Has Chicago lost its luster? Are you looking to trade in your snow shovel and winter gear for gorgeous weather, beach fun, and limitless options? Whether you’re looking to escape the freezing winters or Midwestern malaise, moving from Chicago to Los Angeles opens up a world of amazing opportunities! 

A Mediterranean climate, sandy beaches, health-conscious living, a robust job market (including the entertainment industry), and wide diversity in everything – L.A. is a place for dreamers and doers. The City of Angels is waiting with open arms, but before you leave for its warm embrace, be sure to study up on the following key points to ensure a seamless transition.

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What to Know About Moving from Chicago to Los Angeles

With over 2,000 miles in travel, moving to Los Angeles from Chicago is no simple feat. Here are the major highlights, from housing to education, to help you prepare for your LA relocation.

Taxes

Curious about how much you’ll have to hand over in taxes? Ranked among cities with the highest taxation, Los Angeles currently has a total sales tax rate of 9.5% (7.25% state + 2.25% local). The SoCal city also commands a total top income tax rate of 13.3%. That’s quite a chunk of change. Chicago does have a higher sales tax rate of 10.25%, but the Windy City’s total top income tax rate is much lower at 4.95%.

Considering buying a home in LA? Despite the high purchase price (more on that below), the average county tax rate is a breath of fresh air at just 0.755%. Chicago, on the other hand, has a rate of 2.117%. 

Economy and Job Growth

Dubbed the Entertainment Capital of the World, La-La Land opens up a dynamic world to dreamers and doers alike. But glitz & glamor isn’t all it offers in terms of career opportunities. Tech, education, international trade, and financial services are among the other thriving industries in the metro area.

In 2019, Lost Angeles saw a job market increase of 0.7%. Chicago, unfortunately, had a job market decrease of 0.2%. And when it comes to future job growth, it’s more of the same news. While L.A. is projected to see 34.6% of growth over ten years, Chi-Town is only expected to have a growth rate of 25.7%. For more context, the US average is 33.5%.

Weather and Climate

We’re pretty confident this is one of the top reasons you want to move here. With a Mediterranean climate that offers year-round sunshine (and no snow), it’s easy to see why weather draws so many people to this metropolis. Leaving behind the heavy snow and chilly wind of Chicago shouldn’t be too hard when you have that fantastic SoCal weather waiting for you!

In Los Angeles, you’ll be spoiled by a winter low of 46°F, summer high of 84°F, 16 inches of rain, zero snowfall (yay!), and 284 days of glorious sunshine. If that sounds more appealing than Chicago’s frigid wintertime and dismal 189 sunny days, then you should be more than happy in LA.

Geography

Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and south and mountains to the east and north, the City of Los Angeles offers a diverse set of geographical features and outdoor activities. It lies on a hilly coastal plain, stretching to the fabled foothills of Santa Monica Mountains to the north and San Gabriel Mountains to the east. Love beach living? Los Angeles County is home to about 75 miles of coastline, from Long Beach to Malibu. There are also many valleys and canyons, which lead to various micro-climates. Chicago, as you most likely already know, sits along Lake Michigan on a flat glacial plain.

Housing and Cost of Living

If you’re not familiar with the high costs of living in LA, you might want to brace yourself. The cost of living index in LA – this consists of things like groceries, utilities, housing – is currently 173.3. That’s more than 73% higher than the US average. Chicago’s cost of living is much more reasonable, with an index of 106.9. Yeah, our mouth is wide open, too. The silver lining is that it’s still much cheaper to live in Los Angeles than in a city like San Francisco, which has an astronomical cost of living index of 269.3!

As for housing prices, the City of Angels has a median list price of $859,000. That’s quite a jump from the $329,000 median price tag you find in Chicago. If you’re a renter, you’ll need to be prepared to pay more, a lot more. LA has a median rent price of $3,500, while Chi-Town is under $1,800 per month.

Things to Do

It’s a safe bet you’ll never get bored in Los Angeles! How could you? Between 75 miles of stunning coastline, the Hollywood Sign, and outdoor adventures in the San Gabriel Mountains, there’s an infinite list of diversions, activities, and prime destinations to keep you amused for a very long time.

Are you looking for the ultimate tourist spot in LA? Nothing gets more iconic than the free-spirited beach community of Venice Beach. If science is more your thing, the California Science Center offers interactive exhibits and innovative inventions. Grand Central Market is another top pick, located in the downtown area. It’s home to numerous vendors to satiate all your culinary needs. And, of course, Disneyland is only about 30 minutes southeast of Los Angeles.

Educational Opportunities

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the second-largest district in the United States. It serves more than 600,000 K–12 students. Due to the sheer size of the city, education quality can vary quite a bit. L.A. does offer some of the finest private schools, however, which include Harvard-Westlake School (#2 in CA) and Marlborough School (#10 in CA). GreatSchools is an excellent resource for school ratings.

Are you looking for post-secondary options? Los Angeles certainly doesn’t disappoint. It’s home to some of the best colleges & universities not only in CA but the entire country, including the California Institute of Technology and UCLA, #12 and #20 national universities, respectively. You’ll also find a host of public and private institutions that offer acclaimed programs in everything from film to fashion design to medicine.

Culture, Diversity, and Demographics

Consistently ranked among the top cities, both Los Angeles and Chicago offer culturally diverse landscapes. Both towns also land in the Top 10 for racial diversity. Los Angeles is 67% White, 48.9% Hispanic, 15.6% Asian, 11.2% Black, and about 1% indigenous American. Chicago is 56.6% White, 32.5% Black, 28.7% Hispanic, 7.4% Asian, and less than 1% indigenous American. 

Crime Rates

Home to approximately 4 million residents, Los Angeles, has relatively low crime rates for a major metro area. The city currently has a violent crime index of 29.1 and a property crime index of 35.1. Chicago, often counted among the most dangerous cities in the US, has a violent crime index of 49.9 and a property crime index of 46.3. For more comparison, the national average is 22.7 for violent crime and 35.4 for property crime. Overall, L.A. offers much better public safety compared to Chicago.

Food

Simply put, Los Angeles is a dream destination for foodies. And even if you’re not a connoisseur, you’ll never get bored with the limitless selection! Boasting delicious dishes from all around the globe, you can find pretty much anything you can think of to eat (and then some). 

Like Japanese food? There’s a whole district called Little Tokyo, as well as famous sushi spots like Nobu and Sugarfish. Got an appetite for carne asada and burritos? Los Angeles is well-known for its Mexican restaurants and food trucks, including Cielito Lindo and the El Chato Taco Truck. Into smoothies? Be sure to visit Moon Juice, Pressed Juicery, and Clover Juice. These are the best smoothie spots in the city!

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Best Neighborhoods in Los Angeles

Home to more than 160 neighborhoods, Los Angeles, offers the perfect place to call home for everyone from ambitious industry professionals to those wanting to enjoy their golden years in the sun.

Atwater Village

Home to about 14,000, Atwater Village offers a cozy lifestyle as one of the smallest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. But don’t let its size full you. The prime location puts you in proximity to a wide selection of fantastic dining and shopping options. One downside: the intimate setting comes with a hefty price tag. Find out more about Atwater Village here.

Downtown

Want to be in the center of the action? Home to numerous condos and high rises, you’ll feel more of a high-end urban vibe here. And if you’re into entertainment, this is the spot to be! There’s Staples Center, Walt Disney Center, Japanese American National Museum, and Grand Central Market, to name just a few. Discover what else the downtown area has to offer here.

Highland Park

Highland Park, situated in the northeastern portion of LA, is one of the oldest subdivisions in the city. Hilly and offering relatively short commutes to Downtown, this community possesses a decidedly LA hipster feel. There are plenty of established restaurants and shops, along with family-friendly playgrounds like York Park. Get more info on this popular neighborhood here.

Koreatown

Even though it has the highest concentration of Koreans outside of the country of Korea, this neighborhood is comprised of 53% Hispanic & Latino, making it a multiethnic haven for its more than 122,000 residents. Along with delicious & authentic cuisine, this close-knit community offers affordable housing (at about half the cost of Los Feliz, for instance). Delve into more detail here.

Los Feliz

Home to 53 miles of trails, Griffith Observatory, and a highly walkable business district, this captivating neighborhood is found east of Hollywood. Prepare for sticker shock: the average price for a home in Los Feliz is a jaw-dropping $1.5 million. Silver lining? Rent is much more manageable at about $1,500 per month. Check out more about this charming neighborhood here.

Silver Lake

Are you looking for one of the city’s coolest communities? Hip and highly diverse, Silver Lake is a highly sought-after neighborhood that is home to a trendy assortment of cafes, boutiques, and an ethnic culinary scene. The fabled Sunset Blvd can also be found here, as well as Silver Lake Dog Park and Silver Lake Reservoir. Learn more about this one of the hippest neighborhoods in LA here.

West Hollywood

Known as the city’s LGBTQ capital, West Hollywood offers entertainment galore. First, there’s a short walk to the Sunset Strip for dancefloors and delicious drinks. Next, there’s the Comedy Store for a bunch of hearty laughs. If you’re into live music, the Troubadour is an absolute must. Also referred to as WeHo, the neighborhood is highly desirable and affluent. Get more details here.


Cost of Moving from Chicago to Los Angeles

On average, it costs about $3000-$4000 to move from Chicago to L.A. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff about 2,015 miles across the country. The total cost of your move will depend on several variables, including your origin and destination zip codes, the time of year you’re moving, the size of your household, and which services you require. The best way to get an accurate estimate is by scheduling an in-home or virtual (no contact) walkthrough with a licensed and insured interstate mover. Get free moving quotes from the best Chicago to LA movers now!

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Devin Barroga

Ever been bitten by the wanderlust bug? It's a powerful force, one which has captivated Devin for his entire life.... Read More