Choosing a Neighborhood in Silicon Beach
As prices continue to increase and many Playa Vista residents consider the their next home if they choose to move up in Playa Vista or the Westside, I am also helping many people learn about different neighborhoods in LA. Many people looking to get more for their money and therefore might move to The Valley, The South Bay, Ventura and Orange Counties. All are generally in search of more space, a yard of their own, and good schools beyond elementary school. Some stay close by and are less constrained by budget or school choice or just prefer the Playa Vista lifestyle and staying close to the friends they have made and favorite amenities. For the purposes of this article, I will discuss the generalities of how people choose neighborhoods in our local area (AKA Silicon Beach) based on needs and budget as well as each of their highlights.
Playa Vista (walkability, community feel) – While we are discussing the diaspora of people leaving Playa Vista, there are lots of reasons why people move here in the first place or stay here. Being one of the more expensive communities in the area in terms of costs of ownership, people often leave because the cost to move up is prohibitive. The other main reasons, as discussed above, are wanting a larger or more of a private yard and access to stronger public schools through high school. People initially choose to live here for the walkable lifestyle, many nearby parks, the newer construction, and the community feel. It really does feel like a college campus with residence halls, gyms, restaurants, and parks and access to this lifestyle without having to get in your car or go back in time brings nostalgia to a lot of people who enjoyed that experience. It also attracts empty-nesters or mature adults in retirement, many to single-level condos, who may be downsizing and wanting an easier to maintain home and less hectic lifestyle in retirement, often to be closer to their adult children and grandchildren who already live in the community.
Westchester (family and a yard) – Westchester is the next logical step for many condo owners in Playa Vista, Playa del Rey, and Marina del Rey. Centered around Loyola Marymount University and full of modest post World War II housing, Westchester has long been one of the most affordable areas on the Westside with a true single family neighborhood feel. Although becoming less affordable, comparatively, it is still a good value, especially the neighborhoods farther East or South. If people want a single family home for $1.5-2.0M, you can get a pretty good one in Westchester and it is truly a family-focused community with many family-oriented organizations. Compared to Playa Vista, you generally need to use your car most times you leave your house, but you can hunker down with some kids and feel like you’re not disturbing the neighbors in the apartment next door or the Loyola Marymount students who might be making more noise than you are.
Playa del Rey (beach and affordability) – Playa del Rey is a rather quiet beach community, if not for the frequent airplanes that take off overhead. The homes are generally older than Playa Vista with mostly lower HOA other other fees, making this area a more budget conscious alternative to Playa Vista. Despite its close proximity to the Vista, it is a very different feel, less corporate and more local. It has its fair share of beach bums, surf shops, and hole in the wall restaurants and feels underdeveloped considering its coastal location. Entry level condo prices are in the $500’s and $600K’s and single family home prices are comparable to the more desirable neighborhoods in Westchester, still a value for the Westside. Probably due to being in the backyard of LAX, Playa del Rey is a relative value and far less expensive than most other beach communities on the Westside or South Bay.
Marina del Rey (urban living) – Marina del Rey, once a sleepy boating community now boasts most of the hustle and bustle of Silicon Beach. High rise condos are prevalent and many restaurants, apartment buildings, and hotels have sprung up making this a destination and a major jumping off point for people travelling to LA. Traffic can be a problem and the area is constantly busy, so if you are looking for more of an urban feel, not just boats, Marina del Rey might be the place for you. In terms of housing, it’s mostly condos and higher end houses on the Marina Peninsula with a little less of a middle range. Those looking for a house in the $1.5M range might be better suited for Westchester, but for the same price or less you can get a high end condo right in the heart of the action in The Marina.
Culver City (schools, jobs, and public transit) – Culver City has built a reputation as one of the more desired locations on the Westside. Once seedy, Downtown Culver City is now full of restaurants, coffee shops, and theaters along with beautiful pedestrian walking areas as well as a thriving art community. However, the real draw are the schools, which have a reputation for being strong all the way through high school, unlike most in LAUSD. In terms of jobs, in addition to Sony Studios, it is the site of offices for some of the biggest companies in the world, Amazon, Apple, and soon to be HBO. The Expo Line’s trek through Culver has encouraged transit oriented development of office, retail, and apartments and has helped move “The Heart of Screenland” into the 21st Century as well as making it an easy trek to the beach or Downtown. It is pricey, however, more so than Westchester for a single family home. A nicer one of significant size in one of the city’s more desirable pockets will cost over $2M.
There you have it, a synopsis of what is known as Silicon Beach as well as features of neighborhoods where people choose to live. As a 14 year real estate expert on the Westside, I can help you navigate any of these neighborhoods or suggest others.