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Van Nuys, Los Angeles — Neighborhood Guide

By: Susan Finch
August 5, 2020

Nestled in the San Fernando Valley, Van Nuys embraces diversity and an inclusive, laid-back vibe. This growing neighborhood offers a reprieve from the costly neighborhoods around Los Angeles. There’s a mix of down-to-earth and upscale apartment options.

Before you pack up and move to Van Nuys, CA, here's what to know.

Living in Van Nuys

Van Nuys was initially known for the Metropolitan Airport. That was featured in the final scenes of the film, "Casablanca." Commercial flights are available a few miles away at the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

Today, Van Nuys is celebrated for a reasonable cost of living compared to the rest of LA. You can live in the heart of the San Fernando Valley on a budget and still enjoy proximity to the best in city living.

Van Nuys is also teeming with great little shops, a handful of tourist gems, and international restaurants. Celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Gwen Stefani also called this neighborhood home.

Van Nuys is diverse, but there are trends to who settles into this eclectic neighborhood. Expect to find people mostly ages 25 to 34 years old and established adults with careers between the ages of 35 to 44 years old. You'll also find families looking to raise kids away from the bustle of the city.

The male-to-female ratio is also split evenly in Van Nuys. That makes the neighborhood a good place to mingle. The socializing scene extends to the LGBTQ+ community in this "anything goes" neighborhood.

Quick Facts

Living on a budget and modest salary around Los Angeles isn't easy to find. The median household income in Van Nuys is $46,331. The national average is $55,322.

Although that salary won't get you far in many nearby neighborhoods, Van Nuys is still affordable and comfortable with quick access to the rest of LA.

Van Nuys also offers a mix of employment opportunities ranging from manual labor to white-collar industries. Aside from commuting into LA from work, Van Nuys' economy is highly focused around construction, administrative services, education, information, and entertainment.

You have options when it comes to commuting and getting around Van Nuys. The area walk score is 70, with a transit score of 52 and a bike score of 61. It's not the most walkable neighborhood in LA, but you can still enjoy the sunshine and weather. Rideshares and public transportation are available. However, mose residents in the area have a car and frequently drive. Get your podcast list together for that infamous LA traffic!

If you’re up for walking and biking, the weather in Van Nuys will treat you well. Like much of LA, Van Nuys summers are short and hot.

Winters are partly cloudy and cool, but the temperatures rarely dip below 38°F. The most comfortable time of year in Van Nuys usually stretches from May to October, short of a heatwave in the summer months.

Van Nuys Location

Van Nuys is part of the San Fernando Valley. There, shopping, restaurants, theme parks, and the movie industry abound.

Locals enjoy a suburban feel with a central location to the rest of the metro area. Van Nuys' residents are just 30 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles by car in decent traffic. You can also grab the LA Metro Orange Line to connect by rail or link up to metro buses.

You'll also find other popular neighborhoods brushing up against Van Nuys. Those include Valley Glen, Lake Balboa, Sherman Oaks, and Panorama City.

The central location and ability to hop on the 101 or public transportation make Van Nuys a popular place to live. You’re also just 30 minutes from Santa Monica and beaches to soak up the weekend sunshine.

Things to Do

Van Nuys is home to a few Los Angeles area gems, like the Japanese Garden. It provides a tranquil escape to relax.

You can also enjoy water sports or jog at Balboa Park before grabbing produce from area farmers’ markets. For kids and kids at heart, Sky Zone Trampoline Park keeps your adrenaline pumping for a fun afternoon of jumping.

The famed Brady Bunch TV home is also located in Van Nuys. So is The Great Wall of Los Angeles. The half-mile mural is among the largest in the world. It depicts the history of California.

Van Nuys' international community also makes eating out a foodie's dream. Enjoy Cuban, South African, and Lebanese cuisine, and more.

Start with Chilean food at El Parron to catch up with friends and neighbors. Locals may not want to give up their secret about the Tonga Hut. This charming tiki bar opened in 1958. It features cocktails and cheap brews worthy of a local watering hole.

Car cruising culture was also popular along Van Nuys Boulevard. It still comes and goes, depending on who you ask.

The practice rose to popularity in the 1950s, when cars cruised along the Boulevard and inspired the namesake film, Van Nuys Blvd. Police have cracked down on cruising over the last decades, but you’ll still find people making their way down Van Nuys Blvd.

Schools

Families have their pick of schools in Van Nuys. There are 33 public schools serving nearly 25,000 students.

Kester Avenue Elementary and High Technical are among the top-ranked public schools in the area. Just how high? GreatSchools.org ranks Kester Avenue Elementary as a 10 out of 10 for their test scores, equity overview, and overall academic progress.

The volume of schools and parental involvement make Van Nuys a family-friendly community. It's also easy to find parks, kid-friendly activities, and festivals to keep families busy all weekend long.

Is Van Nuys Safe?

Van Nuys doesn't have a sparkling reputation for safety. But it’s still a comfortable place to live. Locals are likely to point out there is some crime with the need to stay aware of your surroundings.

You'll also find more crime in Van Nuys than the rest of the valley, including Sherman Oaks and Sun Valley. However, Van Nuys typically has a lower crime rate than popular Los Angeles neighborhoods like Hollywood.

Choosing rideshares at night over walking and staying alert can reduce your brushes with crime. Pick apartments in well-lit areas near amenities with a reputation for safety.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Van Nuys beats much of the Los Angeles area. However, it's still 42.6% higher than the national average.

If you move from San Francisco to Van Nuys, you're likely to see your cost of living drop of 19.9%. New Yorkers see a dramatic 40.5% reduction in the cost of living when moving to Van Nuys.

Renting Apartments in Van Nuys

Van Nuys was formerly known as a rough area that's bouncing back and seeing new investment and apartment renovations, especially in the Lake Balboa area.

Upscale apartments often come with a short wait list. However, you can find a place to live that fits most budgets. Look for new complexes, older mid-rise buildings, and converted homes to find your next apartment.

Apartments are still relatively reasonable in Van Nuys, especially when comparing rents in areas like Downtown Los Angeles. A two-bedroom apartment in Van Nuys costs roughly the same as a one-bedroom apartment in areas like Downtown. You can find multi-room apartments with roommates to drive down costs, or find a studio all on your own.

Depending on your location, apartment rents in Van Nuys run roughly $1,500 for a one-bedroom up to $3,000 for a three-bedroom. Choose an upscale apartment loaded with amenities for about $1,800 to $2,000 for a one-bedroom.

The highest prices will be near areas like Sherman Oaks Memorial Park. They often have fitness centers, spas, and pools.

Ready to find an apartment in Van Nuys? Get started with the quiz above.

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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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