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How to Find an Apartment in Los Angeles, CA 2021

By: Susan Finch
May 24, 2021

Moving to Los Angeles brings sunny weather, a booming entertainment industry, and plenty of nightlife and fashion. You can live out the lifestyle of your dreams, enjoying celebrity neighbor sightings and hipster neighborhoods with trendy micropubs just down the street.

You can figure out how to find an apartment in Los Angeles on your own or use our guide to find the best place to suit your budget and needs.

Here's what to do to find the best neighborhood and apartment amenities in Los Angeles.

1. How to Find the Best Los Angeles Neighborhood

It's not unusual to see celebrities, career climbers, and students making the most of LA. The City of Angels is teeming with a variety of lifestyle options. Whether you want to live beachside or in a trendy enclave outside of Downtown, you can find it in LA.

Santa Monica

This polished seaside city and namesake pier boast gourmet restaurants, shops, and farmer's markets. Waterfront views come at a higher price tag in Santa Monica, but your celebrity neighbors don't seem to mind.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach attracts singles and young couples in their 20s and 30s with enough income to live beachside. Organic and healthy eateries are the norm. This Los Angeles neighborhood is also a dog lover's dream.

Westwood/Century City

Century City is a business-focused neighborhood that is quiet at night. It's mostly a ghost town after hours. Westwood is next door with restaurants and bars.

Culver City

Culver City is regarded as one of the more affordable neighborhoods in Los Angeles. It's a perfect spot if you work in movie and TV production and want to skip the commute.

Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills is a separate city from Los Angeles with a small-town feel. It's also home to some of the priciest rents in the metro area and the infamous Rodeo Drive.

West Hollywood

West Hollywood, sometimes called We-Ho, is one of the cleanest and most stylish areas in Los Angeles. Spend your free time shopping at boutiques and sampling the latest eateries.

Hollywood

Hollywood is a central location that draws newcomers looking for the iconic Los Angeles experience. You're close to restaurants, bars, hiking trails, and entertainment venues.

Silver Lake

The trend-setting Silver Lake neighborhood is full of organic cafes, eclectic boutiques, dive bars, and chilled-out coffee shops. This central location is just 10-15 minutes to both Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood.

Echo Park

Echo Park offers boutiques and vegan eats. There's a gorgeous namesake lake, and you're just around the corner from a game at Dodger Stadium. Music lovers stop at Echo or the Echoplex venues to see musical acts throughout the year.

Los Feliz

The laid-back Los Feliz offers quick access to neighboring Griffith Park. It's a quieter reprieve from the bustle of Los Angeles living.

Wilshire/Midtown

Get some of the best Korean BBQ in Los Angeles around Koreatown, otherwise known as K-town. The trendy neighborhood offers karaoke, speakeasies, and music venues housed in a mix of historic and contemporary buildings. You can find apartments in a wide price range situated along Wilshire Blvd.

Downtown

The heart of the city lies in Downtown Los Angeles. Locals walk to get their errands done, all within range of the Orpheum Theater, Broad Museum, and quaint eateries. You'll also find plenty of rooftop bars and parties with stunning views.

Now that you're in the know about Los Angeles neighborhoods, finding your dream apartment should feel within reach. It's a city full of ambition, opportunity, and recreation, ready for the taking. Get ready to venture out and find your corner to call your own in the City of Angels.

2. How Much Are Apartments in Los Angeles?

Are you ready to make a move to Los Angeles? Before you start apartment hunting, learn about the local rental market in LA.

Average Rent in Los Angeles

Los Angeles rents have increased by 1.33% compared to last month and are down by 4.95% compared to the same time since last year. Here's more information on how to figure out your budget and what you'll probably pay.

  • 0% of apartments in Los Angeles cost less than $1,000 per month.
  • 19% of apartments in Los Angeles cost between $1,000-$1,999 per month.
  • 41% of apartments in Los Angeles cost between $2,000-$2,999 per month.
  • 40% of apartments in Los Angeles cost over $3,000 per month.

3. How to Find Cheap Apartments In Los Angeles

Los Angeles once boasted a relatively affordable cost of living. The trendiest neighborhoods are seeing major rent increases with the population boom. However, it's still possible to find apartment deals and bargains if you're determined and have some patience. Move-in specials can help lower your overall expenses. You may discover specials during December and January when rentals are usually less competitive.

Remember to consider all of your expenses beyond your rent. Follow a budgeting checklist for all of your apartment essentials like moving costs and utilities.

The farther you get from Downtown and the core of LA, the cheaper your rent will likely be. You'll need to factor in a longer commute time and rush hours. Locals find they need to prioritize rent or location and meet somewhere in the middle to find the best deal. Come prepared with these eight tips for finding a Los Angeles apartment you can afford.

4. What's the Best Time to Find an Apartment in Los Angeles?

What month you move to Los Angeles could make a difference in the rental prices you'll pay in Los Angeles. The seasonality trends show December or January may be a better time to move to Los Angeles. You’ll pay the highest prices during the summer season and face the most competition to score affordable apartments.

  • In recent years, rents in Los Angeles have risen an average of $35 each summer, a 2% price increase, which is an additional $420 in rent annually.
  • In recent years, rents in Los Angeles have dropped an average of $15 each winter, a 1% price drop, which is $180 less in rent annually.

What drives this seasonality?1

More people move during the summer because:

  • Weather doesn’t get in the way
  • School is not in session. Therefore, it’s a convenient time for college graduates and families with children to move

Fewer people move during the winter because:

  • Inclement weather can get in the way
  • Moving can be expensive and winter holidays already consume a lot of discretionary spending

You're almost ready to go out and find the Los Angeles apartment of your dreams. Here's how to get the budget process started.

5. Determine Your Budget

Finding an affordable apartment in Los Angeles is easy with the right approach. Use the 30% rule to find an affordable apartment that won't break your budget.

Here's the idea. Only spend 30% of your pre-taxed monthly take-home pay on rent. The pre-taxed take-home pay is also called your gross income. You can also divide your gross annual salary by 40 to come up with the same number.

Let's say you find a hip Los Angeles apartment for $1,500. Your gross income should hit right around $5,000 a month or about $60,000 a year. You may need to adjust that number if you have student debt or want to split your rent with roommates. You might be able to find a similar apartment in a nearby neighborhood for less.

Take the time to factor in the extra costs involved if you do find your dream LA apartment. Here are just a few of the costs of renting an apartment that people frequently forget.

  • Security Deposit: Your standard security deposit is usually one month's rent. That figure can vary from property to property. Remember, if you take care of your apartment, you should get this back.
  • Pet Fees: Los Angeles is a pet-friendly city that's ready to welcome your furry friends. Prepare to pay additional costs. Most apartment buildings require some form of a pet deposit, pet fees, or pet rent.
  • Parking: Does your apartment’s monthly rent include a reserved parking spot? That’s likely tacked onto your monthly rent.
  • Amenities: Los Angelenos enjoying looking good! You may be able to get rid of your gym membership if your apartment complex offers a gym.

6. Set Your Apartment Priorities

It's normal to compromise on location, space, or amenities when it comes to finding an affordable apartment in Los Angeles. A studio apartment might be perfect if you want to live in your favorite neighborhood, like Silver Lake. Of course, you can live farther out in the greater LA metro area to find more space and cheaper rent. Come ready with music and podcasts. Your commute time will get longer with the additional traffic.

Make a list of what you can do without, what you would like, and what's a deal-breaker for your dream apartment. You'll also need to factor in the essentials like bedroom furniture, a kitchen or dining set-up, and a workspace for yourself. Getting creative and using functional artwork, like decorative shelves, can help save time and money.

7. Consider Your Los Angeles Commute Time

Rush hour is a deceptive expression when you live in Los Angeles. It really lasts three hours, both in the morning and evening. Expect to sit in traffic between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. If you can afford it, look for apartments in neighborhoods where you also work and play.

Some neighborhoods in LA are more walkable than others. You can walk out the door in Downtown Los Angeles, go to work, hit the pubs, and rely on ride shares instead of driving. However, it's tough to make the most of LA without your own set of wheels.

Overall, Los Angeles has a walk score of 68. In addition to Downtown, MacArthur Park and Central Hollywood are also walkable Los Angeles neighborhoods. The bike score in Los Angeles ranges in the 50s.

The LA Metro offers local, rapid, express, and bus rapid transit throughout the metro area. Using public transportation exclusively is a commitment, but could be the perfect option if you already live in a walkable neighborhood.

8. Prepare for Apartment Tours

You've got the rundown of everything you need to rent your next Los Angeles apartment. It's time to start your search, tour, and apply! Visit the apartment in person before signing a lease and talk to the property management or landlord to get a feel for the situation. It will be easier to make a sound decision when you have all of the information available.

You should also have a few essential questions to ask before renting an apartment. Look over the list and prepare thoroughly before your next apartment tour.

The earlier you can apply, the better. Bring your cash, credit cards, or a checkbook to pay for the application on hand. Have your ID, proof of income, and a few references ready. Landlord references are also preferred. You can also use personal references if you don't have a rental history. If you're new to renting, get familiar with the apartment application process.

9. Applying for Your Los Angeles Apartment

Los Angeles apartments are plentiful but go on and off the market quickly. You'll need to act fast during peak renting season if you find a great deal. Always come to all of your tours prepared to fill out an application. You should expect to pay a non-refundable application fee. If possible, call ahead to the broker or landlord to inquire about necessary documentation for the application. Some people you speak to may require specific documents and want everything in hand to accept your application.

10. Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

Unfortunately, rental scams are an issue in just about every major city. According to a report by Apartment List, 46.7% of Los Angeles renters have encountered fraudulent apartment listings, while 2.2% of those have lost money due to rental scams. Remember to stay vigilant and follow these tips for avoiding rental scams.

Using Apartment List to Find Your Los Angeles Apartment

Ready to move to Los Angeles? Apartment List is here to help you find your dream home.

If you're interested in Santa Monica, read our blog on how to find an apartment in Santa Monica.

Here’s how it works: First, we get to know you. You’ll answer a few simple questions and we’ll find the best matches – just for you. Then, we mix and match your personalized results, making it easy to discover places with the perfect combination of price, location and amenities.


  1. These estimates rely on data from January 2017 to February 2021. Starting March 2021, price changes break dramatically from seasonal norms as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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AUTHOR
Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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