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Finding a Place to Live in Los Angeles

For many people considering moving to Los Angeles, what first inevitably comes to mind is Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Sunset Boulevard. However, these places are not too likely to play a big part in your move to Los Angeles. InterNations tells you what you really need to know before moving to the City of Angels.
Once slightly on the rough side, Venice Beach is now a popular residential area.

As an expat relocating to Los Angeles, you will soon become familiar with one major difficulty: finding an affordable place to live in an area you want to live in. With the city ranking as the second most expensive city in the US, L.A. is not for cheapskates. Of course, some areas are less overpriced than others, but most of these are likely remote and increase your dependency on motorized transportation. In other words, having your own car can be indispensable, even in light of recent expansions of the public transportation and bicycle networks.

You should therefore carefully weigh the pros and cons of an area before settling down there, taking into consideration the cost of accommodation itself, the price of food and household goods, proximity to work, recreational facilities, schools, etc. Below, we’ve listed some L.A. neighborhoods that may be of interest to you.

Discover the Diversity of Downtown L.A.

Unlike most other cities, L.A. doesn’t have a “city center” in the traditional sense, in that most cultural and tourist attractions can be found elsewhere. Rather, Downtown L.A. is characterized by high-rise office buildings on the one hand and the Los Angeles Historic District on the other. The different districts such as the Arts District, Chinatown, or South Park offer endless leisure activities and are also home to some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. Living in one of the refurbished lofts is, however, rather expensive. The Downtown area is especially popular with young professionals.

If you don’t want to live right in the hustle and bustle, you’ll find vibrant residential areas such as Los Feliz just northwest of Downtown. They have a multicultural populace and an artsy feel about them, and many shops and restaurants are within walking distance.

Where You’ll Find the Stars: Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and the Westside

The Westside, stretching from Hollywood to the coast, is one of the most high-end areas in Los Angeles. Most certainly, you’ll be able to recognize the names of some of the neighborhoods in this area, such as Beverly Hills with its palatial homes and Bel Air, a traditional residential area for the rich and the famous.

Other neighborhoods in the area include West Hollywood, which stands out thanks to excellent art galleries, shopping, eating, and clubbing facilities; Brentwood, a fairly expensive mix of single-family homes in the north and apartments in the south; and Westwood, once the epitome of L.A. nightlife, which is being revitalized with various art galleries and crafts shops.

Who Doesn’t Want to Live at the Beach?

The 75-mile (120 km) beachfront of Los Angeles is without a doubt home to some of the most popular and trendy L.A. communities — in part due to the beautiful weather conditions, which make for milder temperatures and less smog than in some of the inland areas.

Right at the edge of Los Angeles County, Malibu offers a beautiful beachfront and sparsely populated hillside. Despite its remoteness, it has some of the most expensive real estate in L.A. Santa Monica, arguably the most famous of all the beach communities, welcomes you with its artsy atmosphere, great shopping locations, and famed Santa Monica Pier.

Venice Beach features narrow canals and bridges similar to its famous Italian namesake. Formerly a rough neighborhood, Venice Beach is a true case study in gentrification. It now houses a colorful mix of stylish posers, hula-hoop magicians, and other creative folks trying to subsidize their rents.

Immediately south of Venice, you’ll find Marina del Rey, slightly more high-end and also quieter than its flamboyant neighbor. Following the waterfront south, you’ll also get to Manhattan Beach, home of some of the most expensive places to live in all of California. Even further south, you’ll find Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach, where more modestly priced accommodation is available, without the guarantee of living directly on the beachfront. In general, life in these neighborhoods is relatively laid back, if slightly lacking from a cultural and entertainment point of view.  

Perfect for Families: The San Fernando Valley

“The Valley” includes several small cities, such as Burbank, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Reseda, Tarzana, Van Nuys, Northridge, Granada Hills, and Woodland Hills. Most of them consist of residential and commercial areas, rents are more manageable than in L.A. proper, and most neighborhoods are quite safe. However, it gets pretty hot during the summer months, and if you don’t have a car, you’ll be dependent on public transportation that, as in most suburbs of the USA, is not too convenient. Glendale, between the Valley and Pasadena, is closest to Downtown L.A.

You’ll Find All You Need in Pasadena

Pasadena, northeast of L.A., has various attractive residential neighborhoods offering all sorts of accommodation, from humble to luxurious. Its neighboring communities, San Marino, Arcadia, and La Cañada-Flintridge, offer expats similar advantages, i.e. well-preserved historic buildings, natural beauty, public green spaces, and various small museums. There are also many prestigious scientific and cultural institutions located in Pasadena like the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Although not as quiet and uniquely charming as it once was, Pasadena is still a popular place to live.

Do you have a preference of where you want to live and are now ready for the housing search? Read our guide article on renting a home in the USA for some sound advice on the matter.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Juan Garcia

"Los Angeles is a great city, but only thanks to some members of InterNations, I could find the hottest places in its exciting nightlife."

Cynthia Fleming

"The InterNations members gave us very good hints about where to dine out in Los Angeles and enjoy the Californian wines. "

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