LALA land: how I came to be in Santa Monica

Posted on March 21, 2016


How do you fancy spending a but more time in LA? My boyfriend asked one evening. In turned out he meant moving. This was a recce trip to see whether it’s something we wanted to do.

IMG_1860If you’d have asked a month ago LA probably wouldn’t have been in my top 20 lost of places to live. Not that I had a grudge to bear, I just wouldn’t have thought of it. I hadn’t been to LA since I was 8 years old and visited Universal Studios – as pictured – which I adored as a child. But alms 30 years later I was concerned that the botox, bleach and fake boobs may prove a little too much. How wrong I was.

Knowing that this is a huge city where traffic can be beyond ridiculous, we opted to stay within reach of his office. Initially he took an AirBnB to try out somewhere that we could feasibly live – to try it out. He chose Mar Vista which turned out to be suburbia central – not something I deal well with, give me city or country but not in-between please. As a fiercely career focused woman, I was being put in ‘housewife category’. It didn’t bode well. 

I was also unimpressed that we didn’t hire a car. I wanted to know I could get around and explore whilst he was working. He suggested taking Ubers everywhere. 

Here I was wrong. Uber turned out to be cheap and efficient. Probably the same or less than  hiring a car but no map reading, or getting lost, and no parking (or trying to work out the random parking restrictions). Wonderful. (Six months later I still don’t have a car, my bike is my main form on transport)

We’d had mixed views on places to live from our friends that knew the city, so it wasn’t a cut and dry choice. West hollywood is a lot of fun with fabulous bars, restaurants and shopping however we felt that if we were to live in California, wouldn’t it be nice to be by the sea. And there was one place that almost everyone we spoke to thought we’d like: Santa Monica. 

So this is the first area I explored. Luckily an old school friend now lives in the area and was able to show me the ropes. Almost immediately I fell in love. Being European having shops and cafes within walking distance is engrained in me. She had that in abundance on Montana Ave. It’s a few blocks from downtown Santa Monica and perpendicular to the beach. Also near the hills of the Palisades, a short drive from Malibu and between the 405 & PCH. With restaurants such as Fathers Office, R&D Kitchen and Arts Table nearby, plus good coffee at Groundworks, all we needed to do was find a house.

Westside Rentals is the go to place for house hunting. I set an alert in the post code we wanted and kept an eye out. A few apartments looked pretty good. Two bedrooms (I’m sure we’ll be getting some visitors) and I was keen to get some outdoor space (with the promise of all this sunshine, I was intent on enjoying it to the max).

Then a house popped up. The only one within our budget. So I dropped in and took a look. Houses are let through agents like they are in the UK, individual owners put the ads up and addresses are included. I’d assumed I’d just take a peek from the outside but quickly realising it was empty we stole a look through the windows. Painters that were in there working noticed us and let us in to look for ourselves. It was ideal – three bedrooms, walk in closets, lots of big windows and wooden floors. As I was mid gush about how perfect he house was the owner walked in…. delighted that I was English he thought we’d be great for the house – it was ours!

And there we have it, all of a sudden I was moving from our lovely Edwardian flat in London to a house in Santa Monica.