Just about everything about San Francisco is easy to love – everything except those housing prices that are among the highest in the nation. In Los Angeles, housing costs are 50% cheaper than in San Francisco, plus your food and health costs will be lower too. An additional perk is that, at about 380 miles south of San Francisco, Los Angeles has warmer weather – even the ocean temperatures are almost 10 degrees warmer.

But before you leave your heart in San Francisco, make sure the move is right for you and check out some critical comparisons between the two cities.

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What to Know About Moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles

Housing and Cost of Living

A home in Los Angeles will cost half of what you pay in San Francisco. The median home price in San Francisco is $1,378,300 compared to $689,500 in LA. Rent is cheaper too. A one-bedroom in LA runs $1,545 compared to $2,470 in San Francisco.

Although your utility costs will be about the same in both cities, you’ll pay about 12% less for food and groceries in LA, and about 11% less for health costs.

Taxes

As a California resident, you’re already familiar with state income tax, but your Los Angeles sales and property taxes will be a bit higher.

At 9.5%, sales tax is about 1% higher than your San Francisco sales tax of 8.5%.

Property tax in LA is also slightly higher at an average rate of 0.755%. San Francisco homeowners pay an average property tax rate of 0.649%. If you buy an LA home valued at $700,000, you’ll pay $5,285 in annual property taxes.

Economy and Job Growth

LA and San Francisco both have strong, diverse economies based on many of the same industrial sectors, such as tech, finance, international trade, and education. One significant distinction is that LA’s entertainment and media industries employ one in every six LA residents.

You’ll find job growth is more robust in San Francisco than in LA. In 2019, jobs saw 1.3% growth in San Francisco, contrasted to LA’s 0.7%. LA job growth is forecast to be 34.6% in the next ten years, while growth in San Francisco is predicted to be stronger at 39.1%.

Transportation and Traffic

You’ll likely commute by car in Los Angeles, just like the other 69% of Angelinos who drive. Only 10% take public transit. Whether in your own auto, by bus, or light rail, count on 31 minutes for your average one-way trip to and from work. Even if you have to pay a little more for housing that’s close to work, the expense can be a worthwhile tradeoff to save commuting stress, time, and transit costs. 

Maybe you don’t even own a car in San Francisco, where getting around the city is a lot easier than in sprawling, spread out LA. With light rail and busses, public transit seems sufficient in the center of LA,  but it doesn’t serve those who live in one corner of the city and work in another. 

Weather and Climate

Some like it hot – and LA’s summer temps tend to be about 20 degrees warmer than in San Francisco. Your July high averages 67 °F in San Francisco, but in LA, get ready for average highs of 84, and even hotter temps in the mid to upper 90s as you go inland, away from the coast.

LA has pretty ideal winter temperatures with average January highs of about 70 °F – about ten degrees warmer than the average San Francisco January high. 

Also, Los Angeles will feel drier and sunnier. Only 15 inches of rain falls annually compared to 25 inches in San Francisco. Late summer and fall usually bring Santa Ana winds that blow in from the desert, raising the already high temps and putting communities in the foothills on alert for wildfires.

Crime Rates

Moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles will provide you with lower crime rates. LA property crime, at 35, is significantly lower than San Francisco’s 79. Violent crime in Los Angeles is rated 29 and 40 in San Francisco.

Pockets of high crime exist in any big city, and Los Angeles is no exception. It’s a good idea to review online crime maps to get an understanding of the crime rates in the neighborhoods considering. Some of the safest areas, if you can afford them, include West Hollywood, Glendale, Marina Del Ray, and Beverly Hills.

Culture, Diversity, and Demographics

Los Angeles is the nation’s second-largest city with a population of about 4,000,000 people (and 13.1 million in the greater metro area). Even with four times San Francisco’s population, LA gives you less density and more space. Los Angeles covers over 469 square miles, which brings the density to 8,428 people for every square mile. San Francisco, with 864,300 residents, covers 47 square miles, bringing the density up to about 18,442 people per square mile. The higher density in SF helps explain the higher housing costs.

You’ll notice that the proportion of ethnicities is slightly different between LA and San Francisco. Los Angeles is 49% Hispanic, 28% White, 12% Asian, and 9% African American. San Francisco, by comparison, is 41% White, 34% Asian, 15% Hispanic, and 5% African American.

Geography

Even though the two cities are just under 400 miles apart and sit on the Pacific Ocean, their geographical makeup is strikingly different. San Francisco is renowned for its steep streets that connect the 40 or so hills throughout the city. Los Angeles has some hilly regions, like in the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Griffith Park, and the foothill communities, but in general, the vast landmass sits in a basin that appears generally flat.

Although the Pacific Ocean forms the western border of both cities, San Francisco is located on a peninsula, surrounded by water on three sides. LA has a deep water port, one of the biggest and busiest on the west coast; San Francisco’s port is protected well inside of San Francisco Bay.

The ocean takes on a totally different tone from north to south – the water is almost 10 degrees warmer in Los Angeles. You’ll see residents and tourists playing on the beaches and wearing shorts and sandals year-round. 

Things to Do

LA is an entertainment mecca, so as you might imagine that means you won’t run out of fun things to do. Between pro sports, culture (will over 100 museums keep you busy in your spare time?), and recreation, your dance card can be full 365 days of the year. 

The Pacific plays a big part in the LA recreation scene. You’ll find locals swimming, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, or sunning every month of the year. One unique feature that many LA residents adore is the proximity to Southern California’s deserts. Joshua Tree, Mojave, and Palm Springs offer everything from wilderness camping to high-end shopping and dining.

If you love sailing and boating in San Francisco Bay, no need to sell your boat – sail her down to So Cal. Marina del Rey has 22 anchorages and over 4600 slips, plus it’s a popular location for seaside dining and special waterfront events. And don’t forget – Catalina Island, a renowned playground, is just 26 miles across the sea from Los Angeles.

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Best Neighborhoods in Los Angeles

If you’re considering moving to Los Angeles from San Francisco, you’ll be able to choose from 114 neighborhoods and find one that meets your lifestyle dreams. Here’s a summary of seven of the best.

West Hollywood

About 80% of the 37,660 West Hollywood residents rent their homes. Housing consists mainly of single-family bungalows built in the 1920s, condos, or vintage apartment buildings. Hip, locally owned businesses, clubs, bars, restaurants, and boutiques are just some of the amenities you’ll find among West Hollywood’s palm tree-lined streets. Click here for more details about West Hollywood

Downtown

Downtown is essentially where it all started, and now about 64,300 people live in this bustling part of LA that houses major cultural venues. Surrounded by all the major freeways, Downtown may offer a convenient commute depending on your workplace location. The majority of residents rent, and you’ll most commonly find homes in multi-family apartment buildings and condos. Here’s where you can find out more about Downtown.

Highland Park

Since the late 1800s, Highland Park has slowly grown into the ethnically diverse, hip, and happening neighborhood it is today. About 62,500 people enjoy the cool cafes, coffee houses, clubs, and locally owned businesses throughout the community and especially along Figueroa Street. If you’re a Dodgers fan, Highland Park puts you just an 11-minute (6-mile) tram ride from Dodger Stadium and Chinatown. Check out more Highland Park features here.

Atwater Village

Talk about hip and happening – Atwater Village is a hipster haven but also appeals to families and professionals who love the urban vibe. The variety of dining and shopping is fantastic, and with I-5 running along the western border, you can quickly hop on the freeway for your commute. Housing is pricey with homes well over $1,000,000, but lots of rentals are available for those preferring a lease. Ready to learn more about Atwater Village?

Silver Lake

Full of charming tree-lined streets with classic California vintage homes, Silver Lake is a wonderful place to live if you want to live near I-5 and 101 freeway access and Downtown. Convenience and charm do come with a price tag. Homes price average over $1,000,000 in this family-friendly neighborhood of about 33,600 residents. Fantastic restaurants, shopping, parks, and the popular 2.2-mile Silver Lake trail provide a variety of amenities that make Silver Lake a special place to call home. Learn more about Silver Lake here.

Los Feliz

Located right by the expansive Griffith Park, Los Feliz is a beautiful established “Old Los Angeles” neighborhood that has a combination of tranquil vibe amid cool restaurants, cafes, and shopping. About 33,330 people live in Los Feliz where, north of Los Feliz Blvd, the winding tree-lined streets curve up into the hills. Housing consists of high-end single-family homes, bungalows, condos, and apartments. Here are more details about Los Feliz.

Koreatown

A vast neighborhood, Koreatown, is home to about 122,460 ethnically diverse residents. Still expensive by average US figures, Koreatown is where you can find more affordable Los Angeles housing. Homes average $650,000, and the median rent price is $1,160. Just four miles west of Downtown, every amenity is available and convenient. Find out more about Koreatown here.


Cost of Moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles

On average, it costs about $1800-$2200 to move from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff about 382 miles down the coast. 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 San Francisco to LA movers now!

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Patricia McBratney

Between working as a clinical educational therapist and flipping houses, Patty’s lifelong love of horses found her riding the remote... Read More