14 Things to Know Before Moving to Los Angeles, CA
Considering moving to Los Angeles? The entertainment capital of the world has tons to offer. Embrace your west coast dreams with city living, gorgeous beaches, museums, and a perfect year-round climate in Los Angeles, California.
Moving to Los Angeles brings incredible career and lifestyle opportunities, as well as tons of urban amenities. There's also the bonus of palm trees, sunshine, and distant mountains that transport you into a laid-back, vacation state-of-mind.
Ready to head west? Before packing up and moving to the City of Angels, there's a lot to know.
1. What's it Like Living in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles is seriously big. With a population of nearly 4 million, Los Angeles is teeming with people. There are plenty of people to meet and places to go, which is why LA remains a popular choice among renters.
Although population growth has cooled off over the years, LA's economy is booming. In fact, the city alone boasts one of the world's largest city economies, just behind Tokyo and New York City. Whether you're an aspiring actor or tech enthusiast, the job opportunities are endless in LA.
With beautiful weather in this sprawling city, there's clearly plenty to see and do. Spend your weekends at one of LA's bustling beach towns or explore one of the many museums in the city. It's clear to see why many are drawn to living in Los Angeles. If you're thinking about moving to LA, here's what you should know.
2. Cost of Living in California
With the many perks of Los Angeles, residing here comes at a higher cost of living than in most countries. The trade-offs may be worth it depending on your lifestyle preferences and desire for incredible weather. Although the area is notoriously expensive, you can still score a Los Angeles rent special.
Median rents around Los Angeles are $1,511 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,982 for a two-bedroom. That's above the national average of $1,101 for a two-bedroom. However, rents are less expensive than areas like New York City and comparable to other urban cities.
You want to make sure you have the salary to enjoy Los Angeles' nightlife and culture scene. If you're not sure what your salary should be to live in Los Angeles comfortably, you should consider following the 30% rule. The rule stipulates you should only spend 30% or less of your gross income on rent.
If you're paying $1,511 for a one-bedroom, you should earn at least $5,040 a month before taxes. Of course, sharing an apartment with a few roommates will cut costs.
Learn more about the cost of living in Los Angeles.
3. Who's Moving to Los Angeles?
According to our migration report, renters in Riverside, New York, and San Francisco are all considering moving to Los Angeles. Current Los Angelians are thinking about staying local-ish. They’re searching for apartments in Riverside, Phoenix, and San Diego.
4. Los Angeles Job Market and Economy
Los Angeles enjoys various industries to work in. However, the market and economy can change quickly. The creative class rules with jobs in the entertainment sector, museums, theaters, fashion, and like-minded sectors.
It can be challenging to pin down the exact numbers in Los Angeles' job market because so many Angelenos work various odd jobs or are entrepreneurial at heart. Having a side hustle in LA is one way to build your dreams, whether it's to make it big as an actor, fashion designer, or start-up founder. In a city renowned for its entertainment industry, locals aren't bound by conventional work schedules.
The entertainment industry reigns when it comes to living in Los Angeles. However, there's more going on than just film and television studios.
Tourism employs nearly half a million people in the LA metro area. That makes the city a fun place to explore and work. Aerospace, technology, and fashion are also big players in Los Angeles.
Locals enjoy a robust and diverse job market. So if entertainment isn't your thing, Los Angeles also represents the manufacturing, business, and hospitality industry. The unemployment rate in Los Angeles is relatively low at about 4.2%.
In a city where the entertainment industry sprawls across the metro, living in Los Angeles is all about who you know. Your network is essential, from who you work with to who you hang out with.
Foster your connections wisely and make time to savor friendships in a town with a reputation for being flaky. Whether it's traffic or the gorgeous weather, expect to have a backup plan when dating or planning outings with friends.
5. Public Transportation in LA
It's not a myth or overblown hype. Traffic in LA is horrible. For those who've never been to the city, it's probably worse than you imagine.
Rush hour in the morning is between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. It picks up again in the evening from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Traffic proves cumbersome even on weekends in and out of Downtown LA or Hollywood. Freeways are often packed regardless of the day or time.
Load up on audiobooks, podcasts, and your favorite music, and make the most of your time in the car. It's crucial to try to find an apartment that's as close to work as possible.
Los Angeles is a hardcore driving city, and it's tough to live in it without wheels of your own. This city was built with cars in mind, and it shows.
Los Angeles' walk score is 67, with a transit score of 53 and a bike score of 55. Lyft and Uber are options. However, you'll still battle the very real traffic problem in LA whether you're behind the wheel or in a rideshare.
But, if you really want to live car-free in LA, it is possible, especially if you're working remotely or with a flexible schedule that avoids peak commute times. Look for apartments in neighborhoods like Hollywood, Koreatown, and Santa Monica, where it's easier to get around on foot, bike, or LA's public transportation service.
Interested in finding an apartment in Santa Monica, read our blog on the steps to apartment hunting in Santa Monica!
6. The Weather in Los Angeles
As you've probably heard, the weather in LA is pretty spectacular. Newcomers move here for the near year-round sunshine. With average temperatures in the high 60s during winter months and 70s during the summer, it's hard to compete with Los Angeles.
7. Exploring the Outdoors in LA
Living in Los Angeles' gorgeous year-round weather opens a world of possibilities for exploring.
Griffith Park reigns as Los Angeles' most significant public green space. It has some breathtaking city views. Take a walk through the park, get lost in the tranquility, take a horseback ride, or visit the LA Zoo.
Get to know the locals and browse for fresh produce at the same time at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market. Taste samples of fresh fruit and veggies while filling up your shopping bag with avocados, an LA staple. Then, pack up your fresh produce for a picnic at El Matador Beach for sunset hues dancing across rocky outcroppings.
Over at the nearby Eaton Canyon, locals quickly hike on easy trails out to a waterfall and back. If you don't want to stray that far from the urban grind, walk the Venice Canals near the Venice Boardwalk across pedestrian bridges and tree-lined streets.
Movie theaters and showings are a pretty big deal in LA. With the gorgeous weather, you might as well watch outdoors! Check out Moonlight Movies on the Beach at Cherry Beach, the Rooftop Cinema Club, and Silver Lake Picture Show for an unforgettable movie experience.
8. The Museum & Arts Scene in LA
It's no secret that Los Angeles museums are top-of-the-line. However, their arts scene doesn't seem to trend on the mainstream radar. Los Angeles offers over 100 museums that rival those of New York City and Chicago.
Take a break from the sunshine and head to the Getty Museum, National History Museum, Griffith Observatory, Japanese American National Museum, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, the Broad, and countless others.
Add LACMA to your must-see museum list for a stunning urban light installation. You’ll also find a collection of over 135,000 works of Western US art.
The city even boasts its own Arts District with colorful street art and distinctive architectural design. For contemporary art, put The Broad on your list and peruse 120,000-square-feet of canvases, sculptures, and other artwork.
But locals know the secret. Many SoCal museums are free with your LA library card, including the Craft Contemporary and Chinese American Museum.
For a quirky stop, there's even a Museum of Selfies (you heard that right). Grab your selfie stick and build out a library of Instagram pictures you can use throughout the year if you're into that kind of thing.
But wait, it gets better. There's also a Museum of Broken Relationships. This museum is dedicated to individuals sharing their break-up stories. Los Angeles has it all, for better or worse.
9. Food and Nightlife Scene in Los Angeles
As one of the best food cities in the world, living in Los Angeles means endless culinary possibilities. Start with a breakfast burrito from Yarrow or feast on Thai delicacies at Sapp Coffee Shop.
For a trendy restaurant experience, savor the food at Nightshade in the Arts District or Burgers Never Stay Die in Silver Lake. For cocktails and snacks, try Mikkeller for a dizzying tap system with local and international brews.
Over at Musso & Frank, sip on gin martinis before heading to dinner at Vespertine for an exceptional dining experience. If you want a one-stop-shop for various cuisines, you can't go wrong with Grand Central Market.
There's also a dizzying amount of nightlife options scattered across Los Angeles. With so many nightclubs hosting various DJs and events, it's hard to go wrong at any spot. Savor the poolside views over cocktails at The Rooftop Biergarten at the Standard, or Skybar's lively crowd.
Venture out around Downtown's nearby neighborhoods like Silver Lake, Los Feliz, and Hollywood, where it seems all paths lead to bars and craft cocktails. Gather with your new neighbors at Villains Tavern, sample the whiskeys at Seven Grand, or listen to indie rock at The Echo.
Find your favorite hot spots after moving to Los Angeles, but don't be too heartbroken if they close up shop. There's always something new opening in LA's trendiest neighborhoods to keep the locals coming back for more.
It's tempting to think LA is a lot like New York City, but the City of Angels actually sleeps. Most bars in Los Angeles close at 2 a.m. However, there always seems to be a "4 a.m. bar bill" in the works.
10. Retail Therapy in Los Angeles
Like the city's nightlife scene, shopping in Los Angeles yields endless options from upscale to vintage finds. Visit some of the best shops in town to stock up your wardrobe or furniture for your new Los Angeles apartment.
If you're not sure where to start after moving to Los Angeles, take a walk through your new neighborhood to get a feel for its unique retail spirit. Or, venture out to some of the city's best retail hubs, like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Downtown Santa Monica, or The Grove.
After an afternoon of retail therapy, stick around and enjoy dinner at one of the hubs' restaurants. A perfect way to spend a Saturday!
11. Choose Your Los Angeles Neighborhood Wisely
LA residents will all say where you choose to live is a big deal. And, they'll all have different takes on which neighborhoods are best.
Choosing an area near work can dramatically decrease your commute time. It’ll also allow for more free time and perhaps a better quality of life. On the other hand, living in the middle of the action can help you access a rewarding personal life.
With it's massive size, Los Angeles has plenty of neighborhoods to choose from. Downtown Los Angeles will put you in the heart of the city. Santa Monica and Venice Beach will provide oceanfront living and a thriving tech scene. Neighborhoods like Sherman Oaks will give you the proximity to LA hotspots in a more quiet, family-friendly location.
Learn more about the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles in our in-depth guide.
12. Sports in Los Angeles
Los Angeles has plenty of room for die-hard sports fans who want a winning home team to root for.
Basketball reigns in LA with the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, and Sparks heating up the court. Baseball fans cheer on the Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels, and fall brings football season with the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams.
If Hockey is more your speed, check out the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. For soccer fans, two MLS teams make the city home in the LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC. Be sure to tune into their famed matchup, El Tráfico.
13. Top Universities in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a prime location for higher education. Whether you want to attend UCLA or work at CalTech, you have your choices. Here are some of the local colleges and universities to consider:
- University of Southern California
- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
- California Institute of Technology
- Loyola Marymount University
- California State University
- Los Angeles City College
14. Day Trips Around Los Angeles
Living in Los Angeles comes with a more relaxed vibe than similarly-sized cities. However, it can still feel like a fast-paced grind without a getaway.
Window shop along Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, explore Joshua Tree National Park, or head to the picturesque beaches of San Diego. A boat trip to Santa Catalina Island or walking through Laguna Beach's downtown are fantastic ways to spend a day.
Finding Your Los Angeles Apartment
Interested in finding an apartment in Los Angeles? Los Angeles lives up to its well-earned reputation as a thriving metropolis with a robust economy, gorgeous weather, and endless amenities and entertainment options to choose from. Moving to Los Angeles and ready to start a brand new chapter? Register with Apartment List today to find the perfect apartment for you!