POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES OF LIVING IN LOS ANGELES
I have been sharing, snapping, and writing about life in Los Angeles for almost 7 years, but I’ve never sat down and mapped out what the pros and cons of living here might look like – or in this case, what truly makes one “love” and/or “loathe” this city. I started this blog wanting to connect Angelenos, hopeful Angelenos, and visitors alike. And amongst the wide array of topics we connect on and dive into, two that seem to come up regularly with folks who are considering making a move to Los Angeles are “where should I live in LA” and “is it worth it”.
Everything positive and negative about moving to LA depends on your personal goals. It looks different for everyone, and you make of it what you will. But remember, LA may be another big beautiful metropolitan city in the United States, but it is nothing like New York, Chicago, DC, or even Paris, London, and Tokyo. LA does “big city life” totally different. So let’s dive right into what the positives and negatives of living in Los Angeles look like:
*Note: this breakdown is of a Los Angeles I used to know before the COVID-19 crisis and one I hope we get to experience similarly very soon. Things will be different of course. But until we understand what our “new normal” looks like, I am basing the following off of my experience thus far and the LA I hope we get to return to.
Between the multitude of free outdoor activities right at your fingertips, access to an insane amount of events happening daily, and of course landmarks/museums/monuments to visit, you will find it nearly impossible to experience a dull moment while living in Los Angeles. Something fun is always going on, and it can be as widely enjoyed or niche as you’d like.
CHECK OUT: 101 Things to Check Off the “LA Bucket List”
Los Angeles is known for its year-round beautiful weather, in fact, this city sees nearly 300 days of sun. Having temperate weather allows for Angelenos to enjoy the bounties of city life. That includes beautiful beaches, parks, a number of hiking trails, outdoor entertainment, outdoor dining, and much more. Nice weather – happier people perhaps!
What truly sets Los Angeles apart from most if not all metropolitan cities is space. The Greater Los Angeles Area is 503 square miles. So needless to say, it’s quite spread out and less compact that cities like San Francisco, Chicago, or even New York.
Even when it comes to housing there’s just more space in terms of cost per sq ft. It’s still expensive, sure, but your money goes a little bit further overall in Los Angeles in terms of sq ft. (Not in all cases, of course, it won’t get you as far in Beverly Hills or Santa Monica as it would in Pasadena or the San Fernando Valley but overall you have less of a chance of paying a small fortune for a “shoebox”.)
For a big and bustling city that can be quite stressful at times, LA has a genuine appreciation for relaxation. LA seems to thrive on a fine balance between “work hard, be ambitious and pragmatic”, and “take care of yourself and look out for number one.” LA even just looks more relaxed – from the attire right down to the “you do you” attitude. You will rarely see folks in suits, let alone folks with typical 9-5 jobs. For the most part, this city believes in a healthy work-life balance, which can be incredibly refreshing.
In terms of ideal California terrains and landscapes, LA kinda has it all. From the beaches, the mountains, the desert, and even to high rise city life, you can experience all 4 landscapes in a single day should you so choose. There are not many places where you can do that!
Los Angeles is known and loved for being a “melting pot” of a number of cultures where each is embraced as part of the larger LA community. From design, art, music, food, and so much more. We have access to familiarizing ourselves with a vast number of cultures from around the world. You won’t have to travel too far to open your eyes to new places, people, and experiences.
COMMUNITY OF CREATIVES
Los Angeles is widely dubbed as “the city of dreamers” as folks come from far and wide to be at the center of all that is creative. Los Angeles is chock-full of beauty, innovation, entertainment, art, culture, and folks who creatively cultivate. With reputable art shows like Frieze Art Fair beginning to come to LA in recent years, the arts scene is thriving now more than ever. It can be an inspiring and rewarding place to find yourself in.
SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Los Angeles is home to every type of sports team imaginable – competitive ones at that. From baseball, basketball, football, soccer, you name it. LA is home to a team, sometimes even two of the same kind! My personal love of attending Dodgers and Rams games knows no bounds. Besides sporting events, LA is a major hub for all types of entertainment including but not limited to concerts, plays, musicals, screenings, and so on. Entertainment is LA’s “thing”, and it won’t let you down.
With such a richly diverse culture at its core, LA’s dining scene is impressive, to say the least. It’s growing more and more competitive with major foodie cities like New York by the year. When LA is functioning at it’s highest form of self, LA restaurants are at the center of excitement, innovation, community, and joy. There are award-winning – and just downright delicious – restaurants consistently opening in town and the possibilities are endless. I dare you to find a cuisine option that isn’t available here.
CHECK OUT: The Best New Restaurants In LA
From boutiques, flea markets, thrift stores, luxury stores, to shopping malls and everything in between LA is on the map in the shopping department. LA is even pioneering new ways to bring the retail experience back to life with places like ROW DTLA. And leading the way in terms of fashion design and overall trends.
The health-conscious culture in LA is something some folks may roll their eyes a bit over. The obsession with avocados and crystals and all things organic can be a bit much but the overall awareness and desire for good health and well being is something to be commended. From every kind of workout studio imaginable to farmers markets all over town, Angelenos have incredible access to a variety of “healthy options” and seem to take pride in taking care of themselves inside and out. The green juice stereotypes and jokes you may have heard are… well, accurate. But hey – it feels good to feel good.
Unlike most metropolitan cities LA does not have quite as an extensive public transportation program. This is widely known because if there’s one thing people seem to agree on about LA, it’s that they hate the traffic. Every major city has traffic issues, but LA’s seems to feel more unique due to lack of rapid public transportation like Bart in the Bay Area or the Subway in NYC. And because of that, it’s nearly impossible to live in LA without a car, which is not only an added expense, it’s added stress and time getting from point A to point B.
I will say, and many Angelenos will agree, traffic after a while just becomes part of life here, rush hour or not. It’s something you learn to accept, and perhaps sometimes embrace (who doesn’t love a good podcast?)
In cities like those on the East Coast, parking isn’t even something to worry about. But in the Los Angeles area, prepare to be annoyed. Daily.
Parking in LA is never easy. If the issue isn’t a lack of parking in general, it’s the cost, the location, the valet, the waiting, the – you get it. It can be surprisingly expensive and oddly stress-inducing. And should you be so unlucky as to misread a parking sign or forget to fill your meter… you’re looking at a pretty hefty parking ticket. We’ve all gotten one, sometimes several. It’s just another step to being inducted to the club. And it’s got a starting membership fee of $63.
COST OF LIVING
News flash: LA is expensive! A lot of people live here and want to live here! Housing prices are high across all desirable neighborhoods and, until now, have only continued to rise. LA’s general cost of living is 43% higher than the national average (more than 50% in some neighborhoods). Housing prices alone are 127% higher, transportation is 31%, and groceries 12% higher. (According to PaySacle calculator.) Most LA apartments require more than the annual median income to rent. (Ouch!)
It’s still a bit more affordable to live in LA than it is in NYC or SF. But it’s not by much.
COMPETITIVE JOB MARKET
There are a lot of people in Los Angeles, a lot of very qualified, ambitious, talented, and smart individuals with the same skill sets as many of their peers. The job market, while genuinely vast, can still be lucrative. It varies per field naturally but a lot of people in LA have the same dreams, especially in the more creative/tourism/entertainment fields.
Let us not forget though that LA is a huge market for manufacturing and technology with both industries are growing by the minute here. In fact, some people now refer to Santa Monica, Venice, and the South Bay as “Silicon Beach,” a reflection of the westside’s draw for tech startups (think: Facebook, Snapchat, Hulu, Google, my pals at Verishop… the list goes on) in recent years.
It’s certainly helpful to have a pretty good idea for what position/field you’re hoping to enter – or what type of business you want to build on your own! LA is home to a truly inspiring amount of small businesses. But. While we wait for LA and the rest of the world to regroup, it’s important at this time to simply be patient. This city will come back with vengeance.
COMPETITIVE HOUSING MARKET
Housing is competitive both in terms of renting and buying – it can be a draining experience. There is always competition and stress over finding a place to live. In LA you either end up over asking, beg for approval via personal note/photos/resume/baked goods, win, or lose out. It’s an aspect of life in LA you have to be prepared for. The trade-off though is that with patience you’ll land on your feet, and you’ll be living in LA.
Real estate prices in the Los Angeles area only seem to be rising. It seems to have slightly leveled off during the pandemic, but it mystifies me how the beast continues to grow without signs of slowing down. There are parts of LA and surrounding areas that are a bit easier and affordable to purchase in like neighborhoods in “the valley” or up and coming areas in Orange County like Anaheim or Santa Ana, but it all requires a little research on what neighborhood/area checks off your list of “non-negotiables”.
If you ultimately deem LA too expensive to buy in, there seems to also be a trend lately of purchasing your own getaway home in a nearby city, while you continue to rent in LA. Lots of my Angeleno friends have opted to rent here while purchasing their own vacation homes in nearby cities like Palm Springs, Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear, Joshua Tree… the list goes on. This option may not seem appetizing to everyone, but can be super fun if you’re the kind of person who loves to get away from the stress of the city on the weekends.
While crime in LA certainly isn’t as bad or wild as TV can make it out to be, a certain level of it is still undoubtedly present, as it typically is in all major metropolitan cities. Do your homework, check crime rates in your desired neighborhoods, check out the surrounding areas of any apartments or houses you’re eyeing on Google Street View, ask co-workers/friends/acquaintances (like me!) and make your decisions accordingly.
LA is, unfortunately, no stranger to natural disasters, particularly wildfires and sometimes earthquakes and mudslides. I often hear East Coasters mentioning their fear of earthquakes, and though yes, of course we have all experienced one or two frightening quakes, I have slept through an infinitely higher number in my life than I have actually felt… for real. It’s something to be aware of, no doubt, but I wouldn’t deem this a reason not to live in LA. Through unexpected and trying times, this city always finds a way to get back on its feet.
IT’S BIG. LIKE REALLY BIG.
There’s an ongoing joke amongst Angelenos that you can only date or be friends with people depending on what side of the 405 they live on, otherwise, you simply won’t see them. I hate to admit that it’s true, but it kind of is! If you live on the westside and your boyfriend/BFF lives on the eastside, it can be a serious commitment to get to them depending on the time of day, and even then, it can just be far mileage wise. There are places I just simply won’t go because it will take too long in the car. We all know LA is big, but it can be deceivingly big. 503 sq miles big to be exact, and considering nearly every inch of that could be crawling with traffic at any given moment… it might as well be 1000 sq miles during rush hour.
Share Your Pros and Cons of Living In LA
I am curious to know what you think! Share your thoughts in the comments.