Originally Posted by rhouck
There is a bus system which (as far as I have experienced) a rather miserable commuting experience, jam-packed full of sweaty, stinky people
There is a functioning metro system that is quite clean, reliable, and runs about every 10 minutes. The downside is, because of LA's sprawling nature, it does not go to a whole lot of places. It DOES run up to Pasadena (Gold line), the Red into Hollywood, and the Purple into Mid-Wilshire. If you work downtown and happen to be within walking distance of one of the stations on that line, that is a really easy commute to many downtown locations. Though it will be very difficult trying to find a place with metro-accessibility being a "must-have" (at least as compared to NYC, DC, etc.).
+1 on the train system. Not many people I know use it but I do. It isn't like NYC but it works well and it goes straight into Downtown. Look it up at Metro: http://www.metro.net/
You can live near one of the stops and it'll be a quick hop and a jump there. They are pretty cool..just I wouldn't ride them at night too late. It's pretty cheap too considering your time stuck in traffic and highway robbery gas stations prices here in Cali.
I agree with that one poster about Silverlake and stuff. Cracked me up but its true. What type of vibe are you looking for? Student type of vibe, artsy vibe, hipster vibe, gangster vibe, etc. I'm assuming you want to live so stay away from compton, south la (or south central la) and watts but i'm sure that is a given. Personally, I would feel pretty safe and happy in Pasadena area (even maybe South Pasadena (yes, its a different city). If you could get a good deal, even living in DTLA has its perks since there is so much night life. West LA/Hollywood is okay but the local street traffic would drive me up the wall.
Second to pasadena, i would consider Glendale/Burbank. The 134 freeway is pretty good. In fact, anything off of the 134 is good in the morning and if you want to go to DTLA, just take the 2 south through silverlake/eagle rock and in about 20-30 minutes, you're in DTLA.