So You Want to Live in ... a Coastal Condo

Jamee and Rich Kahn lived for 16 years in Lake Arrowhead, California, in the mountains northeast of Los Angeles. After Rich sold his business, the couple decided on a major change.

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 Jamee and Rich Kahn
Azzurra, Marina Del Rey, California

 They wanted to stay in Southern California, where their grown sons live, so they explored the coast from Santa Barbara to San Diego, plus points just inland. They found what they were looking for in Marina Del Rey, near Santa Monica, at a waterside condominium complex called Azzurra.

"We came as renters," says Rich. "Renting didn't seem like quite as traumatic a change. We knew it would be easy to leave if we wanted to."

But the Kahns didn't want to leave. When Azzurra began selling units, they purchased their 18th-floor, 1,750-square-foot apartment for sheer convenience: They walk to shops, theaters, and restaurants, and take advantage of the Santa Monica area's wealth of cultural amenities without braving L.A.'s freeway traffic.

Add to that the luxury of keeping a boat at a marina just a half-mile from home. "We look out the window, and if the ocean looks good, we walk over and head out," says Rich. Santa Catalina Island lies a 90-minute cruise away, and the Kahns occasionally take the water route to visit friends up and down the coast. For longer trips, Los Angeles International Airport is only eight minutes to the south. "If guests are flying in," Rich says, "we just tell them to call when they arrive."

Azzurra's amenities helped make the choice to buy an easy one. The pool, recently expanded health club, rooftop barbecue grills, fireplaces, and spa tubs account for part of the complex's allure. "It's more like a hotel than a condo," says Rich, commenting on the attentions of the Azzurra staff. "It's pretty rare to have to wait for anything, even the elevators. If a package arrives when we're traveling, they even send us an e-mail to let us know. And our grandkids are always welcome."

Marina Del Rey also constitutes a big part of the attraction. As the town's name implies, it's built around an extensive marina. A recent spate of condominium building has transformed once-dingy industrial areas, but according to the Kahns, future development will be low-rise.

Jamee Kahn says that though she and Rich found Azzurra "more by accident than design," their original rental option gave them a perspective that she recommends to potential condo buyers. "During the year we rented, we learned a lot about the area," she recalls. "We could make comparisons with other places we looked at, right down to differences in traffic time that only a few blocks' distance might make." Rich adds another bit of advice: "As wonderful as a place like this is, you have to think in terms of the area, not just the building. I can't see the sense of finding a really nice home and not caring where it's at." For the Kahns, "where it's at" is definitely the 18th floor at Azzurra. "We don't miss having a 3,000-square-foot house," says Rich. "We're having fun."

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