LA aerial view at sunrise

Moving in LA: Your Los Angeles Relocation Guide

California Los Angeles

by Liz Taylor Posted on November 5, 2020

Moving to Los Angeles? Whether you’re relocating to L.A. from across the country or just another part of the area, buckle up and get ready for an interesting ride. Our L.A. moving guide aims to help you smooth out the bumps, from a tour of the best Los Angeles neighborhoods and family-friendly communities to practical tips on apartment hunting and comparing L.A. moving  costs and services.

First, let’s take a wide-angle view of L.A., a place we may think we know from the movies, but where reality can be even bigger than we imagined.

Map of Los Angeles

Sizing Up Los Angeles

When you’re moving, the sheer scale of Los Angeles can be astounding for newcomers and residents alike. If the five-county L.A. Metro area was a state, its 18.8 million residents would make it the fifth most populous in the U.S. -- after Texas, Florida, New York, and California itself. Unlike the more compact areas of the Northeast, the L.A. Metro region sprawls across 34,135 square miles. Los Angeles County alone covers 4,084 square miles and includes 88 incorporated cities -- ranging from the city of L.A. with 4 million residents to tiny Vernon, population 123. 

L.A. Size and Population Snapshot

PlacePopulationLand Size
5-County L.A. Metro Area
(Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura,
Orange and San Bernardino)
18.8 million34,135 square miles
Los Angeles County10.2 million4,084 square miles
Los Angeles City4 million472 square miles
Source: L.A. Convention & Tourism Board

How much does it cost to live in Los Angeles?

There’s no getting around it. Living in L.A. is expensive, with the price of homes and rental rates driving up the cost to live in this place known for its idyllic weather and nonstop entertainment.  According to Payscale, L.A.’s cost of living is 43% higher than the national average. 

Los Angeles Cost of Living

MeasureLos AngelesNational
Average rent  
(Apartment size: 800-square-feet)
Typical home value
(Includes only the middle price tier of homes) 
Average Salary $76,000$52,000
Sources: Rentcafe, Zillow, Payscale, Social Security Administration

L.A. Economy & Job Market

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a movie star to make it in Los Angeles. In reality, the L.A. Metro area has a robust and highly diverse economy, with many business and job opportunities that reach far beyond the entertainment industry. The region leads California in a variety of industry sectors, including: 

  • Aerospace and defense
  • Bioscience
  • Technology
  • Clean tech
  • Entertainment
  • Global trade 
SpaceX Dragon capsule
Based in southwestern Los Angeles County, SpaceX headquarters plays a major role in the aerospace industry. For example, the Dragon capsule is the first private spacecraft to take humans to the International Space Station.
(Credit: @spacex via Instagram)

While L.A.’s economy, like in other U.S. cities, has been hit hard by the global pandemic, it’s well positioned for swift recovery driven by emerging industries, innovation, and small business. In L.A. County, 93% percent of all businesses have 20 or fewer employees and over 55 percent of those businesses are minority-owned.

You can learn more about job and business opportunities in L.A. by visiting the county’s LA Jobs Portal and Business Assistance Resources compiled by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Thinking about testing the L.A. market? Check out these tips on setting up pop-up locations.

Is it possible to live on a budget in L.A.?

We’re not going to pretend it’s easy to live on a strict budget in a place known for conspicuous consumption, but there are still ways to save in Los Angeles. These two guides will help you save on rent and transportation, and they contain other clever ways to stay smart about spending:

Before you dive into the sprawling L.A. rental market, it’s best to get your bearings first. Our easy guide will help you figure out where to look, how to find the apartment that’s right for you, and how to seal the deal. 

Echo Park, Los Angeles
Echo Park
(Credit: Echo Park Cool via Facebook)

Finding the best L.A. neighborhoods

Now that we’ve covered the basic numbers, it’s time to start looking for your new home in L.A. With so much ground to cover and hundreds of neighborhoods to consider, it helps to narrow things down a bit when you’re trying to figure out where you want to live in L.A. Metro. You can take a deep dive with these two resources:

  • Ultimate Guide to Los Angeles Neighborhoods
    Learn what attracts residents to some of the top L.A. neighborhoods, plus average rent and commuting details.  
  • Family-Friendly Neighborhoods in L.A.
    When you’re home-shopping for a family with kids, you’ve got special features in mind. Find out which neighborhoods rank high in terms of schools, walkability, and plenty of nearby family-friendly activities.

In the meantime, here’s a quick survey of L.A. neighborhoods based on what you may be looking for: 

Silver Lake, Los Angeles
Silver Lake
(Credit: Alexander Gamanyuk via Unsplash)

 L.A. neighborhoods close to the action

  • Los Feliz
  • West Hollywood
  • Silver Lake
  • Echo Park
  • Downtown L.A.

Beach towns near L.A. 

  • Santa Monica
  • Venice 
  • Malibu
  • Hidden Valley
San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles
San Fernando Valley (The Valley)

Suburbs with a relaxed California vibe

  • Pasadena
  • The Valley
  • Brentwood and Westwood
Glendale, Los Angeles

Family-friendly communities with solid schools 

  • Sherman Oaks
  • Culver City
  • Cheviot Hills
  • Glendale
  • Montecito and Montecito Heights
  • San Marino

More affordable L.A. neighborhoods

  • Highland Park
  • Eagle Rock
  • Echo Park
  • Glassell Park

Planning your move

When you’re looking at neighborhoods and house hunting, it’s never too early to start thinking about the logistics of getting from Point A to Point B. Do you have the big bucks to pay for the full-service treatment, or are you moving on a budget? Need storage while you live in temporary digs so you can explore the area before choosing a home? Making a big cross-country move and wondering how much it may cost? 

These guides have the details you need about both local moves and East Coast-West Coast relocations, including moving service and cost comparisons for Los Angeles moving companies, portable container services, and rental trucks. 

Feeling pumped yet? It’s hard to imagine a more interesting place to explore than Los Angeles. We hope this guide helps you get moving so you can settle into your new home soon. Once you’ve landed, be sure to take frequent breaks from unpacking to start exploring your new surroundings with this list of 100 Free Things To Do In L.A.

Liz Taylor is a freelance writer who keeps up with moving and storage trends while managing the PODS Blog.

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