Editor’s note: This post was updated on November 4, 2020.
Whether you’ve locked down a new job in La La Land or you’re just ready for a more relaxed lifestyle, you’ll find a neighborhood in Los Angeles suited to your taste. As one of the nation’s largest and most diverse metropolitan areas, Los Angeles is so much more than the Hollywood and Beverly Hills you see on TV. It’s full of culture, great dining, unique neighborhoods, outdoor recreation, and hidden gems around every corner.
Moving to Los Angeles?
If you’ve started your research, you’ve probably discovered that Los Angeles is like a small country — figuring out where in this huge city to start apartment or house hunting can be daunting. Los Angeles county includes 88 cities, and over 400 neighborhoods! But if you’re wondering where to live in L.A., you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll work through some of the best L.A. neighborhoods so you can become a happy Angeleno.
Best Neighborhoods in Los Angeles
If you’re moving to L.A. from out of town and wondering how to find the best place to live, you should know that the best neighborhoods are honestly defined by your own tastes! Everyone wants something different out of their hood, so as you get started, consider why you’re moving to Los Angeles. Are you hoping to live by the beach, or have easy access to hiking trails? Do you want a big-city feel, or would you be happier with tree-lined streets and the convenience of strip malls? (You’d be surprised by the creative cuisine and character you can find in L.A. strip mall restaurants by the way.)
For a truly comprehensive map of the neighborhood geography, check out this interactive L.A. Neighborhood Map from Curbed, featuring all 472 areas. Or, this one from the Los Angeles Times, organized by region.
Where to live in L.A. …
…If you need to be in the bustle of it all, consider:
As neighborhoods go, Los Feliz is pretty hard to beat. Nestled just south of Griffith Park (arguably one of the city’s greatest treasures), it manages to hit the balance of being cool and interesting without trying too hard or being over the top. In Los Feliz, you’ll find all kinds of eclectic shops and cafes, diners and more, mainly on Hillhurst and Vermont Avenues. Home of Thai Town and a whole mess of delicious hidden gems, Los Feliz is a diner’s paradise. It’s worth exploring Los Feliz on foot: take in the old homes, shady streets, the old-glamour movie theater, and more.
- Cost of renting: Average rent is $2,060 (think 1-bedroom).
- Transportation: With two major arteries (101 and 5) close by, you have decent access to the rest of the city.
- Nearby neighborhoods to consider: Atwater Village, Silver Lake
Looking for a quiet, suburban existence? West Hollywood (WeHo) is not for you. Trendy and bustling, LA’s LGBTQ+ capital boasts some of the liveliest nightlife the city has to offer. Home to L.A.’s famous Sunset Strip and the fabled Chateau Marmont, the entire neighborhood only covers about two square miles of the city and is worth exploring on foot. Neighboring central Hollywood, you’re within walking distance to some of the city’s most recognizable landmarks: Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Capitol Records Building, etc. Touristy? Absolutely. But worth seeing.
- Cost of renting: Average rent in West Hollywood is $2,732.
- Transportation: The 2 runs through WeHo, and the 101 is nearby in central Hollywood.
- Nearby neighborhoods to consider: Hollywood, Mid-City
Silver Lake earns its reputation as a haven for hipsters. But is that so bad? It depends on your point of view. Trendsetting and yet somehow fairly calm, Silver Lake is home to cool cafes, artisanal coffee shops, and delicious eateries. The neighborhood is centered around Silver Lake itself — which is, in fact, a reservoir built in the early 1900s. You’ll find biking and walking paths in the surrounding park.
- Cost of renting: $2,198 a month is the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment.
- Transportation: The 101 is the main artery through this neighborhood, but the traffic is so terrible you may as well stick to surface streets.
- Nearby neighborhoods to consider: East Hollywood, Echo Park
Set just south of Silver Lake, Echo Park stretches to Chinatown and the edge of downtown L.A. (DTLA). Living up to its name, Echo Park has a lovely green space surrounding a lake, with biking and walking paths — all part of a recent renovation. Echo Park is close to so many essential L.A. hangouts, from Chinatown to DTLA to Los Feliz, making it an ideal place to call your home base. Echo Park is also home to Dodger Stadium and the expansive Elysian Park area (technically its own very small neighborhood). The neighborhood has a bit of a scruffy feel and is still somewhat affordable.
- Cost of renting: Average rent in Echo Park is $2,301 a month.
- Transportation: Served by 4 major freeways and centrally located, Echo Park has easy access to other parts of the city.
- Nearby neighborhoods to consider: Silver Lake, Los Feliz
…If you’re honestly moving to California to live near the beach:
Moving to Los Angeles so you can hit the beach after you get off work? You need to head west to either Santa Monica or Venice. With great shopping, the iconic Santa Monica Pier, restaurants galore, and lovely (expensive) neighborhoods, Santa Monica is a very picturesque place to call home. With proximity to the Pacific, you can count on cooler temperatures and clearer air. To top it off, the Santa Monica school district is one of L.A.’s best.
- Cost of renting: Average rent is $3,926.
- Nearby neighborhoods: Pacific Palisades, Venice, Brentwood
Venice is like the younger, bohemian sibling of Santa Monica, who studied abroad and came back really “into art” and pour-over coffee. A little much sometimes? Sure, but dang — they’re having fun doing it! With colorful murals and staircases around every corner, Venice is a walkable blast with so much to discover. Great shopping, great food, beachfront…need we say more?
- Cost of renting: $3,494 is the average rent for an apartment in Venice.
- Nearby neighborhoods: Mar Vista, Marina Del Rey, Santa Monica
Transportation in Santa Monica and Venice: Traffic will make you want to unfriend anyone you know on the East side. You’re never going there again. In all seriousness though — your main artery is the 10, and the traffic is bananas.
…If you’re into more of a relaxed, suburban or neighborhood vibe:
Pasadena, technically its own city, sits northeast of Los Angeles and is a popular L.A. suburb. The Pasadena area is charming, low-key, and family-oriented, making it an ideal location for city getaways or to set up your home if you’d rather enjoy a relaxed vibe than the hum of a big city. After all — you’re only 10 minutes from DTLA. With great shopping and eating options, Pasadena is worth a visit.
- Cost of renting: Average rent in Pasadena is $2,547.
- Transportation: Two freeways intersect Pasadena, which connect you to most of the state’s major interstates.
- Nearby neighborhoods to consider: Northeast L.A., Glendale
Encompassing a number of neighborhoods and incorporated cities (including Glendale, Burbank, Hidden Hills, and Calabasas), the San Fernando Valley is still in L.A. but feels a little removed from the big city with more of a relaxed feel. Beware — without those coastal breezes, temperatures can elevate more than 10 degrees compared to other western parts of Los Angeles. While strip malls are prevalent throughout L.A., they’re truly everywhere in the Valley…and hiding some of the best restaurants (sushi, especially) in the city.
- Cost of renting: The average cost of renting varies greatly depending on the neighborhood, from $1,513 in San Fernando to $2,414 in Calabasas.
- Transportation: The Valley is serviced by the 5, the 405, and the 101. Be aware that being somewhat removed from the city can mean very long commutes — especially if you travel during traditional rush hour times and work downtown.
- Neighborhoods in The Valley: Sherman Oaks, Burbank, Calabasas, Studio City, and more
WESTWOOD AND BRENTWOOD
Divided by the 405, Westwood and Brentwood (north of Santa Monica) are two of the city’s more affluent neighborhoods, boasting great shopping, beautiful residential areas, and lovely cultural centers like The Getty. Westwood is home to UCLA, so don’t be surprised if your coffee-shop neighbors are students and professors.
- Cost of renting: The average rents are $3,456 and $3,063 for apartments in Westwood and Brentwood, respectively
- Transportation: You’ve got the 405 and the 10, which unfortunately means you’ve got gridlock. Good luck.
- Nearby neighborhoods to consider: Bel Air, Pacific Palisades, Beverly Hills
…If you’re looking for a big-city feel:
DTLA / DOWNTOWN
Downtown L.A. has undergone a significant renaissance in the last decade. Formerly an area with stagnation, Downtown is now an area where Things Are Happening — with a flourishing arts and design community and people everywhere you look. Downtown now features incredible restaurants as well as cultural landmarks, such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall. If you’re moving from SF or NYC and want to maintain the feeling of living in a humming downtown, DTLA might be the perfect place for you.
- Cost of renting: $2,649 is the average rent for an apartment in DTLA.
- Transportation: DTLA is very well connected, with access to freeways and public transit to get you where you need to go.
- Nearby neighborhoods to consider: Echo Park, Historic Cultural District
…If money is no object (and you wouldn’t mind bumping into a celeb at Soul Cycle):
When you think of movie stars and famous people living The Life in Los Angeles, you’re thinking of Beverly Hills. Wealthy, extravagant, and (somehow) clean, Beverly Hills features the legendary Rodeo Drive (where you might spot a celebrity having lunch), stuffed with designer boutiques. Beautiful, wide, palm-lined streets are made for cruising in a new convertible, scarf tied in your hair. If you’ve got the cash, why not? With fantastic schools and a peaceful vibe, it’s not hard to see what the other half sees in Beverly Hills. (Also, have you seen Troop Beverly Hills?)
- Cost of renting: $4,741 is the average rent for a 2-bedroom Beverly Hills apartment.
- Transportation: In Beverly Hills, you’ll have decent access to the 101 and the 10.
- Nearby neighborhoods: Bel Air, Westwood, WeHo
Technically, Malibu isn’t in L.A. … but it might as well be. Long a destination for a beautiful beach-day escape and for the more wealthy or famous among us to buy a beachfront dream home away from prying eyes, Malibu really is heavenly. With lovely beaches, tons of great hiking trails and fabulous restaurants, Malibu is worth the 40-minute drive to spend a day, or the investment to buy property.
- Cost of renting: Average rent for a 2-bedroom in Malibu is $5,249.
- Transportation: As a true beachfront town, removed from central Los Angeles, Malibu is dependent on the Pacific Coast Highway. But really, once you’re in Malibu, why leave?
- Nearby neighborhoods: Santa Monica, Hidden Valley
…If money IS seriously an object, these areas are still somewhat affordable:
If you’re moving to L.A. and need to stay within a more reasonable budget — don’t sweat it! The best area to look for more affordable real estate and rentals is Northeast L.A., sometimes called NELA. With much lower rents (in general) than other areas of the city, there’s still so much in NELA to love — all while not being too far from other more central parts of the city.
- Highland Park: One of the oldest neighborhoods in L.A., with a rich mix of old and new. The median rent is $1,332.
- Eagle Rock: Between Glendale and Pasadena and home to Occidental College, this laid-back neighborhood will quickly feel like home. Median rent is $1,607.
- Glassell Park: Nestled in the San Gabriel Hills, Glassell Park has a median rent of $1,304. Unpretentious but lovely, you’ll also find the Rio de Los Angeles State Park here.
- Echo Park: Centrally located and featuring beautiful green spaces, Echo Park has a median rent of $1,382. Echo Park is home to Dodger Stadium as well, so you can catch a game without fighting traffic! For more information, see “Echo Park” section above.
Transportation: The neighborhoods are small, so getting from one to the next is just a quick drive. You’re also between a few other major freeways, so the rest of the city is still within reach.