Tired of the East Coast, They Followed Their Hearts to Los Angeles. But Where Would They End Up Living?

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Intent on giving themselves ‘the best shot at being happy with California,’ a young couple tested the rental market, where their money would go further. Here’s what they found.

The New York Times - Real Estate

Preet Patel and Anusha Gandhi were living in a one-bedroom rental in Jersey City, N.J., when the pandemic arrived to scramble their priorities.

For Dr. Patel, a physician who grew up in Queens, the early, awful days of Covid-19 in New York were draining. “Covid has been really hard on health care workers, emotionally and stress-wise,” he said. “It definitely changed my perspective in terms of the things I wanted out of my career and my life.”

Ms. Gandhi, who is from Florida, was working from home for her job in private finance, missing her Manhattan office life. “I definitely found myself going stir-crazy, bouncing between two rooms,” she said.

Dr. Patel had recently finished his anesthesiology residency and was starting a one-year fellowship at Rutgers University, giving him a chance to make a fresh start in 2021. Los Angeles topped the couple’s wish list.

“It was one of those ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be nice?’” things, Dr. Patel said.

Los Angeles “felt like it was a similar vibe to New York, but in a warmer place,” Ms. Gandhi said.

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The couple, who married in 2018, first visited the city together in 2015 for a friend’s wedding, and loved the sunshine and vibrant restaurant scene. Six years later, they returned to spend a week house hunting. With a budget of up to $4,000 a month for a new rental, they homed in on areas that felt somewhat walkable and would be close to Ms. Gandhi’s firm’s Los Angeles office. For help, they enlisted a local real estate agent, Daniel Lipshutz of Keller Williams.

Dr. Patel wanted to be closer to the Westside of Los Angeles, as he was hoping to develop a clinical practice in the area. Beverly Hills would have been the shortest commute for Ms. Gandhi, but she found it to be “too quiet, too residential.”

West Hollywood, just to the east, felt right, with its central location and numerous restaurants and bars, many within walking distance of nice apartment complexes. And their timing was fortuitous: Just as the sales market in Los Angeles was hitting a fever pitch — with homes selling for well over asking price within days of hitting the market — “it was kind of the exact opposite with the rental market,” Mr. Lipshutz said, with inventory plentiful and landlords offering discounts.

The couple found the apartments they toured in Los Angeles to be larger than those in New York and New Jersey, but the buildings were smaller and had fewer amenities. They were hoping to find an on-site gym and a pool. And they definitely wanted at least 1,200 square feet, an in-unit washer and dryer, and two bedrooms so they would have extra space for guests — and a baby.

A balcony or outdoor space was also on the list, to maximize their sunny new environs. “We wanted it to feel like California inside the apartment,” Dr. Patel said.

Among their options:

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