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Moving to Los Angeles

What to Know if You're Moving to Los Angeles

If you are wondering how to move to Los Angeles, you will be happy to know that it is pretty easy. Housing options are plentiful, activities abound, and it can be relatively easy to find a job. However, the difficult part is the expense. As the 10th most expensive city in the world, LA residents often spend over 50% of their monthly income on rent alone.

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The relocating process to Los Angeles can feel less daunting when compared to other US cities. Known for its extreme diversity, LA welcomes expats from across the globe, including London! Throughout the city, you are just as likely to hear a foreign language as you are the country’s native English tongue. Nearly half the residents are Hispanic or Latino, and those with Asian heritage make up the third largest population. Neighborhoods are dedicated to entire ethnicities, such as Chinatown, Little Armenia, and Little Tokyo, just to name a few. Be sure to checkout our guide on the Best Places to Live in Los Angeles.

The city’s landscape, too, is diverse. The area spans from snow-capped mountains to a cramped metropolis to long, lazy beaches. There is always something to do. Activities can be anything from dining at a swanky restaurant, catching a theatre performance at the historic Hollywood Pantages Theatre, or a quiet hike in Griffith Park.

Whatever lifestyle you are looking for, LA can provide it.  As you consider your relocation, use this guide as a resource for important things to know before moving to Los Angeles.

All about the US

Understand the process of relocating to the US by reading our practical guide on moving to the US. We discuss the requirements you need to meet and the steps you need to take for your transition. From determining what visa you need to your first encounter with the US tax system, our guide covers all you need to know for a successful move.

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Relocating

If you are thinking of relocating to Los Angeles, you are not alone. Many expats call this California city “home” and it is easy to see why. LA is known for year-round warm, sunny weather, a glamorous lifestyle, and laidback vibe. As a local Angeleno, you can ask yourself every day whether you want to tan on the beach, hike in the mountains, or enjoy a rich shopping spree. You can even choose between a raucous NFL stadium game or a romantic evening using a high-powered telescope to see thousands of stars.

In Los Angeles, the opportunities are limitless.

Still wondering why move to Los Angeles? Stop wondering. Instead, ask yourself: why not?

Things to Know Before Moving to Los Angeles

There are many pros and cons to moving to Los Angeles. Whether you are looking for a quiet lifestyle or never-ending chaos, the city has something to please everyone.

The Pros

Never a Dull Moment

As with any major city, there is always something to do in LA. However, what makes this California city stand out is its wide range of activities to suit everyone. Whether you want to party late into the night, go on a calm woodland hike, or explore museums and art galleries, there is something to appease every taste and lifestyle in LA.

A True Melting Pot

Due to its active seaport and major international airport, Los Angeles attracts people from across the globe. This diversity lends itself to the wide variety of cuisines, architecture, and neighborhood makeup you will find throughout the metropolitan area. If you are moving from a country where English is not widely spoken, have no fear. In LA, you are just as likely to have a neighbor from halfway around the world as you are a neighboring US state.

Welcome to The Mediterranean

Los Angeles has long been known for its sunny, clear days that are cooled by the ocean breeze coming off the Pacific. According to a study by Kelly Norton, Los Angeles is the third most pleasant city in the US for weather. In the study, “pleasant” is defined as an average temperature between 55° F (13 °C) and 75° F (24 °C).

On average, Los Angeles receives:

  • 292 annual days of sunshine
  • 35 annual days of rain
  • 72 ° F (22 °C) average daily temperature
The Cons

It is Expensive

This cannot be said enough. From rent to automobile and gas costs to everyday expenses, it is nearly impossible to live in Los Angeles without spending multiple thousands per month.

You will Be in Your Car…a Lot

Although not a producer of cars, LA is sometimes called The Car Capital of the World just because of how many cars are on the road. The daily traffic jams are infamous and Angelenos spend a large part of their day just trying to get from Point A to B.

It is Very Spread Out

The entire county of Los Angeles covers an area of 4,083 square miles (10,570 square kilometers). Unlike other American cities such as New York and Chicago, you often need to travel across the city to go to bars, restaurants, or other social places. Because of this, the city can feel too spread out and many Angelenos only stay within their “bubble” of LA.

Earthquakes

Los Angeles sits on many fault lines: cracks in the earth where the Pacific and North American tectonic plates push against each other. It is estimated some 10,000 earthquakes occur in LA every year, although these are not always felt on the surface.

For a more in-depth look at what it is like to live in LA, check out the Living section of this guide.

Tips and Advice for Moving to Los Angeles

Is it Hard to Move to Los Angeles as an Expat?

Putting aside all you have to do for work and residence visas in the US, it is easy to move to Los Angeles as an expat. Accommodation options are wide and many, with housing ranging from small, modern studios to historic large-family standalone houses. Prices are expensive throughout the city, but, if you are flexible on your wants and needs, you are likely to find something that will help you feel right at home. Whether or not an accommodation will allow pets is up to the landlord and may require an extra fee. See the Living guide for more details.

Jobs in LA are plentiful. As an expat, you may have to adjust your expectations or work a little harder to find a company that will sponsor your visa. English is the main language throughout the entire US, and you will need a high proficiency in the language for most job opportunities.

Where expats truly thrive in LA is feeling immediately accepted. As a major sea and air hub, LA is home to immigrants from across the globe. When walking down the street, you are likely to hear many languages spoken in addition to the US’s primary English tongue. Many neighborhoods in LA have been dominated by nationals from one specific country or region, and you can find restaurants specializing in nearly every cuisine from across the globe.

Moving with Pets

It is possible to move to Los Angeles with your furry friend, but keep in mind there are some city laws you will have to obey. First, be aware that landlords are legally allowed to deny you accommodation based on your pet. They are also allowed to restrict the size, weight, and breed of animal they will allow in their property. Please note that disobeying these restrictions could lead to eviction. 

Allowed number of dogs: 

As of 2017, Los Angeles residents are allowed to own four dogs per household.

Allowed number of cats:

According to the neighborhood of LA, Angelenos may have four to five cats.

Licensing (Dogs)

Dogs are required to be licensed after the age of four months. In order to obtain a license, owners must provide proof that their dog was spayed/neutered and received a rabies vaccine. You can license your dog online.

Neutering (Dogs and Cats)

Dogs and cats must be spayed and neutered after the age of four months. There are some exceptions allowed. See the LA Animal Services website for more details.

Leash Law (Dogs)

When outdoors, dogs must be on a leash at all times unless in a fenced-in backyard or dog park that allows off-leash exercise.

No Tethering (Dogs)

You cannot tie your dog to a stationary object for more than three hours in a 24-hour period.

Scoop

When walking your dog in public, you must pick up after them. Neglecting to do so will result in a fine.

For more information on relocating to the US with your pets, see the relocation section of our US country guide.

Defying Expectations

Some expats may have a view of America as being stubbornly patriotic and conservative when it comes to mixing with other cultures. However, this is not true of the whole US as it is a large country and each state (and towns within that state) has its own distinct personality.

Expats moving to Los Angeles will find the city (as well as the state of California and the West Coast region) to be very progressive and open-minded when it comes to social issues and commingling with different cultures. Religion does not play as strong of a role on the West Coast as it does in the southeastern part of the US (termed: The Bible Belt) and many Californian school children grow up learning English and Spanish thanks to the heavy prevalence of Central and South American immigrants. Californians are also known for their laidback, “chill” vibe, which helps new residents feel at ease when adjusting to The Golden State.

Welcome to LA!

Although LA is a city known for its competitive nature and exorbitant prices, expats will have no problem feeling welcomed by such a multicultural and diverse city.

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Visas and Work Permits

Although The City of Angels has a large population of foreigners, getting visas/work permits in Los Angeles is no easier than anywhere else in the US. Obtaining a US residence visa or work permit is no easy task, and it is likely not to get any easier in the future.

If you want to know how to get a US visa, one of the best ways to streamline the process is to get hired by a US company. This way, the company can formally invite you and sponsor your visa. You will need to register with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as well as figure out which specific visa is the best for you and your family.

For more information on US visa and work permit requirements and documents, please see our US relocation section.

Living In

Ask any Angeleno what it is like living in Los Angeles and you are bound to get one of these answers:

  • It is exciting.
  • It is expensive.
  • It is chaotic.

Los Angeles County covers an area of 4,751 square miles. Within those miles are 10 million residents, a population greater than 41 US states. People and cars are moving at all hours of the day, and at times it can feel like there is no peace and quiet. However, locals to Los Angeles know that moments of tranquility can be found in regions like Pasadena, on walks in Griffith Park, or sitting next to the ocean on one of the long stretches of beach that trails LA’s western border.

Although there are ways to live in Los Angeles on a budget, LA has been ranked the 10th most expensive state in the US and the world. Most of the population gets by on a salary that is 20,000 USD less than what is needed to live “comfortably” in the city. If you are relocating to LA, you should consider the steep living expenses when negotiating your salary.

To learn more about how to live in LA, please view our guide to living in Los Angeles.

 

Working In

Working in Los Angeles is the same as living there: exciting and chaotic. Although known for Major Motion Picture studios, LA’s job market is also growing in the fields of tech, commerce, and communications. Average salaries are decent, but many Angelenos still need to stretch their budget each month just to afford the necessities like rent, groceries, and transportation costs.

Like most of the US, it is advisable to secure a job before arriving in LA as this will speed up the visa and work permit process. Getting a job in Los Angeles is not too difficult as long as you put in the time and effort required to find the position that is right for you. Keep in mind that, because LA is a popular location, you will most likely be competing with many other applicants. It is advisable to polish your CV and take steps to make yourself stand out in the crowd.

Entrepreneurs and self-employed expats will find a lot of opportunities in LA. There are many coworking spaces available, as well as opportunities to network with others working in the same field.

For more information on how to get a job in LA, please see our Working guide.

Updated on: September 20, 2019
Living

Living in Los Angeles

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Working

Working in Los Angeles

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