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From Sydney to LA - I need your advice please


Hi All

My husband has a potential job offer in LA (Marina del Rey) and I am madly googling to get a sense of the cost of living in LA, advice on good areas to live with an 18 month old and websites to connect with other mums. I thought you guys would be my best starting point.

We are 44 and 42 with an 18 month old. We have a great support network here in Sydney, we live 10 min drive from the beach and a 10 min drive to an massive park with lakes and wildlife, we are walking distance to local shops, 5 mins drive to a huge shopping centre, we are about Protected content to our work places with a brilliant daycare centre for our son and a number of playgrounds 5 min walk from our house. Life is pretty sweet. For those of you that know Sydney, we live in Randwick in the Eastern Suburbs. And yes reading all of that I feel a bit insane considering leaving.

However, we are open to the new experience that living in LA would bring. It would probably only be for a couple of years and come back in time before our son starts school.

I have a lot of questions and the best way to get real answers is to ask people that are living there. Especially expats. I hope you can help me with at least some of them:

- what are good family friendly suburbs with parks in walking distance and facilities for families? Ideally a 20 min drive to the beach. Local shops and a sense of community. I don't want to get in the car to do everything but it seems like that might be a bit tricky in LA. Since his work will be in Marina del Rey, I have been looking at the following places Playa del Rey, Mar Vista, Pacific Palisades, Culver City, Palms. I have no idea if these places are totally right or wrong, they look pretty expensive to me and there seems to be an enormous range of prices as well. I have been looking on Craigslist and Zillow. Any other recommendations?

- could you recommend mum's groups that I could make contact with online? My concern is about being isolated because I probably won't be able to get a job, so meeting other mum's, getting local mum advice and making friends is massively important.

- (should I be able to get a job) is it hard to get into daycare? There are 2 year waiting lists here in Sydney. Costs seems to range from $110-$300 per day, why such a big range? Are there go-to sites for researching daycare, nanny's and babysitting?

- we would like to have another baby (yes I'm getting a bit old for it but one can hope!). I have read it can cost anywhere from $30-$50K to give birth in the states. We would ask for family healthcare that covered pregnancy in my husbands package but would this still leave us short? I saw a brilliant acupuncturist and chinese herbalist that helped me get pregnant, I'm guessing I would have no problem finding such a person in LA?

Thanks so much for reading. I really appreciate any time you could give me to share your knowledge. Have a great day.