With average rent in Venice reaching more than $2,800 according to one report, it's getting hard to find affordable housing in L.A. that hasn't lost its soul.
Lucky for us there's nearly 500 square miles of space in the city alone, so there's always an up-and-coming community just around the corner. The trick is to catch a rising star without getting caught in the middle of a gang war. We have five somewhat under-the-radar suggestions for your summer apartment hunt:
5. North Hollywood. Yeah, we know this is the old definition of shit hole, a place native Adam Carolla has described as somewhat worse than hell. And if you're not a Valley person, maybe it isn't for you. But consider the evolution of the NoHo Arts District. Any barrio that has a burgeoning arts district, including theaters, galleries and condo developments, is sure to turn a corner. It's only a matter of time before Lankershim Boulevard turns into Abbott Kinney. Sample listing: 1 bed 1 bath on Lankershim (far north of the Arts District) for $950.
4. Westlake. Sure, the Westlake district is home to dueling gangs, including 18th Street and, to the west, Mara Salvatrucha, but it's coming up. Along its downtown edge you'll find those Italianate apartment complexes filled with parent-sponsored, Mini-driving cool kids who go to "art school." To the west you'll rub up against Koreatown and the bountiful nightlife it has to offer. It's within walking distance. In between there are a few lofts and plenty of colorful, historic apartment buildings. Just tread softly. Sample listing: 1 bed, 1 bath "townhouse apartment:" $1,250.
3. St. Andrews Square. Speaking of Koreatown, been there done that, right? And besides, some parts of K-town are shadier than the Bronx in winter. But if you look a little to the west near Third Street you'll find St. Andrews Square. Sounds great, huh? It's still hood-adjacent, and it sounds better than it is, but it's not Gang Central. The neighborhood association even claims it's "crime-free." (Yeah, right). It's bound by Beverly Boulevard to the north, Third Street to the south, Western Avenue to the east and Wilton Place to the west. Sample listing: 1 bed 1 bath (just south of St. Andrews Square): $1,200.
2. Wilshire Vista. East of Fairfax Avenue along Pico Boulevard is a thriving community lined with cool places to eat (Sky's Gourmet Tacos, Bloom Cafe, plenty of soul food joints) and great, circa-1920s apartment buildings. And, if you're a "patient," there's plenty of medical marijuana to be had along Pico's "green mile." The community is at the northwest edge of historic black L.A., elbows Jewish L.A. to the west and opens up to plenty of Latino vibes to the east. For a young foodie, this 'hood has it all. Sample listing: 3 bed, 2 bath "French Normandy-style duplex:" $2,500.
And our favorite under-the-radar rental neighborhood is ...
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1. Del Rey. This has to be one of the last, best-kept secrets of the far-Westside. The area, east of the Marina, south of Mar Vista, north of Ballona Creek, west of the 405, within the city of Los Angeles, has been a magnet for immigrants and Latinos for years. The Culver City Boyz gang calls it home, but police at the LAPD's Pacific Division, right around the corner, have been good at keeping things calm. And so, just a mile or two from the water, you'll find affordable real estate and Pacific breezes. Of course, Del Rey is still enough of a dirty name -- it's home to housing projects -- that many listings dance around the fact, touting Marina-adjacent, Mar Vista or Culver City property. That can play to your advantage. Search the area described above well and you might find a bargain. Sample listing: 2 bed, 2.5 bath: $1,825.