City Living Guide: What is it like to live in Los Angeles, California?
Author: The HOMEiA Team & Gloria Russell
No matter your reason for considering relocating to Los Angeles, you will find a lot to love in this sunny, warm, sprawling, diverse city. In this article, we will give you a feel for L.A.’s standard of living, climate, housing, education and more. Read on!
Table of Contents:
- 1. A dozen freeways, international airport
- 2. Diverse residents enjoy myriad cultural offerings
- 3. Mild climate boasts plenty of sunshine
- 4. City services enhance L.A. standard of living
- 5. Health care quality is high
- 6. Outstanding educational opportunities
- 7. Growing job market in numerous sectors
- 8. Sun, sand, surf, sports + arts, culture
- 9. Pros, cons and everything in between
- 10. So many neighborhoods to choose from
- 11. Housing costs are high
- 12. Experienced real estate agents are assets
1. A dozen freeways, international airport
With approximately 4 million residents, Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City. L.A. is densely populated.
This sprawling city of 502.76 square miles is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the east by mountains. Those who travel to and from Los Angeles by air may use Los Angeles International Airport, one of the busiest air hubs in the country, or the regional airports in nearby Burbank and Long Beach. A dozen major freeways crisscross the city, which also is served by Amtrak and several bus lines. Most drive their own cars, trucks or SUVs, eschewing the metro rail lines, city buses or ride-sharing services. This leads to the city’s infamous bumper-to-bumper traffic.
2. Diverse residents enjoy myriad cultural offerings
Los Angeles is an extremely ethnically diverse city, with nearly 40% of its residents being foreign born. About half of the overall region’s residents are Hispanic. Some 60% of Angelenos speak a language other than English at home. Of the 53% of L.A. County residents who say they are religious, the majority are Christian, especially Catholic.
Los Angeles is known for its progressive atmosphere and creative environment, which is not surprising given that the city for many decades has been the center of the movie industry. Los Angeles is home to a vast array of museums–art, culture, history, natural history—and all sorts of special interests.
The city features countless live music venues and several professional sports teams:
a) Dodgers (baseball);
b) Lakers and Clippers (men’s basketball);
c) Sparks (women’s basketball);
d) Rams (men’s football);
e) Bobcats (women’s football);
f) Kings (ice hockey);
g) Derby Dolls (roller derby);
h) Galaxy (soccer).
College sports and amateur baseball also draw sizable crowds. City and neighborhood parks programs, multi-purpose senior centers and, of course, the beaches are popular venues.
3. Mild climate boasts plenty of sunshine
Los Angeles residents enjoy a Mediterranean climate, with little variance in temperature and precipitation from one season to the next. The average winter temperature is 56.8 degrees Fahrenheit; summer’s average is 68; fall 65.3; spring 60.3. If those temps seem lower than you might have expected, keep in mind that they are averages. The average high in December and January (the coldest months) is 68. The average high in August, the warmest month, is 84. Average low temps range from 48 in December and January, to 64 in July and August. Of course, summer temps can and do soar to 100 and higher.
Move to Los Angeles and you will have no need to shovel snow. What you will have is palm trees, flowers and a great deal of sunshine. Move to Los Angeles and you will need to buy and wear sunscreen year-round.
4. City services enhance L.A. standard of living
Los Angeles is known worldwide as a beautiful, desirable city. Even its name and the origin of that name are beautiful. Los Angeles is Spanish for The Angels–and is shortened from its original name of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula (in English, “town of our lady the Queen of Angels of the River Porciúncula”).
The overall standard of living in Los Angeles is good, with a 4.6% unemployment rate (just .7% higher than the national average). But there is standard-of-living heartbreak in Los Angeles as well. The city’s homelessness rate rose 16% in the past year, with 36,300 people without a permanent residence. L.A. County’s homelessness rate jumped 12% in the same period. City and county officials and an array of public and private agencies are working hard on solutions.
The City of Los Angeles offers an impressive array of services, traditional and otherwise, including graffiti removal and delivery of free shade trees to homes. The city also provides support for its older residents, including assisted transportation for frail seniors and a TV program, “Aging Well in L.A.”
5. Health care quality is high
Several hospitals in Los Angeles are well-known for caring for celebrities and being featured in movies and television shows. What you may not know is that these hospitals provide outstanding quality services. For example, U.S. News & World Report has this to say about three of L.A.’s numerous hospitals:
· UCLA Medical Center: nationally ranked in 14 adult specialties and eight children’s specialties
· Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: nationally ranked in 12 adult specialties
· Keck Hospital of USC: nationally ranked in nine adult specialties
Primary care and specialty clinics abound throughout Los Angeles. The city is home to reproductive health centers, drug and alcohol treatment facilities, and cosmetic surgery clinics, to name just a few specialties.
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) is the United States’ second largest municipal health system, with its 19 health centers, four hospitals and partnerships with community-based clinics. DHS cares for some 600,000 individuals per year and employs more than 22,000 people. DHS operates the Emergency Medical Services Agency and the county’s 911 system.
6. Outstanding educational opportunities
The K-12 student-teacher ratio in Los Angeles is 20:1, with more than 1.2 million elementary and high school students and 59,900 teachers at a total of 902 public and 1,667 private schools. Nearly 300 of Los Angeles’ high schools are recognized as among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report.
With so many schools to choose from, you will want to develop a checklist of the features you’re looking for, research the schools online (Niche.com ranks Polytechnic School as the best private K-12 school in Los Angeles), get recommendations from other parents, if possible, and visit those that make the top of your list.
Los Angeles is home to more than 60 colleges and universities. Here is a sampling:
a. University of Southern California is a private research university, home to the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and 21 academic schools and units.
b. University of California–Los Angeles offers more than 125 majors in 109 academic departments.
c. Loyola Marymount University offers 60 major undergraduate programs, 39 master’s programs, as well as doctoral programs in education, law and judicial science.
d. Southern California Institute of Architecture is one of the nation’s few independent architecture schools and offers undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate programs.
e. Otis College of Art and Design has K-12, undergraduate, graduate and extension programs as well as study abroad options.
f. The Los Angeles Film School is home to programs in film, animation, music and audio, and entertainment business.
g. Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad / West Coast Talmudical Seminary prepares students to become rabbis, teachers and communal leaders, as well as to become conscientious lay members of Jewish communities.
h. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology–Los Angeles offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.
i. American Film Institute Conservatory offers master’s degrees in cinematography, directing, editing, producing, production design and screenwriting.
j. 13 accredited law schools, including Southwestern Law School, UCLA School of Law, Loyola Law School.
k. Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine offers master’s programs in women and children’s health, acupuncture orthopedics and pain management, and Taoism and Qi cultivation. It also offers doctoral programs in women’s health and reproductive medicine, and healthy aging and integrative internal medicine.
l. Los Angeles City College offers 11 degrees and certificates, focusing on empowering students from diverse communities.
7. Growing job market in numerous sectors
Employment opportunities are growing, with 55,000 jobs added in the city in 2018. Experts predict 34.6% job growth in Los Angeles over the next 10 years, compared with the national average of 33.5%.
Los Angeles is known worldwide for tourism and entertainment. The “creative economy,” which includes museums, theatre and fashion design, in addition to TV and film, employs more than 300,000. And, there’s a whole lot more to business and industry in the city. Los Angeles, with its 4.6% unemployment rate, is:
· The largest retail market in the entire country
· One of the world’s busiest ports
· The largest manufacturing center in the western United States
· A major financial and banking center
· Headquarters to an array of foreign companies
Retail spending in Los Angeles increased by 3.1% in 2018, fueled by a record 50 million tourists visiting the city, up from 48.5 million visitors the previous year. Also driving retail sales: more people are working, and incomes are rising.
L.A. manufacturing, employing more than 500,000 workers, includes apparel, metal products, computers and electronics, and transportation equipment. The University of Southern California is the largest private sector employer in Los Angeles, contributing $8 billion to the region’s economy each year.
Looking to start a business in Los Angeles? The Mayor’s Office can help by connecting you with its network of experts in financing, tax incentives, permits, job training programs and more.
8. Sun, sand, surf, sports + arts, culture
Move to Los Angeles and you will never run out of places to go, people to see, things to do. Here’s a look at some of the well-known and not-so-well-known attractions:
A. Universal Studios and Warner Bros. Studios each offer tours that are different enough that you’ll want to visit both
B. Knott’s Berry Farm was California’s first theme park. It started as a small berry farm and today includes rollercoasters, Snoopy and other Peanuts characters, a water park, hotel and lots of food
C. Professional sports teams, including Los Angeles Dodgers, Rams, Lakers—you get the idea
D. Sunning, swimming and surfing at numerous beaches
E. Griffith Observatory, owned and operated by the city, features telescopes, exhibits and live planetarium shows
F. Hollywood Sign visible from all over the city, with the best view reportedly from the top of the Home Depot parking garage on Sunset Boulevard
G. Hollywood Walk of Fame, the world’s most famous sidewalk with stars honoring the stars
H. TCL Chinese Theatre, with hand- and footprints of hundreds of celebrities, is on the Walk of Fame
I. The Getty Center features stunning permanent and changing art exhibitions, architecture, gardens and breathtaking views
J. Parks, parks and more parks, including Los Angeles State Historic Park and Grand Park, both downtown, and Runyon Canyon Park with swimming, campgrounds, dog parks and much, much more
K. La Brea Tar Pits, where natural asphalt has seeped up for tens of thousands of years, preserving bones of trapped animals
L. El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument is considered the historic and symbolic heart of the city, drawing some 2 million visitors each year to its free museums and attractions
M. Sightseeing tours abound, including bus tours past the homes of film and television stars
N. Underground tunnels, which were passageways to speakeasies during Prohibition
O. The Museum of Death, moved from San Diego to L.A., features all manner of macabre exhibits, including artwork by serial killers
P. Restaurants and food trucks for every taste–and countless farmers’ markets.
9. Pros, cons and everything in between
Water shortages, traffic jams, earthquakes, and a growing homeless population are drawbacks to living in Los Angeles. The crime rate is another; it’s higher than 84% of all U.S. cities and towns. L.A. tallies 7.7 violent crimes and 25.89 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
But consider the positives:
b) Beaches, mountains, forests and deserts–all within an hour of downtown
c) Communities of free-spirited, creative people
d) Unlimited cultural experiences, from music to art to theatre to dance to you name it
e) Incredible variety of educational and employment opportunities
f) Diverse population as well as diverse food and diverse architecture (Art Deco, Spanish Revival, American Craftsman, and Victorian to name a few)
g) Multiple amusement parks in the city and within an hour’s drive
h) Shopping in this retail mecca (a portion of Beverly Hills’ famed Rodeo Drive is in Los Angeles)
i) Night life of every description that continues into the light of day
j) A city website that offers a wealth of resources related to every aspect of city life, including emergency information, public transportation and animal services
k) World-class health care
10. So many neighborhoods to choose from
Finding a place to live that’s just right for you may seem challenging in this vast city, but you’ll be off to a great start by learning a bit about L.A. neighborhoods. Given the city’s traffic situation, you most likely will want to choose a neighborhood that’s close to where you’ll be working. Of course, if beach access is more important to you than commute times, you’ll be looking for a home close to the ocean.
Love to sweat? Look for a home in the Valley, where summertime temps generally are 10 degrees higher than other parts of the city. Do you adore hustle and bustle? Try Hollywood, Koreatown or Downtown. If you’re in quiet retirement mode, you should look for a safe neighborhood that features the amenities that are most important to you.
We all love finding our dream home—a house that fits perfectly with what we wanted—but is that enough? There’s another factor to consider as well: your neighborhood. We might be clear on which cities we’d like to live in, but let’s think carefully about this question: Is this particular neighborhood a good fit? Here are 5 things that you should consider.
Ranking one neighborhood against another is an inexact science as there are so many factors and personal preferences to consider. These L.A. neighborhoods are among those that Niche.com gives a grade of “B” for safety:
a. Bel-Air (also the richest neighborhood)
b. Beverly Crest
e. Century City
f. Cheviot Hills
g. Pacific Palisades
h. Rancho Park
Manhattan Beach is the best L.A. suburb in which to raise a family, according to Niche.com, which gives it an overall “A+” rating. Not everyone falls in love with Los Angeles right away, but long-time residents urge you to be patient, saying that you’ll come to adore not only the city’s climate, natural wonders and amenities, but its quirks. And, if you’re wondering what to consider when buying a house, your real estate agent will be a valuable resource.
11. Housing costs are high
Garden apartments, high-rises, duplexes, condos and single-family homes. You name it—Los Angeles has it—at a price. If you’re in the market for a “mega mansion,” you’re looking at the right city because there’s a glut that is causing real estate agents to offer phenomenal incentives to potential buyers. In fact, one Bel Air mansion originally listed at $250 million has dropped to $150 million. That’s a $100 million price cut!
Assuming that you’re seeking more modest digs, you will want to note that L.A. home prices are higher than in other major cities—and prices are rising. The median list price in the city is between $525,000 and $999,000, depending on the source you consult. Median monthly rent is about $1,360.
There are more important factors in choosing a REAL real estate professional such as: personality, experience, reputation and local expertise. Here’s how to choose the right buyer’s agent or broker for yourself.
Senior living options for those who do not want to maintain a home range from subsidized, to moderately priced, to high-end, luxury apartments and condos. Assisted-living facilities as well as skilled nursing facilities also are available at a range of price points. And, if you’re interested in the home selling process, your real estate broker can provide guidance on that subject as well.
12. Experienced real estate agents are assets
Given the myriad neighborhoods, wide range of prices and the overall complexity of the Los Angeles real estate market, you will want to work with an experienced, trusted agent. Your local real estate agent can help you develop a list of must-haves, schedule showings, provide information about mortgage rates and real estate taxes and, in general, eliminate much of the stress inherent in seeking housing in a new city.
In this article, we’ll discuss those key steps to confidently buying your first home. We’ll also look at several professionals who can help guide you on the journey, so all the details are handled correctly and professionally. Let’s get started on your next adventure.
We wish you all the best with your move to the exciting city of Los Angeles. If you have found this article helpful, please share it with friends or relatives who might find it useful as well. Thank you!