Plenty of open space, and a safe bet too

Plenty of open space, and a safe bet too
The arts plaza in Thousand Oaks. (RICARDO DEARATANHA / LAT)
Thousand Oaks is the archetypal American exurb with quiet streets, a mix of condos and homes and a low crime rate. It sits in the center of the Conejo Valley between Camarillo and the San Fernando Valley, about 12 miles north of the Pacific. The 120,000 people who live here use the 101 Freeway as the main drag to commute to Los Angeles or west to Oxnard and Ventura.

Drawing card

Thousand Oaks ranks as one of the nation's top 10 safest cities, according to Morgan Quitno Press, which bases its ratings on FBI crime data. Summer temperatures are moderate due to ocean breezes that seep through the coastal ranges.

Despite its size, the city has a laid-back feel and yet is home to major employers that include Amgen Corp., GTE and Rockwell Scientific Co.

Wow factor

More than 13,000 acres in the city have been designated as open space, giving the sprawling 55-square-mile Thousand Oaks an uncluttered ambience. And since regional parks ring the city, residents are minutes away from hiking and horse trails, campsites and assorted outdoor activities. For an ocean fix, Malibu's beaches are a short drive over safe canyon roads. The views of the Santa Monica Mountains are lovely too, particularly after a winter rain.

Good news, bad news

Single-family houses with spacious yards are plentiful, but it is hard to find many for less than $400,000. The Thousand Oaks area isn't immune to traffic congestion, however, with the interchange of the 101 and 23 freeways bottling up like clockwork on weekdays during rush hour.

Insider's view

There are plenty of indoor diversions in Thousand Oaks too. The popular Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza hosts sellout Broadway shows and mainstream musical acts in its 1,800-seat theater. The Oaks mall and Janss Marketplace offer the usual collection of chain stores, while the Westlake Promenade features a mix of upscale shops and eateries.

Stock report

Thousand Oaks has a blend of condos and single-family detached homes. Recent condo sale prices range from $167,000 for a two-bedroom unit of 882 square feet to $589,000 for a four-bedroom unit of 2,600 square feet. Detached houses range from $279,000 for a three-bedroom home of 1,000 square feet to $1,995,000 for a four-bedroom home of 5,041 square feet.

Report card

Thousand Oaks is in the Conejo Valley Unified School District, which also serves neighboring Newbury Park and the Westlake neighborhood. The district's elementary schools ranged from 719 to 903 in the state's 2002 Academic Performance Index, based on a maximum of 1,000. The four middle schools ranged from 808 to 865, and the three high schools averaged about 800.

Historical values

Single-family detached home prices:

Year...Median Price






Sources: Kelley Curtis, Prudential California Realty, city of Thousand Oaks, Morgan Quitno Press, Conejo Valley Unified School District, DataQuick Information Services.