• Joe Steele

Living in Mount Washington

Since 2014, my family and I have lived in the Northeast Los Angeles (NELA) neighborhood of Mount Washington. Coming from North Hollywood, I'm embarrassed to say neither my wife (LA native), nor myself had heard of it. Most of my experience in LA was centered around Hollywood, West Hollywood, and the Valley. I never paid much attention to the 2 South freeway, other than passing it on my way to Pasadena. When the area was suggested to us, we took a drive to NELA and started to explore. We set the GPS to arrive at Mount Washington Elementary School, a TK-6 LAUSD school, way up in the hill on Mount Washington East. We were instantly enamored with the setting, completely tucked away and surrounded by nature, such a rarity for a Los Angeles Unified public school. With our daughter starting elementary school soon, it seemed almost too good to be true.

We searched for a house that fit our needs and moved in. The first thing that drew us to the area were the incredible views, and in many parts of the hill, you're able to enjoy views of downtown Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Mountains, or one of many canyons. Oftentimes, it feels like you're on vacation, looking down at all the neighborhoods of NELA, and enjoying how quiet it really is up here.

After a week of living here, we realized how communal the area is. Growing up on the east coast, I am very used to neighbors knocking at your door to introduce themselves when you just moved in, and Mount Washington was no different. We met fellow parents from the school, young couples about to start families, professionals of all ages, and retirees who have seen Mount Washington change over the decades. People are excited to be here, and have a real love and appreciation for the neighborhood.

Cleland Park on Cleland Avenue is a nice park, and very accessible to the community. It's a great place to take your children and dogs to, and really let them burn off energy. The entire park was recently re-done, adding many cool features including new playground apparatuses, sporting equipment, and a soft ground throughout the playground, keeping kids even safer from accidental falls. After school days and on weekends, it's a very popular spot for local residents.

If you're a fan of hiking, there are plenty of great choices, with an additional opportunity to take in amazing views. Part of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is Heidelberg Park. With 18 acres, it's a great place to get a cardio workout, with steep slopes throughout. Smaller parks perfectly suited for casual strolls and taking in the views with your dog include Elyria Park, and Moon Canyon Park.

If you're mostly focused on getting your steps in, look no further. Mount Washington has an abundance of hidden stairways, where you can see locals climbing during the day. A blog can be found here for the locations as well as the number of steps for each.

While you can't easily walk to your nearest supermarket or coffee shop, many residents enjoy the solitude of living with no retail in the immediate vicinity. There is something nice about ending your day after a long commute in traffic, and escape to a community where it's a little more quiet and slow. Highland Park and Glassell Park are a short bike or car ride away, where you can get your restaurant and shopping fix, including large brands like Target, and smaller independent cafes and shops.

For those looking for a place of absolute tranquility, there is the Self Realization Fellowship, which was founded in 1920. A place self-described as devoted to the discovery of peace, joy and prosperity in everyday life throughout communion with God, it offers meditation, prayer, affirmations, with weekly services and retreats. Celebrating its 100th year, they're also well-known by locals for having amazing Halloween and Christmas displays.

Looking from an investor's perspective, many homeowners have taken advantage of creating income streams, through both long and short term rentals. Some hillside homes offer the opportunity to develop underneath the main living area with many residents creating ADU's (accessory dwelling units), adding further equity and producing additional income for their home. One of the added benefits for a tenant is many of the ADU's have their own private entrance which is more than the average rental in Los Angeles.

Whether it's enjoying views of the Fourth of July fireworks, or the snow capped mountains in the Winter from your window, it's easy to fall in love with everything Mount Washington has to offer. Since my daughter started school, my wife and I have made an attempt to volunteer at everything our schedules allow us to at the school. It's a great way to socialize with all of the great families attending the school. My family and I have made amazing friends here, and have no plans of moving. Please don't hesitate to reach out, I would love to show you around!

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