Moving to Los Angeles

A cultural hub with limitless entertainment options, ideal climate, and proximity to the ocean—in other words, your new home: Los Angeles, CA. Whether you’re moving here for a career change or personal reasons, there’s no doubt you’ll be glad you did. Living in Southern California has its drawbacks—expensive housing and tangled traffic—but you won’t find perks like the dynamic job market and unique experiences anywhere else.

There’s sure to be something for everyone in the City of Angels. If sports are your thing, you’ll have plenty of new, hometown teams to root for, like the Lakers or Clippers, Kings, Dodgers, and Galaxy. When you need an escape from city life, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Death Valley National Parks are all within a four to five-hour drive. There’s also plenty of green space and hiking trails within Los Angeles proper—like those in Griffith Park, some of which lead up to the iconic Hollywood sign. All these entertainment options and more are waiting for you in Los Angeles.

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Living in Los Angeles, CA: What to Know Before Moving to Los Angeles

Before you move to Los Angeles and become one of its 3,949,776 residents, there are some important things you’ll want to know. From which neighborhood attracts you, to how much you can expect to pay for housing, check out this list to make your transition the best it can be:

Pros and Cons of Living in Los Angeles

Pros:

  • Weather — Southern California has one of the most desirable climates in the nation.
  • Diverse Culture — Los Angeles is home to large populations of various Asian and Hispanic immigrants.
  • The Pacific Ocean — The Pacific Ocean creates Los Angeles’ western border. A day on one of the local beaches, like Venice or Santa Monica, is just a short drive away.
  • Entertainment — It’s no secret, Los Angeles is a hub for the arts, especially film and music. You’ll likely be able to dine at the same restaurants as your favorite authors or musicians. Just about every big musical act stops through Los Angeles, and there are plenty of venues to catch a show.
  • Lifestyle — While California life might not be as idyllic as it was decades ago, there is a culture here of acceptance and creativity. Those around you will likely be pursuing their passion. You won’t be alone in forging a new life in Los Angeles.

Cons:

  • Traffic — This comes as no surprise, but the traffic in Los Angeles is horrible. If your place of work is outside of the neighborhood you call home, then you might want to consider other options—like biking or hopping on a bus or light rail. No matter which major highway you choose, the 5, 10, 405, 710, or 110, expect a jam during rush hour.
  • Living Expenses — As a desirable hub, Los Angeles has higher property values when compared to the rest of the country. Also, other common expenses, like gas, are also higher than in surrounding states.
  • Lack of Seasons — The climate in California is pretty consistent—which can be a good thing if you like sunshine year-round. Unless you make your way up the mountains to the northeast, you won’t see snow in Los Angeles. Outside of a few rainy weeks in the winter and late-spring, there isn’t much precipitation throughout the year.
  • Public Transportation —There are public transportation options throughout Los Angeles, but Angelinos love the independence of their cars. Metro light rail and bus lines run just about anywhere in the city and surrounding areas.
  • Parking — When you’re house or apartment hunting, make sure it includes a parking space. Street parking in Los Angeles can be difficult to come by.

Tax Rates

  • Property tax:  Los Angeles has an average property tax rate of .793%, according to smartasset.com, a rate below the national average of 1.21%.
  • Sales tax: The city levies a total sales tax rate of 9.5%; this is a higher rate than most other locales across the US.
  • CA state income tax: The state of California calculates taxes based on ten different income brackets, each with its own rate. For example, a married couple filing jointly, with a combined income of $107,960 to $551,475 pays a 9.3% state income tax. Likewise, a single filer with an income of between $53,980 and $275,737 also pays a 9.3% state income tax.

Housing Market

It’s no secret that it can be tough to find affordable housing in California, and that goes double for Los Angeles. That’s likely the reason why over 58% of LA residents rent as opposed to owning their living space, according to bestplaces.net.

The median home cost in Los Angeles is $681,800. This price soars over the national average, which is just $219,700. Los Angeles is a huge city, which means that home prices will vary greatly depending on where you plan to buy. The eastern areas of Los Angeles will be much less expensive than along the coast.

Don’t worry if the median price seems out of range, though. There are cheaper rental options available, especially if you know where to look. For reference, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,545. This rental rate is still much higher than the national average, which is just above $900 per month. For those with smaller budgets, in the neighborhoods section, we’ll highlight areas like Highland Park and Koreatown that might fit the bill.

Cost of Living

The typical cost of living in Los Angeles is likely higher than just about anywhere else in the country, all due to sky-high housing costs. Bestplaces.net outlines Los Angeles basic costs to help you budget. Based on 100 as the US average cost of living, the cost of living in Los Angeles is 195.1, almost twice the cost of living average for the country.

Health costs (85.2) and Utilities (93.7) are the only necessities that cost less than the nation’s average. Groceries (100) and Miscellaneous expenses such as clothing, repairs, and eating out (104.5) are in line with US average costs. However, Transportation is 190.7, and Housing is a whopping 358.4 — over three times the nation’s average housing cost.

According to epi.org, the average adult can plan on minimum monthly expenses of just under $3,600. A family of four, with two working adults and two children, will need about $7,691 for monthly expenses.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Los Angeles weather is undoubtedly one of the biggest draws for folks thinking about a move to the City of the Angels. Depending on where you’re moving from, Los Angeles may feel like summer all year long. You certainly won’t be shoveling any snow.

The warmest months are August and September when temperatures climb to the high 70° F range near the coast and mid-90s inland. Temperatures dip to the low-50s at night. The coolest months are December and January when you can expect highs in the 60s during the day and lows in the high 40s at night. The average rainfall is 18,” and most of the rain falls in January, February, and March.

While the day-to-day weather is largely ideal, Los Angeles frequently experiences earthquakes, floods, and wildfires. Many areas within Los Angeles run the risk of damage due to these natural disasters. Los Angeles County’s Emergency Survival Program (ESP) provides excellent information on how to be prepared for natural disaster threats.

Economy & Job Market

Los Angeles is home to a diverse and strong economic market. Regardless of your career path, you’ll find great options for employment. While the city is home to a large number of unemployed residents, just under 5% according to bestplaces.net, there are plenty of opportunities to make a living, especially if you know where to look.

Top industries in the city include financial services, international trade, entertainment, culture, media, technology, and education. The city is known as the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” and according to forbes.com, an estimated one in every six residents works in a creative industry. As reported by laalmanac.com, a few top employers in the city are the Los Angeles Unified School District, Kaiser Permanente, a health care company, and Northrop Grumman Corp, a leading aerospace and defense company.

Traffic and Transportation

Getting around Los Angeles can be challenging. The traffic throughout the city, but especially on the major highways that run through the metropolis, is often at a stand-still. Hwy 1 runs north-south right along the Pacific Ocean, and Hwy 101 also runs north-south through Los Angeles. Both of these highways are one- and two-lane city streets with a lot of traffic signals that control snarly traffic. Interstates 405 and 5 are major 4-5 lane freeways that run north-south through LA. Interstate 10 runs west from Santa Monica east to San Bernardino.

It’s best to find a place of work that’s close to your new home, but if you’re not able, there are some other transportation options. The Los Angeles Metro offers bus and light rail throughout the city proper and surrounding areas. If you’re able to find a route close by, you might be able to skip the rush hour traffic. It may take some time to get used to using the combination of buses and light rail to get from A to Z, but once you figure it out and become comfortable with the system, you can go anywhere in metropolitan Los Angeles and farther afield without using your car. Add an Uber or Lyft to the mix, and you can go door to door from Santa Monica to San Bernardino, or Long Beach to San Diego.

Amtrak offers service from the restored art deco Union Station, right in the center of downtown Los Angeles, to locations across the country. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is a major worldwide hub, and many communities have airport shuttles to get to LAX without having to leave your car at the airport during your flight.

Overall, the city has a Walk Score of 67. Los Angeles is a sprawling city, but if you find a job within certain neighborhoods, walking may be an option. The Transit Score is 53 and Bike Score is 55.

What to Do

No matter what you like to do for fun, you’ll find it in Los Angeles. Whether you’re a patron of the arts and want to catch a performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall, seek thrills at Universal Studios, or take the family for an exciting trip to Disneyland, there are endless options for entertainment.

When it comes time to grab a bite or a drink to cool off, you won’t run out of options. From gourmet foods trucks to white linen service, there are places to eat around every corner. You’ll want to check out Langer’s Delicatessen, a Jewish deli serving up pastrami, corned beef, and more; Howlin’ Ray’s, a Nashville-style hot chicken joint for those who have a taste for all things spicy; and Dan Tana’s, the legendary old school Hollywood hangout to grab a drink or two. When you’re at a loss of what you want to eat, drink, or do, head downtown to the Grand Central Market—you’ll find a little bit of everything there.

Schools and Universities

The Los Angeles Unified School District provides early through high school education to over 600,000 students throughout the city. As the second largest public school district in the country, they also employ over 63,000 educators. Check out the School District’s fast facts for a snapshot of information. Because Los Angeles is such a huge city, the quality of education will vary neighborhood by neighborhood, and even within neighborhoods. To learn more about schools in the neighborhood you’re considering, greatschools.org is a terrific resource that provides ratings and reviews.

Los Angeles is home to many great universities. Top-notch private colleges and universities sit throughout the city, including the University of Southern California; Loyola Marymount University; Occidental College; Pepperdine University; and California Institute of Technology, famously known as CalTech. Top public institutions include the University of California, Los Angeles; California State University, Los Angeles;  and countless community colleges. In short, Los Angeles is a superb location to continue higher education.

Crime

The level of crime in Los Angeles trends a bit lower for property crime and quite a bit higher than the rest of the country for violent crimes. Property crime is just under the US average of 35.4, with Los Angeles receiving a 35.1 rating. According to bestplaces.net, the violent crime rating for the city is 29.1, significantly higher than the US average of 22.7.

Utility Providers

You’ll want to be sure to get in touch with utility providers before you make your move to avoid a gap in service. Here are some major providers in the area:

  • Electric: Southern California Edison is a major provider of electricity in the area. You can turn on service right from their homepage.
  • Gas: Southern California Gas Company provides gas to the city. You can schedule service from their homepage.
  • Water: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power provides water and electricity to homes and businesses throughout the city. You can turn on services for any property type on their homepage.
  • Trash: Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation provides service to the city. For more information, visit this web page.
  • Internet/Cable: Frontier Communications, Spectrum, AT&T, DirecTV, and Verizon are major providers in the area. To check available rates and packages for your new home, enter your address on the service’s website.

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Best Neighborhoods in Los Angeles, CA

West Hollywood

This distinct area of Hollywood is located roughly between Fountain Ave and Melrose Ave to the north and south, and La Brea Ave and La Cienega Blvd to the east and west. Santa Monica Blvd is the major thoroughfare, splitting the neighborhood across the middle.

According to weho.org, the neighborhood’s website, 37,657 residents, call West Hollywood home. The average household income in this area is $72,770 annually. Homes are likely to be on the more expensive side, with an average sale listing value of just under $865,000 in June 2019, according to redfin.com. If you’re planning to rent and join the vast majority—79% of WeHo residents choose to rent—you’ll likely be able to find more affordable options, with the median monthly rent coming in at $1,490.

While on any given night you can take a walk to the Sunset Strip for drinks and dancing, West Hollywood offers many other options for entertainment. Home to the Comedy Store, any night of the week you can check out huge stand-up stars. The legendary Troubadour is also within walking distance, a storied club bringing in up-and-coming musical acts. As Los Angeles’ LGBTQ capital, there are opportunities to explore history at the ONE Gallery, as well as check out famed gay bars and clubs, like the Abbey. The Metro’s Red line runs through Hollywood, too, which makes traveling to other locations throughout the city a breeze.

West Hollywood schools include West Hollywood and Laurel Elementary Schools, Hubert Howe Bancroft Middle School, and Fairfax and Hollywood Senior High Schools.

Downtown

Right in the middle of everything, 63,288 residents call Downtown home, according to niche.com. Located in the area roughly corralled by the 5, 110, and ten freeways, if you want to have access to everything LA has to offer, this will likely be the perfect spot.

The median household income in Downtown is $52,540. Many of the property options available here are units in multi-family buildings. While you’re likely to pay more per square foot—$645, according to redfin.com—you’ll be able to find property for a relatively competitive price, when compared to single-family homes elsewhere in the city. The average sale price as of June 2019, is listed at $610,000.

The eastern side of Downtown is known as the Arts District. Here, you’ll find museums like The Geffen and the Japanese American National Museum. There are plenty of coffee houses and watering holes over this way, too. You’ll want to check out Angel City Brewery, Greenbar Distillery, and the Porter Junction Café, among others. The western side of the neighborhood is where you’ll find the Staples Center, home to the Lakers, Clippers, and Kings, as well as the Grammy Museum. If somehow, you run out of things to do around your new DTLA home, four major metro lines run through the area, so you can get anywhere in the LA area while skipping traffic.

Downtown has access to many schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, including 9th Street, 10th Street, and Utah Street Elementary Schools, John H Liechty and John Adams Middle Schools, and Belmont and Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Senior High Schools.

Highland Park

Located in Northeast Los Angeles, Highland Park—HLP—runs along the west side of the 110 freeway. Officially incorporated into Los Angeles in the 1880s, this is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. You’ll find that many of the neighborhood’s 62,562 residents, according to niche.com, have deep roots here. But even though HLP’s history is a long one, it has a true LA hipster vibe.

The median household income in HLP is $58,549, making it a suitable spot for those on relatively tighter budgets. While those looking to buy property face high list prices—redfin.com reports the average sale price in June 2019, at $850,000—there are more affordable rental options, with a median monthly rent of just over $1,217.

The neighborhood is home to many long-running restaurants and shops, like Chicken Boy. Don’t miss this fried chicken joint on Figueroa St, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare. There are also plenty of hip, new spots to check out, too. To run a few frames, check out the recently renovated Highland Park Bowl, complete with craft pizzas and cocktails. Catch a matinee, with specials as low as $5, at the Highland Theatres. For a day outside with the family, take a walk to the kid-friendly York Park, a newly renovated playground.

Highland Park has access to schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District: Yorkdale and Monte Vista Street Elementary Schools, and Benjamin Franklin and Eagle Rock High Schools.

Atwater Village

Running along the east side of the 5 freeway, north of the junction with route 2, Atwater Village is a prime neighborhood located between Glendale and Silver Lake. According to niche.com, 14,182 residents live here, making it one of the smaller neighborhoods in town.

The median household income in this neighborhood is $70,625. A substantial percentage of residents—39%—when compared to other areas of the city, own their homes. Buying might be an option for those with larger budgets, as the average sale price for a home in June 2019, was $1.27M, according to redfin.com. There are more affordable options for those looking to rent, as the median monthly rent price is just over $1,400.

Living in Atwater Village puts you in proximity to a variety of dining and shopping options. No matter what type of cuisine you’re in the mood for, there’s an option close by. Check out Dune, a Mediterranean bistro, and Proof Bakery, serving up everything from quiche to sweet pastries. If you want a night out with the local crowd, head over to the Griffin to catch local bands or Club Tee Gee, the self-proclaimed “Cheers” of the neighborhood, or Bigfoot Lodge, a Yellowstone-inspired bar. For an outdoor excursion, North Atwater Park is right in the neighborhood, with a baseball diamond, basketball and volleyball courts, and a small playground.

Atwater Village has good access to schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District: Glenfeliz Boulevard and Atwater Avenue Elementary Schools, Thomas Starr King and Joseph Le Conte Middle Schools, and John Marshall and Helen Bernstein Senior High Schools.

Silver Lake

Bordered by the 101 to the south and the 5 to the north, Silver Lake is one of the hippest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. According to niche.com, 33,596 residents call this area home.

The median household income in Silver Lake is $75,024. If you’re looking to purchase property here, you’ll likely want to be making much more than that, though. Redfin.com reports the average sale price of homes in June 2019, was $1.21M. The median rent is also higher than other neighborhoods in the city, coming in at just over $1,500 per month.

While it might cost you to make Silver Lake your new home, you won’t regret it. The ethnic food scene is varied and plentiful. Same Same Thai, a wine bar featuring family recipes; Pine & Crane, serving up small Taiwanese plates; and Freedman’s, a local Jewish Deli are just a few places to try. While Sunset Blvd is the main thoroughfare—you can take it Downtown to avoid freeway traffic—Silver Lake Blvd winds through the area, along the Silver Lake Dog Park, the Silver Lake Reservoir.

Silver Lake has access to schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District: Micheltorena Street and Mayberry Street Elementary Schools, Thomas Starr King and Virgil Middle Schools, and John Marshall and Belmont Senior High Schools.

Los Feliz

Los Feliz sits between Hollywood and Sunset Blvd, Griffith Park to the south and north, and Hyperion Ave to the east. According to niche.com, this neighborhood is home to 33,325 of Los Angeles’ residents.

The median household income in Los Feliz is pretty average for the city, coming in at $75,813. The property values trend higher than in other neighborhoods. According to redfin.com, the average sale price for a home in June 2019, was $1.61M. Renting might be an option for those on tighter budgets, with the median monthly rent price of $1,414.

If you’re out for a night in the neighborhood, you’ll likely find yourself on either Hillhurst or Vermont Avenues. Shops, restaurants, and bars line these two streets. You’ll want to check out The Best Fish Taco in Ensenada for some cheap, tasty grub; Trattoria Farfalla for old-world Italian cuisine; and Messhall, serving up $1 oysters on Tuesdays. Before you head to Griffith Park, LA’s largest, be sure to stop into Skylight Books, the neighborhood’s independent bookstore, so you can stretch out and spend an afternoon under the sun with a book. The entire family will enjoy a visit to the Griffith Park Observatory and Planetarium, plus the Los Angeles Zoo is not only amazing for its animal collection, but also for its year-round activities and events.

Los Feliz has access to schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District: Franklin Avenue and Ivanhoe Elementary Schools, John Le Conte and Virgil Middle Schools, and John Marshall and Helen Bernstein Senior High Schools.

Koreatown

Koreatown is between 3rd St and Olympic Blvd to the north and south, and Vermont and S Western Ave to the east and west. Some 122,461 of Los Angeles’ residents call this neighborhood home, according to niche.com.

The median household income comes in significantly lower than other neighborhoods in the city, sitting just below $40,000. Matching this trend, the average sale price of homes sold in Koreatown in June 2019, is $650,000, according to redfin.com. For those looking to move to Los Angeles on a tight budget, this is likely a good neighborhood to check out rental properties, with a median rent of $1,159 per month.

Since the 1960s, Korean immigrants have been moving to this area, drawn by the relatively cheap real estate. There is a deep history here, mainly surrounding the LA Riots that took place in 1992. Because of this, K-Town is a tight-knit community. You’ll find no shortage of authentic cuisine, as the area is home to the largest Korean population outside of Korea. Check out Park’s BBQ, Soowoon Galbi, and Beverly Soon Tofu. Catch a show at the Wiltern, one of LA’s premier indoor concert venues, or head anywhere else in the city—the central location provides good access to anywhere you’ll want to go.

Koreatown has access to schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District: Hobart Boulevard and Los Angeles Elementary Schools, Berendo and Virgil Middle Schools, and Harold McAlister and West Adams Preparatory Senior High Schools.

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