Living in Encino, a Quiet, Upscale Urban Retreat Overflowing with L.A. Charm
Encino is an enclave of the San Fernando Valley filled with quiet blocks of big houses, as well as areas with clusters of apartment buildings. The area is infamous for being mentioned in Frank Zappa’s 1982 hit song “Valley Girl” – and in a lot of ways, this upper middle class, historic neighborhood hasn’t changed since.
Encino is an old money area, surrounded by even older money. It starts in the south at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains, just north of Bel Air and Brentwood, with Sherman Oaks to the east, Reseda to the north, and Tarzana to the west. It is sliced through by a bustling section of Ventura Blvd.
Encino is one of the oldest parts of the Valley. The 1769 Portola Expedition went over the Sepulveda Pass and stayed near what is now Los Encinos State Historic Park. The name Encino means “evergreen” or “oak” in Spanish and is said to refer to The Encino Oak Tree that resided for 1000 years in an area that became Louise Avenue near Ventura Blvd. Sadly, it was felled by the El Nino storms of 1998 and now only a stump and a plaque remains. (Total bummer.)
According to many residents, Encino has a small town feel, with amenities within walking distance. The average lot size is bigger than other areas of the city, making certain blocks very quiet and rural, particularly above Burbank Blvd. The average age is 42 (older than most other LA nabes) with an average income of around $78,000 (more than many) and is one of the least ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the county.
Shopping and Dining
The main area for shopping and dining is situated on Ventura Blvd. between White Oak and Balboa, an area called the Encino Commons, dubbed The Valley’s Miracle Mile, and home to more than 300 businesses.
If you like Middle Eastern fare, you can visit a few places including Sadaf, specializing in kabobs and eggplant. For groceries, there’s Ralph’s, Gelson’s, or Super Sal Market down the boulevard, which features Israeli and kosher foods.
Want to get a true taste of Encino? Save this date: October 9, 2016. It’s when the Encino Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual event – A Taste of Encino. This mega event showcasing the best that the community has to offer – from local restaurants to arts and crafts and home improvement ideas – takes place on the second Sunday of October, every year.
Most people get around by car, which can be especially frustrating if you have to commute on the 405 to West LA. However, the Orange Line cuts across Encino, and many commuters take it to Warner Center or North Hollywood and beyond. Because there are so many seniors in the area, there are several shuttles just for them.
Schools in the area are predominantly private or charter, catering to well-heeled families. Elementary and middle schools both public and private get high marks, but there is no public high school within its boundaries. Since they can afford it, many opt for a private option like Crespi Carmelite.
Outdoor and Green Space
Encino is anchored by several areas of lush parkland, including the 5-acre Los Encinos State Historic Park, the Sepulveda Dam, and Sepulveda Gardens. Dog owners can enjoy the off-leash Sepulveda Basin Dog Park. There’s also a sports complex with baseball field and several golf courses. In short: there’s plenty to do outdoors.
Cost of Living
Encino is not for bargain hunters. Its average cost of living has been estimated at 17.6% more than the already expensive Los Angeles average rate. This is primarily due to the skyrocketing cost of rent, rather than groceries or restaurants.
Even though it may look and feel somewhat like Mayberry, Encino is hardly free from crime. It lands about midway through the LA Times list of property crimes by neighborhood, although it has much less violent crime. Still, those parking on the streets near apartment buildings are advised to not keep valuables in their car and to park in a well-lit area.
Most rental apartments in the area are located in large apartment or condo buildings built from the 1980s onwards. Many have undergone recent renovations and sport many alluring amenities. And the best part about Encino rentals? They come in cheaper price points than LA apartments in general. The average rent for an apartment in Los Angeles is $2,431 whereas Encino apartments rent for an average of $1,896. Here’s just an idea about what you can rent in this hip residential enclave.
This newly renovated building is conveniently located at 5140 White Oak Avenue, with nearby access to the 101 freeway, Encino Park, Providence Tarzana Medical Center, and Sepulveda Basin Community Garden. The units are spacious, come with berber carpeting, granite countertops, new kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, hardwood floors, and pets are allowed. A two-bedroom, 2 bath apartment here rents for about $2,111.
This brand new 50-unit community is now accepting applicants to live in their 2-bedroom 2-bathroom townhouses. Interiors feature stainless steel appliances, walk in showers, double vanities, and generous patios. High ceilings and skylights keep everything airy, each unit has a den, and shared outdoor space includes BBQ and hot tub. Rents start at $3,125.
Custom designed 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units are available in this classy building conveniently located near Ventura Blvd. Among a series of upscale finishes, residents enjoy a gourmet kitchen with black Whirlpool appliances, decorative doors and baseboards, hardwood-style flooring, and custom maple cabinetry. Three outdoor spaces and a high tech fitness center with a pool makes it a great choice for active and social tenants.
There is a wide variety of condos for sale, some for little more than $200,000, but if you’d like a single-family home, prices quickly skyrocket. Take, for example, this charming older 3-bedroom home at 17545 Burbank Boulevard with a large 400-square-foot recreation room listed for a cool $479,000.
For buyers looking for something more exclusive, this expansive French-style home at 4915 Woodley Avenue comes equipped with everything a modern family could desire, from spacious interiors to upscale finishes and resort-style grounds. Its listing price? Right about $1,8M.
If you are looking for an area that’s quiet, upscale, and you don’t have too far to commute, there’s no better option than Encino.
Check out more Los Angeles neighborhood guides:
Downtown Los Angeles: Cutting Edge Living in LA’s Historic Core
Living in Van Nuys, Los Angeles: Where You can Enjoy the Glitzy LA Life on a Budget
Wilshire – Montana, Santa Monica: Beach Living with a Touch of Class
Westlake, Los Angeles: A Low Cost Alternative to Downtown Living
Living in Palms, Los Angeles: A Historic Neighborhood, Populated by Millennials
Hollywood – a Vibrant LA Neighborhood with Celebrity Status
Koreatown – The Little City That Never Sleeps
Westwood – Live Large in the Center of It All
Sherman Oaks – Timeless Elegance in the Heart of the Valley
Sawtelle – A Walkable, Culture-Filled Enclave Bustling with L.A. Charm
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