This moving guide was updated in September 2022 to reflect current trends.
In this moving guide:
Los Angeles at-a-glance
What it’s like to live in Los Angeles
Economy and job outlook in Los Angeles
Real estate, cost of living in Los Angeles
The top neighborhoods in Los Angeles
How to get around in Los Angeles
School and education snapshot
Weather and climate in Los Angeles
10 can’t-miss things to do in Los Angeles
Los Angeles At-A-Glance
Popular opinions about Los Angeles are often contradictory. On the one hand, the city is heralded as a utopia of perpetual sunshine, Hollywood dreams, and free-thinking creativity. On the other hand, LA gets a bad rap as a dystopia of fake people, miserable traffic and unpredictable earthquakes. The truth, of course, lies somewhere in between. In a city this sprawling and diverse, you can truly create your own reality.
Los Angeles is recognized as a leader on the national culinary scene. Good burgers and Mexican food are ways of life here, but the city’s proximity to fantastically fresh California produce means that LA has been a trendsetter in terms of health-conscious, plant-based, organic fare. You’re as likely to have a great meal at a chef-driven restaurant as you are at a food truck.
Discover Los Angeles describes LA as “a place for bold dreams, creative expression and limitless possibilities. From world-class museums and championship sports teams to beautiful beaches and one-of-a-kind culinary experiences, you’ll be inspired by the vibrant, bustling community of dreamers and doers.”
A City Defined By Culturally Diverse People
LA’s population is incredibly diverse and multiethnic. There is no majority population here; 140 countries (primarily in Latin America and Asia) and approximately 224 different languages are represented in the city. Aside from this array of nationalities, Los Angeles is also home to every subculture under the sun. Scientists, intellectuals, and writers coexist peacefully with rockers, hipsters, and beach bums.
Hollywood and Downtown are popular spots for the young and beautiful, with an array of see-and-be-seen cocktail lounges and thumping dance clubs. The Eastside buzzes with hipster dive bars and live music, while the beach cities are a good place for a laidback imbibing with ocean views. Bars close at 2 am; if you want to extend your night out, after-hours eating at diners and taco trucks is practically an LA ritual.
And while you’re at it, cheer for one of two NBA teams—the Lakers and the Clippers—who both play at the Staples Center. Baseball fans have the Dodgers, NFL fans have the Rams, hockey fans have the Kings, and soccer fans have the Galaxy.
The Glitzy Entertainment Capital of the World
In 2013, Los Angeles became the first county in the nation to reach 10 million people, making it one of the largest economic entities in the U.S. According to City-Data.com, Los Angeles is the biggest manufacturing center in the West, one of the world’s busiest ports, a major financial center, and the largest retail market in the country.
LA is also the entertainment capital of the world, so there’s never a dull moment. Film buffs will be thrilled by the vast choice of cinemas. The incredible pool of acting talent here fuels theater productions large and small. You might spot the next “Saturday Night Live” star at one of the many comedy clubs or the next big rock band playing at an indie venue.
In addition to the entertainment industry, whose presence in the city is strongly felt, Los Angeles is also a world leader in aerospace, fashion, and healthcare. Silicon Beach, a critical mass of tech companies like Google and Snapchat clustered on the Westside, is LA’s answer to Silicon Valley.
Unemployment rate: 5.2% (as of July 2022)
Average weekly wages for all industries: $1,268 (May 2021)
The Least Affordable Housing Market in America
The overall cost of living in Los Angeles is 49 percent higher than the national average, with residents paying higher for every expense category, including housing, utilities, groceries and transportation.
As a result, you’ll want to brace yourself as you begin to look for housing. For the seventh straight quarter, Los Angeles remained the least affordable housing market in America. As both rents and home prices have climbed at a faster pace than salaries in recent years, Angelenos now devote a greater percentage of their paycheck to housing than anywhere else in the country.
A family making the median income of $62,000 would have to spend over 80 percent of it on mortgage payments and property taxes. The average asking price for a home in Los Angeles was $930,000 in 2021, while the average monthly rent exceeds $2,700. On the bright side, LA’s patchwork of eclectic neighborhoods offers something for everyone. Read our guide to top Los Angeles neighborhoods, then consult our list of best LA realtors to help make your search easy.
Home to a Variety of Neighborhoods With Their Own Vibe and Character
Los Angeles county includes 88 cities and over 400 different neighborhoods! Aside from the beaches, hillside living, and weather that make it one of the most well-known cities in the world, Los Angeles is home to a variety of neighborhoods each with their own distinct vibe and character. Whether you’re looking for employment opportunities, affordability, culturally diverse areas or accessibility to local amenities, these neighborhoods meet the mark on all fronts.
Hollywood: Apart from it being a symbol of all things entertainment, Hollywood is known as much for its landmarks and tourist attractions as well as technology startups, trendy eateries, and top-of-the-line high rises.
Los Feliz: This neighborhood is cute and charming, and quite a bit more relaxed than other areas in LA. Even though it’s on the smaller side, you’ll find a walkable, tight-knit community and multiple dog-friendly establishments. And the food scene in Los Feliz is beyond good.
Culver City: Due to its safety rating, relatively affordable housing, and diverse culture, Culver City is one of the best places to live in Los Angeles. While it’s still a hub for film and TV production, it’s now experiencing a lot of economic growth with the addition of big tech companies, brand-new restaurants and high-end shopping. It’s a hip, trendy area that attracts young professionals and families alike.
Venice: If you’re a free-spirit, then the “Playground of the Sea” vibe that Venice emulates is perfect for you. As one of the most well-known Los Angeles destinations, it offers a mix of urban and suburban living, walking trails, outdoor parks as well as excellent entertainment, and delicious dining.
The Traffic in Los Angeles is Legendary
The bad traffic in Los Angeles is legendary. U.S. News and World Report now ranks Los Angeles eighth as one of the most congested U.S. cities, with drivers spending an average of 103 hours in traffic per year. Some improvements have been made to alleviate the congestion. The Metro Expo Line connects Santa Monica and the Westside to Downtown via light rail.
Future plans include adding more than 100 miles of rail and new bus and bike lanes to ease traffic jams in addition to adding hundreds of miles of new traffic lanes. Proponents of making the city more sustainable hope investments will instead be made to make it easier for Angelenos to use transit, walk, and bike safely.