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Thread: USC (and LA) as a place to live car free

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    USC (and LA) as a place to live car free

    Hi all,

    I just got accepted to USC (also got into Buffalo, waiting on several more) and am definitely excited about their program. I am worried, however, about living (hopefully car-free) in LA. I plan on studying and designing walkable places because I am passionate about them. Am I going to need a car to be in LA? To commute to USC? I know there is on-campus housing, but I am going to be moving with my girlfriend; can one live in on-campus apartments with a gf/bf? I am pretty sure married people are accommodated, but that may not apply to gf/bfs (we're not quite ready to get married yet.) If we get an off-campus apt, will my gf need a car to get to her job (wherever it may be) or is it possible, if annoying, to use transit?

    Thanks all!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian zaphod's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bookworm View post
    Hi all,

    I just got accepted to USC (also got into Buffalo, waiting on several more) and am definitely excited about their program. I am worried, however, about living (hopefully car-free) in LA. I plan on studying and designing walkable places because I am passionate about them. Am I going to need a car to be in LA? To commute to USC? I know there is on-campus housing, but I am going to be moving with my girlfriend; can one live in on-campus apartments with a gf/bf? I am pretty sure married people are accommodated, but that may not apply to gf/bfs (we're not quite ready to get married yet.) If we get an off-campus apt, will my gf need a car to get to her job (wherever it may be) or is it possible, if annoying, to use transit?

    Thanks all!
    I got into USC too.. yay!!

    OK... This will hurt you more than me and so I am sorry. LA is nearly unlivable without a car. You can do it... but you will spend a lot of time waiting for buses that may not come. USC is not in the friendliest part of town so living near campus may not be advisable. You could possibly live downtown.. but there isn't a lot there... I live on the west side where rents are expensive but I got lucky with a pretty cheep place. My advice would be to get a car and live in the least expensive place you can find. No one really cares if you drive a jalopy if it gets you where you need to go, and me and my wife have successfully shared a car for years in this town.

    I have lived here for 6 years and have been to a few football games at USC... but of course this is just my experience. Hopefully someone else may have better news for you.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian JeM08's avatar
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    I used to work at USC, so I can give some info that hopefully helps.

    Living in LA without a car is simply awful. Like Zaphod said, it's technically possible but it would be SUCH a waste of time.

    If you're still determined to use public transit, USC does have a good (free) bus service from Park Campus to Union Station in downtown. From there, you can take the subway to Hollywood and other areas but all in all, LA does not have a great public transport system.

    Also, keep in mind that USC Park Campus is not located in the best of neighborhoods. USC sends crime incident reports via email to all students, staff and faculty whenever someone reports one....which sadly to say, happens several times a month (I'm being conservative here). The number one crime is theft...be careful late at night walking around with your macbook. I'm not saying the area isn't livable, many students live in the area, but just food for thought. Alternatively, Silverlake, Echo Park and Los Feliz are safer (and funner) neighborhoods but you have to really do your homework in finding an affordable place in those areas since they are very trendy.

    Feel free to ask any other questions, I know the area pretty well.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I am also trying to decide if it would be possible to attend USC without a car. I lived for 6 months w/o a car in L.A. I had more time than money, so I didn't mind waiting for transportation. I lived in a small apartment just outside of Larchmont Village (in a nice neighborhood, if you ask me). I was able to take the bus to USC fairly easily.

    The thing that worries me is travel to and from internships. You wouldn't want to be late to an internship just because the bus didn't show up on time.

    Has anyone lived near UCI? Do you think it would be possible to get around there w/o a car? I haven't been down to Orange County much.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Seamus,

    That point about internships is a really good one, thanks for bringing it up!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I just got an email from Trina Chakrabortty, one of the coordinators of incoming students at USC, who told me about the various graduate student housing. That may be more of an option for some of you (my gf and I would have to get married for it to work for us.)

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Did you ask her for that email? Would you mind forwarding it to me? My wife and I are interested in the student housing.

    thanks

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Seamus,

    Done. It looks like campus housing is available to married folks.
    Last edited by Bookworm; 05 Mar 2008 at 3:37 PM.

  9. #9
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    Has anyone lived near UCI? Do you think it would be possible to get around there w/o a car? I haven't been down to Orange County much.
    I went to undergrad at UCI and have worked on the campus for two years..I currently take the bus to work every day(I live about 3 miles from the main campus) and its great! The Orange County Transportation Authority(OCTA) run nice new buses that run almost always on schedule..however I do own a car and would recommend it -- OC is VERY spread out and I coulden't imagine living here without one. Also, while the OCTA is great, it doesn't run all that frequently/late and has limited weekend availability especially in a very suburban Irvine community..hope that helps!

    I just got an email from Trina Chakrabortty, one of the coordinators of incoming students at USC, who told me about the various graduate student housing. That may be more of an option for some of you (my gf and I would have to get married for it to work for us.)
    Bookworm -- could you forward that email to me as well? I'd love to see what USC has housing wise..much appreciated!!

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Hi all,

    I am a little uncomfortable forwarding her email without her permission. I just asked for it, and also suggested she could post here her self. If you want to email her, I am sure she would be happy to respond. Her email is tchakrab@sppd.usc.edu. You might want to check here too: http://housing.usc.edu/housingOption...eToLiveGRD.htm

  11. #11
    Cyburbian JeM08's avatar
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    Bookworm et al, I don't know if this even needs to be said but you should consider non-university housing, as some options can actually be cheaper. In fact most of the people I know at both USC and UCLA live off-campus.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Bookworm et al, I don't know if this even needs to be said but you should consider non-university housing, as some options can actually be cheaper. In fact most of the people I know at both USC and UCLA live off-campus.
    JeM08-

    No, that is very pertinent, and part of my inquiry. In fact, now that I've learned that my gf and I cannot stay on campus, I want to explore off campus in depth. Do you know if it is possible to live off campus relatively safely, and close enough to not need a car? If we live further away, would we definately need a car? (I see my scholarship dissolving in car payments)

    ps, Trina asked that I give the link to this site: http://www.usc.edu/schools/sppd/admission/staff.html and to say that she would prefer to communicate with students personally.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian zaphod's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bookworm View post
    Seamus,

    Done. It looks like campus housing is available to married folks.
    I do not know your situation but... I know of at least one couple that got married in Vegas driving out to LA to make their living situation easier... Vegas BABY!


    Just an option..
    "He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot." Douglas Adams

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Zaphod, duly noted. USC also allows non-married couples who have children to live together on campus. Doh! not enough months before school starts.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian JeM08's avatar
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    Bookworm,
    Your options will narrow down a bit if you do not own and use a car but it's doable. Anywhere in the vicinity of campus is relatively safe but AVOID Ellendale, it is not very safe.

    Your other options are South Pasadena, Downtown LA, and Hollywood, because you can take the subway to Union Station and then the USC tram to campus (which again is free). South Pas is the safest option but DTLA and Hollywood have better nightlife if that matters any. Plus, some interesting planning-related things are happening in DTLA.

    All in all I think you shouldn't be discouraged by any housing issues, there's more than one way to skin a cat, and USC really does have two things going for itself: a great sense of community and excellent networking opportunities.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian supergeek1313's avatar
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    my boyfriend is at law school at UCLA and doesn't own a car... UCLA has a really good U-Pass program (BruinGo!) so he pays $20/term and rides unlimited to get around. with that said, he knew he had to be in the west side of LA, and getting to downtown is a major pain... but he manages.

    i don't know how it is at USC, though, since the BBB (which I personally prefer to the LA Metro) doesn't run there. the blue line RT may... not sure.

    if you sign up for zipcar to take you to non-transit-accessible places, you may be able to do it.

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