When Los Angeles slipped out of her budget, she looked east for more space. Which house did she choose?

After being forced to spend most of her time at home for the past two years, like many Americans, Roxanne Johnson realized she needed to move.

In the year By the end of 2020, she was working on marketing for a film and television production company in her two-bedroom condo in Winnetka, California, in the exclusive San Fernando Valley, about 25 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The neighbors were mean. Dogs barked. To make matters worse, her building was falling into disrepair, and her apartment was starting to feel a little uncomfortable.

“I was sitting on the couch, basically motionless,” she said. “I wanted a change.”

A self-described “real estate nerd,” Ms. Johnson had several apps on her phone that tracked the housing market. Before the outbreak, she enjoyed visiting open houses with her mother and grandmother, who would come for long visits from Ohio, where Mrs. Johnson, an only child, grew up with surprisingly cold winters.

When her family visits, Ms. Johnson usually ends up lying on the couch. She wanted more space and first-floor access for her now 95-year-old grandfather.

[Did you recently buy or rent a home in the New York metro area? We want to hear from you. Email: thehuntCA@nytimes.com]

“I wanted to spend more time with them,” she said. But I needed more bedrooms.

She also wanted her own yard and a room that doubles as a gym, with space for her weights, yoga mats and foam rollers.

With many Angelenos fleeing the city for the suburbs, Ms. Johnson knew it would be difficult to afford a three-bedroom house nearby. “I didn’t have the money to go into a bidding war,” she said.

She considered homes in Arizona, Nevada and Ohio, but decided that being away from work and friends would be too isolating. “I didn’t want to be alone,” she said.

So she narrowed her search to San Bernardino County and eventually to Upland, about 40 miles east of Los Angeles. With a budget of $525,000, Ms. Johnson ventured into new developments in the area, which were generally more affordable than existing homes.

“She definitely did some homework and knew what she wanted,” said Ms. Johnson’s real estate agent, Amanda Fallon of Re/Max Partners.

But before she can buy anything, she needs to sell her condo to get the money for the down payment. Ms. Fallon referred her to another Re/Max agent, and Ms. Johnson began the daunting task of simultaneously selling and buying — which didn’t help her chances of finding the right place.

“It was so competitive here at the time, most builders wouldn’t accommodate buyers with homes to sell,” Ms. Fallon said.

Among her options:

Find out what happened next by answering these two questions:

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