Moving with a family can be overwhelming under any circumstances. So many people to feed, bodies to move, and boxes to coordinate. Moving to a big city like Los Angeles? That’s a whole new ballgame. Los Angeles is a sprawling city with an immense number of neighborhoods.
If you’re making the move to Los Angeles with your family, your head is probably filled with all kinds of questions. Where are the safest neighborhoods in Los Angeles? What about the best school districts in LA? Should I be looking outside the city — for the best suburbs of Los Angeles? In a city with over 400 distinct neighborhoods, knowing where to start can be a challenge. We’ll guide you through how to make the right neighborhood decision for your family.
Best Neighborhoods in Los Angeles for Families
As with any search for a new home, finding the best neighborhood for your family depends on YOU and YOUR family’s specific needs. Every family has its own idea of what makes a “great family neighborhood.” That might be affordability (and where can you get enough space for your tribe), access to family-friendly activities, low crime rates, walkability, or proximity to excellent public schools.
If you’re not sure where to start, ask yourself some key questions to clarify your priorities. Your answers will help guide your neighborhood search:
- Will my child be in school while we live in L.A.? If you have school-age kids, finding a neighborhood close to good schools is probably top of mind for you.
- Do I plan to send them to public or private school? Those who are public school bound will likely be considering which neighborhoods have strong public schools. Headed to private school? The specific neighborhood may not matter as much, as enrollment isn’t dependent on home location.
- What does my family like to do for recreation? Does a typical Saturday find you in a theater with popcorn in hand or playing a game of soccer at the park? Look for neighborhoods where you’ll find activities that you all enjoy.
- Do I need easy access to outdoor activities? Whether you’re outdoorsy or not, chances are you’d like to let your kids run out their energy outside the walls of your house or apartment. If you’ll be primarily on public transit or you’re a single-car family, consider whether you’ll want a park within walking distance.
- Is it important to me to live near other families? Are you hoping to meet other moms and kids while hanging out in the front yard or at the neighborhood park, or do you expect you’ll just make friends at school or hang with your family? Certain neighborhoods have a higher percentage of families, making it easier for your kids – and you – to make friends with neighbors.
Now that you’ve got some clarity on what’s important to you, you may want to dive into an overview of some of the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles with our L.A. Neighborhood Guide or just use it as a reference. We’ve expanded on that list to help you find the best family-friendly neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Read on to learn about the areas you may want to consider for your family’s next home.
Part of the San Fernando Valley, Sherman Oaks is a neighborhood with a suburban feel, amenities, and residents that make it one of Los Angeles’ most family-friendly neighborhoods. Ranked as one of the safest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks also features multiple parks and a number of weekly farmer’s markets, so you’ll have no trouble finding things for your family to do together. Sherman Oaks has a number of public and private school options, giving you the freedom to choose the kind of education that’s right for your family.
Culver City is a bit like a city within a city and operates as an entertainment business hub. While Culver City’s busyness might not be the right fit for every family, a high level of diversity and some of the best public schools in Los Angeles make this neighborhood appealing to many. Quick access to the beach is a bonus as well!
An idyllic beach town located on the western edge of L.A., Santa Monica offers plenty for families to be excited about. Featuring some of the best public schools in Los Angeles and a selection of private schools, the Santa Monica-Malibu school district is one of the best school districts in Los Angeles, ranking among the top 30 in California. With great museums, shopping, and of course the beach, you’ll have no shortage of places and activities to experience with your family.
This little pocket of a neighborhood near Century City and south of Beverly Hills is one of L.A.’s hidden gems for families. With excellent public elementary schools, you have some of the best public schools in L.A. within walking distance for you and your kiddos. With a local recreation center and park, you’ll find plenty to do together after school, too.
Located west of Pasadena, Eagle Rock has a positive, laid-back environment that will help make it quickly feel like home. With well-ranked schools as well as a public library for your family’s enjoyment, the neighborhood also has a weekly farmer’s market to peruse! If you’re looking for a smaller town feel and quick commuter access to other parts of the city, Eagle Rock may be just the right place for your family to settle down.
Montecito, or Montecito Heights depending on who you ask, is a neighborhood northeast of Downtown L.A. filled with family-friendly amenities. Little explorers (and parents too!) will love the wilderness of Ernest E. Debs Regional Park, with hiking trails to new discoveries and lots of open green space. The neighborhood also features great real estate and fun activities for kids. As a small community, there aren’t a large number of schools to choose from within the neighborhood itself. That said, those schools within the Montecito bounds are well ranked.
Best Suburbs of Los Angeles
The line between Los Angeles neighborhood and city is fuzzy, at best. Colloquially, many of the “suburbs” of L.A. are considered part of the city. If you’re not sure you want to be in L.A. proper and are open to a suburb, there are some fantastic areas surrounding the city to choose from. Here are some of our favorite L.A. suburbs for families:
Nestled between Burbank and Pasadena, north of L.A. proper, lies the city of Glendale. With plenty of great family activities like the L.A. Zoo, museums, and hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains, it’s easy to find something for everyone on the weekend. While Glendale offers both public and private schools, rankings vary, so it would be wise to do some research before enrolling (you can check school rankings here). Another major appeal of Glendale? It’s one of the safest neighborhoods in Los Angeles — and even one of the safest cities in the country.
Just east of Glendale and Eagle Rock, Pasadena has long been a popular destination for families looking for a slower pace than the inner city. Pasadena also features some of the best schools in Los Angeles within its Pasadena Unified School District. Close to both wilderness and city activities, Pasadena offers great balance for families.
This oceanfront town lies south of Santa Monica and Venice. While living here will certainly take an investment (both rent and home prices are high), the cost may be well worth it, as Manhattan Beach has one of the best school districts in Los Angeles. It’s also hard to resist perks like beachfront access and beautiful homes.
Northwest of Glendale and not far from Hollywood, you’ll find the city of Burbank, which serves as an extension of Hollywood’s movie industry with several studios located here. Burbank has some of the best schools and public schools in Los Angeles, along with being one of L.A.’s safest neighborhoods. The downtown area features plenty of family-friendly activities like movie theaters, restaurants, and a farmer’s market.
A small community east of Pasadena, San Marino’s major selling point to families is a truly stellar collection of schools. Named not just the best school district in Los Angeles, but California overall for several years running, you’ll find excellent public school options in San Marino. The neighborhood is also home to great parks and a gorgeous botanical garden, giving you many options to explore.
Los Angeles has Great Neighborhoods for Families
America’s second largest city may be known for the movie business and the beach, but there’s plenty for families to love, too. With wonderful schools throughout Los Angeles, family-friendly neighborhoods, and loads of indoor and outdoor activities, you’re bound to find something you and your family will love. Just as no two neighborhoods are exactly alike, every family is different. With a little patience, research, and exploration, you’re sure to find the Los Angeles neighborhood that’s right for your crew.