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Hello everyone, UCLA prospective grad student here. I have asked a few current students in my department about the funding situation and it seems that after tax, students generally make 27k for 12 months. Any tips/advices on whether this is an okay amount and how to budget wisely?

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Just accepted. 

Hope I could get a housing in the university. I really really really need a dorm. As an international student, I can't get a license to buy a car to commute everyday. 

 

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Hello all! I'm a big planner! I'll be applying to the MSW program at Cal State LA, Fullerton, Long Beach, and Fullerton at the end of this year. Is anyone else planning to move down there for their masters program? I'd love to get to know someone and get on a waitlist for an apartment down there! I know I'm kind of early but if I have to get on a waitlist for an apartment it can typically take awhile. But if you are a woman entering the masters program in the southern CA area and applying to any of the schools I listed comment below!

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Hi all,

im trying to decide between UCLA (doctorate) and an equivalent east coast program. I’d prefer UCLA, but they only offered me a c. $20,000 per year stipend, and the east coast school was far more generous.  

I don’t have any outside money, so my question was : can you afford to live in LA on $20,000? And if the answer is yes, how many roommates does this require?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Hi everyone! I just got into USC for a PhD program with full funding (!!!!) I'm absolutely thrilled, but I know nothing about California, let alone L.A. and I live on the opposite side of the country. The engineering program was my #2 choice and unless I get a great offer from an even better school (doubtful), it's probably where I'll end up going. I haven't heard the best things about L.A. and I suspect it will be a huge adjustment from the suburbia I'm used to. Could anyone give me some general advice about the cost of living, safety on and off campus, or good resources for apartment hunting? Really, any tips you might have about the area are more than welcomed.

Another thing I'm a little worried about is making friends as a grad student at USC. I'm obviously prepared to spend most of my time studying and doing research, but I spent most of my undergrad pretty lonely (my school just really wasn't the best fit for me). I'm desperately trying not to repeat this in grad school and being able to make friends and have some fun outside of school is really important to me. Moving across the country by myself just seems really intimidating right now! 

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Because the way "Los Angeles" expanded and sprawled, the rent can get very cheap ($400-800 if you want to living with other people, $900+ if you want a single apartment) if you are willing to drive (30+ minutes). So yes, $20,000 is doable. If you find a cheap place, you'll still have a considerable amount of disposable income for other stuff, but your stipend does seem to be lower than the average.

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Cost of living: can be cheap if you can drive/willing to take the public transit. Immediate rent around USC/DTLA can get very expensive due to gentrification. But there are many other residential (/suburban) areas where the rent is doable on a PhD stipend. Generally, you want to look east of LA (e.g., San Gabriel Valley, Covina, Azusa).

Housing Resources: USC has a ton of resources to help their students find housing. If I remember my friend's dilemma correctly, there are like several Facebook groups for housing (i.e., they were getting 20 notifications every minute). If low rent is your goal, craigslist is your best friend.

Life-Outside-of-School: Congratulations! You've picked the right school. You have access to good food, good bars (karaoke optional), good clubs, good museums, a zoo, shops, etc... There are so many fun things to do in DTLA, so you can't beat USC location wise on access to entertainment. I can't guarantee that you will makes friends in USC, but USC (despite it being a private school) has a lot of students and diversity. It's also likely that you'll meet people from surrounding schools (Cal State LA, UCLA, sometimes UCI/UCR) since DTLA is where people come to have fun.

Safety on/off campus: Yes, it can get unsafe later in the night (I am talking past 10/11 pm) if you are walking alone on the street. But honestly, if you are careful and mindful, you will be fine.

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Buy a car, buy a car, buy a car. There is a reason why LA is called the car capital of the US. The metropolitan area is incredibly spread out and public transportation is not the best at the moment. If you want to go places and do things, it's better to have a car. Plus you would be able to look for housing in safer and/or cheaper areas a bit farther away from campus.

 

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You can live on $20,000, but it means you will be living with roommates and not anywhere near Westwood. When I was still an undergrad there back in 2015, rent for a 2b2b apartment within walking distance to campus was ~$3,600/month and I'm sure it hasn't gone down since then. It will become cheaper the farther away you move from campus, but you will still require a roommate. How many roommates depends on how much you're willing to pay. I've seen rent as low as $600-$800 a month if you're willing to live with a roommate in a shared room. Also, UCLA has its own grad housing you can apply for. The ones near campus are absurdly expensive, but the apartments away from campus are much cheaper.

And buy a car. If you want to do anything or go anywhere in LA, you will need a car. Factor in car maintenance, insurance, and gas costs too. All in all, I think it's all down to how much you're going to spend on housing. $20,000 is enough for LA if you're not paying a lot for rent.

Edited by lordtiandao

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Thank you both for replying.  It gave me a much better understanding of what I'm getting into.  I think the sheer costs will probably force me to the east coast, but at least I have that option.

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I live very close to USC (walking distance) and the rent is 650. I have my own room but there are 3 other people in the house. Restroom, living room area and kitchen are all shared. 650 is a great deal! I have a car so I am mobile. There are some housing apartments almost exclusively for USC students such as Lorenzo and Tuscany (all shared) so it will be easier to make friends. 

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I’m a fifth year at USC, and I also moved cross-country, knew nothing about California, and didn’t know anyone here.

Join some graduate organizations on campus to help make friends! USC is huge, and you’re bound to make some friends :) The graduate student government hosts a number of social events that may help too. I also like meeting groups to meet people off campus. 

If you can, come down to LA to get a feel for the neighborhoods. I don’t like the area around USC to live, mainly because there are too many undergrads. Koreatown, Culver City, and Palms are quite popular for grad students depending on what neighborhood feel you want. I live in Los Feliz, close to Griffith Park, which means I pay a bit more for rent ($1100 for a room in a 2 bed/2 bath), but I live in an extremely walkable neighborhood. If you don’t want to get a car, be sure to live on one of the train lines; Expo line goes straight to campus, and grad students get discounted fare  cards for Metro. A lot of my friends don’t have cars, though I bought one when I got out here. I like the independence and the ability to drive all over the area. 

Look at Padmapper to get a sense of apartment prices. I don’t recommend larger complexes that advertise as exclusive for USC students; they are very loud and cater to undergrads. 

Hope this helps, and if you have more questions, let me know! 

Edited by kyjin

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Hi all,

I was wondering if anybody had already begun looking for an apartment in LA (specifically near UCLA)?  I'm trying to find an option in the $1000-1350 price range and man is it hard.  I was hoping somebody might have a suggestion.

Thanks.

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On 2/18/2018 at 5:20 PM, lordtiandao said:

And buy a car. If you want to do anything or go anywhere in LA, you will need a car.

No you really don't need a car when you're going to UCLA. Seriously. Most everything you'd want is in the very walkable (and very safe) Westwood area and UCLA offers subsidized public transit passes which will take you to all the major areas. Uber/Lyft fills in the gaps. Completely unnecessary to get a car.

Edited by DnD

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On 3/31/2018 at 9:54 PM, DnD said:

No you really don't need a car when you're going to UCLA. Seriously. Most everything you'd want is in the very walkable (and very safe) Westwood area and UCLA offers subsidized public transit passes which will take you to all the major areas. Uber/Lyft fills in the gaps. Completely unnecessary to get a car.

Many people have already gone over this issue of why you need a car in LA. You can go back and read what they wrote.

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16 minutes ago, lordtiandao said:

Many people have already gone over this issue of why you need a car in LA. You can go back and read what they wrote.

Go back and read what they wrote. Now go back and read what I wrote. I addressed all the issues.

Completely unnecessary to own a car while going to UCLA if all your classes are on campus.

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10 hours ago, DnD said:

Go back and read what they wrote. Now go back and read what I wrote. I addressed all the issues.

Completely unnecessary to own a car while going to UCLA if all your classes are on campus.

You've written nothing that turns over arguments made by previous posters. Are you going to spend 5+ years only on campus and around Westwood? If not, do yourself a favor and just buy a decent, used car. They're not that expensive.

I'm just going to leave it there.

Edited by lordtiandao

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6 hours ago, lordtiandao said:

You've written nothing that turns over arguments made by previous posters. Are you going to spend 5+ years only on campus and around Westwood? If not, do yourself a favor and just buy a decent, used car. They're not that expensive.

I'm just going to leave it there.

 

Actually I did address the arguments but it seems like you aren't fully comprehending what I'm saying.

Have you actually lived and gone to school at UCLA? I spent 4 years there doing my undergrad. Perhaps a decade ago people needed a car but ridesharing and an improved public transportation system (that will only get better with the metro extending a line right by westwood) has made needing a car not necessary for the typical UCLA student.

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I have lived in LA for the past 10+ years. While I did not go to UCLA for school (too expensive), I have gone to school within the region, have worked in the LA area, and have taken some summer classes (not for UCLA) at UCLA. So I'll try and address a couple concerns. 

Price:

LA is very expensive. Your stipend will not be enough to live on  your own here (unless its 35k+). There are plenty of apartments in the West LA region however, so you shouldn't have any issues with housing. Furthermore, most students and even residents usually room with someone else here, so you shouldn't have too much difficulty finding roommates (can't speak for their quality though). Food here is actually a bit on the cheaper side (compared to the rest of America, especially fruits), so that shouldn't be a problem. Most of your stipend will go to housing, so budget appropriately. 

Public Transportation:

Public Transportation is good, but unreliable here. You name a place in West LA, and you will find a bus that frequents it quite often (business hours only). Busing also runs pretty late, although it does come much less often later at night. If you plan properly, you will not need a car here. We also have an underground metro/train station, and while dirty, it is very efficient and on time/frequent. However, with so many bus routes, if you really want to travel through LA, you will potentially have to take multiple buses. So while it's not difficult to travel through LA via public transportation, it can be time consuming. There is always uber/lyft though too. 

City Life:

Well you've come to the right place. West LA has a looooooot of things to do. You'll never really run out of things to do here, and even long time students/residents will often find hidden gems. There are plenty of events, nightclubs/bars, museums, etc. Something is always going on. We have mountains and oceans, waterfalls and "rivers" (more like trickles of water now), and it's always sunny. So plenty of time to go out and explore. A large variety of culture (chinatown, little tokyo, etc.), amazing ethnic food from all over the world (you think of the country, we probably have it), and a large variety of ethnic celebrations and traditions (street wide events for some ethnic holidays). You will never run out of things to do here during your program. Also, this is just West LA. Once you consider the rest of LA, well....doesn't matter how long your program is, you won't be able to explore it all. 

Opportunities:

LA is a great opportunity for career growth. There is a booming tech, biotech, and finance sector here. Plenty of opportunities for networking and pursuing your dreams and careers (even for small businesses). UCLA has access to a lot of these resources, and finding a job afterwards (depends on major of course) within the LA area should be relatively easy (we have industries for almost all the majors). Competition is of course high/tough, but the opportunity for growth is there. 

Traffic:

If you do have a car, keep in mind, this is a big issue in West LA. People schedule their entire jobs and life around rush hour and traffic.I have actually rejected multiple job offers just due to how bad traffic was during the hours they were offering me. It is very common to usually drive 1-2hr home (when the route is 20-30min without traffic). Traffic is bad for your health, and wastes needless gas. Sadly, all of LA has this issue, so there is no going out of it. 

Outside of the traffic and housing prices however, LA is a great city to live in and explore. While a car would be nice, it is not necessary (although personally, I highly recommend it). 

 

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Hello,

I just moved to LA for grad school at USC. It's been a little hard to make friends, since people seem really focused on their research. I'm having trouble finding school orgs for grad students and am just generally a bit nervous about my social life for the next 6 years. Any advice? Thanks a lot!

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@Stella_***

Try using Meetup to find groups you are interested in. That's probably one of the easier ways to meet new people. You can also try to take or audit classes in other LA-area schools and meet people from there. I'm over at UCLA doing Chinese history so you're always welcome to hang out here.

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On 2/18/2018 at 5:14 PM, lordtiandao said:

Buy a car, buy a car, buy a car. There is a reason why LA is called the car capital of the US.

 

On 2/18/2018 at 5:20 PM, lordtiandao said:

You can live on $20,000, 

And buy a car. If you want to do anything or go anywhere in LA, you will need a car. 

MOO, one does not need a car in Los Angeles if one lives within a convenient walking distance of a couple of Metro stops. 

FWIW, a recent report argued that LA was the second most expensive city for car ownership, trailing only NYC.

2. Los Angeles

  • Car ownership baseline: $7,237
  • Parking: $2,405
  • Congestion: $2,808
  • Parking pain: $2,383
  • Total cost of driving in Los Angeles: $14,834

Even if one were to zero out the cost of "congestion" and "parking pain," one is still looking at costs north of $9k. 

So I don't know if the issue is as cut and dry as some suggest.

 

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17 minutes ago, Sigaba said:

 

MOO, one does not need a car in Los Angeles if one lives within a convenient walking distance of a couple of Metro stops. 

FWIW, a recent report argued that LA was the second most expensive city for car ownership, trailing only NYC.

2. Los Angeles

  • Car ownership baseline: $7,237
  • Parking: $2,405
  • Congestion: $2,808
  • Parking pain: $2,383
  • Total cost of driving in Los Angeles: $14,834

Even if one were to zero out the cost of "congestion" and "parking pain," one is still looking at costs north of $9k. 

So I don't know if the issue is as cut and dry as some suggest.

 

It depends on how much one is planning on driving in LA and to where. 

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