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Pasadena, CA


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I've been living in Pasadena for almost a year now, doing research for Caltech.

Caltech has on campus housing specifically for grad student that I hear isn't too bad, but I believe they are raising the rent for those rooms for next year. I rent half of a nice 2 bedroom apartment ~1 mile from campus for $650, which is actually a pretty good deal. (remember to add $ for utilities and all ~$100 because of cable/internet for me) If you can find a house to live in with other students the lowest you can realistically expect to pay is ~$500 unless you find a steal. If you have a car there are some cheaper areas outside of Pasadena. If you want to sublet from someone who already has a place (a good cheap way to go) check out losangeles.craigslist.org Lots of listings in the housing section.

BTW Pasadena is awesome, both old town and the south lake areas are nice. Tons to do and has some of the best restaurants in LA. I will definitely be sorry to leave.

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The nice thing about Pasadena is that you can conceivably live somewhere much cheaper in LA and drive to CalTech. I mean, no one in LA thinks that is out of the ordinary. Everyone commutes, everyone drives everywhere. I used to drive 6 blocks to the grocery store. I also drove 30 miles away to work. Yes, there's traffic to a degree but you get to know the city and you'll figure out the best routes.

Old Town is kind of a typical promenade with shops and restaurants and is near the Norton Simon Museum.

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OK, I'll bite. I lived in Pasadena for 8 years--my husband is a Caltech grad.

There are a lot of moderately priced apartments within walking distance of Tech--mostly west of Lake, between California and Cordova. I don't know what current rents are, but 10 years ago you could find 1-bedrooms for $500-$600 if you were willing to live in an older apartment building. (The newer buildings with all the amenities were higher.)

Grocery shopping was convenient living in this area. There were a Pavilions (ritzy, expensive grocery store) and a Wild Oats (natural foods) on the corner of Lake & California. W.O. has probably been taken over by Whole Foods by now. Trader Joe's was just south of California & Fair Oaks--about a mile from the Pavilions & Wild Oats. There was a Vons a little past TJ's somewhere. All of these were easily bikeable distances. Also, I think there was a bus line (177?) that ran down California past these stores and Caltech.

I liked living in Pasadena. Not as much as where I am now, but it was still a nice town. I do really miss being able to walk/bike/bus to get everything I need.

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Is it possible to get around without a car?

Oh, definitely. We managed without a car for half of the eight years we were there. For the three years after that, we managed with "half a car" (meaning: we owned one but it wasn't always running).

The bus system is okay; transit may be better now that light rail runs to town. Biking is definitely an option, once you get to know the streets with bike lanes. Plus, if you live near Caltech, you should be within walking distance of a lot of stuff.

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Thanks for the response! I will most likely be living within a 2 mile radius of the Caltech campus. Do you have any opinions re: the safety of that area? I am a small, young female and anticipate having to walk outside alone at night after work (possible up to 10 or 11pm). Are there any nearby neighborhoods that are either not safe or safer than others? Thanks!

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I think the only area I didn't feel safe in after dark was the section north of the freeway and west of Lake Avenue. SCARY!!!! I didn't even drive through there at night.

The area between Lake and Fair Oaks, between California and Del Mar, was pretty safe, though I would say I felt safer closer to Lake than Fair Oaks. I walked after dark A LOT; one day a week I took the bus from LA to Lake & California and walked home from there ~10:30 pm on a regular basis. I also worked at the Plaza Pasadena one summer and frequently walked/biked home at ~9:30. Never had any trouble (other than the guy who tried to pick me up because he thought I was a prostitute, but he backed off pretty quickly). Of course this was 10+ years ago, so things may have changed a bit, but I doubt it's significantly different.

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I'll be attending Caltech from September. This will be my first time living away from home and I am quite young, so I will probably live on-campus. are there any past or prospective Caltech students that have opinions to offer on the Catalinas/Avery House?

Edited by cantorset628
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I'll be attending Caltech from September. This will be my first time living away from home and I am quite young, so I will probably live on-campus. are there any past or prospective Caltech students that have opinions to offer on the Catalinas/Avery House?

Cats (Catalinas) are nice enough and much cheaper than the surrounding area. Safe choice for a first year as it can take a while to find good, affordable housing close to campus. That said, check out places4students if you want a small selection of other properties available around the campus.

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  • 8 months later...

This thread is musty, let's wake it up! Oh and Happy New Year, everyone!

I applied to Caltech for Fall 2012, and I, like everyone else, is awaiting a decision.

Turns out I'm a local. I live in Old Town, and work in South Pasadena.

Anyone else out there?

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Applied and got accepted, I live about 8 miles from Caltech on $500 rent at the moment (shared) and Im thinking about moving closer as I have to get by with just a bicycle. Anywhere else I think the 8 mile bike would be fine, but in LA with the traffic and the heat (and drought) its not gonna be much fun.

Im expecting to find places close enough around $600-800 if its shared with someone else.

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I am wondering if anyone who lives / had lived in the area could recommend some apartment landlord companies for my wife and I? We would prefer to rent from a company (preferably one that owns several buildings) rather than an individual. Most of the ones we find via Google are really fancy "apartment homes" with rent > $2000/month!! The only one I've found so far is "Babera Managment Inc."

Also, how do students get to Caltech if they don't have a car? Is there a good bus route? Or does everyone walk?

Thanks! :)

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Unfortunately rent in the area is kind of high. My husband is a Caltech grad and we pay about $1000 a month for a decent 1-bedroom, which is a good deal for a nice, well-kept place. Granted, part of the reason for the rent being so low is that you have to have really good credit to be approved. We do rent from an individual who owns the building. You might have a hard time finding a larger company with low rent in Pasadena. Most of what I've seen for anything bigger than a studio is in the $1600+ range with not too much on the low end of that. Sorry!

As far as getting to Caltech, there is a decent bus system, though you could walk if you lived close enough. It really just depends on where you end up renting. You might also consider living in Los Angeles and taking the metro in, but Pasadena is a really nice city and generally very safe as well.

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Thanks broquemo. I guess I really meant an apartment building owned by a person or a company, instead of a big house partitioned into apartments. $1000 a month would be really great, compared to what we have been finding (from companies and otherwise). But maybe rent has gone up in recent years too, the average that we see for a 1 bedroom is ~$1100-$1200.

I will be visiting next week for my program's Open House so I'll be sure to look around at the different areas so when we look at listings in the summer, we have a better idea of where things are! Thanks again :)

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I work at ArtCenter in Pasadena - so just a couple miles from CalTech. There's plenty of student housing available, and with roommates I've seen it run in the 700 - 1000 range. In general, LA has pretty high rent, so this looks steep but is reasonable given the region. 2k a month is ideal for a modest lifestyle, but it can be hard. An ex of mine went to CalTech and paid about 800 for rent in a 2 bedroom apartment a few miles away. He biked to campus. 

If you're interested in commuting to school, I'd also look into Northeast LA neighborhoods like Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights, and Mt. Washington. These areas are getting "cool" but are still affordable relatively speaking. I still see roommate listings in Eagle Rock for about 600. You can find studios for roughly 900 - 1200 a month, but people jump on them *very* fast. You can also look farther east of Pasadena, into Altadena or Sierra Madre. They just completed the Gold Line extension, so you can even live as far out as Santa Anita if you want to save money and don't mind a long commute. Our trains are not super great, but the metro expansion is making progress and you can now ride the Gold Line & connect to the Expo Line, heading fully from the east of LA to the beach.

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  • 2 weeks later...

For those of you moving to Pasadena, if you'd like any recommendations for things to see/places to go/things to eat, I would be happy to help out! @radredhead had great suggestions for nearby places; Altadena, Alhambra, Glendale, and even Rosemead are relatively close and have some inexpensive pockets. The weird thing about L.A. is that even in cool or not cool areas, there can still be a wide range in apartment prices! As a general note, the Gold Line has a stop about 2 miles from CalTech. There are busses, but be aware it may take a bit longer as the stop is not within immediate walking distance.

If you are a student with a disability, distance becomes even more important as some sidewalks in Pasadena are not ADA compliant and it can make taking public transit more difficult as well. 

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