical care is readily available from two Kaiser facilities, the famous St. John's Hospital ("where the celebrities go to die"), and many others. The city is full of older people who have selected it as an ideal place to retire.
​​​​

Last edited by ajGoes; May 11, 20 at 7:57 am
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Old May 11, 20, 11:54 am
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Originally Posted by Tintin View Post
I lived in NYC and Chicago for long time, but never lived in Los Angeles. Most luxury apartments in NYC or Chicago are high rise buildings with doorman, concierge, live-in super, reasonable appliances, etc. My sense is, those type of apartment buildings are rare in southern California (perhaps outside of downtown Los Angeles, where I prefer not to live). I am not necessarily looking for a doorman building or high-rise. I want to find a well-managed clean secured apartment with a well-functioning package handling (Amazon, etc.) system in-place.
There are plenty of high rise residential buildings in Century City and along the Wilshire Corridor between Beverly Hills and Westwood.

Originally Posted by ajGoes View Post
Excellent medical care is readily available from two Kaiser facilities, the famous St. John's Hospital ("where the celebrities go to die"), and many others.​​​​
And UCLA Medical Center Santa Monica is located in the heart of the city, at 16th and Wilshire. There is also a large VA hospital two or three miles to the east, immediately before getting to the 405, and the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center not even a mile east of the 405.
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Old May 11, 20, 2:46 pm
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Is there a specific location you're going to be spending most of your time at? A job perhaps? An attraction? An activity such as training? Or some place you want to be such as a beach? Going to a school or university?

This area is a huge place and a literal wasteland for apartments and other rental units. Narrowing down the locale(s) where you'll be spending much of your time would help folks give you some more effective feedback.

David
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Old May 11, 20, 3:11 pm
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Bottom line - you want to be West of the 405 or North of the 10. North of Wilshire in Santa Monica is preferred.

As mentioned, the further east you go the hotter it gets.
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Old May 11, 20, 3:54 pm
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Originally Posted by ajGoes View Post
No place in Santa Monica is more than a half hour from LAX by car or an hour at worst by bus. ​​​​
I'm sorry, but this is flagrantly wrong. I've Ubered from Santa Monica to LAX over a dozen times in the past year and it has never been less than a 40 minute drive. When traffic is particularly bad like on a Friday evening after work, it can take over an hour.

If you want to be close to LAX, move to Playa Vista, where they do have nice fancy tall (expensive) apartments and you are 4.5 miles from LAX. Nightlife there is dead though and it feels very artificial.
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Old May 11, 20, 4:41 pm
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Originally Posted by aquanine View Post
I'm sorry, but this is flagrantly wrong. I've Ubered from Santa Monica to LAX over a dozen times in the past year and it has never been less than a 40 minute drive. When traffic is particularly bad like on a Friday evening after work, it can take over an hour.
I guess he has never stuck in 405 at 10 pm.
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Old May 11, 20, 5:30 pm
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You might also consider renting a condo directly from the unit owner. I live in Downtown Long Beach and we have a corridor of high-rises on Ocean Blvd (mostly condos and now some newer apartments) and there are a handful of renters in my condo building. We are a high-rise and we have nice amenities including a 24-hour doorman/security guard. Package delivery and security are among the top reasons why I love my building. With a condo that's mostly owners, you'll probably have a better living experience and nicer amenities. I'm not sure how one goes about finding such units (do people advertise widely, use a management company, etc.), but I'd think it would be a good option.
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Old May 11, 20, 6:06 pm
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Originally Posted by garykung View Post
I guess he has never stuck in 405 at 10 pm.
I don't take the 405 when it's jammed. I never used to take it at all, but Google Maps changed my habits and now I use the freeway maybe a third of the time. But I evidently extrapolated incorrectly from years of experience driving from Santa Monica Canyon -- which is actually in Los Angeles, northwest of Santa Monica -- across the city on the PCH and on to the airport. Maybe it takes longer if you have to make a diagonal.

Sorry if I misled anyone!
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Old May 11, 20, 6:54 pm
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Originally Posted by ajGoes View Post
I don't take the 405 when it's jammed.
+1

During the rush hour, Lincoln Blvd is generally faster.
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