Redondo Beach is everything those celluloid films proclaim L.A. beach life to be; it’s filled with slang-slinging surfers, Botox-boosted trophy wives, families teaching kids the finer points of sand castle construction, pedestrians, bicyclists and roller-skaters tearing up the boardwalk, and at least one foreign dude in a banana hammock. It’s perfect. College kids and young folks can rarely afford this area without Daddy Warbucks’ help, especially close to the beach, but it’s not completely out of reach with a little sleuthing and a lot of roommates. Sure, the cost of living is roughly 91 percent higher than the nation’s average (welcome to California!), but you can walk to many shops, restaurants and food trucks, and the Pacific Ocean comes free of charge. Plus, there are loads of rental homes, and since this is a summer vacation hotspot, there are many discounts during the off-season.
If you are planning on living here during the high season, you better move well in advance. Not too long, just, you know, like a year or so. House hunting during downtimes is easy, but many homeowners will only offer nine-month leases so they can jack up prices during the summer. Long-term commitments may sway some of those folks into signing on the dotted line, but staying further inland will help a lot more.
Though there are lots of itty-bitty districts all over Redondo, there are two main neighborhoods, divided by Adelaide Street. North is commercial and residential, as well as further inland, and the south is gentrified, family-friendly and on the water.
North Redondo: This location has all the great shopping, most notably the South Bay Galleria Shopping Center. That means Forever 21 bikinis are just a short car ride away. For those looking for more culture in their beach communities, the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center is here, and it’s swell. Because it’s more inland, there are less expensive options, many with year-long leases, and plenty of families.$$-$$$
South Redondo: Quieter, more laid-back and navigable by bike, the south area of Redondo is a California dream come true. Summer block parties see high community participation, from families to firemen, and those wide streets and sandy beaches never grow old. You’ll find townhouses and closely packed single-family homes near the waves, with more single-family homes and apartment options further inland. You won't find deals on rent by the water though; that’s where the wealthy and famous play. $$$$-$$$$$
Prices are undeniably high, but you’ll be living in one of the most beautiful and entertaining cities in the nation. Even if surfing is something you only do on your computer, there are endless options for recreation, including wine-tasting galleries, fresh seafood shops, dog parks, downtown shopping, the Riviera Village, the Los Angeles Ballet, rooftop bars and biking trails. Outdoor living is definitely a way of life here, so pack some 50 SPF sunscreen (broad spectrum protection, please), strengthen your liver and relax your mind. Remember: burritos are cheap, sunsets are free and stress is totes unwelcome.
A final thought--deals can be found on one- and two-bedroom apartments, it just takes some serious research. In addition to combing the Interwebs, make sure you bust out a bike and follow local tips, as some of the best accommodations are local secrets you can unlock with a drink and a smile.