It’s a good time to be an Angeleno. Kind of. In the September issue of Geology, USC earth scientists report that the Los Angeles basin is experiencing some seismic downtime. The scientists say that heavy seismic activity alternates between this LA area and the Mojave Desert, and the latter is currently in the middle of a hectic period. Los Angeles, by contrast, is going through a lull characterized by smaller, infrequent quakes.

But what these scientists mean by small might not make sense to anyone who experienced the devastating Northridge earthquake in 1994. According to the authors, the current lull has been in effect for 1,000 years, and the severity of the earthquakes that would occur in an active phase would be far more damaging than the Northridge event. These calm periods generally last about 1,500 to 2,000 years. So, if you’re looking to buy in LA, play it safe, and don’t plan on staying more than a few hundred years.—Gregory Mone