L.A. Moving Guide: How to Find an Apartment in Los Angeles

Thinking about making the jump to the West Coast? People move to Los Angeles for all kinds of reasons: a more relaxed lifestyle, the allure of living near Hollywood or the ocean, a new job, or just the fantastic weather! If you’re moving from another city, you may be wondering — where are the best places to live in Los Angeles? And now that you’re thinking about it, what’s the average rent in Los Angeles?! As you begin your search for the perfect neighborhood and start apartment hunting, work through our easy guide and quick tips, and you’ll be settling into your new Angeleno lifestyle in no time. But first, we’ll cover two burning questions about where to live in Los Angeles:

What’s the Average Rent in Los Angeles?

Like New York or other large metropolises, rent varies widely throughout the city and depends on the neighborhood. Average rent in Los Angeles overall for a 1-bedroom apartment is roughly $2,350. If you’re looking to live in Venice or another oceanfront community, expect to pay quite a bit more (think, over $3,100). If you’re willing to explore more inland and eclectic areas, it’s certainly possible to find more manageable rents.

Can You Find Cheap Apartments in Los Angeles?

Yes, it’s possible! While certain parts of Los Angeles will never be cheap (we’re looking at you, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills), if you’re flexible on location and proximity to amenities like the beach, you can score rents closer to what you may have experienced in a smaller city (think in the mid-$1000s). For more affordable digs, try neighborhoods in Northeast L.A. and South Central. For the lowdown on the best neighborhoods in L.A., check out our Los Angeles Neighborhood Guide.

How to Find the Best Places to Live in Los Angeles

Finding the best places to live in L.A. begins with knowing what you’re looking for in a home. What are your personal priorities for housing and lifestyle?  Follow these steps to help you figure out where to live in Los Angeles, how to find an apartment in L.A., and how to seal the deal.

Step 1: Create your own definition of what makes the “best place to live in Los Angeles”

Everyone has their own idea of what makes a place feel like “home.” Before you get into apartment hunting in Los Angeles, sit down with a cup of coffee and ask yourself what’s really important to you in a neighborhood or home.

  • Define your priorities. What’s important to you in a home? Are you set on an ocean view, or access to great nightlife? Do you care more about being able to walk everywhere you need to go, or having more square footage? Make a list of what’s a “must-have,” “nice-to-have,” and “not-important” to you.
  • Consider your commute! Many Los Angeles natives would tell you straight up to live close to where you work. While L.A. does have a large public-transit system, Los Angeles is mainly a driving city, with highways that are frequently jammed. If you know where you’ll be working, consider what commuting time you’re willing to endure. If you’re not sure where you’ll be working yet, do some research on where your industry’s main companies are located.
  • Zero in on your budget for rent and cost of living. While it would be nice to think you can find something in your budget in any area, the fact is that some areas simply cost far more to live in, while others are still relatively affordable. Be realistic about what would be comfortable for you.

Step 2: Find an Apartment in Los Angeles Based on Your Top Neighborhood Choices

Once you know which neighborhoods you’re interested in, how do you take the next step and find an apartment that’s right for you?

  • Armed with your priorities, home in on a few great Los Angeles Neighborhoods. Use our Los Angeles Neighborhood Guide to explore average rent in Los Angeles by neighborhood, what to expect in different areas of town, and to get an idea of what part of Los Angeles might be right for you. Once you have a few ‘hoods you’re interested in, go explore! Check out different areas in both day and nighttime to get a feel for the vibe and access that area has to offer.
  • Search on your feet. Los Angeles is a hot rental market, which means desirable apartments don’t last long. We recommend exploring some of the neighborhoods you’re interested in on foot. Not only will you get a unique sense of what the neighborhood is like, you can spot “for rent” signs outside homes and apartment complexes. Sometimes openings are snapped up so quickly, they don’t make it to the internet!
  • Use a Los Angeles Apartment Finder app or site. As in other cities, the internet is a great source for aggregated listings from management companies as well as hidden gems across the city’s neighborhoods. Here are some of our favorite apps and online resources for Los Angeles:
  • Once you’ve found a listing you like, see it in person. Seriously — this is a must! Apartment hunting in Los Angeles is a tricky business right now, and it’s essential that you’re able to see a place in person to view the neighborhood and building, and also to see how closely the apartment matches the photos. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. Never rent blind.

Step 3: Close the Deal

You’ve found the perfect place. How do you lock it in?

  • Do your research. When apartment hunting in L.A., it’s important to do your due diligence on those you’ll be doing business with. Take the time to search Yelp and other review sites for your potential property management company. This will give you a feel for others’ experiences dealing with them, how easy or difficult it might be to get issues fixed, and the overall helpfulness of the management team.
  • Have all your documents ready, and move fast! With LA’s low vacancy rate, lower-cost rentals can get very competitive. If you’ve scheduled a viewing, bring all your relevant documents and references so you can apply on-site if you love it. You’d hate to lose out on a place you’re qualified for just because you had to run home to grab proof of income!
  • Know your rights. With the high cost of real estate, more than half of Los Angeles residents are renters. Los Angeles has renters’ rights you should be aware of as you move into a new place, including the right to a clean and habitable home, 24 hours’ notice before a landlord visit, and in some areas, interest on the deposit paid. Be prepared with this comprehensive list of Los Angeles Renter’s Rights.
  • Bonus: if you live in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, the city of Los Angeles, or West Hollywood, your home may be subject to rent stabilization, which prevents unexpected and high rent spikes. While not all home types are covered by these regulations, those that are can reap the benefit of savings over time! This primer will help you learn more about rent stabilization in Los Angeles and how to check if a specific apartment is rent-controlled.

If You’ve Found your own Best Place to Live In Los Angeles…

CELEBRATE! Apartment hunting in Los Angeles is a challenge — and you’ve conquered it! Take a weekend to celebrate by exploring your new neighborhood or city, meeting new friends, and treating yourself to both rest and celebration. Go forth and find your favorite taco truck!

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