Moving to Los Angeles (Advice on Where to Live)

I just got a job in Los Angeles (attorney) and I’m planning on moving some time after I pass the bar before I’m obligated to report.

I did a search but the older threads seem to be on whether or not to actually move-I know I have to go since that’s where I’ve been posted. Does anyone know what would be the best area in terms of commute/liveability for an office on West Sixth Street? I looked it up on Yahoo Maps and it seems to be downtown. From what I could see West Hollywood seems to be the closest that I could recognize.

I am female, in my mid-twenties. I’d prefer a neighborhood where I could walk to the grocery store/gym and catch public transportation to work (although I will own a car). I don’t know if this is asking too much-I grew up outside Boston and went to school in Illinois so I have no clue about California whatsoever. My main concern, though, is safety and I’ll probably pay up to 1500$ in rent but would prefer something along the lines of 1200-1300$.

Rambling comments to follow…

Public transportation in Los Angeles is a (sad) joke. Resign yourself to driving, unless you (a) like to get up early and ride the bus, or (b) manage to live close to a Metro Rail station.

Not sure what the current rent rates in the downtown area are, but I imagine it won’t be cheap – housing all over the greater L.A. area is scarce and expensive. You can find cheaper places by going farther away (very far away) from downtown, but that means longer commutes and the associated hassles.

Despite the stereotypes, most parts of the southern California area are safe and “livable,” IMO.

West Hollywood is a good neighborhood, as long as you have nothing against “alternative life styles” (but then, in SoCal, all lifestyles are “alternative” :wink: ). A slightly closer alternative would be the mid-Wilshire area (Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Brea), but the homes there are expensive as heck. But if you can wrangle it, Park La Brea is a nice housing complex in the area – mostly townhomes and apartments, gated security, very close to Hollywood, Museum Row, and The Grove/Farmer’s Market shopping center. You can get a decent commute just by driving on Wilshire Blvd. or 3rd Street to downtown, too.

The Miracle Mile (Wilshire Blvd between La Brea and Fairfax) district has a grocery store and a gymn and an express bus that goes to downtown (which is about 5-6 miles away) every 15 minutes or so. Also, a lot of people about your age live in the many apartment buildings nearby.

On preview, I see rjung recommended essentially the same area.

Your new office is likely at Sixth and Figueroa-ish (Hope, Flower, Fig, something like that), which is downtown. There is a metro station at Seventh and Flower/Figueroa, which is quite close. That station serves the red and blue lines of the subway. Take a look here for information about public transportation in LA, including light rail, subway and bus lines.

You can live downtown in one of the converted lofts, which will permit you to walk to work and the gym, but you’ll have to drive to find a grocery store (or have it delivered). A 900 square foot apartment will run you between $1600 and $2000. May I also suggest that you take a look at the Newcomers’ Handbook to Los Angeles before you move out here? While not the best book, it does provide a nice overview of the city for newcomers, including what different neighborhoods are like and how things (utilities, cable, phone companies) work here and how to contact them.

In my office, the lawyers fall generally into three camps: westside/Santa Monica, beach communities (PV, Redondo, Manhattan), and Pasadena/Altadena. The younger associates tend to gravitate toward the westside, while the more established or those with families tend toward the beach communities or Pasadena. But those aren’t hard and fast rules, so you should consider each area in terms of how it fits your price and your needs.

As for neighborhoods, will you have a chance to come out here and look before you move? I think a scouting trip would do you good, so that you can decide whether certain neighborhoods suit you. You may also need to adjust what you’re willing to pay for rent, unless you have a roommate.

I lived in West Hollywood and you will love it there. Very Gay and, oddly enough, lots of Russian immigrants. The best thing is you really can walk to the shops, to the grocery store, to restaurants, gym, movie theaters, regular theaters. West Hollywood is its own little city, with a very liberal government. Due to the huge Gay community, it is perfect, safe place for a single woman to get out on her own and amble about. A great place to move until you can afford that house in Malibu. Yes, parking is a bitch, and rent ain’t cheap, but it is worth it.

I would try to find a place somewhere between Fairfax and Doheny, close to Santa Monica Boulevard.

Campion do you mean that I can’t live by myself on $1500 or a little less rent? If so, I might evaluate getting a roommate although I would prefer to avoid it. I was looking at Craig’s List and I thought I was willing to pay on the high end for rent.

So far I’m thinking of

Santa Monica
West L.A.
Silver Lake/Los Feliz

Any thought on proximity to downtown?

If you can give up on mass transit, Mt Washington, parts of Highland Park and Eagle Rock are very nice, and close to where you will work.

Silver Lake, IIRC, is an area on the “lower middle class” scale. Doesn’t bother me none, but I don’t know if they have any gyms nearby, and if you’re worried about security, you may want to look somewhere else.

My older brother moved to Silverlake last year and it seems pretty cool. He said that the neighborhood is getting more gentrified at the moment and is looking to be turning into a “hip” place to live. Housing prices in LA just blow me away though … he paid about half a million for a tiny little house with the only entrance being by way of about 30 stairs (one of those stair streets). I can’t fathom how anyone lives further up that hill - I walked up to the top with him and it took us about 10 minutes. All stairs. How the hell do you get an entertainment center up there?

I can also recommend Glendale. It is pretty close to downtown (about the same as Pasadena), it is a very safe community, with cheaper rents on the average than near downtown. It is its own city (not a part of L.A., so it seems generally cleaner than areas like Silverlake or Eagle Rock, IMHO). Although either of those seem to be a cozy place to live, just a bit more expensive than I am willing to handle.

There is a main strip (Brand) here surrounded by housing, that has gyms (24hr fitness, and a women’s only gym), plenty of restaurants, one of the biggest malls in the area within walking distance and a new complex going in that is similar to the Grove that was mentioned above (upscale outdoor mall).

We have been here for 2 years and it is by far my favorite place we haved lived in So. Cal. Our rent on a 2 bed 1 bath place, with 2 car garage and a little backyard is 1300 a month.

You are in close proximity to downtown, Hollywood, the mountains, Pasadena and Burbank. The only far areas are the southern beaches.

I want to talk a bit about how your life is going to change. I know you’ve thought about this already, and I don’t intend to be patronizing, but you really, really need to think about it in terms of safety. I don’t know what type of law firm you’ll be working for (top tier, Radio Shack, lifestyle), but I would assume from your current location that you’re going to a top tier – 2000 billables minimum. That really means work weeks between 60 and 80 hours to begin, and the hours will at first be entirely unpredictable. You could think you’re going to have a normal day, then all hell will break loose, and the next thing you know, it will be 2 o’clock in the morning before you can go home. It will not be like when you were a summer.

This means two things: you need to consider, carefully, whether public transportation is really an option for you. Not only do the buses/trains stop running at some point, if they are still running, they run abbreviated schedules. You don’t want to be standing on the corner of Crackhead and Mugging at 2:15 in the morning waiting for the 3am bus to come. Your firm may not pop for taxis home for you as a routine matter – they may expect that you will have your own car.

It also means that you need to think about where your home is in relation to your bus/train stop. If that’s an area you plan to walk through at 2 o’clock in the morning, you darn well better do some scouting first to make sure you’ll feel safe.

When I went into this, I thought I knew what the hours would be like, and, truthfully, I did. But only intellectually. After your first few months, it’s much easier because you kind of accept the fact that you just don’t know at 4 o’clock what you’re going to be doing at 6 o’clock. And as you get more senior, you get more control over your schedule. But please, please be careful before you rent somewhere that you’re going to regret.

I took a look at craigslist, and I think that some of the places that are running at the lower end are likely farther out than you’d want (the Valley or the Inland Empire, for example). In addition to craigslist, you should consider Westside Rentals. They’re a bit pricey ($60 for a 60 day membership), but several coworkers and my brother have had major success finding places quickly with them. They let you do searches as a guest, so you can get a feel for what their listings are like. I do think you can find a place for under $1500, but it will take some looking for a place that is clean, decent-sized, has good parking, feels safe, and is close to stuff (including transport). Even if it’s only for a weekend, I really suggest you come out to scout.

All would be great places for you, I think. As far as proximity to downtown, a general rule of thumb is to take the number of miles between where you’re looking and double it – that’s the number of minutes it will take without traffic. With traffic, the distance between any two points in Los Angeles will take you about an hour.

Good luck. Email me if you’d like.

Yeah, Glendale is pretty good. I think it gets a bit hot in the summer, but that’s true for much of SoCal.

Where’s this? I’m only aware of the Galleria, and am surprised someone is going to try to go up against that 800lb gorilla.

As well as the L.A. Zoo and the Forest Lawn Mortuary (with celebrity gravesites).

One of those Russian immigrants that lives in West Hollywood and would come over to Riverside 4x a week to coach my kid’s hockey team…very funny to talk to and interesting talking to someone who was raised in the Soviet Union. Even took the team to Vegas and we hit the tables after the kids hit the sack.

We played the West Valley Wolves out of Universal City, and usually half the kids on each team were Russian decendents. Some of them were communicating in Russian language during the game.

Campion, thanks for your advice. I’m not going to a private firm, though, I’m doing an Honors fellowship with an executive agency though the Office of General Counsel for 14 months (still on the fence about what I’ll do after that). I am in the litigation department, though, so I don’t know what my working hours will really be like although they told me it would be “reasonable” but who really know, right? I’ve heard government litigators tend to have to work as much as private litigators.

Anyway, I’ve pretty well decided on Westwood.

Okay, good. You’re more likely looking at a decent schedule then (likely out by 7 each evening, if not sooner). So now I’m a lot less worried. :wink: Even if you have crazy times, it likely shouldn’t be as bad as if you were starting at a private firm.

There are lots of “rapid” buses that run between downtown and westwood. You’re looking at about a half hour ride, and if it’s a rapid bus, it makes the lights turn green, so the times are usually pretty on. Coupled with walking time and waiting time, you’re looking at about an hour each way. I assume that your job will not pop for parking downtown (which is quite expensive), but you should check with them to see if they will buy you a metro pass. SCAQMD (the air folk) require companies with a certain number of employees to make a percentage of them rideshare/take public transport, so companies tend to give out metro cards like candy in return for your promise to ride the bus. I don’t know if the agency you’ll be working for is the same, but it’s worth asking.

Beyond that, I’d suggest asking any UCLA grads around for their westwood tips.

Thanks for the tip on the buses-the bar is at the end of July and I have to report at the end of August but I know the first couple of weeks I have to go to D.C. for training. I think I’m going to extend my trip out after the Bar to scout for places-actually I’ve convinced my parents to come out with me and they’ll do the initial search while I’m writing the Bar and then I’ll make the whittled down list decision.

I agree with you about not being likely to get parking-word of mouth from everyone working for EA’s the past couple of years is that budget is a BIG problem for almost everyone and there’s no real promise of getting incorporated into the agency after the fellowship is up. I still think it’s a great opportunity, though, so I’m going to take it. I went to a top 25 but my friens who summered in CA tell me that lower-ranked schools get hired more easily than the one we went to just b/c it’s local so it gets my foot in the door + experience so to speak.

At the same time, I’m just making federal employee salary (we all get hired at GS-11 or something) so I don’t want to whittle away my income on expensive fees like parking!

I live in Westwood and it’s quite nice. It’s very quiet and family-oriented. It’s kind of boring compared to West Hollywood’s funkiness, but it’s also safer and cleaner. My wife and I have no qualms at all about taking the kids out for bike rides in the neighborhood or being out on the street after sunset.

You might want to look at apartments near UCLA. They may be more reasonably priced because they tend to cater to the student crowd. And if you’re close enough to Westwood Village you’ll be within walking distance of a variety of shops, grocery stores, restaurants and movie theaters.

It is actually just south and east of the Galleria. It really butts right up next to the mall. [](Glendale Town Center) If you are familiar with the area, most of the new contstruction used to be a huge empty lot bordered by the mall, Foxy’s and Brand.

The mall was none to happy about this thing getting approved, but the area that is being used was pretty run down to begin with.

It is still in the demo phase, so Brand is getting torn up to make room for some sort of trolley. I am curious to see how it ends up.


P.S. and yes, it does get a bit toasty here in the summer.

If you’re talking about Loyola, yes, we do love us the Loyola grads. They work hard, they’re bright, and they have no attitude about how they’re entitled to stuff because they went to a great school (unlike a school near you which starts with H and ends with arvard). Otherwise, there are a number of factors that go into it – if you went to school out of state, there’s a concern that you’re just coming out here to party then you’ll move back, and the firm is out a quarter million to replace you (ramp down time, ramp up time, headhunter fees, etc.).

I seem to remember that you are thinking about moving back after a while. If you decide to stay, LA is a nice legal community – interesting work, laid back atmosphere, and good people. If you are thinking about staying, get involved in some of the networking opportunities, like bar association mixers (LACBA, ABTL, etc.). You’ll meet people from all over there, and it may be a way into a job after your year’s up.

No, I wasn’t really planning on moving back until I work enough years to get waived in somewhere or I continue on in federal work. I just flipped a coin between California and New York-at the time I was still waiting on all the fellowships that I had applied for. I think the original plan was if I didn’t get something good I would try for a year and then make a choice.

Actually, I’m sitting in Harvard Law right now for Bar review (we’re on a break). Maybe the entitlement comes from the fact that their cafe serves sushi? Hell, I would have loved to have gone here for that fact alone.

I went to U of Illinois-v. good but not the best by any means. Actually, I think my friends were talking about non-accredited schools getting a better shake than out-of-state schools. And yes, I understand why employers would prefer a local school over a higher-ranked school-no sense of entitlement or upsetedness-that’s why I decided to go the federal route to get there. It was a simple observation of fact.

Thanks for the advice.