What’s the appeal of Norwalk, anyway? Why would I want to live there?
Three reasons: location, location, and location. Residents of Norwalk enjoy the serenity of the suburbs while also residing within stone’s throw (as long as you can throw a stone 10-20 miles, that is) of L.A., Orange County, Garden Grove, Long Beach, and Riverside. If you want to live on the doorstep of the hustle and bustle of SoCal without having to deal with the utter insanity of the actual big city, Norwalk might be your best bet.
Who lives in Norwalk? Will I fit in?
A better question is, “Who doesn’t live in Norwalk?” As far as we can tell, Martians, Dodo birds, and make-believe hobbits don’t live in Norwalk. Everybody else, however, does. Spanish is the predominant language in Norwalk, and the Hispanic/Latino demographic accounts for more than 60 percent of the population, but the city is also home to increasing numbers of Filipinos, Koreans, and Pacific Islanders. Whether you’re Native American, Caucasian, African-American, Honduran, or you hail from pretty much anywhere else on the map, you’re sure to find plenty of kindred souls in Norwalk.
Aren’t the suburbs kind of boring, though?
Generally, yes. However, Los Angeles County isn’t your typical über-sleepy slice of American suburbia. A modest but adequate number of clubs, bars, karaoke joints, and ethnic restaurants dot the streets of Norwalk, and the city’s proximity to L.A. makes it an ideal living locale for not only families but also singles, students, and young careerists.
I bet traffic’s a nightmare, though, isn’t it?
Well, sort of. If you live in Norwalk and work elsewhere in the L.A. metro area, you’re likely to spend a good chunk of your morning and evening stuck in your car, crawling along one of the city’s four highways at a snail’s pace. We’d make a joke about the traffic, but you’ve probably heard it before. The good news is that the MTA and/or Metrolink bus and rail services connect Norwalk to downtown L.A., Orange County, Long Beach, Riverside County, and, most importantly, Disneyland, allowing commuters to bypass the notorious, soul-crushing gridlock that plagues the rest of Southern California. Because Norwalk has begun to sprawl, however, you’ll need your own set of wheels to navigate the city itself and shop, bank, dine, and play conveniently, unless you really like walking.
How expensive is apartment life – and life in general – in Norwalk?
For L.A. standards, Norwalk is actually on the cheap side. Apartments average around $1500, but cheaper and much, much, much more expensive rentals are available as well. The city’s cost of living index is about 30 points higher than the national average, which should come as no surprise in any SoCal city. You’re more likely to come across move-in specials in Norwalk than in Orange County or L.A. proper, but killer deals aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, either.
What can I expect from a Norwalk apartment?
Apartments in Norwalk are as varied as the city’s residents. Rental properties range from basic studio crash pads to pre-furnished luxury apartments offering a slew of top-notch amenities. Most apartments in Norwalk are well-established, though, and less than two percent of the city’s residential buildings were built post-1995. Many have been renovated or remain in good shape, while others have seen better days (to put it kindly), so scope out your new digs carefully before signing a lease.
Any advice for apartment seekers?
There are no special secrets to renting in Norwalk. Just be prepared and arm yourself with the basics, including a list of previous residences, proof of income, and banking statements. Most leases are for a full year, but a few properties offer short-term/corporate leases as well. Lease agreements differ greatly in terms of things like pet, roommate, and visitor policies, so peruse your lease carefully before signing it. Also, give your new place a solid inspection before moving anything in; make sure your appliances function, your pipes, sinks, toilets, showers, and drains are up to par, the doors and windows open and lock properly, and the walls, ceilings, and floors are generally blemish-free. And don’t treat your apartment like a 1970s rock star’s hotel room; your move-in deposit is only returnable if you keep your place in tip-top shape.
One last question. Any parts of town I should avoid?
Like any city, Norwalk has its iffy areas, particularly in the neighborhoods immediately east and southeast of downtown, but the city is far from the warzone that some internet message board fanatics make it out to be. Just use common sense and visit a neighborhood in advance (both during day and night) to see if it’s right for you.
And now for the fun part: finding you your dream pad. Congrats in advance, and welcome to Norwalk!