Los Angeles, aka the City of Angels, is the second largest city in the United States with a population of 10.1 million souls living across an area more than 10 times the size of Greater London.
People flock from around the world to enjoy its consistently hot and sunny days year round. It’s a beautiful coastal city with plenty of beaches, business opportunities, sports, museums and offers a more laid-back way of life. However the city is also well known for its diversity.
Living in Los Angeles
LA has a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities and it is less one big city than it is a convergence of unique towns and neighbourhoods that create a metropolis.
The city is made up of people from over 140 countries, speaking 86 different languages. Each area of Los Angeles can differ greatly from the other, but they all unite to create one of the most exciting and busiest cities in the United States.
Source: Flickr | vidalia_11
The types of people that populate Los Angeles are as diverse as the city itself, ranging from doctors, lawyers, stock brokers, and movie stars to teachers, social workers, salesmen and publishers. LA could be a home to anyone. It's diversity is one of the things that defines the city.
Being a city designed after the invention of the automobile, LA is a sprawling metropolis. Unlike New York and London, there is very limited public transportation, making it nearly impossible to function without a car.
Source: Flickr | John Coke
Sport is a huge part of American culture and since the city is home to major sports teams including the Lakers, Dodgers and Galaxy, there’s always an opportunity to catch a game. If you’re looking for something active, there are countless hiking trails, parks and mountains to navigate.
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LA offers a variety of jobs in the entertainment, healthcare, technology, and manufacturing industries. The sheer size of the city means plenty of jobs, but the market can be competitive. A solid grasp of the English language will help, but other languages are needed as well, as this is a huge multicultural area.
LA is most famous for being the centre of the entertainment industry and is home to most of the major U.S. film studios (Warner Brothers, Disney, Universal, Fox, and Sony), making it the place to live if you want to work in the film industry.
Source: Flickr | James Gubera
In 2015, the unemployment rate has hovered slightly above the national average at between seven and eight percent (and this is lower than in most of 2014). Some of the most promising and fastest-growing industries in Los Angeles include:
The green sector: “Green” industries are hot in LA and include the likes of sustainable construction and solar manufacturing. Electricians and machinery mechanics would do well to check out this area when looking for work.
The fitness industry: Consumers have become more educated about their bodies, the products they use, and how they take care of themselves overall, and those in LA are no exception. Yoga and Pilates studios flourish here, as do other health and fitness centered businesses.
Tourism: LA is full of tourists, so there is usually work to be found in this industry – for example, tour operations and other related jobs.
Source: Flickr | Jakob Hürner
Specialty markets: Do you know the difference between kimchi and raita? Radicchio and fennel? Then you might be interested in a job in a specialty ethnic food market; the rise of the foodie has given way to an increase in these types of businesses.
Clothing and apparel manufacturing: This is a huge industry here; in fact, LA is one of the country’s top apparel manufacturing regions.
The cost of living in Los Angeles can vary greatly depending on the area. The cost of living is less than in London, but more than most other cities in the United States. Like most big cities, the increased cost of living comes with a higher salary ($65,000 per year – 8% above US median average).
In general, you can find whatever you want in LA for a wide range of prices. A restaurant meal for one person, for example, may cost anywhere between $7 for fast food to $25 for a mid-range establishment, or much more for upscale eateries. Expect to pay around $4 for a cappuccino or $5 for a beer in a restaurant or café.
As in most places, it’s typically cheaper to shop in a grocery store than to eat in a restaurant. In most markets, you can find a pound of chicken for around $3.71, a dozen eggs for $3.40, a pound of oranges for $1.34, and a gallon of milk for $3.71. Farmer’s markets are all the rage, though are not usually the cheaper option.
For a typical 915 square foot apartment, monthly utilities (heat, electricity, water, and garbage service) cost about $110 per month. A 6 Mbps Internet connection will add about $40 per month to this expense.
Source: Flickr | Miwok
You can join a local gym for about $40 a month as well, and see the latest movie at a local cinema for about $13, depending on the theatre chain.
As LA is one of the largest metropolises in the country, the housing market here is competitive—and pricey. If you are new to the area, it’s probably a good idea to rent your home for the first year or so in order to get familiar with the city and learn which areas you could see yourself living in long-term.
Source: Flickr | B Garrett
Home prices in the area have been rising in 2015, with a median home price of $425,000. With the last year’s job growth and increasing buying confidence thanks to a period of subdued price appreciation, prices are expected to hold steady or continue to rise in the coming months.
Apartments in LA do not come cheap either. In the city center, a one-bedroom costs on average $1,645 per month while a three-bedroom goes for around $2,988. You can save a substantial amount of money by choosing a neighborhood outside of the city center, where you should be able to find a one-bedroom apartment for closer to $1,179 or a three-bedroom for about $2,216.
Los Angeles is like a sprawling metropolis comprising many individual towns. Driving from one side of town to the other can seem like a chore when you have all the amenities you need close to home; for this reason, many people end up spending most of their time in their own neighborhoods, so it’s important to choose one that fits your lifestyle and preferences.
Family-Friendly: Manhattan Beach and Miracle Mile are both great options for domestic couples or families with kids. Manhattan Beach is a family-centered community with a beautiful beachside setting where bicycling is easy, while Miracle Mile offers charming 1920s houses, plenty of sidewalks for walking, and a convenient location near the freeway. Some options in the San Fernando Valley are Sherman Oaks and Woodland Hills; both are near parks, good elementary schools, and major shopping centres off the 101. Take a look at our guide to family friendly LA neighbourhoods for more information.
Upmarket: The Fresh Prince wasn’t wrong -
is still king of the hills with properties regularly fetching $20m+.
Residents of Beverly Hills pay a premium not just for their houses and apartments, but for their zip code. There are also excellent schools here, great places to walk, lots of free parking, and a safe, clean, and attractive atmosphere.
The likes of Brentwood, famous Santa Monica, and oceanside Pacific Palisades are all excellent contenders.
Used to be home to the old money, Calabasas and Hollywood Hills are now home to starlets and the nouveau riche; the former is near some top public and private schools, while the latter is perfectly situated between Hollywood and NoHo.
Hip & Trendy: Silver Lake is as hip and trendy as it gets; this eclectic East Side enclave is full of edgy young people, farmer’s markets, food trucks, and a thriving arts scene. Here you’ll also find some of the most avant garde Modernist architecture in the country.
West Hollywood, or WeHo, is a happening place all on its own, and only a step away from the bars and clubs of the Sunset Strip.
Up & Coming: A working-class burg with a highly diverse population of over 40,000, Echo Park is a short bike ride from the city centre, a stone’s throw from Chinatown, and great hiking trails—not to mention its close proximity to four major freeways.
Highland Park, a bit further out than Silver Lake to the east, is an old neighbourhood gentrified again after a less than pleasant rep in the ‘90s.
Keep an eye out for Fox Hills and Long Beach at the top of the where to live lists this time next year; affordable house prices and a real neighbourhood feel are making these areas popular.
Source: Flickr | Ryan Vaarsi
Cost of Moving
Along with deposits on your home and utilities, the cost of moving itself must also be factored into your relocation budget. Take a look at the following estimates for moving a 20-foot shipping container (enough to hold the contents of an average three-bedroom house).
Schools and Education in Los Angeles
There are well over three hundred high schools in Los Angeles County including public schools, private schools, magnet schools, charter schools, Catholic and Protestant schools, Jewish schools, and alternative schools. There are many more elementary and middle schools split along similar lines.
Enrolling your child in a public school is accomplished through the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). You will normally be allocated a school in your neighbourhood, unless you live on the border of two school catchment areas. Alternatively, you can apply to a school with available space outside your neighbourhood, a charter school, or to a program for gifted children.
Prestigious private schools in LA include Flintridge Preparatory School and Harvard Westlake School which charge tuition fees of around $30,000 per annum.
The faith based schools will usually accept non-faith students and tend to charge considerably less e.g. Cathedral High School, for boys, with fees of around $9,000.
International schools include the Los Angeles International Charter High School, Lycée International de Los Angeles, Lycée Français de Los Angeles, and Goethe International School.
Source: Flickr | CampusGrotto
There are quite a few public four-year universities in LA:
- California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA)>, offers over 100 Bachelor degrees and is one of the more affordable universities in the country.
- California State University, Northridge (CSUN), has the largest student population of all CSU’s, with over 40,000 students and recognised for the highly qualified faculty.
- California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona), over 1,000 of their 17,000+ students are from overseas.
- California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), administrative headquarters of the CSU’s Statewide Nursing Programme and home of the StubHub centre.
- California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), one of the largest student populations in the state and one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the Western US.
- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), ranked 12th in world for education, and offers excellent programmes for virtually all subjects and sports.
There are also private school USC (University of South California, ranked 75th in the world, famous Los Angeles Film School, Loyola Marymount University (including a law school), and the American Jewish University among other tertiary education institutions.
Ranking against the World
Los Angeles does tend to be one of the pricier US cities to live in, but cheaper than New York City, for example. The city’s ethnic and cultural diversity means that there are plenty of expat communities and that, in general, residents have a very accepting and tolerant attitude toward expats. The entertainment industry is huge here, as are fashion and tourism.
Source: Flickr | Felix Trigger
A day in Los Angeles
The diversity of Los Angeles is reflected in the lives of its residents. A normal day of a person living in LA depends entirely on who they are and what they want to do. Whether you want to go surfing in the morning, for a jog in the evening, or try out the latest of LA’s food scene, it’s all up to you.
Compared to fast paced cities like London or New York, LA has a more relaxed, carefree vibe. Free time can be filled with a trip to the beach, theatre, cinema, a park or museum, or just relaxing at home or a neighbourhood bar or coffee shop.
Driving is a big part of daily life in Los Angeles, as public transport or walking is not a practical option. Traffic is often heavy, so travelling can take up a good portion of your day. Most people take advantage of this set time to catch up with their friends and family - hands-free, of course - or perfecting their karaoke song.
LA is a place where people can enjoy a quiet life at home or an exciting social life out in Hollywood; it completely depends on the type of area you choose.
Los Angeles' climate through the seasons
|Spring||March to May||11-24°C||3.37in|
|Summer||June to August||20-30°C, 35-40°C inland||0.14in|
|Autumn||September to November||20-26°C||1.97in|
|Winter||December to February||10-20°C||9.25in|