If you’re thinking of moving to Los Angeles, or better yet *know* you are, I can tell you one thing: there is a home/community/place for you here and no matter what you’re looking for, I promise you’ll find it.
I’ve had a love affair with this city since 2007 and still am able to find new activities to do and places to see. The limit does not exist when it comes to finding ways to entertain yourself in the City of Angels. (The Best New Restaurants In LA / The LA Bucket List)
I recently wrote about the positives and negatives of living in Los Angeles (which I hope you find useful as well). But there’s certainly more to know and understand beyond the +’s and -‘s. It’s important to know a few of the real key things about the city before taking the plunge into your new life. Because while this city is magical, she can be a bit of an overwhelming beast if you’re not equipped with the insider-trusted-Angeleno-bff intel.
So in order for you to feel confident in your choice to moving to the land of sunshine, tinsel, and healthy and relaxed people, let’s break down some aspects to life in LA that you might need to consider (and get you excited of course)!
MOVING TO LOS ANGELES GUIDE
A SAMPLE OF SOME OF THE MOST POPULAR NEIGHBORHOODS IN LA
Los Angeles county is the most populated county in the United States. Home to more than 10 million people (as of 2018) in 4,753 square miles of beauty. Within the county there are 88 cities total. All with their own governing mayor and shall we say, ’vibe’. From one city to the next, there’s a noticeable difference in the people who reside there. The shopping that’s available and the activities you can partake in. Every neighborhood has its own unique personality to appreciate. And you will certainly find a way to appreciate them all in their own rights! But for the cliff note version, here’s a bit of info on a few of the county’s most popular neighborhoods:
Los Angeles is known as one of the shopping capitals of the world. And Beverly Hills is a big reason for that. You’ve likely heard of Beverly Hills (of course you have). Whether from TV show or because you’ve seen the infamous Rodeo Drive on a tourist visit. This area is home to the well-known Beverly Hills Hotel. And homes that will make your mouth drop. The median rent in this area is pricier than that of other neighborhoods. But it’s very safe, it boasts beautiful greenery, and plentiful shopping. And a small amount of bragging rights to be able to say you lived in Beverly Hills.
If you’re a fan of going out and being social, this neighborhood might be where you’ll find yourself. Home to one of the best part of Santa Monica Blvd., there is no shortage of cute rooftop bars, small hole in the walls, and vintage shopping. This area is where a lot of the younger crowd settles. But can also be home to some great rent deals if you find a gem of an apartment where rent control is a thing. Just be sure to frequent Larchmont Blvd. and Melrose Trading Posts to get the most out of this neighborhood.
Beach life is one of the most popular “positives” to living in Los Angeles. You can be in the middle of a city and within 20 minutes (or an hour and a half depending on traffic) have your toes in the sand, breathing in fresh salt air, and watching an incredible sunset. Santa Monica is a beach-like version of West Hollywood. There are many places to eat, tourist attractions like the Santa Monica Pier and activities like surfing and bike riding to keep you busy on a daily basis. The thing to note here though is the closer you get to the beach the higher the rent/housing prices are. Santa Monica attracts all kinds, just know that if you move to Santa Monica, you’re probably not leaving Santa Monica – a fact most SM dwellers are perfectly ok with!
If you want to move as close to the beach as possible but can’t quite afford it, look into neighborhoods such as West LA. West LA was the neighborhood I actually moved to when I first moved to LA – I’d fallen in love with Brentwood (a very classy, upscale, true neighborhood) but couldn’t afford rent in Brentwood either, so I looked at places adjacent (one of LA’s favorite words) and found West LA. It’s an area that seems popular for younger post-grad folks, there’s a great bar scene in the area, but most importantly I found it to be safe.
Culver City is one of the single most popular neighborhoods in LA right now for a number of reasons: it has one of the best school districts, the homes are those quintessential “LA bungalows” (but updated), they have their own fire and police departments, the Downtown Culver area is adorable and full of great restaurants and bars, and several major American businesses have set up their West Coast business HQ’s in Culver City. So needless to say, it’s expensive now and tough to get into, and that’s why you look into moving to Palms. Which is where I used to live! I could still walk from my apartment to Downtown Culver, I just didn’t pay Culver City rent prices. Palms is just a neighborhood you live in really, but it’s crazy central and again – Culver City adjacent.
VENICE BEACH/MAR VISTA
Everyone under the age of 25 or not from America thinks they want to move to Venice Beach. Venice has its charm, and that charm isn’t exactly for everyone. It’s the strangest juxtaposition between ridiculously wealthy and grimey. And the grimey can be real grimey. BUT, it clearly attracts enough folks because it’s easily one of LA’s most expensive neighborhoods to live in – much of it having to do with of course the beach, the eclectic community, the volume of really great restaurants and bars, and Abbot Kinney as a whole. Venice can be affordable and over priced at the same time, just know what you’re getting in to. If you’re interested in being close but not necessarily in Venice, try looking into Mar Vista. It’s a bit more residential and still close to the beach cities.
“Mid City” is quite literally in the middle of the city, making it an ideal area for someone who needs to be all over town – or wants to be all over town (like myself!) The term “Mid City” seems to broadly cover a few different neighborhoods in and around the area, but to put it simply it’s situated near the 10 freeway between Downtown LA and Santa Monica (close to the Culver City area). This area is mainly older, classic “LA bungalow” style homes, duplexes, and apartment buildings. It’s more quiet, a bit more suburban, safe, and a great place for younger families or people that have grown out of the more hip LA neighborhoods.
I feel like Hollywood is the neighborhood everyone who moves to LA thinks they’re supposed to move to. The answer is do your research. Hollywood could very well be your neighborhood, rent in Hollywood is usually more in the middle as far as the rent spectrum is concerned, but there are factors to consider such as noise, nightlife, safety, parking, traffic, and so on. There are “cool” parts of Hollywood such as Franklin Village, Beachwood Canyon, or Cahuegna Terrace, but again, spend the time researching!
SILVERLAKE/LOS FELIZ/ECHO PARK
The perfect middle ground cities for when you’re looking for a retreat from city and beach life. There’s definitely a certain type of person who lives on the Eastside though, much like there’s a type who lives on the Westside – and taking notice can be a bit comical. Eastsiders are typically known for being artsy, musically inclined, hip, vintage lovers, creative, into farmers markets and yoga – you know the type. Silverlake, Los Feliz, and Echo Park are the more poplar neighborhoods in this area (Highland Park too), and here you’ll find lots of 20-40 somethings, great bars and restaurants, tons of shopping, and everything quintessentially nally “cool” about LA. Housing is a mix between affordable and completely not affordable, but this is definitely an area people love to live in LA, and often never leave.
Pasadena – quite possibly the quaintest neighborhood in LA county. Fit for families and folks looking for space, scenery, and a slower pace – while still being within decent proximity to the hustle and bustle. Pasadena takes serious pride in their appearance and it certainly does not go unappreciated! Not to mention Old Town Pasadena has some of the best restaurants and shopping in LA – the kind where you can simply meander, there’s no rushing or fussing in Pasadena. Slow down, enjoy it. The rental and housing prices in Pasadena run the full spectrum, from some of the most expensive homes in the county to adorable and relatively affordable apartments, they run the gamit.
Downtown LA is exactly where you want to be if living right in the middle of the actual city is something that has always interested you. DTLA as we call it is being built up at a rate so fast it’ll make your headspin, so there is no shortage of high rise apartment living options to choose from. DTLA is lively, it’s home to some of the best bars and restaurants in the city, it’s bustling with “business”, and it’s arguably the fastest growing neighborhood at the moment. If the city life speaks to you, DTLA would be worth looking into, just be sure to do your research into the location because some parts of DTLA are not what i would qualify as the safest part of town at night. Comes with the territory of city life I suppose, but be aware!
No one moves to LA to live in the Valley? You move to LA proper, do your thing for a while, get burnt out (or just get old or have kids), THEN you move to The Valley (which is an overarching term we all use for neighborhoods on the other side of the hill like Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Burbank, Valley Village, Van Nuys, Tarzana, Encino, North Hollywood, etc. These neighborhoods are all wonderful places to live, you’re just a bit outside the city lines of where the real action happens in LA.
There are a lot of other areas to consider, 472 to be exact, these are just some good places to start so you can search surrounding areas. Real estate is at an all time high in Los Angeles. It’s not a cheap place to live but with everything it has to offer, there’s a home for everyone here. Do your research, VISIT and spend some time your ideal neighborhoods, talk to the locals, read up on LA-based blogs (hello!), and you’ll be just fine! Most of us Angelenos were once in your shoes too!
RENTAL HUNTING TIPS:
- The best places to hunt: Apartments.com, Apartment List, Rent.com. Westside Rentals, Trulia, Zillow, Zumper, HotPads
- Before starting, try to zero in on a neighborhood or two (love this article on Curbed LA – “How To Pick A Neighborhood In Los Angeles“)
- Set some expectations. You’ll never get a discount or deal on rent in LA, at least not in the popular neighborhoods. Inventory is always low and you’ll likely be up against at least 1 other person if not several. Rent reductions aren’t exactly a thing here unfortunately so be prepared to accept the monthly rent at the number advertised.
- If you find something you like, do not hesitate or wait. Apply ASAP. And if you really want it, write a cover letter and throw in some photos of you/your family (YES, I am totally serious!) every landlord has their own way of selecting tenants, sometimes its the first applicant with good credit, sometimes it’s the best candidate period, so there is no harm in humanizing yourself and letting them know you’d be the best person to pick. (Again, renting in LA is a tough ballgame! Be prepared to go up against other perfectly wonderful candidates!)
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW:
If you’re thinking of moving to LA, chances are a small (or large) reason is because of the weather. Now it’s not always 75 and sunny… but it usually is. The only thing most Angelenos complain about when it comes to the weather here is that it’s nearly impossible to experience real “seasons”. Some see that as a plus, others just simply need to get out of town to experience it, either way, you’ll find you’re pretty damn lucky to be where you are regardless.
During the summer LA is known to have some heatwaves where temperatures can get up to 110, and with that comes fires which we’ve been experiencing a number of in the past few years. The only real worries Angelenos face when it comes to mother nature are fires and earthquakes – which we get our fair share of. But, the fact of the matter is the day to day life and temperate in LA is pretty moderate and comfortable. Hard to beat!
In my humble opinion, the food scene in Los Angeles is right up there with the best foodie cities like NY or SF. It boasts every cuisine, offers rooftops, plentiful al fresco options, ocean views, classy to hole in the wall dining and the scene just. keeps. growing. (Even during a pandemic.) I’ve had some of the best meals of my life in this city and genuinely feel so incredibly fortunate to have so many options right at our fingertips. Every single neighborhood has something wonderful and delicious to offer, you wont have to go far for a 5 star meal, regardless of your budget. If you need a place to start, check out my list of my 100 Favorite Restaurants In LA, or The Best New Restaurants In LA.
Living in Los Angeles means that you’re also going to be living with traffic (even while we’re all supposedly working from home). As much as you hear about the great weather, you’ve likely heard about the horrible traffic. It’s definitely one of the sore issues about Los Angeles, but it comes with the territory of moving to a major metropolitan city – who just happens to have little to no public transportation. No matter which way you put it, it’s one of those things that you have to take the good with the bad. You find you just become used to it.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a job right near where you live. If you’re unlucky, leaving the house between the hours of 7am-10am and 4pm-8pm will likely but you right behind somebody else’s bumper for a loooong time. Here’s the silver lining: plenty of time to call your friends and loved ones or listen to a good podcast. All of that extra time spent in the car can be used for good as long as you keep perspective. There are 10 million people trying to get around in a very small space. A home so beautiful is bound to come with downsides, so again, become one with the traffic and leave 10 (or 20) extra minutes to get where you’re going.
Commuting in Los Angeles
When moving to Los Angeles (or close by), if you’re planning on working outside your house you’re still very much so going to want to take the potential commute into consideration. Will you need a car? A bike? Will you be taking public transportation like the bus or the metro? Should you use a ride share option? A lot of times, people go from having no need to commute to being smack dab in the middle of one before even realizing it. 10 miles in Los Angeles can either mean 20 minutes or 2 hours, even still in the midst of a pandemic. Just another thing to make sure you consider because as many Angelenos can attest, spending hours in the car day after day gets exhausting.
No matter what your reasoning is for moving to my favorite city, just know that there is plenty to be excited about. When moving gets stressful, just think about how many good meals are ahead of you and how much room there will be for activities. It’s my favorite city in the world (is this true?) with so much diversity and fun to offer you and I can’t wait to hear about what you experience once you arrive. Good luck!