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02 November 2006

Hey LA, hey hey LA + music I'm movin' to LA come the spring. Why? My girlfriend decided to take a job there (after much consternation) at UCLA as a health science librarian. She's gonna move there at the end of November, probably over Thanksgiving, or the beginning of December.
She's there now, trying to find a place to live that's both close-ish to UCLA and affordable.
She's contacted about 100 different Craigslisters, and driven around looking for signs.
She's gotten a grand total of four calls back.
She's kinda freaking out.[More:]

I don't know much about LA's realty market, or whether the best lead (which is apparently around Koreatown) is too sketchy. In fact, I know very little about LA as a whole, and totally wouldn't move there were it not for her (she's pretty great).

Any MeChites out there who could help me? I hate relying on the kindness of strangers, but she's near the end of her rope and we're scramblin' a bit. I'm a bit wary of leaving her phone number on the web, but if anyone could call her, feel free to shoot me an email at my joshsteich@gmail.com address and I'll pass it along.

As a bonus for all y'all who read thisó here's a mix that I made for my recent trip to Vancouver. Feel free to download itl there's a text file in there that will sort the songs into the right order if you import 'em into iTunes.

Thanks again.
Refrigerators are not a given in LA apts., so you may have to rent one. Try checking out the LA Times listings, too.
posted by brujita 02 November | 19:49
Ugh. Thanks.
posted by klangklangston 02 November | 20:22
Your girlfriend's a librarian? Klang, you opinion-editing, record-store-working pothead, I keep liking you better and better.
posted by box 02 November | 20:46
Heh. Never worked in a record store; do write about music. Everything else is right though...
But yeah, she's awesome.
posted by klangklangston 02 November | 20:58
Close to UCLA? Good luck with that. Anything within 3 miles of either USC or UCLA is gonna cost a mint. And monthly human sacrifices.

Koreatown is pretty fucking sketchy. It's also depressingly filthy. I used to live just a few blocks south-west of there in the Arlington Heights/Adams Heights area. That whole "inner" "Westside" area is nuts, from Downtown to southside and Crenshaw and even parts of Rodeo, Culver City and Venice.

LA isn't anywhere near as bad as it used to be, but when I was living over in Arlington for about a year I heard/saw about 3 or 4 running gun battles involving submachineguns and too many fucking bullets. The street folks are pretty crazy/agressive, too. Parking is impossible. Grocery shopping is like going on a recon mission.

Goddamn I miss LA sometimes.

If you're lucky enough you'll find one of those armored, gated compounds with assigned gated parking and all that. Makes getting in and out a pain but the avoidance of parking tickets, vandals and thieves is worth it.

Still here? Not scared off yet?

Here's the secret: What your girlfriend needs is an account with Westsiderentals.com. Yeah, it's pricey, but it's gold. Even us mostly poor ghetto-living people use it. People have been known to offer up their first born just to use someone's account for a few hours.

In LA craigslist is going to mostly get you the freaky, "unique" rental properties *and* "unique" landlords. Which can be fine. But in LA that's a really broad spectrum and rapidly diminishing baseline of "unique" which quickly dives straight into "weird" and "surreal" and "You're renting your laundry room closet-slash-cheese smoking room for $300 a month? Fine, ok."

If you guys want to bounce locations off me for opinions of the neighborhood/district email/IM me. I know LA pretty well. There's lots of quiet little pockets all over the place.
posted by loquacious 02 November | 21:10
How is Koreatown? Amy said it looked sketch, with tags and trash on the ground, but that the place was huge and gorgeous...
posted by klangklangston 02 November | 22:12
Living in Koreatown proper is an advanced project that you shouldn't attempt until you've lived in L.A. a few years. Westside Rentals is as good as loquacious says. Culver City and Palms are very good to live in. The rents and safety are decent, and a lot of the UCLA community lives down there.

Brentwood is probably out of your price range, but every rental there will be decent.

The rental market is extremely hard. To have your pick of apartments be ready to get weeded out on the basis of credit rating and salary. Any place on the Westside you're looking you will probably be competing with very well paid employees from Sony, Fox, Universal, and so on, plus trust-fund kiddies from the Palisades, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, and so on.

Be ready to see a lot of flat-out scary apartments. :)

There are some surprisingly affordable apartments in Beverly Hills; make sure to look there. You might want to see if the complex named Park La Brea is affordable to you. Also, your girlfriend may want to ask her future co-workers for help.

Check the classifieds in the Daily Bruin. Unlike some schools (the one I'm at now, *cough*) this is a real campus newspaper with useful information in it.

I grew up in L.A., went to UCLA, lived in West L.A. for four years and have lots of friends living there. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions.

Finally, if you would like to dare Koreatown, use the following test: what cars are parked on the street? If the cars parked on the street are new and well-kept, then that means yuppies have decided to live there and it is relatively safe. Especially if you see a lot of Volkswagens. That means the yuppies are there for sure.

Koreatown actually has an amazing nightlife. There are clubs and bars there you'll never see anywhere else. Be sure to eat at one of the tofu restaurants, too. Ooh, how I miss my 4 a.m. runs to B.C.D Tofu House.
posted by halonine 02 November | 22:50
In that part of town "huge and gorgeous" is quite often worth the sketch. It's rare. It really depends on what part of Koreatown, though.

South and East (towards downtown) gets kinda gnarly. There's a few really spendy pockets of the district around the Wilshire/Western area, particularly towards the west side of Koreatown.

But really, it's LA. That whole area of metro westside LA is sketchy at some level or another. You can go from block to block and the socioeconomic situation changes in startling and unexpected ways, high, low or sideways.

Living in that area of town can be really sweet, though. There's a LOT of really good food around there. Hollywood is just around the corner. Santa Monica/Venice are just around the corner. The Red Line is right there at Wilshire/Western, which makes old town Pasadena or Chinatown a fairly pleasant/cheap ride away via the Gold Line and the still gorgeous and luxe Union Station.

On preview: What halonine said about Koreatown, both good and bad.

From what I've experienced there's a sort of segment or block of Westside LA that spans from deep downtown and has fingers as far as Crenshaw, South Central and even Venice that has highly stressful/compressed qualities that make it not for the faint of heart.

It's basically the corridor that runs in the east-west area from Figuroa to the east, Rodeo to the West and between Wilshire to the North and Olympic to the South.

To the east of this block is Downtown. To the south is South Central. To the West is Crenshaw/Crenshaw Heights, Culver City, Venice and Santa Monica. To the North is the super-pricy Wilshire, and in the NW is Rodeo Hills/Beverly Hills.

This westside block is kind of a pressure cooker.

It's the no-man's land and demilitarized zone between South Central proper, between the industrial/office spaces of downtown, between the more affluent coastal Venice and Santa Monica, and of course the expanding pressures of Wilshire/Rodeo/Beverly.

The upside is you can still find semi-cheap rents. The downside is that one neighbor might be a stone cold thug slinging heroin and crack rocks while your other neighbor is a BMW M5-driving lawyer with a penchant for extremely loud leather parties.
posted by loquacious 02 November | 23:08
Oh god, I'm really homesick for LA right now.

Good luck to you and your girlfriend. You'll hate it at the beginning, but don't worry. The oceanic worms will turn you into an LA zombie soon enough.
posted by muddgirl 02 November | 23:11
Loquacious, you are so right about that area. The cramped streets jammed with traffic all day, from Type-A entertainment people trying to get to their offices or the post-production houses on Wilshire. The post-war single-family homes sitting on their cramped lots, where the lawns aren't big enough to keep the sidewalk trash off anymore. All the bits of faded glamour and affluence. Yeah :)
posted by halonine 03 November | 03:32
I say your gf should contact some of her future co-workers and see if they know of a good apartment broker or where the good places to live are. She should also be prepared to do a sublet or roommate thing until she finds her own place.

posted by TrishaLynn 04 November | 07:22
My girlfriend ended up with a sublet about five miles away from UCLA, splitting a 1300 a month rent for two bedrooms two baths.
Thanks for everyone's help! I'll see most of you when I move to LA, I'd wager.
posted by klangklangston 04 November | 11:16
Ask Mecha: How do I tactfully postpone a job offer? || Dedicated To a MeChazen Who Shall Remain Nameless

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