A lifelong Westsider moves to the Eastside.
I finally did it. As of February 2021, I moved to North East Los Angeles or “NELA” as the cool kids call it. You can officially call me an Eastsider. Specifically, I moved to Highland Park. If you are in the real estate world locally, you have probably seen deals in Highland Park – or at least you have heard of the area. And if you already own property in the area, you might be thinking that it is already too late to be buying in Highland Park, let alone writing this post. But for those that don’t know, Highland Park is an old part of Los Angeles. In fact, it’s among the oldest – one of the very first subdivisions of Los Angeles to be exact. It is located just West of Pasadena, adjacent to Eagle Rock and just north of DTLA. I spent virtually my entire life on the Westside of Los Angeles. Living east of the 405 was a foreign concept to me. But when it came time to purchase a home, staying on the Westside and paying $2 Million for a 2-Bedroom teardown simply wasn’t an option, so my fiance and I packed up from the Westside and headed East.
Now that I’m here, I can honestly say that I love Highland Park. Here’s why….
1) Highland Park is Very Accessible
Highland Park is very accessible to areas such as Pasadena, Glendale, Downtown Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. I never thought I would hear myself say what a benefit it is to live close to Pasadena, but the fact is that Pasadena is absolutely stunning and has every major high-end retailer you would find in any foremost part of Los Angeles. From a transportation standpoint, Highland Park is serviced by three freeways (the 110, 134 and the 2 which takes you directly into Echo Park/Silverlake). The L.A. Metro Gold Line has a station just north of Figueroa Street, and can get commuters downtown in about 35 minutes. My place is approximately a 7 minute drive to Dodger Stadium with no traffic.
2) The Restaurants and Bars are Amazing in Highland Park
Drive through Highland Park and you will find some of the best and most unique restaurants and bars in all of Los Angeles. There are very few chain operators in Highland Park. Instead you will find spots like Hippo, Homestate, Joy, Donut Friend, Goldburger, Pocha, Gold Line, Good Housekeeping and so many others. The entire area feels uniquely homegrown and very entrepreneurial.
3) The Real Estate is Unique And Getting Better by the Day
From a multifamily standpoint, Highland Park is not the biggest market, but if you own a multifamily property in the area, you can achieve very attractive rents. For properties 5+ units, there are less than 500 properties in the entire zip code of 90042 totaling just shy of 6,000 apartment dwelling units. Most of these properties were constructed prior to 1960 – in other words, the housing stock is old. That said, the average rent for a one-bedroom in Highland Park now is $1,873. By way of comparison, I am leasing a small renovated one-bedroom in West Los Angeles for $1,895. A multitude of historic restrictions make it tough to develop in Highland Park, but if you are turning an old multifamily property, you can expect to get very high rents. From a Single Family Residential standpoint, new homebuyers in Highland Park are folks who are generally priced out of areas like Silver Lake and Echo Park (or in my case, The Westside). It is not uncommon for houses to go for as high as $800 per square foot – which is comparable to some houses you would find in areas like Sherman Oaks, Culver City or Mar Vista. From a retail standpoint, the main streets in Highland Park (particularly Figueroa and York) are teeming with very cool independent shops and restaurants. It feels like you are walking down Rose or Abbot Kinney in Venice, although Highland Park seems to have less of a homelessness issue.
4) The People Are Great
The Highland Park crowd is an incredibly diverse mix of established locals and newer transplants alike. There is a strong sense of community and generally speaking people do not seem to take themselves too seriously. You can come as you are and you can be yourself.
Long story short, Highland Park is clearly no secret at this point. Simply put, it is an incredible Eastside Los Angeles submarket where from an investment property standpoint, you can achieve rental rates that are comparable to other high-rent areas around town. Where Highland Park goes from here, only time will tell. But I have a feeling that direction is up.