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You can find an apartment close enough to USC to either walk or bike. You probably don't want to go too far from campus as USC is not in south central LA, not the safest of neighborhoods. You don't really need a car, but in a city like LA you will find that public transportation is not as well developed and a car will be helpful. You can also live farther away and commute by car if you'd like; you'd probably save a little on rent and you can live in a safe, but affordable, neighborhood.

I'm not sure about how your field works (I'm in history), and also not sure about post-tax stipend, sorry. You probably want to check The Bank for information about your finances post-taxes.

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You can find an apartment close enough to USC to either walk or bike. You probably don't want to go too far from campus as USC is not in south central LA, not the safest of neighborhoods. You don't really need a car, but in a city like LA you will find that public transportation is not as well developed and a car will be helpful. You can also live farther away and commute by car if you'd like; you'd probably save a little on rent and you can live in a safe, but affordable, neighborhood.

I'm not sure about how your field works (I'm in history), and also not sure about post-tax stipend, sorry. You probably want to check The Bank for information about your finances post-taxes.

OK, thanks. Then I will live nearby campus in the first year, and move to a cheaper and safer place in the second year..

Does anybody know about the job opportunities in LA. Will an engineering PhD help me find a nice job in LA?

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I was just accepted to a PhD program at UCLA. I've never visited LA before, but the cost of living seems pretty steep. Is it possible to live on a stipend of $16,000, which would go up to $18,000 from the second year on ... ?

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I was just accepted to a PhD program at UCLA. I've never visited LA before, but the cost of living seems pretty steep. Is it possible to live on a stipend of $16,000, which would go up to $18,000 from the second year on ... ?

where are you planning to live? i looked at some apartments, and they seem really expensive (this coming from a fellow californian).

i'm going there this fall as well, on a $25k stipend and even with that i'm worried it won't be enough.

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also another question: is it possible to bike to school if i'm living in surrounding cities/neighborhoods outside of westwood? i don't want to become roadkill.

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where are you planning to live? i looked at some apartments, and they seem really expensive (this coming from a fellow californian). i'm going there this fall as well, on a $25k stipend and even with that i'm worried it won't be enough.

I know ... the low number slightly terrifies me. Being a theater/performance studies student, though, I guess I can't expect much more. I will probably try for graduate student housing at Weyburn Terrace, which I have heard is lovely. I'm still waiting to hear back from one last program before making a decision, but UCLA is a top choice.

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how much aid are you guys getting...

i got a mail on 26th March saying that I would be given $15,667.59 MAE Graduate Student Researcher Stipend.

$ 5,463.60 salary as a Teaching Assistant for one quarter. Also they said that I would be given $7K during the summer. It was also stated in the email that I would be guaranteed a spot for housing. I have been hearing that LA is a very costly place to live in. Do you think the above funding is sufficient?

dibyadeep

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Yes, it sounds like all of you will have sufficient funding. A stipend of $16,000 will be very tight, especially if that is for 12 months. If it is for 9 months and you get some supplemental income during the summer, you will have some more breathing room. For everyone else, it sounds like you have enough funding to live comfortably.

For the person with $16k:

You can share a 1br apt with someone for ~$700/month (utilities included) or possibly less if you are lucky. Groceries will be approx $30-50/wk. You probably won't be able to afford a car here on your stipend, but the bus system in west LA is good and you can either get a monthly pass, pay $0.25/ride, or live near enough to campus to walk/bike. Plenty of people ride the bus or bike to campus from the surrounding areas.

Everyone concerned about transportation options might find this helpful:

http://map.ais.ucla.edu/portal/site/UCL ... 6643a4RCRD

For the people with a larger stipends:

you should be able to afford a place in Weyburn Terrace for ~$1000/month (including utilities). Alternatively, you could live in University apartments south (slightly cheaper, but further away and not as nice. A direct shuttle runs between these places and campus quite often). Having a car will make your budget a lot tighter (gas is nearly $4/gallon, a parking spot in Weyburn Terrace is about $1000/year, insurance is expensive, etc.). I would recommend going the first year without a car and getting one after that if you find it necessary.

Hope this helps.

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Hi

I got an admission from UBC and another admission from UCLA and now I am stuck. Electrical Engineering, (Analog and RF) both are fully funded, both from very good Profs., both are nice and all, but I have to choose. UBC is MS, ucla is PhD, Can any one please help.

Thanks

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Hi folks! Time to get this forum going again, I think.

I have not heard from everywhere yet, but of my thus-far acceptances am leaning toward UCLA, partly because I have been wanting to take up surfing for years now but have not been able to in New England/The Midwest. Please don't laugh at me; I've taken lessons while traveling and think with a little practice I could get good enough to make it a life-long hobby. Maybe I'm wrong, but in any case I think that I think and feel better when I'm near a large body of water, and I'm not much for running on treadmills.

Anyway, I have an old beater of a car that I think can make it out there and survive for a while, though I prefer to rely on transit when I can. I also have a (non-negotiable) cat. It is not likely that my boyfriend will be joining me, so I'm probably looking for an apartment with roommates (my own room, I mean, in a 2-bedroom or larger place shared with others). I don't mind an hour-long commute if it can be done on just one bus (or train, but I'm told the subway doesn't have a stop near UCLA), and I'm willing to re-learn how to ride a bike. I generally prefer an area that is more diverse (even if it is slightly "sketchy" - I'm small, but not easily intimidated, and I like to think pretty city-savvy), and like many humanists I enjoy older buildings that are reasonably well kept-up and neighborhoods that have a good neighborhood-y feel and are home to things like non-franchized coffee shops, ethnic food marts, arts and cultural institutions, etc. I know that you can't always have it all, but I've found you can often come close if you know where to look and who to ask for advice. I've been told I'll like Venice, but that Santa Monica is very yuppified. Someone also told me that there's a bus that runs down Sunset all the way from the beach to UCLA to downtown. Does that sound right? What other neighborhoods would you suggest, and what can I expect from them in terms of character and cost?

My hope is that I'll be able to pay ~650 a month or less in rent. My stipend is starting at $17k for 9 mos and will hopefully go up slightly when I start TAing. Maybe I can afford more? Right now my rent takes up a rather small portion of my income (<25%) each month, but I'm making big payments on my student loans from undergrad, so my budget-sense is not necessarily accurate.

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lycoris,

I did my undergrad near UCLA and have lived in LA for the past 7 years, including a year-long stint in Venice. I would highly recommend Venice, and there are some nice parts of Santa Monica as well (though most are insufferably yuppified). There is a bus from Venice/SM to UCLA (Big Blue Bus), so the commute should be doable from there. And if you live a bit too far from the stop, you could probably do some sort of bike/bus combo commute.

Rent, however, is EXPENSIVE! When I was in Venice, I had shared a two bedroom on a pretty rundown street (great location,though) and still paid $800 for my share. You'd be loath to find a one-bedroom or loft for <$1,100. And SM is even more expensive.

Westwood, Pacific Palisades and most other neighborhoods near UCLA are pretty upscale and would probably be either too expensive or too homogeneous. Another place you could consider is Palms/Culver City, but as a matter of personal preference, I'd try to make Venice work first.

Good luck with your choices! LA's a great place. You can make it work without a car, but you'll miss out on a lot of options on the other side of the city and just outside city limits.

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To add to that, I once found a studio in Brentwood (walking distance to north campus) for $650. However, competition was incredibly fierce for it, and I didn't have good enough credit to come out on top. But you can find good deals if you are lucky. I'd also recommend Palms as a place to look. A huge number of UCLA grad students live there, it's pretty reasonable, and there's a bus that goes straight to UCLA. I split rent with a grad student on a big condo with a balcony we could see the ocean from (on a clear day) for $750 each. Palms is pretty boring though, and lacks in your criteria for diversity (save the diversity you'll find among the student pop) and little shops and things. Shopping streets like this are actually pretty rare though. There are pockets here and there, like Venice or West Hollywood, but for the most part people in LA get in their cars and go places instead of walking down streets, so no real effort is made to consolidate areas.

I agree that, even if you rely on the bus for your daily commute, definitely have a car for weekends and breaks. LA rightfully owns its title as the king of car towns, and the bus system is not designed to go very many places. Additionally as I mentioned above, things tend to be very spread out, so if you wanted to go four places it's unlikely you'll find all four on the same block (unless it's four different burrito places). As far as bicycles, I'm not sure how feasible that would be. I mean, there are militant bicyclists everywhere, but for a normal person I don't think it would be safe. Freeways or the big avenues are the most direct routes to most places. The big avenues are not bike-friendly at all. The littler streets weave around so much it'd be difficult to put together a direct route. And you're dealing with huge amounts of traffic and drivers that aren't used to bikes sharing the road, as well as frequent massive freeway on- and off-ramps. If I were coming from Westwood or just south of Wilshire (lots of overpriced housing there) I'd bike, but even from Palms, which is only 5 miles away, I'd be scared to.

Edit: I thought of something to add regarding buses. I did actually live for a little under a year without a car, so when I say a car is necessary, it's from actual experience, not theoretical observations. In addition to simple lack of coverage is that they skip stops pretty frequently, especially if a homeless person with a cart is waiting to get on (the LA homeless treat the bus system like rolling shelters, boarding then riding around for hours). So even if you have a route that is convenient, it's not necessarily reliable. The Big Blue bus routes that go into UCLA seem less prone to that, but it'll be something you encounter if you take the buses to other places.

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I've lived in LA for six years and two of my best friends go to UCLA. Until recently I lived with them in a house in Culver City, and one of them didn't have a car and so commuted to UCLA on the bus. There's an artsy area near the intersection of Washington and Helms that (I think) you would find almost perfect. There's a great French restaurant/pastry shop there called La Dijonaise, plus plenty of other nice haunts. Keep that in mind. If you'd prefer a quiter, more residential area, try the area around Culver Blvd and Overland Ave. It's still walking distance to the great places in downtown Culver City.

Fair warning: LA is the car capital of the world. You may find yourself missing out on some social scenes if you don't have a car.

SlothOfDoom (Fear the Sloth)

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If UCLA get to have their own topic...

What is the best idea for housing, needing a car, places to hang out near campus etc?

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I was not aware of this thread before. Bump! Interested in information on graduate accommodation and how it compares to renting privately.

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There is a USC thread, actually, it's just on the second or third page of the forum. Right next to where this one was, incidentally, before I posted in it again and bumped it up to the top.

Thanks to everyone so far for your suggestions; I've spent a bunch of time plugging the neighborhood names into craigslist and seeing what comes up. I guess I'm going to have to get ready to pay $750 or so. It seems from craigslist like 2 bedroom apartments are the norm, but I've lived in 3 bedroom places ever since college, which is nice because cable and internet, which are generally the most expensive utility, are a fixed monthly cost - so premium cable becomes much more affordable when split three ways.

How much do things like digital cable, high speed internet (say 5mbps, which should be plenty), and energy (electric/gas/oil/whathaveyou) tend to run? Obviously it can vary . . . Also, someone suggested earlier in this thread budgeting like $30/week for groceries - I pay $45 now if I'm good all month and don't eat out. Can anyone else suggest a good figure I can plug into my spreadsheet?

Oh, also, where I live now it seems like there's no point in trying to search for an apartment more than 2 months ahead of time at most, and usually more like 1 month. I'm guessing LA is the same way, but I know sometimes in university communities (which can extend to off-campus housing in different neighborhoods if there's a message board or something that the students use) folks will plan a term ahead of time - ie in the spring quarter for the fall quarter. When should I get serious about apartment hunting?

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I don't know if you've gotten any formal UIDs or anything from UCLA, or if you've even decided to go there, but if/when you do, UCLA has an off-campus student housing search site that is really good. It's much more than a lipservice show of providing service, and you can find some great deals specifically tailored to students. Again though, you have to be registered to access the listings.

The site is here: http://www.cho.ucla.edu/

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Housing decisions at SC will come down to how much you can stand/need. Must you have your own bedroom/personal space, or can you share? Most graduate students don't live on campus per se, but rather in student housing nearby in the neighborhood. But again where in the neighborhood (or more apporopriately, how deep into the neighborhood) you are located makes a difference; some streets are safer/cleaner than others, and you'll have to pay for the safety/cleanliness, as well as for a "nicer" building. Bascially, if you want your own bedroom in a two bedroom apartment, or a studio, and in one of the better/closer buildings and streets you're going to pay about $920 (though prices are ever increasing--two/three years ago, $920 was $815). Even these buildings aren't that great, but you can survive a year (most people I know get out of housing after their first year, and many others don't bother at all).

The area is okay enough safety-wise if you keep your wits about and aren't out super early or super late (most of our crime reports concerned students out walking past midnight or before 7am. There's not much to do however except for the little University strip/center that has a Wendy's (great for a fast food fix), a grocery store (never bought my food there, but some students did so it seems okay), a sub par movie theater (again never went inside), Starbucks, and some miscellaneous shops. It's not much of a hang out, and most students get away on weekends/evenings to other places. There is a Ralphs nearby that has somewhat better food, and it's possible to walk or bike to it (but better to have a car). You'll often find students with families or friends (who live within a drivable distance elsewhere in So Cal) who bring food/supplies on the weekends for students to stock up.

You can survive without a car, but be prepared to be limited or find lots of friends who drive (which shouldn't be a problem :D ). If you do get a car, pay for a permit because trying to get a space on your own isn't fun. I knew international students who managed without a car by doing group trips on public transportation or, again, by getting people with cars to take them somewhere, but many of them were only staying for a year or so; those getting PH.Ds got cars eventually :D It can get depressing and frustrating if you're stuck around the area with no escape, as well being dependent on someone to get away. Lots of out of state people and internationals do graduate housing the first year; it might be worthwhile to do student housing for a year to meet people and become adjusted to the school. Still, a lot of people live in many other parts of So. Cal and commute (which isn't that bad or hard), and you should still have no problem meeting people should you opt not to do grad housing.

If you decide not to do grad housing, you have lots of options in the various cities/areas of LA county that I can go into more detail about if anyone's interested. Prices will vary depending on needs/wants again. You might even still be able to get away without a car (specifically if you live in the Pasadena area you can take the metro and 'SC bus to campus, and Pasadena has much more to do/safer than 'SC housing, but you'll probably want a car in the long run no matter what). You'll probably pay between $700-900+ for a place (maybe in the high 600s if you're really lucky but you'll need to really check out the location, building, and the apartment itself); but again all of this depends on what kind of quality you are looking for and what you can stand/deem as necessary. High 700s to low 900s is probably more realistic.

I went to 'SC for my master's. Lived in student housing for the first year then moved out (one year was enough) and commuted for my second year.

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I just got an acceptance letter from UCLA.. no word on funding yet... I'm starting to look at apartments... my boyfriend will be moving with me and he's not a UCLA student... so we've got to find an off-campus apartment... from what i've gotten from the thread so far... venice/palms/mar vista are the good areas to look at??? what about hollywood/west hollywood area?

I'll have my car out there... is there any concern/thing I should be keeping in mind when looking for apartments??

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I'll have my car out there... is there any concern/thing I should be keeping in mind when looking for apartments??

Make sure you get a place with off-street parking. It's not necessarily a given in L.A. and if you're in a dense neighborhood with a lot of apartment buildings, finding street parking daily will drive you crazy. And random car vandalization does happen on occasion. Finding a place with one assigned spot probably won't be tough but if your boyfriend will also have a car, finding a place with 2 is sometimes trickier.

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I just got an acceptance letter from UCLA.. no word on funding yet... I'm starting to look at apartments... my boyfriend will be moving with me and he's not a UCLA student... so we've got to find an off-campus apartment... from what i've gotten from the thread so far... venice/palms/mar vista are the good areas to look at??? what about hollywood/west hollywood area?

I'll have my car out there... is there any concern/thing I should be keeping in mind when looking for apartments??

Parts of hollywood/west hollywood are sketchy and others are fine (hopefully somebody who's lived up there can provide more detail). I have friends who like it enough up there that they commute down to El Segundo for work. A big consideration is where your boyfriend ends up working, and what hours he works (whether they're flexible or not). LA traffic is often bumper to bumper one direction in the morning and fine in the other direction, then vice versa. When I lived in downtown LA my roommate rarely hit traffic commuting west on the 10, whereas eastbound was awful. This can be true even on the surface streets, though to a lesser extent. Take a look at Google maps traffic during morning/evening rush hour.

Sloth of Doom

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I don't know if you've gotten any formal UIDs or anything from UCLA, or if you've even decided to go there, but if/when you do, UCLA has an off-campus student housing search site that is really good.

Indeed. I found my current place on the site -- and the landlords listed it only there because they didn't want to have to deal with a bunch of flakes.

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I'm obviously jumping the gun since I'm only waitlisted, but I really want in at USC so I'm fantasizing early. My question: can anyone who knows the USC experience imagine living in Koreatown and biking (or maybe taking the subway even?) to USC for school stuff? Is living even moderately close to downtown just a huge pain in the ass?

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