Two Midwestern transplants get “price shock” in Southern California. Which house would you choose?

When Merrill and Zak Leedom lived in Columbus, Ohio, Mr Leedom thought their one-bedroom apartment, at $2,100 a month, was so expensive it was “absurd”, even though it had a rooftop pool, gym and dog park. . But that was before the couple moved to Los Angeles last year and started looking for a place to rent there.

Mr. Leedom, 28, was traveling back and forth from Columbus after the wealth management firm he works for was acquired by a company based in Southern California. Ms. Leedom’s job as a communications strategist, primarily for healthcare companies, was hybrid, so she was able to transition to working remotely.

“I love the sun and being outdoors,” said Ms Leedom, 27. “It’s really hard to do that for many months out of the year in the Midwest, especially during Covid, when things weren’t open and it was gray and cold and snowy.

The couple, who met while students at West Virginia University (he was on the football team, she was a cheerleader), tied the knot in 2019. Last September, after having traveled to Los Angeles, they spent three months in short-term Airbnb rentals in different Westside neighborhoods to get a feel for where they wanted to be. Mr. Leedom’s office is in Thousand Oaks, Ventura County, but he often drives to meet clients as far south as Orange County.

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They started their hunt in the San Fernando Valley, which would have been a short drive. But they decided that living near the ocean was the best way to enjoy the Southern California lifestyle. They settled in Santa Monica, Venice and Marina del Rey, beach areas between Mr. Leedom’s office to the north and frequent client meetings in Orange County.

With no local friends or rental agent to help her, Ms Leedom scoured the internet for new listings. The couple, who have a dog named Reese, loved the amenities at their Ohio resort and hoped to find similar ones in Los Angeles. But it didn’t take long to realize that their $3,000 a month budget wouldn’t be enough for a two-bedroom with modern appliances and updates, so they upped the budget and considered apartments. of a bedroom.

The areas they researched were among the most expensive in the region: the average monthly rent for a bedroom is $5,046 in Santa Monica and $4,530 in Marina del Rey, according to “It was a bit of a price shock,” Mr Leedom said.

A priority for Ms Leedom was finding somewhere within walking distance, as the couple share a car, which her husband uses to get to work most days. “I don’t want to feel isolated,” she says. “And LA really is a motor city.”

Among their options:

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