Moving to Los Angeles sure sounds dreamy. Home to Hollywood, when living in Los Angeles, you’ll see more stars walking down the street than shining up in the sky. The city gives you space to dream – live sheltered in the valley, on the slopes of a hill or on the beach-front. But there’s a lot of thinking to be done before you pack those bags to head to Hollywood. In a city with a wealth gap as wide as the 500 miles it covers, you want to be on the upper end of the pole. Read up about the good and bad about moving to Los Angeles to figure out whether this is a good choice for you.
What Should I Know Before Moving To Los Angeles?
Los Angeles, colloquially known as LA, has an estimated 2020 population of 4,015,940. This makes it the largest city in the state of California and the second largest city in the United States. Los Angeles is big not just in terms of numbers, but also in terms of size: it stretches across 503 miles, with a population density of 8,564 people per square mile.
Most famously, LA is home to the neighborhood of Hollywood, undoubtedly the most characteristic aspect of the city. But due to the vast span of land it covers, it gives you quite the range when picking out the kind of home you envision for yourself. Los Angeles has a fair bit of everything, from the sea level Venice to Mount Lukens that rests 1,550 meters above sea level.
LA began as a tiny village all the way back in 1781, and after a series of annexations over many years, has become this sprawling diverse metropolis today. The city came to be known as the City Of Angels by the Spanish that moved in, taking over the land from the Native Americans. Today, the City of Angels has been a muse to directors and singers alike, and first attracted the filmmakers due to its sprawling land and clear skies.
One thing to be wary of are earthquakes. The entire California region is located such that there are a number of mild to moderate earthquakes each year, most of which aren’t even felt by the locals. But just so you get an idea of what to expect: earthquake preparedness has to be second nature, and your house must have an earthquake supply kit in case a big one hits.
Apart from this, Los Angeles is an adventurous city if any. Finally, in terms of a local tip, make sure you thoroughly read all the parking signs before you park and leave your car; they’re extensive, and the fine for breaking them is hefty.
Crime Rate in Los Angeles
For a city this large with a significant number of residents living lavishly, the crime rate in Los Angeles is comparatively good. The comparison of violent crime rates per 1,000 residents is 7.6, only slightly higher than the national median of 4. Similarly, the rate of property crimes per 1,000 residents is 25.78, while the national median is 14. Overall, at 33 crimes per 1,000 residents, it isn’t exactly safe, but it definitely is far from being a dangerous, crime-riddled city.
Los Angeles Weather
You can expect that sun to keep shining when living in LA for over 70% of the year. Los Angeles’ climate is Mediterranean, and the relatively moderate climate experienced throughout the year is what attracts a lot of people here. While the absence of long, overcast days is great, the danger of brush fire is an annual phenomenon. Summer in LA is when the fires are at their worst; though you can expect a few showers of rain, they aren’t enough to dissipate the dry heat. July and August are two of the hottest months, with temperatures that can reach as high as 85°F.
Winter in LA means mild temperatures that hover between 40°F and 65 °F, with occasional heavy downpours of rain. January tends to get a lot more rain than the other months. However, due to its geographical location and the presence of winds like El Nino and Santa Ana can bring about storms or dry, hot weather. If you want snow, head to the mountains and other regions of high altitude, as snow is not common in the valleys in Los Angeles.
Of course, how you experience the weather in LA depends on where you live. As those in the valley neighborhoods will have the moderate climate, while those on the hills and the coast will experience more of the chill. Los Angeles deals with a hazy smog that settles over the lowest parts of the valley, which means anyone with asthma or other sensitivities to low air quality must take this into consideration when deciding where to live.
How Expensive Is It To Live In Los Angeles CA?
The big question. Of course, most of these figures will depend on the job you have and the kind of salary you earn, along with which neighborhood of Los Angeles you live in and how much you spend each month. Nevertheless, it always helps to have an idea of things when crunching numbers and creating a rough budget. Keep in mind that all of this is above the 12.3% state income tax you’ll have to pay when living anywhere in California
Cost Of Living In Los Angeles
A family of 4 living in Los Angeles would need to shell out an average of $3,826.92 per month, while a single person in the City of Angels would spend around $1,056.46 on monthly expenses. The average cost of living in LA is 43% higher than the national average, but considering the city in question, we aren’t surprised.
Groceries in LA cost 12% higher than the national average. A loaf of bread and a bunch of bananas in LA cost around the same: between $3.70 and $3.80. A gallon of milk is $2.17, and a carton of eggs is $2.03.
Healthcare is a little better, costing 10% higher than national average figures. A visit to the doc will cost $121.67 and to the optometrist will cost $114. Similarly, you would have to set aside $104.53 when visiting a dentist, and $54.97 for each time you visit a vet.
Buying A House
Hold your breath for this one, as housing prices in LA are a whopping 127% higher than national average prices, and the median household price is $788,384. Zillow puts the typical home value of houses in Los Angeles at $788,122.
Renting A House
Rent prices in LA reflect the trend of being on the higher side, with the average monthly rental rate being $2,375. A mere 28% of the properties in LA are rented out for between $1,500 and $2,000 a month, while over 59% are rented for over $2,000.
Renting a house in Los Angeles has the benefit of rent control. Landlords owning apartments that are covered by the rent control ordinance are only allowed to raise their rent between 3 and 8 percent annually. 40% of the households in LA are renter-occupied; while still a slightly low figure, it is proof enough that renting a house in LA is a viable choice.
Utilities are a little easier on the wallet, as they are only 8% higher than the national average. Your energy bill for a month could average around $180.74, while your monthly phone bill can come to around $192.66. Travelling by car is a big option for most Angelenos, but this may seem costly as gas is $3.42 a gallon. In terms of water bills, things don’t get any easier, as the price could very well go above $100 for some.
Los Angeles Economy And Employment Opportunities
Yes, you can move to Los Angeles to pursue that acting career and make your mama proud. But in the meantime, take a gander at the other opportunities that await. And don’t be surprised to find out that acting isn’t one of the top careers here. Although, The Walt Disney Company is one of the region’s biggest employers, with employees who earn from $52k to $145k. Joining Disney is the University of Southern California, Google and the Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Software and mechanical engineers are two of the highest paying roles in LA, as are marketing managers and project managers. Manufacturing, tech, and craft and fashion industries are big in Los Angeles. The ‘gig’ or ‘side hustle’ culture is big in Los Angeles; people work several jobs at a time to help pay the clearly steep bills. Several jobs are also created by app-based services like deliveries and ride sharing services. Overall, the average yearly salary for those living in Los Angeles is $76k.
Los Angeles has a range of great schools and universities making it a good city for families. Some of the top-notch charter schools in the region include Granada Hills Charter High and High Tech Los Angeles. Zoning rules dictate that children must attend a school close to their home, so this should be a deciding factor when choosing a neighborhood to live in. This also helps your kids interact with other children from the neighborhood.
Los Angeles also has magnet schools for students gifted in specific areas like the arts, sciences or languages. There’s also a range of great universities to be found in LA, some of which have the best paying jobs in the region. Los Angeles also supports the LA Community College District that has 9 campuses in the city.
Getting Around Los Angeles
A city as large as Los Angeles needs a good public transportation system, and the one in LA doesn’t disappoint. Los Angeles is serviced by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, commonly known as Metro. Metro operates a vast transit system network that includes light rail, bus and subway services.
The Metro has its own app to show you schedules, fares and track your bus or train in real-time. Residents can use TAP, a reloadable tap card to pay fares, valid across 25 transit agencies in Los Angeles County. Paying your fare with TAP includes 2 hours of unlimited transfers going in one direction on the Metro rail and bus.
Additionally, there’s a winding route of ribboned freeways connecting the neighborhoods. Though the freeways have names, locals refer to them by number, accurately demonstrated in the Saturday Night Live skit, “the Californians”. You can also use ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft in LA. Los Angeles International Airport, better known as LAX, ensures you have connectivity to the rest of the world.
Traversing between neighborhoods in Los Angeles is made simple with the help of the Metro Rail. There are 6 rail lines with a total of 93 stations that take you from one destination to the next in LA. The lines intersect at various stations so you have an easy time switching lines. What makes it easier is how they also intersect with the routes of the Metro buses. We recommend checking out their website for a better understanding of the routes and the schedules. A one-way ticket is $1.75, while a one-day pass is $7 and a 7 day pass is $25.
Over 165 bus routes crawl across Los Angeles County, and the price is the same as that of the Rail ticket. Orange buses are the local buses, stopping every two blocks. Red buses are rapid buses, stopping only at major intersections. Blue express buses, though slightly more expensive, travel down freeways and cover longer distances. Finally, there’s the G Line and the J Line which are bus rapid transit lines (BRT). These have their own dedicated busways, completely escaping the LA traffic that holds everyone up.
The City of Los Angeles Transportation (LADOT) operates the second-largest fleet of buses in Los Angeles county called DASH. Services are provided in downtown LA as well as 27 other neighborhoods. The routes are conveniently intersected with other regional transit services and local routes. The fee is 50 cents per ride, and 25 cents for the disabled and elderly.
You can purchase a pass and download the Metro Bikes app to ride around LA on a bike. Your phone shows you the nearest Metro Bike docking station and unlocks the bike for you, There’s also the option for you to choose between a classic, smart and electric bike.
Best Neighborhoods In Los Angeles
Writer and poet Dorthy Parker once described Los Angeles as “seventy-two suburbs in search of a city.” This couldn’t be truer, as there are over 400 neighborhoods in LA and each feels distinct and unique. Although, it sure does get confusing as to when one starts and the other ends. So do make sure you take out some time to visit ideal neighborhoods to get a feel of the place.
1. San Fernando Valley
The San Fernando Valley is better known as just ‘the Valley’ and is a great place for those who like their share of activity. Be warned, the Valley experiences the bulk of the summer heat and temperatures can reach as high as the 90s or above. But for those who like to bask away summer days and fill the nights with experiences, the Valley is perfect. Museums and a great affordable selection of eateries dominate the scene, alongside good public transportation. The average value of homes in the Valley is $548,525.
Located in the Westside region of Los Angeles, Venice is known for exactly what you think it is: canals. Venice was initially an independent city, founded in 1905 as a seaside resort town. The canals were dug by developers in order to improve drainage. Today, it is known for its eclectic vibe, a beach, and the 2.5 mile Ocean Front Walk promenade. One that often features artists, vendors and enchanting performances. The average home value in Venice is $2,093,155.
3. Santa Monica
Santa Monica has seen a recent tech boost, and is now part of the region called “Silicon Beach”. Even so, its libraries, restaurants and 100-year-old pier remain good for families. There’s a number of schools to pick from, and the pier has an aquarium, an amusement park and other endless entertainment options for the kids to have a blast. Accessibility to the beach and the mountains makes it perfect for nature lovers. The average home value in Santa Monica is $1,737,504.
Is Moving To Los Angeles A Good Idea?
Moving to Los Angeles certainly requires some thought and research. There’s a few things that will make your life in LA so much easier, like choosing the perfect neighborhood. One with a good school that is near your workplace is ideal, since LA traffic gets pretty bad.
Though there’s always the public transportation system, those without a car will soon find that Los Angeles isn’t the easiest to navigate without a vehicle of your own, if your distances aren’t convenient. Life in LA is expensive, and those with a well-paying job will undeniably find it easier to relocate to LA.
But with the moderate weather, there’s never a wrong time to go outdoors and enjoy some camping, swimming and other activities. Since the city is vast, there’s a good chance of getting a place that has its own space and isn’t cramped up next to other houses in a row. Overall, though it comes at a steep price, life in LA is enjoyable and moving to Los Angeles is definitely worth the thought.