Moving to Pasadena – A Complete Guide

Love LA but want to be a away from the hustle and bustle? You might want to consider moving to Pasadena! Settled at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, Pasadena offers luxurious homes, and tons of options for dining, shopping and having fun. To help you learn more about Pasadena, we’ve created this detailed guide on the city, its inhabitants, and neighborhoods.

What’s in a Name? Pasadena’s Nicknames

Pasadena is called “the City of Roses,” for hosting the Rose Bowl, the most famous postseason football game in America. The Bowl started as The Tournament of Roses back in 1890; it featured chariot races and tug-of-war, and a rose-inspired parade. In mid-winter, while their East Coast friends were drowning in snow, early Pasadena settlers were watching their flowers bloom. So, the event was to show people how wonderful the West was, and encourage more settlers to come there.

Football didn’t become a part of the Tournament of Roses until 1902, and eventually overtook the tournament to become the modern Rose Bowl. Ironically, Pasadena is not a great environment for growing roses, so while you might see them on parade floats, you won’t see many in Pasadena’s gardens.

Pasadena is also referred to as “Crown City,” or “the Crown of the Valley.” The name Pasadena is derived from a Chippewa word meaning (roughly), “of the Valley.” It was chosen when the founding families were trying to name their new settlement, and wanted something unique to draw attention. Crown of the Valley was one of the options sent to a local missionary for translation into the Chippewa language, and the nickname simply stuck.

Pasadena’s Population

About 42% of Pasadena’s population is white, followed by 32% Hispanic, 15% Asian and 10% Black. The two top languages spoken, other than English, are Spanish and Chinese. However, there’s also a relatively high percentage of folks with an Armenian background here, who speak their native tongue. Almost 30% of Pasadena residents are foreign born.

About 30% of households in Pasadena are home to children, and 47% of folks here are married. The largest age bracket in Pasadena is 25-34, indicating that the area is a great spot for young professionals and young families looking to settle down. Pasadenans are also a well-educated bunch. The great majority of Pasadena residents have graduated from high school, while over 50% have received a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.

Neighborhoods in Pasadena

Bungalow Heaven

Many locals agree that Bungalow Heaven is the best neighborhood in Pasadena. This neighborhood is known for its gorgeous Craftsman-style homes; especially notable are the huge porches, often supported by cobblestone or brick pillars. Bungalow Heaven was also the first district in Pasadena to achieve Landmark Status, after neighbors rallied for downzoning, to keep large apartment complexes and corporations from moving in.

Oak Knoll

Oak Knoll was developed in the 1920s, as part of a partnership between A. Kinsley Macomber, Henry E. Huntington and William R. Staats. Homes here were designed in the Bungalow style, but developers wanted the area to have an artisan flair. So they brought in some of the top architects in the country, including Greene & Greene and Myron Hunt. The homes in this Pasadena neighborhood are renowned for their beauty, and many are one-of-a-kind houses.

Madison Heights

One of the nation’s most popular filming sites, Madison Heights was developed back in the 1910’s, with luxurious homes and a scenic layout. Following in the steps of Bungalow Heaven, the Madison Heights Neighborhood Association is currently working towards achieving landmark status. Since it’s nestled between between the South Lake Shopping District and Old Town, Madison Heights residents have easy access to plenty of dining and shopping opportunities.

How Much Does it Cost to Live in Pasadena?

Pasadena’s cost of living is significantly higher than average in several categories, but the largest disparity is in housing cost. The median household value in Pasadena is $648,000, which is more than triple the national median. In Pasadena, you’d be hard-pressed to find a house under $250,000. The majority of houses here sell for between $500,000-$700,000, though there are homes here that are worth over $1 Million.

Renters in Pasadena won’t find relief; a one bedroom apartment here usually costs around $1.900 per month, more than double the national median. So why do people keep moving to Pasadena? For one, it’s close enough to LA for fun nights out, but has a bit of a small[er] town feel that’s great for families. Plus, Pasadena and LA have some seriously awesome, and high-paying job opportunities. If you can find work here, the likelihood is, you can afford to live here.

Pasadena’s Job Market

The average male Pasadena resident makes about $72,000 per year, more than both the U.S. and LA county medians by a significant amount. Pasadena does have a significant gender gap, with women earning, on average, only $57,000 per year. The top industries in Pasadena are Professional, Scientific, Tech Services, Educational Services, and Healthcare & Social Assistance. The unemployment rate here is 3.5%, which is lower than the state and national averages.

Schools in Pasadena

The Pasadena Unified School District offers plenty of elementary, middle and high school options for students. There are also 46 private school systems, so you’ll be sure to find the right fit for your young students. Top schools in Pasadena include Pasadena Polytechnic, Marshall Fundamental School, and Westridge School.

College students in Pasadena have amazing options as well. Pasadena is home to the California Institute of Technology, AKA Caltech, which is on of our nation’s top institutions for engineering. For those with cooking aspirations, there’s also Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. Pasadena City College also now offers a free year of tuition to local students.

Pasadena’s Weather

The average weather in Pasadena is hot. Because Pasadena is both further inland, and higher than LA in regards to sea level, the city gets both warmer and cooler than LA. The winter months are long here, though the temperature usually settles around 45 degrees, and rarely goes below freezing.

Pasadena’s lengthy dry period, combined with the scorching summer heat, puts the city at a continued risk for wildfires. Dry vegetation in the area is at risk for catching fire, while the Santa Ana winds that run through SoCal make it easy for fire to spread. This can lead to massive wildfires that have wreaked havoc on the area. If you’re considering moving to Pasadena, make sure you have a fire evacuation plan in place.

Fun Things to Do in Pasadena

Here are some of the most exciting things to do in Pasadena, CA…

Eaton Canyon Nature Preserve

Hiking, biking and other outdoor activities are alive and well in Pasadena. Surrounded by the San Gabriel Mountains, residents here have access to tons of trails, which are usually less crowded than their cousins in central LA. At the Eaton Canyon Nature Preserve, you can enjoy 190 acres of gorgeous SoCal wildlife, or hike to the Eaton Canyon Falls, where you can wade in a pool at the bottom of a 40-ft. waterfall.

Go Shopping in Old Town

Despite what the name suggests, “Old Town” Pasadena is actually the trendiest part of the city. It’s an epicenter for boutique shopping and artisan galleries, along with more than 300 restaurant options. The majority of businesses there can be found “Only In Old Pas.” Again Cafe and Chibiscus Ramen offers contemporary Asian cuisine, and a dog-friendly patio. Crepes de Paris serves up French-style Crepes, both sweet and Savory. And if you’re looking for a romantic evening out, Cafe Santorini’s outdoor patio is open all year-round for couples who want to dine under the stars.

Hit Up LA

It only takes 30 minutes to get from Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles– without traffic. So Pasadena residents have access to all of LA, whenever they want. You can stop by the Hollywood Walk of Fame, take a tour of the studios, shop on Rodeo Drive or hit the beach. Pasadenans are also within driving distance of Disneyland and Universal Studios, both perfect spots for some family fun!

Is Pasadena the Right Place for You?

We hope we’ve convinced you! Pasadena is truly a wonderful place to live, learn, have fun and raise a family. If you’re interested in learning more or need help with your Pasadena move, give us a call at (323) 570-0606. We’d love the opportunity to provide our local moving services and welcome you to your new home.