Altadena may offer some of the niceties of country living, but don't forget that the real estate market is just as cutthroat as other desirable areas in Southern California. For this reason, it's important that you're on your best behavior when meeting with prospective landlords. A great credit rating, full deposit and excellent rental references are the norm. If you can't meet these requirements, you'd better find a cosigner, or prepare yourself for a long housing search.
Rental agencies in the area suggest that you devote at least one month to your search for a home for rent. Southern Californians looking for a nice apartment for rent may be surprised, since apartments and duplexes for rent are rare in Altadena. Instead, plan on ponying up for a rental house. If you're determined to find an apartment for rent in Altadena, be patient and be flexible while looking at prospective places. And once you find that special spot, be ready to pounce with your first month's rent, deposit and application that day. Finding a landlord who's willing to hold an apartment while you make up your mind is as likely as hitting the Powerball.
Over the years, many neighborhoods have been poached by that pesky Pasadena. However, there are still plenty of communities still loyal to Altadena. Unlike other cities, neighborhoods in Altadena tend to be small and well-organized. Whether you're looking for homes with historical significance or good old-fashioned opulence, Altadena has the right neighborhood for you.
Fair Oaks Avenue: Named for the Fair Oaks Ranch in Pasadena, this street ends in Altadena's Angelus County Park. The neighborhood also hosts the only cemetery in Altadena, so be prepared for the occasional processional.
Janes Village: Located in northwest Altadena, this historic neighborhood has plenty of picturesque cottages designed by Elisha P. Janes. Unlike many of the newer or more rural areas in Altadena, Janes Village is walkable and has sidewalks and streetlights.
La Vina: Looking for an attractive gated community? Then La Vina is your only reasonable choice. With a small neighborhood of only 271 homes, you'll soon get to know the neighbors in this little slice of Altadena.
Lincoln Avenue: Once strictly agricultural, Lincoln Avenue's current defining characteristic is its easy highway access. WalMart is planning a store in the area, but the neighborhood is divided as to whether or not a chain store will improve the community. Choose carefully if you're looking in this neighborhood, but if you pick well, you'll have a charming Craftsman house at an affordable price.
The Meadows: If you want stunning views, try The Meadows. Nestled in the northwest corner of Altadena in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills, this community is made of homes mostly built in the 50s and 60s. It's also located right next to the Angeles National Forest, so you'll never have an excuse to skip a weekend hike.
Palm Street Area: Residents in the Palm Street area value their peace and quiet. Keep rowdy parties to a bare minimum, or be prepared to see your neighbors knock on your door armed with pitchforks.
Park Planned Homes: Gregory Ain, legendary modern architect, designed most of the houses in this area. If you look forward to the DWR catalog, or you own an Eames chair, you've found your perfect community.
Town Center: Do you belong with the sweater set? This area is near the exclusive Altadena Town and Country Club, so cozy up to your neighbors if you need a sponsor for your club application. The closer you get to the golf course, the more exclusive the area, so let your pocketbook be your guide.
Altadena may retain some rural flavor, but it's still part of urbanized Southern California. Therefore, you'll find the same mix of foodies, architecture-lovers and others that you can find in most other Californian cities. Don't make the mistake of snubbing your nose at Altadena's offerings like many new residents. Instead, plan on spending your first few weekends within Altadena's borders to become acquainted with some of its greatest treasures.
- Ever since Bon Apptit ran an article on foodie culture in Altadena, the secret's been out. This little town outside of LA is the new indie food scene. Students from all over the nation come to study cheese making and other food arts at the Institute of Domestic Technology. Those who aren't academically inclined can skip the classes and still enjoy the superb farmer's market in Loma Alta Park.
- You've never had a slice to go like the ones at the Fox Pizza Bus. This bright red double-decker food truck is easy to spot and boasts an onboard wood-burning oven. Local produce is often the crowning glory on these remarkable pies.
- Saddle up for a few horseback riding lessons at the Altadena Stables. Maintaining the roots of the equestrian community is a top priority for many residents, so you'll earn points if you know your way around a pony. If a cowboy hat isn't your style, don't worry. There are English riding lessons available, too.
- Drop by the local Altadena Historical Society to find out when their next home tour is scheduled. Altadena has architectural treasures built by Richard Neutra, Gregory Ain, John Lautner and other famous designers. In fact, there are so many great buildings in this town, you'll need several tours to cover them all.
- If you're lucky enough to move to Altadena during the holiday season, Christmas Tree Lane should be your first stop. Over 100 trees decorated with lights line Santa Rosa Avenue from Altadena Drive to Woodbury Road. This holiday tradition started in 1920 and earned Christmas Tree Lane a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Visit the site of one of Altadena's historic million-dollar mansions. Now a free botanical garden, Cobb Estate attracts thousands of visitors each year. You can also follow a path from the gardens to the remains of the historical Mount Lowe Railway.
Unlike some other cities in SoCal, Altadena has residents who have fought to preserve what makes this area unique. Finding an apartment may require ingenuity and gumption, but once you move in, you'll wonder why you waited so long to come.