On the other side of the hill north of Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley is everything the L.A. buyer wants at the prices they're willing to pay. Ed Fitz, a realtor in the L.A. market, writes that the Valley is an ideal location for those who want it all, but can't afford it.

For example. a nice apartment in the San Fernando Valley would cost $2,000 a month, give or take a hundred bucks. And homes are listed anywhere between $500,000 and $1.2 million - almost a steal for what you'd find in Beverly Hills.

North Hollywood and the NoHo Arts District are a short distance away, with live theater, dance performances and art galleries. Knizek also touts the Woodland Hills area for affordable family homes because of the easy proximity to jobs and cultural amenities at Warner Center.

The San Fernando Valley enjoys close proximity to many outdoor recreational areas, including the hiking trails in the nearby Santa Monica Mountains, which are the dividing line between the Valley and the Los Angeles Basin (what most of the world thinks of as L.A.) to the south. And the local beaches and Malibu are easily accessed through rugged and beautiful Topanga Canyon.

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