Yes friends, after seven long years of exile (well, 6 and a half, but who’s counting) behind the Orange Curtain, I am returning to the county of my birth: LA. We will be vacating our lovely, well insulated 900 square foot Anaheim apartment, with balcony, pool, laundry room, air conditioning and garbage disposal for a two-tone Toyota Carola parked behind a 7-11 in Inglewood. It’ll only cost $50 more a month, all utilities paid except for gas!
Okay, it’s not that bad, but it is pretty discouraging. When I moved here in 2003, Orange County was the expensive place to live and LA was the cheap one. Even downtown is way out of our price range, and I remember when bums wouldn’t even go there it was such a shit hole. Now they want $2,200 for a hallway, and consider exposed pipes to be a charming amenity.
Anyway, we’re looking in South part of West LA and the North part of the South Bay. If that makes any sense to you, you’re probably the person this paragraph was written for. If you see anything as far south as Hawthorn and as far North as Culver City, preferably West of La Brea. Let me know.
More as a way to organize my thoughts than a way to broadcast my stupidity across the net, I’m going to list the things I want/need in an apartment below. I’ve already been told that I’m dreaming, if you tell me that and I know where you live, I’ll be coming to your house just to poop on your door!
1. Allows Pets: The reason that this is important is that we have 2 rats, and while we could probably get away with not saying anything and just bringing them into the apartment, we did that at the place we’re in now, and even though it only says “no dogs or cats” on the lease, even though other tenants have pet birds that they hang on their balcony on summer afternoons, and even though they’re safe in their cage, our evil bitch of a plumber called the building owners (not the manager, but the owners) and told them that our apartment was infested with rats. As if our dining room connected directly to the sewers. We didn’t want to get our sweet manager in trouble so we carted the rats to a friends house for the formal apartment owner inspection. Nothing came out of it, but I don’t want the hassle, so apartments that accept at least small pets are our best bet.
2. Parking: A lot of LA neighborhoods have atrocious street parking, which is awful. I’ve dealt with it before and I don’t think I could do it again. I need to be able to find parking within at least 2 blocks of my house, or I’ll be beating out headlights with my bare hands.
3. Space: Right now I am sitting in the largest apartment I have seen on this search or my last one. It costs us just a little over a grand a month and we’re still strapped for space, as every surface is covered in our crap. I’m afraid if we end up having to move into anything smaller, we’ll suffocate on our own overabundance of clothing, furniture and arts & crafts supplies.
4. Dishwasher: The importance of this is sort of dependent on the rent and the down payment. If DP and rent are low, I know I can buy an above the counter dishwasher (perfect for just 2 people) for around 200 bucks.
5. Things I think are a given, and don’t need to be explained (except I know that in LA there are places that don’t have any of these things that still costs way more than I can afford): garbage disposal, deadbolt, at least 1 assigned parking space, laundry room, closets.
Air conditioning as a requirement sort of varies depending on the location. I know that when I lived about a mile from the ocean in Huntington Beach (in a $1200 2 bedroom-so I know it’s not just this apartment that’s affordable down here) we didn’t have air conditioning and we never needed it because the breeze from the beach cooled the entire house.
The only thing I find more than a little ridiculous about this list is that I want all that for under 1100 bucks a month. I pay less for all of that here in Anaheim, but it takes me four hours to get to work and back every day. The commute is melting my brain, and it’s time to go back to LA.
Orange County was a nice place to go to college, far enough away from my family that I never had to visit, close enough that I could drive up whenever I missed friends, culture, good food, museums, non-white people or porno. I really hated OC when I first got here, and now I’m half sad to leave. I haven’t lived anywhere near LA itself since I was 14, if you count Pasadena as being in proximity to the city, and I’m a little apprehensive about living there again. I’m unfamiliar with the neighborhoods, the traffic patterns and streets. It’s all going to be new to me all over again. Although I’ll be glad to cut my commute, I’ll be sad to leave Anaheim, where I was finally starting to feel at home, after years of being out of place in homogenized suburbia elsewhere in Orange County. I even tried to find an area of West LA that was a similar hodgepodge of hookah shops, taquerias, Vietnamese restaurants, mosques and thrift stores, but I haven’t seen anything like it.
I know there’s an apartment and a neighborhood out there for Ben and I, and it might not have everything but it’ll get better. Tomorrow we’re going to Hawthorn, where we found some promising prices, if not so promising neighborhoods.