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Moving to Los Angeles: Everything You Need to Know [Guide]

By: Justin Chaplin
August 16, 2019

Living in Los Angeles - Is it for me?

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. 

With a population of nearly 4 million, Los Angeles boasts one of the world's largest city economies after Tokyo and New York. 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.

Moving to Los Angeles brings incredible career and lifestyle opportunities, as well as tons of urban amenities. There’s also the added bonus of palm trees, sunshine and distant mountains that transports 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. 

Los Angeles Quick Facts

With the many perks of Los Angeles, residing here comes at a higher cost of living than most of the country. The trade-offs may be worth it depending on your lifestyle preferences and desire for incredible weather. Here’s how expensive it is to live in Los Angeles, and areas where you can save. 

  • Cost of Living Index - According to the Best Places Cost of Living Index, living in Los Angeles ranks of 195.1 based on a U.S. average of 100. This means that Los Angeles’ cost of living is well over the national average. 
  • Child Care - Depending on the ages of your children and whether you need daycare, nannies, or after school care, Los Angeles residents spend an average of $13,997 for two children, per year.
  • Medical Expenses - Los Angeles locals spend $2,121 on medical expenses for one adult or $6,704 for two working adults and two children. 
  • Living Wage - The Living Wage calculator shows a minimum living wage of $14,36 per hour for one adult. Whereas, $30.72 for two adults and two children is required to live in Los Angeles.
  • Median Rent Prices - Los Angeles’ median rents run $1,369 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,759 for a two-bedroom apartment. Look into finding a roommate to cut down the living expenses. 
  • Median Annual Salary -  The median household income in Los Angeles is $54.432.
  • Utility Costs -  Los Angeles renters can expect to pay $134.67 monthly for electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage based on a 915 sq ft apartment in LA.
  • Grocery Shopping Costs - Depending on your age and location within Los Angeles, annual groceries run $3,573 per year for one adult or $10,529 for two working adults with two children.

8 Things to Know Before Moving to Los Angeles

Alright, before you pack your bags and head the City of Angels, there are some things you need to know. Los Angeles isn't glitz and glam all the time. Here are some crucial things to know before moving to LA.

1. Who Needs a 9 to 5 in Los Angeles?

Spend a few hours in Los Angeles and you’ll notice that the coffee shops, sidewalks, stores, and streets are always crowded. Sure, you can find traditional 9 to 5 gigs in LA, but it’s far from common. In a city renowned for its entertainment industry, locals aren’t bound by conventional work schedules.

2. Los Angeles is More than the Entertainment Industry

The entertainment industry reigns when it comes to living in Los Angeles, but there’s more going on than just film and television studios. Tourism employs nearly half a million people in the LA metro area, making 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.

3. People Aren’t Exaggerating About the Traffic 

It’s not a myth or overblown hype, traffic in LA is laughably bad. 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, and freeways are often packed no matter 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.

4. Locals Embrace the Great Outdoors

For such a thriving urban city, Los Angeles offers a wealth of outdoor beauty and fun. Living in Los Angeles means weekend beach trips to Playa Del Rey, Malibu, and Catalina Island. 

There's always a way to enjoy the view, like horseback tours from Sunset Ranch Hollywood, or a hike to the infamous Hollywood Sign. For a low-key outing with friends or family, pack-up a picnic and head to Grand Park in Downtown LA or Echo Park Lake.

5. World-Class Museums Live in Los Angeles

It’s no secret that Los Angeles museums are top-of-the-line, but 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 Center, National History Museum, Griffith Observatory, Japanese American National Museum, the Broad and countless others. 

But locals know the secret. Many SoCal museums are free with your LA library card, including the Craft Contemporary and Chinese American Museum.

6. Bars Close Early in Los Angeles 

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., although there always seems to be a "4 a.m. bar bill" in the works. Newcomers also find Angelenos are generally earlier to rise and start their day. Whether it’s to take advantage of the climate for morning runs or to battle a.m. traffic, you can count on locals rising with the sun. 

7. Where You Live is a Big Deal

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 a neighborhood near work can dramatically decrease your commute time and allow for more free time and perhaps a better quality of life. Or choose a walkable, funky neighborhood with lots of bars like Koreatown for a lively atmosphere. And over in Silver Lake, savor a trendy lifestyle with amenities to match.

Don’t worry. We’ll go through all the top LA neighborhoods later in this article. 

8. It’s All About Who You Know

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 that has a reputation for being flakey. Whether it’s because of traffic or the gorgeous weather, expect to have a back-up plan when dating or planning outings with friends. 

Try growing your network by being a regular on the LA nightlife scene, join a MeetUp group relating to your interests, get active with Network After Work, and join an LA-based LinkedIn group are a few places to start.

Los Angeles’ Job Market

Los Angeles enjoys a variety of industries to work in, although 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 difficult to pin down the exact numbers in Los Angeles’ job market because so many Angelenos work a variety of 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.

And 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%. However, many underemployed locals are freelancing their way through the gig economy while figuring out how to make it big in the City of Angels. 

Getting Around Los Angeles

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, though 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 with LA’s public transportation service.

Best Neighborhoods in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolis with unique neighborhoods ranging from upscale to funky and laid-back. With each neighborhood offering something different, everyone can find what they’re looking for. Here’s the breakdown of where to live when moving to Los Angeles.

Downtown LA

Apartments abound in Downtown Los Angeles with proximity to some of the world's best restaurants, nightclubs, shopping and more. The neighborhood has seen its evolution from a ghost town of abandoned business buildings and homes to a creative community with refurbished warehouses. Today, Downtown LA is a beacon for modern, urban dwellers looking for upscale amenities. Look for apartment buildings with pools, on-site gyms, city views, and parking to enjoy the best in downtown living.

Hollywood

Situated in Central LA, Hollywood lies near the trendy West Hollywood neighborhood and Hollywood Hills with luxurious homes. Locals mix with the tourists in Hollywood with neighborhood staples like the Chinese Theatre, Dolby Theatre, and Madame Tussauds.

Wilshire Center - Koreatown

Centrally located to Downtown., the Koreatown - Wilshire area features a melting pot of residents in a bustling neighborhood. Step-out to dinner 24-hours a day, hit the clubs, sip on cocktails, or visit a dive bar. Although Koreatown is a trendy place to live, the neighborhood is still home to some of the best Korean barbecue and authentic eats in the country.

Woodland Hills - Warner Center

New developments in the Woodland Hills - Warner Center area attract millennials moving to Los Angeles. Bordering the Santa Monica Mountains, Woodland Hills offers upscale living surrounded by lush, green space. Locals lace up their hiking boots or grab their mountain bikes on weekends or gather at coffee shops, bars, and restaurants to enjoy outdoor dining. 

Marina Del Rey

If you love living on the water or want to spend the weekends sailing, Marina del Rey is the place for you. This neighborhood offers a relaxed atmosphere with convenient proximity to the rest of Los Angeles. Take a stroll down to Venice Beach and window shop or pop into the galleries and pubs along the way. If sailing isn't your thing, you can join the locals for paddle-board lessons and rentals, parasailing and sportfishing.

Beverly Hills

Living in the exclusive neighborhood of Beverly Hills offers a tight-knit community with gorgeous tree-lined streets and greenspace like Beverly Gardens Park. The area is divided among quiet residential homes to tranquil to glitzy. There’s also the Golden Triangle with downtown shopping on Rodeo Drive, a laid-back farmer’s market and nearby museums like LACMA and the Getty Center.

Culver City

Teeming with Hollywood film history, the nearby Culver City area is home to gastropubs, cocktail bars, trendy hotspots. Not to mention the beautiful Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. It’s a cozy, hop and laid-back place to live with convenience to Downtown Los Angeles. Situated just east of Santa Monica, Culver City also features an outdoor mall for upscale or casual shopping and the Helms Bakery complex for photography, fashion, books and more. 

Echo Park

Echo Park earned a reputation as a vibrant and funky neighborhood with a lively nightlife scene. Bordering Downtown Los Angeles, Chinatown, and Silver Lake; Echo Park features indie music venues, food trucks and trendy bars beckoning tourists and locals alike. Echo Park also features green space and outdoor recreation at spots like Echo Park Lake and Elysian Park. Right around the corner, you'll find Dodger Stadium, where you can soak up the sun and enjoy a Dodger's game.

Los Feliz

You would never know Los Feliz was the birthplace of Mickey Mouse, but the neighborhood has a rich history in the entertainment industry. Today, the neighborhood attracts newcomers moving to Los Angeles to its tree-lined streets and a walkable business district. Enjoy restaurants, shops, and proximity to the southern slopes of Griffith Park for laid-back, outdoorsy living with modern charm. 

Silverlake

Once known as a gritty LA neighborhood near Downtown, Silver Lake is touted for its creative spirit and modernist architecture with a close-knit feel. Residents enjoy hiking into the hills for panoramic views and checking out concerts at the Greek Theatre outdoor venue. You’ll also find plenty of awesome nearby restaurants and bars, with downtown LA just a stone’s throw away.

Santa Monica & Venice

Two of the most coveted locations to set-up shop when moving to Los Angeles are Santa Monica and Venice. These areas offer waterfront views and a more relaxed lifestyle without compromising on first-class amenities. Dubbed as "Silicon Beach," the neighborhoods are beach towns at heart. Needless to say, you’ll spend plenty of time outdoors in these parts of town. Join the locals for a cardio workout at the Santa Monica Stairs or take the kids out for a beach day. 

Things to do in Los Angeles

You’ll be hard-pressed to ever run out of things to do after moving to Los Angeles. From nightlife to day trips, Los Angeles offers a unique landscape of culture and relaxing recreation to please your senses. If you are new to the city, here’s what to do first. 

Soak up the Nightlife

There's a dizzying amount of nightlife options scattered across Los Angeles. With so many night clubs hosting various DJ’s and events, it’s hard to go wrong at any spot. In Downtown LA, try Exchange LA or Elevate Lounge, or the Mayan for a Latin-inspired evening. 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. For laid-back fun, order mai tais at the family-owned Tiki-Ti Bar or see some burlesque entertainment at Harvard and Stone.

Find your own 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.

Explore the Museum Scene

Moving to Los Angeles comes with the benefit of a serious museum scene. The city even boasts its own Arts District with colorful street art and phenomenal architectural design. For contemporary art, put The Broad on your list and peruse 120,000-square-feet of canvases, sculptures and other artwork. 

Traditionalists looking for artwork with a view head to the Getty Museum to see Michelangelo, Van Gogh and a permanent collection of European and American Art. The outdoor Garden Terrace is like its own work of art where locals never tire of seeing stunning views of LA. Add LACMA to your must-see museum list for a stunning urban light installation, along with a collection of over 135,000 works of Western U.S. art. 

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles features gems and minerals, a dinosaur hall and artwork highlighting the history of LA. 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. 

There are over 100 eclectic museums in Los Angeles with ever-rotating exhibits, making the city a haven for museum-goers who never tire of soaking up the local arts scene. 

Spend a Day Shopping

Like the city's nightlife scene, shopping in Los Angeles yields endless options from upscale to vintage finds. Visit some of the best gems in the city to stock up your wardrobe or furniture for your new Los Angeles apartment. 

For women's fashion, try Fred Segal on the Sunset Strip. The travel-inspired Apolis Common Gallery in the Downtown Arts District is great for men. Shop for furniture at HD Buttercup in the Westside or Downtown Arts District, or stop by Hammer and Spear. For jewelry, try Alexis Bittar's shop in Venice and head to Scout on Melrose for vintage clothing.

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 Hollywood & Highland, 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!

Explore the Great Outdoors

Living in Los Angeles’ gorgeous year-round weather opens a world of possibilities for exploring. Griffith Park reigns as Los Angeles' largest public green space and has some breathtaking city views. Take a walk through the park and 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 take a quick 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, 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. 

Go on a Day Trip

Living in Los Angeles comes with a more relaxed vibe than similarly-sized cities, but it can still feel like a fast-paced grind. Getaway for the day and enjoy Southern California's beauty to recharge. 

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 also awesome ways to spend a day.

Los Angeles is the center of it all, but Southern California has endless places to check out. Just make sure to head out early to beat the weekend traffic.

Family-friendly Activities

There's a lot going on for Los Angeles' youngest residents. From the LA Zoo at Griffith Observatory to Universal Studios Hollywood to Disneyland. The museums often host events for kids as well. 

Check out the car simulation at the Petersen Automotive Museum, take a Ferris wheel ride at the Santa Monica Pier, or observe the wax figures at Madame Tussauds Hollywood. Don’t forget about La Brea Tar Pits for a gateway back to the Ice Age. The best part about exploring family-friendly Los Angeles is grown-ups can feel like a kid again, too. You can bet on your kids never get bored in this city. 

Los Angeles’ Food Scene

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. For a sweet treat, Sidecar Donuts makes tantalizing yeast and cake donuts, or try authentic dishes at Park BBQ in Koreatown. If you want a one-stop-shop for various cuisines, you can't go wrong with Grand Central Market.

There’s more restaurants, eateries and coffee shops than you’ll have time to explore after moving to Los Angeles. Make it into a mission to eat your way through Los Angeles’ best neighborhoods to find your new favorite restaurants. 

Final Thoughts: Moving to 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?

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