"A walk in the sand on a golden beach / a gentle wind skims the ocean waves / another sunset, a southern exposure / cruising the coast, idyllic days / we call it Long Beach." (official song of Long Beach) Read Guide >
As we’ve already mentioned, location is very important in Long Beach. The city has five major areas that are vastly different from one another but since Long Beach has such easily accessible freeways, commuting to work isn’t that bad, no matter where you live. As a general rule of thumb, give yourself an hour to get from one end of Long Beach to the other during rush hour; your travel time should only be twenty minutes during off-peak times. Make sure that your work and apartment have designated parking areas though, because finding a street-parking spot anywhere in Long Beach can add hours to your commute, especially in the summer. Also, don’t plan on swimming much in Long Beach. The city is a major port, so the water is a bit grimy. Luckily, Long Beach is a great walking town, so walking along the beach can be a fun part of your workout, with no parking or swimming required.
Long Beach is known for being home to a lot of musicians, be they rappers like Snoop Dogg, or ska-masters like Sublime. Because of the prominent music culture of Long Beach, we’ve named the five major areas of Long Beach after Snoop Dogg and Sublime songs.
Long Beach has two east side areas that are commonly confused, much like Tanqueray is commonly confused with good gin. Eastside is actually the central portion of the city, whereas East Long Beach is the geographic east side of the city.
The Eastside is located south of Interstate 405, between the Los Angeles River and Ximeno Ave, and includes Downtown. Though the Eastside is generally known to have problems with overcrowding, homelessness, drug abuse, gang violence and prostitution (is that all?), certain Eastside neighborhoods are charming as long as you’re city savvy. We recommend Retro Row, a highly walkable historic area filled with vintage clothing, bookstores and antiques; historic and lovely Rose Park; and coastal Bixby Park, a unique, community-minded urban village with a great nightlife and a large LGBTQ population. As a general rule, a 1BR apartment anywhere in the Eastside will be an affordable $800, but if you’re looking to spend more you could sip your gin and juice in a 1BR high-rise apartment in Downtown for $1400, or try nearby Belmont Heights, a parrot-filled, young and highly educated area where you can rent a 1BR house for $1150. The neighborhoods in the Eastside are highly varied, but you can expect that the closer you get to downtown, the less you’ll be seeing nuclear families and the more you’ll be seeing single young people and gay couples. If you must live in the Eastside with your family, consider Bixby Knolls. This affluent, educated, diverse and cultured area (read: no Tanqueray) lies just north of the Eastside, and is very kid-friendly. Those Mom’s Clubs are going to cost you though: a 2BR house in Bixby Knolls will run $1300+.
Southeast Long Beach is located further east than the Eastside, stretching along the coastline south of Interstate 405. This area tends to be expensive and pedestrian-friendly, but, like much of Long Beach along the coast, this area holds more young single people and gay couples than families. If bootylicious dance moves are what you got, a 1BR in the party-filled area around CSU Long Beach will be your dream for $900. If you’re more of an outdoors-y early riser, you’ll feel at home in gorgeous Belmont Shore where you can stroll to a large variety of water sports and awesome stores every single day. A 2BR house with an ocean view in Belmont Shore will show off that what you got is a lot, and will run you a cool $2000 or more. If you’ve already graduated and are looking to be surrounded by young, fun, highly educated single people, you might want to consider Alamitos Heights where a 1BR apartment will cost you $1100. If you can never be close enough to the beach, a 1BR beachside cottage in gorgeous Peninsula or Naples will cost you $1500, and if you live in Naples, you can take a gondola ride home. Warning: because this area is upscale, there tends to be a lot of theft, so make sure that one thing you got is a good security system in your rental.
So you just left the church and you’re looking to grow your family in a palace? This is the place for you. East Long Beach is a mainly suburban area that fills the northeast quadrant of Long Beach (past the Eastside), and is bordered by the airport, the town of Lakewood, Interstate 605, and Interstate 405. This middle-class area tends to be very family friendly and community-oriented, and the palaces here are pricey. A 3BR in this area will cost about $2000, but this area is known to be extremely safe with good schools. For a palatial and gorgeous home at about the same price, we recommend the lovely Lakewood Village neighborhood.
The Westside of Long Beach is a working-class neighborhood located west of the Los Angeles River, south of Interstate 405, and north of Anaheim Street. This neighborhood is one of the poorest in Long Beach, and it has heavy gang activity, theft, and a high rate of violent crime. Locals agree that avoiding the Westside is both easy to do and highly recommended, so we’ll steer you away from renting here. The one thing the Westside has going for it is the really affordable rent. It might seem like a steal to pay $600 for a 1BR in this area, but like those half-price gold rings being sold from a blanket on the corner of the street, it’s probably not worth it.
Northtown is a working-class neighborhood in the northwest corner of Long Beach, which skims the beautiful Bixby Knolls neighborhood to the south. We’re all about full disclosure, so we’ll tell you right now that Northtown is the closest that a Long Beach local can get to Compton. However, the other side of Northtown borders Lakewood (read: this area is seriously diverse). Just like the Amazon, Northtown is a difficult area to classify (is it dangerous, beautiful, or bizarre?), and the fiercely independent and insular Northtowners don’t help to answer any questions. If you’re an urban explorer and want to challenge yourself by carving out your own path, try Northtown. Rent varies just as much as the people here, but renting a 2BR house for $1000 is something you can count on.
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