If there’s one thing that makes it tough to live in California, it’s the property values. Home prices up and down the coast soar into the seven figures, for square footage that would be half the cost in other states. But Long Beach will be a great place to get your west-coast journey started. Even though there are neighborhoods like Belmont Shores where homes are over half a million dollars, there are also hip neighborhoods where smaller budgets can carve out a niche in this desirable coastal town.
Twenty-two miles south of Los Angeles, or a 45-minute drive—traffic permitting—Long Beach sits right on the beautiful Pacific coast. With Joshua Tree, Yosemite, and Death Valley National Parks half a day’s driving distance, moving here will put you in proximity not only to urban beach life but to countless natural havens. Driving through town on your way home from a day on the beach, a hike, or from work, you’ll find any cuisine you can imagine: authentic Mexican, Thai, Mediterranean, and everything in between. The laid back SoCal beach lifestyle is what everyone wants—all you need to do is make the move.
Living in Long Beach, CA: What to Know Before Moving to Long Beach
If you want to make your move to Long Beach the best it can be, you’ll want to know some important details about the area. You’ll want to consider practical things about your new life, as well as have a ready-to-go list of things to explore so you can make the most out of living the California dream. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect in your future hometown:
Pros and Cons of Living in Long Beach
- Weather – Southern California is home to one of the most desirable climates in the US. Throughout the year, highs fluctuate from the mid-60s in the winter to the high-80s to low-90s in the summer.
- Diverse Culture – Long Beach is home to a large population of Mexican, Cambodian, and many other immigrant groups. They bring along their culture, and you’ll be sure to find great authentic cuisine plus learn a bit about their fascinating traditions.
- The Beach – Long Beach has 5 1/2 miles of coastline, and is within driving distance of other SoCal beaches, like Huntington Beach, home of the world surfing championship, and Malibu.
- Entertainment – You’ll have unlimited Los Angeles entertainment at your disposal just a short drive away. Whether you want to find your favorite celeb, peek into a red carpet event, or catch a show at the Greek Theatre or Hollywood Bowl, there are endless options.
- Inclusive and LGBTQ Friendly – A drive across town will make this clear. You’ll see plenty of Pride flags, as well as rainbow painted crosswalks on Broadway. Long Beach is home to many gay and lesbian bars and clubs—be sure to check out the Falcon and Sweetwater Saloon.
- Restaurants and Shops – After all, Long Beach is on the coast. What would a beach town be without charming boutiques and plenty of restaurants? Whether you’re after a pint with dinner or a white tablecloth affair, you’ll find it here.
- Traffic – If you’re lucky enough to find work in Long Beach or just a short drive away, you can avoid the dreadful traffic. But, many jobs in the area will likely require a commute north to LA or south to Orange County on the 405, and be assured, there’s no worse rush hour.
- Living Expenses – Unlike most of Los Angeles County, you can find relatively affordable, though small, rent, and housing options. Other expenses, like gas and other car-related costs, are higher than you’re likely to see in other states.
- Lack of Seasons – SoCal weather is constant. You won’t see snow in Long Beach, and outside of a few weeks of rain, some overcast skies, and a morning spritz, you’ll be under the sun more days than not.
- Public Transportation – Unlike metropolitan areas of similar size elsewhere in the country, Southern California is behind when it comes to public transportation options. But Long Beach does have a free tram, access to extensive bus service, and light rail that runs north to Downtown LA.
- Parking – When you’re house or apartment hunting, it might be worth it to make parking a must-have. Street parking in Long Beach is notoriously difficult. If you’re getting home much after 5 pm, you’ll likely be circling for a while until you find a spot.
For the most part, you’re likely to see higher taxes across the board in Long Beach. You’ll pay less in property tax than the national average, though. The city has an average property tax rate of 0.79%, according to smartasset.com, which is significantly lower than the US average rate of 1.21%.
That’s about where lower taxes end. The city enforces a total sales tax rate of 10.25%, which includes the California state rate, Los Angeles county rate, and the city rate. This rate is significantly higher than the average US sales tax rate of 7.3%. You’re also likely to pay more in state income tax. According to taxfoundation.org, California is home to the highest top income tax rate in the country—that means if you’re in the top tax bracket, you’ll pay more in state income tax than anywhere else. Lower tax brackets will pay lower rates, and Long Beach doesn’t collect local tax, so if you’re not bringing in a large salary, your total withholding will be competitive to other states.
Much like the rest of California, Long Beach housing options are likely to be pretty pricey. According to bestplaces.net, the median home cost is $582,000. While 55.6% of residents are renters, if you’re looking to purchase a house in the city, you’ll want to have some cash set aside for a down payment. On the bright side, chances are if you’re considering a move to Southern California, this median price might seem lower compared to surrounding areas, like cities closer to Los Angeles and those in Orange County.
If you’re looking to rent once you get to town, some options can fit a smaller budget. According to rentcafe.com, the median price of a one-bedroom apartment is $1,983. While this is still above the national average, there are more affordable rental options if you know where to look. Neighborhoods like East Arts Village or 4th Street Corridor will be sure to have a few rentals below the median rent.
Cost of Living
Unsurprisingly, the cost of living in Long Beach is substantially higher than the national average. According to the epi.org, it costs one adult roughly $3,600 per month to live in the Los Angeles/Long Beach area. Because this estimate includes residents of Los Angeles proper, depending on your budgeting skills, you can likely reduce that cost in Long Beach.
To give you an idea of current residents’ financial situation, the average median household income is just over $60,000, as reported by datausa.io. It’s safe to say if you’re looking to head to the California coast, and want to live comfortably; you’ll need a substantial source of income.
Weather & Natural Disasters
The weather in Long Beach—and SoCal in general—is probably one of the biggest draws for prospective residents. For a good reason, too. Most of the year will see high temperatures in the 70s, which tend to cool down in the evening for comfortable nights. There isn’t too much variation by season, though the deep winter months will likely yield some rain—just over 12″ annually— and late spring tends to be overcast—you might hear about “June Gloom.”
Especially in past years, wildfires have ravaged Southern California. If you make Long Beach your home, you’ll likely be out of danger, due to proximity to the coast and how developed the surrounding areas are. Other natural disaster threats are droughts, earthquakes, and their residual effects.
Economy & Job Market
While it may be expensive to live in Long Beach—or anywhere in SoCal for that matter—you can rest assured there is likely an industry in the area to fit your job skills. Long Beach is home to large industries, and according to bestplaces.net, has seen 0.7% job growth over the past year. Now might be the best time to make your move, as bestplaces predicts future job growth of over 32% over the next ten years.
Are you looking for a job within Long Beach city limits? Check out this list of top employers, courtesy of the Long Beach Civil Service Commission. You’ll find local opportunities in education, aerospace, telecommunications, healthcare, tech, and more.
If you’re willing to commute to work, your options will open up immensely. Los Angeles and Orange County are business hubs and home to just about every industry—entertainment, financial services, construction management, tourism—you name it. A search on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or Indeed for Long Beach, Greater Los Angeles Area, or Orange County jobs will be sure to yield plenty of job opportunities, no matter your interests or career level.
The Port of Long Beach is one of the busiest container ports in the world. Long Beach extracts a significant amount of oil both on and off-shore. These industries and their associated businesses also create a wide diversity of employment opportunities.
Traffic and Transportation
You’ve probably heard of the major highway servicing Long Beach. The 405 is notorious for daily, and almost daylong traffic jams in both north and southbound directions. They tend to be so bad because surface streets are the only other option for daily commuting, and these streets get tangled with traffic too. So, unless you’re lucky enough to find a gig within the city, get your favorite podcasts queued up. You’ll undoubtedly be sitting in traffic on your way to work, no matter which direction you’re heading.
Metro light rail and bus systems provide public transportation to the Greater Los Angeles Area. The Blue Line runs from Downtown LA to Downtown Long Beach and is an option for those heading north for work. Be aware that this line is a local service—it stops very frequently between end destinations. The light rail connects to Union Station where users can connect to Metrolink or Amtrak. Metrolink can take you all to regions throughout urban southern California.
Within Long Beach proper, depending on where you find your new home, walking and biking will be an option. With a Walk Score of 70 and 64 Bike Score, you’ll likely find yourself skipping short, traffic-filled drives when you want to explore local places or run your errands.
For transportation that’s focused on fun, head down to the Long Beach Cruise Terminal, home to Carnival Cruise Lines, or if you’re ready for a flight anywhere in the world, Long Beach is just 20 miles south of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
What to Do
For lovers of all things outdoors, Long Beach is the perfect place to live. The beach is just a short drive or walks from whichever neighborhood you decide to call home. Locals love to sail in the bay, swim, surf, beach comb, bike, skate, and stroll. If you’re in the mood for a get-away drive, you can easily be in many of California’s State and National Parks within just a few hours. Joshua Tree, Sequoia, Death Valley, and Yosemite are all worth exploring.
The city also has great local entertainment options, like the Long Beach Aquarium and the Pike Outlet Mall. A day on the town can end on the Downtown Promenade, home to several restaurant options. Check out Beachwood for BBQ and a beer, or the Federal Bar for contemporary American fare. If you want a unique SoCal experience, head to the Naples neighborhood where you can be serenaded on a gondola as you glide through lovely canals. For a grander sea-oriented experience, be sure to check out the permanently docked Queen Mary.
There are plenty of options to take large groups or the family out, too. You’ll have great access to all Los Angeles sports teams—the Rams, Dodgers, Kings, Lakers, and Clippers—to watch your new hometown team in action. The Long Beach State Dirtbags, Cal State University Long Beach’s local baseball team, take to the diamond right in town, so you can skip the traffic and catch a ballgame during the season. Once a year, Long Beach hosts the Grand Prix—the longest running street race in North America. It’s a must-see event, even if formula racing isn’t your thing.
Last, but not least, Disneyland is located just 25 minutes east, in Anaheim. With the California weather, you can find yourself and your family enjoying the happiest place on earth year-round.
Schools and Universities
The Long Beach Unified School District serves over 70,000 students and receives an above average rating, according to niche.com. There are plenty of educational options for all grade levels within the city. The district ranks among the top 50 most diverse student bodies and best school districts for athletes in California.
For those looking to pursue higher education close to home, California State University at Long Beach, and Long Beach City College, a public community college, are located in the heart of the city. Living in Long Beach also provides access to other top universities within a 30-mile radius like the University of Southern California, The University of California Los Angeles, and the University of California, Irvine.
While the state of California comes in below the national average for crime, Long Beach ranks above in both violent and property crime, according to bestplaces.net. The amount of crime you experience will likely be dictated by which neighborhood you call home, so this might be a factor in choosing where to land.
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 Long Beach. You can turn on service right from their homepage.
- Gas, Water, and Trash: The City of Long Beach makes it easy to manage your gas, water, sewer, and trash utility services, all on the city website. You can register for service and pay your bills all in one convenient location.
- Internet/Cable: Frontier Communications and Spectrum are two major providers in the area. To check available rates and packages for your new home, search for your address on the services’ websites.
Best Neighborhoods in Long Beach, CA
East Arts Village
The East Arts Village is located just east of downtown, between Long Beach Blvd and Alamitos Ave to the east and west, and Ocean Blvd and 10th St to the north and south. Many of the housing options include small craftsman cottages. There are a few apartment buildings too, for those who prefer renting.
According to niche.com, almost 11,000 people call the East Arts Village home. It is one of the more affordable places in the city to live, with a median home value at just under $275,000. For those looking to rent, the average monthly cost hovers just below the median for the city at $1983. There will be some cheaper housing options, too, if you’re willing to sacrifice the space of a single-family property. The median household income in the neighborhood is just over $55,000.
As with most neighborhoods in Long Beach, living here puts you just a short drive or walk away from the beach. After a day in the sand, this neighborhood is also home to great options for dining and drinks. For a retro night out, head down the stairs to Blind Donkey, a speakeasy-style bar with craft cocktails, pool, and darts. If brunch is your game, check out the Breakfast Bar, a Long Beach staple for creative takes on classic fare. And when your local go-to joints start to get old, you’ll be right next door to downtown. Be sure to check out the promenade and Pine St for more upscale dining and nightlife.
The neighborhood has access to great schools in the Long Beach Unified School District: Stephenson Elementary School, Franklin and Washington Middle Schools, and Renaissance and Long Beach Polytechnic High Schools.
It comes as no surprise that Downtown Long Beach offers access to the top restaurants, bars, and entertainment in town. You’ll want to look for housing options roughly between 7th St and E Shoreline Dr to the north and south, and Long Beach Blvd and W Shoreline Dr to the east and west.
Over 13,000 residents live in this area, according to niche.com. Houses will run a little higher here, with a median value of $314,389. You will be able to find cheaper rent options, though, especially in multi-unit properties. The median rent price Downtown is just over $1,000. The reported median household income is $53,441.
Living in this area puts you in proximity to just about anything you might want to do in town. The Pike Movie Theater, as well as the Pike Outlets, the Long Beach Aquarium, and Shoreline Village—a marina home to restaurants and shops—will all be in your back yard. There’s a well-kept beach path that runs from Shoreline Village down the length of Long Beach’s coastline. After a day on the town, you can grab a drink at The Stave, or a craft pizza from Michael’s, both located on the promenade.
The neighborhood has access to a handful of schools in the Long Beach Unified School District: Edison and Chavez Elementary Schools, Franklin and Washington Middle Schools, and Renaissance High School.
4th Street Corridor (Retro Row)
4th Street is one of the most eclectic strips in Long Beach. Located between Hermosa Ave and Junipero Ave, and the surrounding cross streets, this neighborhood is in a prime spot of town. With a local, weekly farmers’ market just blocks away, unique boutiques and shops, Portfolio Coffeehouse, and a few restaurants to boot, you’ll want to check this spot out. You can start here at the neighborhood’s website.
4th street is a subset of the Alamitos beach neighborhood, which is home to over 15,000 residents, according to niche.com. Property value trends higher than other neighborhoods in this area, with a median home value just under $350,000, and median rent at $1,249 per month. The median household income is $56,181, which is pretty standard for the city.
If you’re looking for a tight-knit and creative community, this is the perfect location. Just four blocks from the beach, you’ll be in the center of your oasis. Go for a stroll and check vintage shops like The Hangout, Far Outfit, and Retroda, Third Eye Records, and fourth Friday of every month Pop-Ups. Local watering holes include 4th Street Vine, hosting live music; The Social List, putting out creative craft cocktails; and Pike, one of Long Beach’s coolest dive bars—and they have great food, too. If you’re after a more mellow evening, catch a film at the Art Theatre of Long Beach, a restored 1920s theater screening independent films.
Living here puts you in proximity to great schools in the Long Beach Unified School District: Burbank and Lincoln Elementary Schools, Franklin Middle School, and Renaissance and Long Beach Polytechnic High Schools.
When you think of a California beach town, you’re likely picturing something like Belmont Shore. A walkable neighborhood right between the ocean and Alamitos Bay, you won’t regret making this your new home. The main thoroughfares in this area are Ocean Blvd and 2nd St, which hosts arguably the most attractive strip of beach cottages, homes, condos, and apartments in all of Long Beach.
A more exclusive neighborhood, just under 9,000 call Belmont Shore home, according to niche.com. Not surprising based on the prime, largely residential location, median home value is well above the city average, coming in at just over $600,000. Average monthly rent is relatively high, too, at $1,530. The median household income is substantially higher than other neighborhoods, hovering just over $80,000.
The homes in Belmont Shore are idyllic and, despite the tightly packed residential layout, many have outdoor living space. If you’re able to afford to live here, it’s sure to be a great move. Just a short walk to the northern edge of this area will lead to 2nd street, where you can have your pick of all different types of cuisine: Open Sesame features authentic Lebanese, Nick’s on 2nd serves up high-end American comfort food, and Riley’s and Simmzy’s serve up pints with pub fare. There’re plenty more bars to hop, and shopping to do — all within a stone’s throw of your new home.
The area has access to a handful of schools in the Long Beach Unified School District: Naples and Lowell Elementary Schools, Rodgers Middle School, and Wilson High School.
The Circle Area is a neighborhood located around the main traffic circle serving the city. The circle is an intersection for main thoroughfares like the Pacific Coast Highway and Los Coyotes Diagonal. While this might seem like a less than ideal landmark—and the traffic around here can be fairly heavy—there are affordable housing options. This location also has good access to the 405 for those commuting to other cities outside of Long Beach.
This area is fairly residential, and niche.com reports the population at just under 9,000. The houses here are more spread out than in other neighborhoods, and still, manage a moderate median value of $346,566. Those looking to rent will see an average cost per month of $1,744, though this number is likely inflated a bit due to the majority of rental options being single-family homes. If you’re willing to sacrifice space, you might be able to find an apartment to fit a lower budget. The median household income is just under $60,000.
Due to the proximity to the highway and its residential nature, this area is home to a couple of strip malls which will give residents good access to chain food spots, shopping options, some independent businesses, and grocery stores. Check out The Crooked Duck, a neighborhood café and bar, or Iguana Kelley’s, a local sports bar with plenty of brews and pool tables.
The Circle Area has access to schools in the Long Beach Unified School District: Bryant and Willard Elementary Schools, Jefferson Middle School, and Browning and Wilson High Schools.
North Long Beach
North Long Beach is a large neighborhood located mostly to the west of the 710 and south of the 91 freeways. If you’re planning to find work in Los Angeles or other areas north of Long Beach, living in this location could shorten your commute time significantly.
According to niche.com, North Long Beach is home to over 110,000 people. The area is largely residential, and 45% of the residents own their homes. This ownership ratio is likely due to the median home value coming in relatively low, at just over $310,000. Renters will most likely be able to find affordable options, too, as the median rent is $1,203 per month. The median household income in North Long Beach is also lower than in other neighborhoods in the city at $52,878.
The neighborhood doesn’t have much in the way of nightlife but is home to two parks, Deforest Park and Houghton Park. It is also conveniently located just west of Lakewood, a neighboring city of Long Beach, which is home to the Lakewood Center, a mall featuring shops like JC Penny, Target, and more. The Virginia Country Club is just south of the neighborhood for those who enjoy a day on the links.
Due to its size, North Long Beach has access to many schools in the Long Beach Unified School District: Addams, Grant, Harte, King, McKinley, and Pooley Elementary Schools; Hamilton, Lindbergh, and Lindsey Middle Schools; and Jordan High School.
Bixby Knolls is towards the northern end of Long Beach. The neighborhood centers on the crossing of its two main roadways: E San Antonio Dr and Orange Ave. This location is highly sought after by Long Beach residents—you might want to check it out, too.
Just under 13,000 of Long Beach’s residents live in Bixby Knolls, according to niche.com. The typical resident tends to do fairly well financially, with a median household income of over $70,000. You’ll likely want to have a larger budget if you plan to purchase property here, as the median home value is substantially higher than other areas in the city at $531,566. If you’re looking to rent, you’ll likely be able to find some more affordable options—the median rent cost per month is just under $1,100.
The neighborhood is home to several parks. For those who are after some green space, you’ll have to check out Bixby Park, Scherer Park, and Cherry Avenue Park. After a stroll in the California sun, make your way down San Antonio to the Long Beach Creamery—a local chain serving up funky and delicious flavors of handcrafted ice cream. Just on the edge of the neighborhood, you’ll find SteelCraft, an outdoor collection of local eateries and communal seating area, perfect for a night out with family or friends.
Bixby Knolls has good access to schools in the Long Beach Unified School District: Barton and Los Cerritos Elementary Schools, Hughes Middle School, and Jordan High School.
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We hope this guide to living in Long Beach will help make your move a smooth one. All that’s left now is figuring out the best way to get there. Start by requesting free quotes for moving services from Great Guys Moving. We only work with licensed and insured companies that we’ve fully vetted.