My husband and I bought our glorious 1930’s fully-restored Spanish home in 2006. We loved the house but felt luke-warm about the neighborhood. We planned on starting a family but hadn’t yet, so we didn’t research the schools very much or concern ourselves with the safety of the neighborhood. Our twins were born in 2009, and our last child born in 2011.
When we started the twins in preschool I discovered that the majority of their preschool friends were going to be attending private school after preschool. Beyond Elementary, the schools in our area of LAUSD were not good, to say the least. Our best option? Private school, at a cost of $25,000 per year, per child, starting in Kindergarten. What to do….
Fast forward to 2012, when I witnessed our next door neighbor’s house get burglarized in the middle of the afternoon. They kicked the front door so hard so many times that I thought we were having an earthquake. I was home next door alone with the three kids. I knew it was happening everywhere, but I didn’t find that to be very comforting. “It’s L.A.” From that day on I was determined to find the right place for our family to live.
I started with the Top High Schools in California List for 2012, and I narrowed it down from there. There were approximately 15 contenders, and none were close to us. Of those 15, at least 10 were in such affluent areas that we would have to live in a condo… a condo that would cost approximately $850,000 to accomodate the five of us.
Plus, I really wanted out of LAUSD.
Most of our travels had been South, to Orange County, to the Bay Area, etc. The 405 is always a parking lot, and it seemed to get more congested the further South we traveled. We headed North.
When you head north on the 101, you feel a visceral change when you hit the Calabasas area. The roads open up, the views are gorgeous, and you just feel better.
Calabasas was not an option because it was too expensive, too hot, and too pretentious. It’s great if you’re Justin Bieber or a Kardashian. Next up, Westlake Village.
Westlake Village was a serious contender. Although still Calabasas hot, the schools are great and it’s less crowded. The real estate is also more affordable. The biggest issues I had with Westlake were that the houses were primarily all built in the 70’s and 80’s. Also, there is a huge retirement population here. The lake is very pretty, but I didn’t really care about living by the lake. The high school is top-rated, but there is a real focus on sports at that school, and I want my children involved in arts.
Next stop down the freeway is Thousand Oaks. If you pass through a few exits to Borchard you head towards the water into Newbury Park. Newbury Park is sleepy. It’s mostly older homes, and very middle-class. The high school is top-rated, but smaller in size. The whole area just feels calm.
If you keep driving down Borchard approximately 4 miles, you pass over a hill and into the community of Dos Vientos. When you get to the bottom of the hill the temperature has dropped 5 degrees, and you’re approximately 10 degrees cooler than Westlake Village.
Dos Vientos (two winds) is tucked into the arc of the Santa Monica Mountains. We are only 8 short miles from the beach at Point Mugu, and we enjoy a Meditteranean climate. During the summer the high is usually around 85 when it’s 105 in L.A.
The views are gorgeous. Mount Boney towers over the whole community, and you immediately sense the “health” of the community and its residents. There is a great deal of natural beauty, along with hiking trails, lots of animals, and 50 acres of gorgeous parks and playing fields. These people are healthy! All hours of the day and night the residents are running, biking and walking. They are so dedicated they even have the headlamps for the early morning hours.
It’s a planned community, and the houses were all built as villages from 1999-2013, with the majority completed by 2004. That was my biggest sticking point as a fan of real estate and a Realtor. I love older houses with plaster and tile and history. You don’t get that here. You can get an “example” of a Spanish, a Meditteranean, a Gamble, an English Revival, etc but not the real deal. However, the houses are built for families, most are over 3000sf, and the lots are big.
We traveled to Dos Vientos on weekends for about a year. We played in the parks, we ate in their cute little village, and we talked to the residents. We didn’t meet a single person that didn’t LOVE living here.
We rented a house across from the school, which is called Sycamore Canyon School. The school is a Kingergarten through 8th grade school, and it’s rated a 10. It’s part of the Conejo Valley USD, which is an incredible school district that has their act together. The younger kids are kept separate from the middle-schoolers, and they have a huge playground and back field. Every kid I’ve talked to loves the school.
At night when you sleep, you don’t hear anything. Not a helicopter, siren, car, nothing. Ok, maybe an occasional coyote or a teen laughing at a party.
Dos Vientos exudes peace. It feels like you’re on a constant vacation.
When my husband drives in to Studio City, it takes approximately 45 minutes. It’s 38 miles, and they’re easy 101 fwy miles. When he comes home at night, he truly feels blessed. You leave the pollution behind, you breathe easier, you just feel healthier.
As for safety, it’s part of Thousand Oaks, which is in the top 5 safest large cities in America. I don’t worry at night, I don’t worry during the day. We have sidewalks to play on, friends to play with, and great weather.
Do I miss anything in L.A.? Sure. I miss my good friends. I miss a few restaurants, and I miss our old preschool.
It takes me an hour to get to Venice for Girl’s Night, but it also takes my friend in Laurel Canyon an hour.
I can be at the beach at Point Mugu in an easy 20-minute drive. I can go wine tasting in 45 minutes. I can get to Santa Barbara in an hour.
Dos Vientos is a haven for our family. All change is scary, but when you do your homework and take the leap, you can find more rewards than you knew were possible. More to come…