Scott Groza is a teacher and a co-founder of the Groza Learning Center, an accredited day school that also offers tutoring, academic management, test preparation and more. Scott’s learning center is situated in a beautifully scenic location in Pacific Palisades, just north of his home in Santa Monica. As a longtime resident of Southern California and the Los Angeles area in particular, Scott enjoys spending his free time enjoying recreational activities that allow him to deeply appreciate the area’s natural beauty.
Scott founded the Groza Learning Center after spending over a decade teaching students in traditional schooling environments, and it was during this time that he became more acutely aware of some of the limitations of this learning environment. With an understanding that there are a number of factors that influence academic achievement, Scott set out to create a learning center in which students were provided with the kind of atmosphere and resources necessary to ensure the best possible results.
While the Groza Learning Center has enjoyed a great deal of success since it was founded, Scott has remained in the modest home he purchased so many years ago while the learning center was still an idea in its earliest stages of development. The home is just a short walk from the beach and the pier, and it allows Scott to enjoy a relatively simple and stress-free commute to the learning center each day. As someone who is passionate about education, the quiet neighborhood and the proximity to the beach make Scott’s home an ideal space to enjoy a good book or to study a new and enlightening subject.
In what city/state was your first house located and approximately what year did you buy it?
The first and only home I bought is located in Santa Monica, just a short distance from the pier and the promenade. I purchased the home shortly before I founded the Groza Learning Center in 2002, so it must have been 2000 or 2001 when I bought it.
What was your living situation prior to buying your first house? Where/with whom/etc?
I was living in a relatively small apartment that I shared with two other roommates. At first, it was just myself and a teaching colleague sharing the space, but we decided that we had enough space to add another roommate so we could save on living costs. The living quarters were tight at times, but the reduced rent really helped me save the money to buy the home I now live in.
What motivated you to purchase your first house?
I knew that I had no desire to live or work anywhere but Southern California and I felt more than ready to put down more permanent roots. The living situation in the apartment was sort of a motivating force as well, but I also knew it was something of a necessity if I was going to be able to save enough money to buy the home.
How did you go about getting the money together to buy it?
In addition to cutting down on living expenses by sharing an apartment with a third roommate, I also began taking on more frequent tutoring work. Doing this eliminated any real free time I had, because I still had to prepare lesson plans and grade assignments in addition to the tutoring work, but I found that tutoring sessions were incredibly rewarding and were far more likely to result in students truly appreciating education.
When you purchased, were you thinking of it as an investment or as a place to start a family. Please elaborate.
It was more of a long-term investment for me. I felt that Santa Monica’s reputation would only lead to continually rising housing costs that were relatively immune to other economic factors, and I knew that waiting to make the purchase would only cost me more in the long run. I did, however, consider the fact that my investment home would have to be one I felt comfortable living in for quite some time.
What are 3 things you liked most about the house?
The neighborhood is just unbelievable. On the weekends I can walk over to the promenade to take in all the sights and sounds, or I can stroll over to the beach and walk along the Pacific Ocean. My neighbors are all wonderful and friendly people, and I just loved the fact that the backyard was just filled with native plants growing all over the place.
Was there anything you didn’t like about it?
While I love all the plants and the landscaping, I was concerned that I would not have the time to maintain it all myself and that I might have to hire someone to do it for me. I was not thrilled about that possibility given my schedule, but since the plants are all native they do not require nearly as much attention as I though they would.
Did you make any improvements or major renovations to the house?
I had the original hardwood floors restored and then I replaced the carpeted areas of the house with either hardwood or tile. Over the years, I have added a lot to the backyard to make it more suitable for hosting, but nothing that could really be considered major — just a pergola and an outdoor brick oven/fireplace.
Please share 1-2 of your fondest/funniest memories from living there.
My neighbor came over the first day I moved in with some nice homemade food along with a list of neighborhood rules and regulations for me to read over and sign. I poured him a cup of coffee or tea and began to read over the list of increasingly odd rules as he watched me become more and more confused. I think I asked a genuine question about one of the first weird rules I came across, but I eventually realized that he was just having a little fun at my expense. He and his wife have become good friends, and I immediately felt like part of the neighborhood because of his welcome prank.
Do you still live there or did you sell it or renting it?
I still live in the home today, and I simply cannot imagine living anywhere else.
What advice would you give other first time home buyers?
I think that it is important to buy a home as soon as you are sure that you are ready to stay in one place for an extended period of time. Renting has its benefits and offers a lot of flexibility, but there is a lot of value in owning a home, especially when that home can be utilized as a long-term investment.