Arcadia vs Pasadena – $750,000

For those who commute into Downtown, Pasadena represents a likely alternative to Arcadia. As apparent by the following profiles, you will get more house for the money but a highly rated school district isn’t something you’ll be buying into.

Pasadena School Rankings vs Arcadia School Rankings

For ~$750,000, you can choose from these 3 homes in Arcadia:

812 Victoria Dr
Arcadia, CA 91007

Price: $748,000 ($596/sf)

  • Beds: 3
  • Baths: 1
  • Sq. Ft.: 1,256
  • Lot: 7,675 Sq. Ft.

443 Las Tunas Dr
Arcadia, CA 91007

Price: $750,000 ($735/sf)

  • Beds: 2
  • Baths: 1
  • Sq. Ft.: 1,020
  • Lot:     0.26 Acres

209 S Third Ave #A
Arcadia, CA 91006

Price: $759,000 ($324/sf)

  • Beds: 3
  • Baths: 3
  • Sq. Ft.: 2,340
  • LOT SIZE:      Attached, Townhouse

You can definitely expect to get more living square footage and land in Pasadena. Unfortunately, there exists many neighborhoods that you will want to stay out of (for safety reasons):

745 E Rio Grande St
Pasadena, CA 91104

Price: $749,000 ($483/sf)

  • Beds: 3
  • Baths: 2.75
  • Sq. Ft.: 1,550
  • Lot:     8,208 Sq. Ft.

PROPERTY TYPE:    Single Family Detached, California Bungalow

1700 Whitefield Rd
Pasadena, CA 91104

Price: $750,000 ($250/sf)

  • Beds: 6
  • Baths: 2
  • Sq. Ft.: 3,004
  • Lot:     8,550 Sq. Ft.

PROPERTY TYPE:    Single Family Detached, California Bungalow

736 Bonita Dr
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Price: $759,000 ($482/sf)

  • Beds: 2
  • Baths: 1.5
  • Sq. Ft.: 1,576
  • Lot:     5,135 Sq. Ft.

PROPERTY TYPE:    Single Family Detached, Mediterranean

30 thoughts on “Arcadia vs Pasadena – $750,000”

  1. 750,000?? I sure hope some of these properties get down in value soon. I earn 100k a year, my wife earns 100k a year. Are we really going to have to buy a 3/4 million dollar house? I dont want to pay that much for a house.
    Great blog site, by the way.

  2. You should differentiate between Pasadena and South Pasadena. South Pasadena is a separate city and has a separate school district with a great reputation.

    Homes tends to average higher, on a per sqft basis, in South Pasadena vs. Arcadia.

    The district is ranked equal to if not higher than Arcadia Unified and has a bit more diversity in the student body.

  3. Oh, I plan to also do a South Pasadena comparison. As you said, it’s an entirely different city. Unfortunately, Redfin doesn’t border off the city correctly on the map above.

    Thanks for the school ranking links!

  4. There are highly desirable neighborhoods (ritz carlton & caltech areas) in Pasadena and also neighborhoods that are much less desirable. As a whole, the school district isn’t that great.

    In Arcadia, there are also highly desirable neighborhoods (arcadia highlands) and some not so desirable. Also, you have to be careful because some Arcadia addresses near Temple City or El Monte actually belong to Temple City or El Monte School districts. Temple City school are actually pretty decent, but El Monte is one to avoid.

    It seems the gap in quality in Pasadena is much greater than when compared to Arcadia. In some areas of Pasadena, you are seeing SFRs in the $250/sqft range (like one of the examples above) and in better areas, they average closer to $600/sqft (and these are big houses, not small houses that tend to have higher $$/sqft). In Arcadia, it seems the spread is much tighter and there tends to be more uniformity among neighborhoods and you don’t tend to see SFRs starting under $300/sqft even in the less desireable areas.

  5. Great job… I also think this will come in handy because of the historical perspective. We will be able to come back on these post and see what happens community v community.

    With the mortgage bomb going off, and then Oil prices going through the roof, things are changing.

    Also how much is the Commercial real estate bust going to effect these places as well…

  6. staynmuz,

    There are LOTS of places where you can get a good house, safe neighborhood and good schools. Try La Crescenta, Temple City, Simi Valley, Irvine, Walnut, Brea. Don’t complain that you don’t want to pay $750K because there are lots of alternatives if you want to buy.

  7. Thanks for the support!

    Your comment reflects that of households who earn decent money but still find it difficult paying premium for a decent SFR in Arcadia.

    Even after putting 20% down, it will still cost you approximately $5,000/month to pay mortgage, insurance, taxes and maintenance on a $750k property.

    If I’m not mistaken, that’s probably close to half of your take home salary!

  8. If you are basing this on public school districts, Pasadena isn’t even an option. I have a family friend who lives in the prestigious Oak Knoll district, but they pay around 40k a year to send their two kids to private school. I’m sure there are cheaper private schools in the area, but they wanted the best for their kids and the pasadena unified school district wasn’t even an option. If they lived in San Marino i’m sure they would consider sending their kids to public school.

    I’ll be interested to see the Arcadia v. South Pasadena comparison. From the looks of it, the cost per sqft is less in Arcadia and the homes are usually newer, although South Pasadena has better proximity to downtown, the westside, etc.

    Would also like to see a comparison with San Marino. It seems out of the three, San Marino has the highest cost per square foot. Is this solely because of their school district?

  9. Oh and just a tip for the Arcadian ( but i’m sure you already know this)…if you type the zip for South Pasadena into the search field for Redfin it will border off correctly on the map – 91030

    Great job guys, keep it up!

  10. Puckhead
    I know I could get a real nice house in Lancaster also, but we both work in Burbank so of the areas you mentioned only TC and La Crescenta are realisticly located for us.
    Are there $300k houses available in those areas? $400k? What percent of our income should go toward a mortgage?
    We currently rent in Pasadena. $1600 a month. Zillow has it estimated at being worth $430k. It is a pretty rough, 2+1 house with street hookers walking out front. I wouldnt pay 200k for that house. This market is still crazy. IMHO

  11. (if a partial version of this exists, sorry. Sloppy laptop technique)

    Anyway, assuming someone wants in Arcadia, one can always just wait.

    Arcadia is ‘paying’ $158.5K a year, $13,208 monthly, to stay a renter. One may expect that its median will be $429.5K next May and only $337K in December 2009.

    Pasadena is paying half of that: $80K annually, only $6,667 monthly. So it’s median will be higher next May at $470K and almost $100K higher than Arcadia in December 2009 — $423K.

    S. Pasadena on the other hand is paying $160K, $13,333 monthly.
    It’s median will highest of the three at $540K in May 09, and $446.6K in Dec 2009.

    (For a high example, here’s Sierra Madre: $131.5K pay, $10,958 monthly. May 09 median $617.5K, Dec 09 median $540.8K.)

    Happy Saving!

  12. Northeastern Pasadena (where the houses on Rio Grande and Whitefield are) is *not* an undesirable neighborhood. I lived there until a few months ago (when I found a cheaper/better apartment somewhere else in Pasadena). Councilwoman Margaret McAustin doesn’t live too far from the house on Rio Grande you’re showing.

    Graffiti and homeless people are around a little bit, especially near Washington Blvd where the bus runs..and yeah, a little bit of minor crimes here or there spill past the Lake Ave “line of demarcation” – but – it’s not a bad place to live at all…I mean, it’s no Linda Vista..but it’s certainly not the “big bad Northwest”.

    Although, if you’re not a fan of Armenians, you might not like it. It’s Pasadena’s Glendale.

    Oh yea, and PUSD does indeed suck a whole lot.

    – AP

  13. AP,

    Excellent blog you got there. I will most likely spend the next couple days pouring through it and also adding you to our blogroll.

    Pasadena may get a bad rap but I’ve definitely driven through neighborhoods that I would have no problem living in. This is coming from someone who spent a couple years living in the sanitized bubble otherwise known as Irvine.

  14. I think La Crescenta is great. Oh wait, I grew up in TC so does that mean I should stay true to my roots? 🙂

    Have you looked into Sierra Madre or Altadena? If you don’t have kids and schools aren’t an issue, there are some niche areas that are pretty nice. I don’t know if there’s anything in the $400k range right now though.

  15. In my opinion San Marino stands out not only because of their school district, but the neighborhood as well. Sure parts of Arcadia and South Pasadena resembles San Marino, but personally I still think San Marino has a special charm to it. It’s also the only city in the immediate area that’s consistently beautiful from end to end.

  16. Although I like to live in Arcadia, I grew up as an Apache rival. Go Rams!

  17. From Pasadena & South Pasadena to downtown is a great 15-20 minute commute door to door via the 110 — excellent for professionals like my wife who work in the high rise buildings downtown.

    From Arcadia, the commute to downtown would be 30-40 minutes at least. Multiply this 5x per week, 50x per year, x years till retirement and it adds up to many days of your life thrown away commuting.

    I have clients all over the L.A. area and Pasadena is very central overall. I just avoid rush hours…Arcadia would add 10-30 minutes to my commute anywhere that my clients are (Burbank, Encino, El Segundo).

    While we will be sending our kids to private school in Pasadena because we’re fortunate enough to be able to afford it (we’re looking at Mayfield and Polytechnic), I think Pasadena public schools get too much of a bad rap and Arcadia and San Marino public schools in particular get too good of a reputation.

    The reason that public schools in Arcadia and San Marino do so well at state-administered standardized tests has to do mostly with the 50%+ Asian population that attends them. Asian parents do a great job at driving their kids to perform well at school, and Asian students are great at memorizing chapters of material and thus do very well in fill-in-the-correct-checkbox standardized tests.

    White Flight occurred in Pasadena Public schools when federal courts ordered their desegregation in 1970 ( That White Flight caused a disproportionate amount of economically disadvantaged Latino and African-American students to make up the vast majority in Pasadena Unified School districts. Due to socio-economic issues, the Pasadena Unified School District student body as a whole doesn’t do well on standardized tests. Individual students of any race with involved parents who drive their kids to excel in school do well even in “bad” school districts like Pasadena.

    If you were to exchange an entire group of Asian students from
    Arcadia and transplant them to Blair High School in Pasadena, they would still score equally well in standardized tests…I would bet big on that!

    Parent involvement is extremely important in the success of a child’s education. If you aren’t going to be involved in motivating and tutoring your kids to perform well in school, they wont. We have a lot to learn from the Asian parents who drive their kids to excel in cities such as Arcadia and San Marino. We should stop giving so much of the credit to the “great school district” and instead give the credit to the great parents and students.

  18. As these are all homes currently listed at the above “wish” prices, this analysis is pretty useless. That Whitefield property was recently listed above $1mm…a meaningless number until the property sells. And since it is moments away from foreclosure (NOD filed in march), it likely won’t even transfer at $750k…

    A better analysis would be to look at similar sized homes with similar amenities in the different neighborhoods, and see at what prices these comparable homes sell. That will paint a more realistic picture of what the difference in valuation is in these different neighborhoods.

  19. Great tip, i’ve been trying to do searches for Playa Vista, but it’s way off. Searching by the zip is much more accurate.

  20. I sure like South Pasadena and San Marino. But with the arboretum, mall, shops, and walking distance to get most thing around, I’ll say I like Arcadia more.

    Me and my boyfriend drove to see a condo in South Pasadena the other day. From the pictures and the asking price, that condo is pretty decent as in S Pasadena at that time. But my boyfriend said he doesn’t like the fact that within the walking radius, all we can see is houses. It’s boring he said. And he was the one who wanted to find a nice place near downtown.

    So I guess it depends on your needs. To me, I think for the combination of area, price, school district, safety, and convince, Arcadia still rank the best in 20-mile radius from downtown LA. I mean best combination, of course that includes price factor.

  21. I totally agree with you Mark. I’m an Asian so I know exactly what you mean “driving kids to perform well in school”. Most of us do well because we have pressure from our parents since we’re 1st grader. They especially good at giving you impression that if you don’t do good, it’s disgrace to the whole family stuff, I guess it works!

    I’m lucky enough to grow up in Asia which makes me have most foundation built well from “memorizing chapters”, yet I have my BS and MS here which gave me another thought of critical thinking and creativity. I hope I’ll teach my kids differently in the future since I don’t have any yet, and hopefully more and more Asian kids won’t only give people impression of memorizing chapters well but also their creativity and leadership in the future.

  22. Glad the zip code tip helped =)

    I am curious to know how you guys calculate the true value of a home.

    Do you take the pre-1999 sales info (if its available) and add 2-3% appreciation for each year plus inflation to that?

    What’s the right formula?

  23. My understanding is that house price only goes up because of inflation.
    So if inflation is 3%/year, then the house appreciates 3%/year.

    There’s nothing intrinsic in a house that increases its value. Not like company stock that has earnings growth.
    Of course home improvements and speculation do increase the price.

    another way to calculate rough value is multiply
    Comparable monthly rent by a Gross Rent Multiplier (150-180). i think this was discussed by TheArcadian/SBG in one of their posts. IrvineRenter has an excellent breakdown/explanation of the GRM at

  24. combined, you make $200K and complained you can’t afford 3/4 million dollar home! Why don’t you drop the BWM or MB (insert other luxury brand) you’re driving. What this sort of income perhaps you need to pay someone to help you budget better. charge it to you credit card if you can’t afford it.

  25. PUSD sucks. Most public schools do, with the only alternative being La Canada and the Asian schools (San Marino & Arcadia) which present their own disadvantages. Pasadena and East Altadena are great communities, however I don’t know a single kid that does not go to private school (Pasadena has the largest number of private schools in the western US.) The infill area between La Canada and Lake Avenue, north of Altadena Drive, have great nieghborhoods that will increase in value more than other communities in the comming years. Only downside is the schools, and public schools for actual American citizens will soon be a thing of the past anyways.

  26. Read closer, they DON’T WANT to pay $750,000 for a home. We are actually budgeting better than those who make less and spend more for a house. We budget to live a balanced life. There’s more to experience in life than mortage payments and commuting.

  27. Mark, could you point to any data substantiating your correlation between race and academic performance? More specifically, what’s the basis for your claim that “Asian students are great at memorizing chapters of material and THUS do very well in fill-in-the-correct-checkbox standardized tests”?

    Studies do indicate that Asians, on average, outperform other racial groups on standardized prepatory exams. However, higher scores are generally realized by ANY student with a well-rounded education, not just those dedicated merely to rote study.

    Your comment that “[i]f you were to exchange an entire group of Asian students from Arcadia and transplant them to Blair High School in Pasadena, they would still score equally well in standardized tests” is particularly puzzling in light of your intention to send your kids to private school. In other words, the success of San Marino & Arcadia schools have little to do with quality staff, superior equipment and facilities, and community involvement. If not for racial composition, there would be no difference between Blair H.S. and Arcadia High…but you wouldn’t send your own children there?

    As a former student of both LAUSD and one of the high schools you mentioned, I can attest to a significant qualitative difference between the two. Please don’t paint w/ so broad a brush, and have some responsibility before throwing racial stereotypes out into the internet ether.

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