The west side of LA (including Culver City and Santa Monica) are what people from outside of LA typically think of when they reference sunny southern California. Beautiful beaches, calm and walkable streets with lots of shopping and outdoor dining...No one in LA will argue with the loveliness, or cooler temperatures that this part of town has to offer. But if you’re thinking of trying to live on the west side, keep a few facts in mind:
The farther west you go, ie. Santa Monica or Playa Vista, the further you are from the valley and east LA. If you’re looking for a central location, this may not be your best bet. This ought to be of particular interest in you have any ambitions that relate to creative fields such as acting, or working in the film and TV world. If you work at Sony (Culver City) or Fox (Century City), the commute from Santa Monica won’t be too bad...However, if you end up at Disney (Burbank/Glendale), NBC (Burbank), the WB (Burbank) or any other TV production place that isn’t Sony, you’ll be banging your head on your steering wheel while sitting in at LEAST an hour’s worth of traffic each way. If you want to work in production, film or TV, your shooting schedule will likely have you shooting and/or running errands in the valley (where it’s cheaper to film and there is more parking), downtown, Pasadena, and Hollywood (as well as random trips to Hawthorne or Inglewood). With days being as long as they are in the entertainment world--you probably don't want to make your commute longer than it has to be. Still, you don't want to determine where you live based soley on where you're working now (see previous post).
There is less parking in west LA in general. Or if there’s not, literally, it sure seems like it every time anyone ever tries to go there. At any rate, there is certainly less free residential parking, and fewer apartment buildings that include parking. If you’re lucky, you’ll qualify for a street permit (look that up!). This also means that friends will be less likely to visit, because they’ll know that it will take them forever to find parking outside of your apartment.
Pricing is much higher on the west side. Though prices were listed for 1 and 3 bedroom apartments in my article about living in the valley - most of you will probably end up living in a 2 bedroom somewhere. Just for sake of ease, from here on out, prices will be referenced for 2 bedroom properties only.
Technically, if you type “West Los Angeles” into Google Maps, you’ll get the highlighted area in the map above. This area is bordered by Beverly Glen Blvd (which runs into Manning after coming down from the valley), below Westwood at Santa Monica Blvd, Century City on the east end, the 405 on the north side, and Centinela on the west side. Everything west of Centinela is considered Santa Monica. At least by Google. Cities/neighborhoods to consider on the western side of LA include: Santa Monica, Culver City (also Palms), Playa Vista and Marina Del Rey. Approximate price ranges for rental properties in these areas are listed below for your reference.
2 bed/1 bath : $1975 to $3395
2 bed/1 bath: $1595 to $2200
Playa Vista/Marina Del Rey - (Playa Vista is cheaper!)
2 bed/1bath: $2395 to $3800
Westwood, near UCLA, and Venice beach are also options on the west side, but may be more expensive. The closer you are to the beach, or the larger the property, the higher the price will generally be. Plus traffic by UCLA is TERRIBLE.
In addition to the elements we discussed last week (keeping in mind costs like electric, internet and cable, and asking about how many parking spaces are included), here are a few other factors that will influence the pricing of your unit. Be prepared to ask if these things are included, don’t ever assume that any of them are unless they have been listed in the post: central air conditioning and heating, any exterior air conditioning unit or heating, appliances (stove, microwave and fridge), washer and dryer facilities on site (or in the unit).
The age of the building, the square footage of the unit, the type of flooring (carpet vs hardwood), and if you are an upstairs or downstairs unit, will all potentially affect the renting price. The example unit listed above on the higher end in Santa Monica, at $3395 is a 2 bed/1.5 bath, but only 850 square feet. This is pretty small for a 2 bedroom. But it’s a newer building, includes 2 parking spaces in a secured garage, includes all appliances AND has a washer and dryer in the unit (which is the golden egg of all apartment finds!). Meanwhile, a median priced property in Santa Monica, further away from the beach is listed as 2 bed/1 bath and 1200 square feet, and the price is $2225.
Make sure to do your homework before you go out there looking for your first LA home to get the most bang for your buck! Also remember that the quality apartments that are managed well, are in a safe area, and that fall into the lower price brackets are like finding rare jewels! Don’t expect to find a spot in Santa Monica for under $2000, but know that on any given day, it may be possible!
PS- the prices listed are from when the article was originally published in April 2015. Prices should still be relatively the same, but may also be slightly higher.