Moving to LA
Affordability 3 out of 5
Safety 4 out of 5
Healthcare 2 out of 5
Traffic Flow 1 out of 5
Property affordability 4 out of 5
Climate 5 out of 5
Environment quality 4 out of 5
Ever since Los Angeles became part of the US, the city has been a symbol of America’s West and a magnet for immigrants looking for opportunity, prosperity, and even fame on the sun-kissed California coast.
The second largest city by population in the USA, Los Angeles is a major world business hub and financial centre. At the time of writing, if the greater Los Angeles area were a country in its own right, it would be the 17th largest in the world in terms of nominal GDP. It is home to the headquarters of dozens of large multinational companies, and has been one of the entertainment industry’s most important locations.
From the stunning San Gabriel Mountain range to the 75 miles of coastline, if you fancy living by the ocean in Long Beach, have a view in the Hollywood Hills, or both in the Pacific Palisades, you can certainly do that when you move to LA.
The sprawling LA metropolis sits on a long stretch of coastline with numerous sandy beaches, a mountain range, wetlands, and forest all within an hour’s drive – in decent traffic.
Living in Los Angeles
There are a few key things you should know about before you start your life in LA.
One thing nobody moving to Los Angeles will be able to complain about is the weather. LA sees, on average, 35% less precipitation and a whopping 120% more sunshine (based on annual rainfall by volume and sunshine hours) than London.
Winter will be a thing of the past too, with average low temps in La-la-land rarely dropping below 10 °C even in December and January. Throw out your coats and stock up on hoodies and flipflops.
LA has residents from over 140 different countries speaking over 100 different languages. British expats are welcomed, though get ready for failed attempts by locals to guess your origins. With 43% of inhabitants speaking Latin American Spanish, Los Angeles could provide an excellent opportunity for picking up a new language. Tagalog, Chinese, Korean, Farsi, Vietnamese, and Armenian are some of the most spoken languages across the county.
Jobs in LA
While LA County has a higher unemployment rate than the national average, there are plenty of jobs here. If you have experience in the entertainment, tourism, aerospace, or technology industries, you should be able to find work in LA, dependent on your visa situation. Santa Monica in particular was named one of the top 10 US cities for startups by Bloomberg Business.
Gone are the days of Los Angeles exclusively being a mecca for those who want to break into the entertainment industry. In recent years, the city has a seen a huge growth in the technology sector, thanks to popular social media apps such as Snapchat setting up office in the city.
Finding a place to live
When it comes to finding a flat in Los Angeles, determination is key. You may not always get your first choice in your dream neighbourhood, but shop around, many areas offer the same standard of living as the famous names but for a lot less money. For example, if you can’t find a place in Culver City, try Palms.
Many go to Craigslist to find a flat, but take a look at Westside Rentals, a highly popular real estate brokerage that’s had a proven track record of providing renters with high quality secure homes.
As Los Angeles is such a vast city housing prices change from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. A house in Beverly Hills, for example, will cost you on average north of six million pounds, while a house in West Carson will for for around £350,000. The average property in LA will cost around £450,000.
Select the size of your move to get free quotes
Neighbourhoods and transport
There’s a saying in Los Angeles: live where you work. The importance of being close to the office is due to the city’s reliance on freeways, and the tremendous traffic jams that occur during rush hour. That being said, owning a car is essential to LA life, as it’s a large city with neighbourhoods spread over a distance.
In LA, there is more to where you live than the hours you’ll spend in traffic. Each of Los Angeles’ neighbourhoods has its own unique charm. For those looking for the chilled out, creative culture, Eagle Rock and Venice offer an artsy bohemian vibe. Beach towns like Malibu and Long Beach offer that city and beach feel you’re used to in the movies.
Schools and education in Los Angeles
The education options in Los Angeles are extremely varied. From primary school through to high school the public option depends on what area you live in, or school district you are part of.
International schools in LA
There are a number of international schools in Los Angeles, including the International School of LA Children are taught in both French and English in elementary school here, and take the DELF exams. High school students follow the International Baccalaureate or French Baccalaureate programmes.
Le Lycee Francais de Los Angeles, with five campuses located in West LA, is an international school that doesn’t require its students to know French in order to attend. The International School Programme is taught in English, though all students study French. There is also a French programme, following the official French Ministry of Education’s curriculum.
Schools in LA
There are also a number of high quality private school options in LA: Harvard-Westlake, Brentwood, Crossroads, and The Buckley School are some of the top rated private schools.
Nevertheless, don’t cross off public schools from your list. There are several magnet and charter schools, both usually free, that have promising teachers and programmes, such as El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, and Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies.
Comparing Los Angeles to London
Comparing living in LA to living in London is like comparing apples to oranges; both are popular fruits that most people love, but they are quite different.
|Living Costs||London||Los Angeles|
|Disposable Salary|| |
|3 Bedroom Apartment|| |
|Imported Beer 0.33cl|| |
|Bottle of Wine|| |
|VW Golf 1.4|| |
|Basic Utilities|| |
|Rice (1kg)|| |
|Meal for 2|| |
|Cinema Ticket (1)|| |
Food and drink
There are a fair number of British pubs and food haunts in Los Angeles, including Ye Olde King’s Head in Santa Monica, Robin Hood in Van Nuys, and White Harte Pub in Woodland Hills. For a full English, Cecconi’s is a surprising, yet tasty option in West Hollywood.
Commuting in LA might be a problem for Londoners. With a much less extensive public transport system and a heavy reliance on cars, highways and expressways can become parking lots at rush hour, hugely elongating the working day.
To make up for this, money goes a bit further: the cost of consumer goods, groceries, restaurants and rent are all lower than in the UK capital.
Lovers of culture will enjoy the change of pace; don’t scoff, LA has more museums and theatres than any other city in the States, including New York! Dubbed the Creative Capital of the World by many, LA is a mecca for artists of every stripe and discipline.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hollywood Bowl, Greek Theatre, and more are hosts to a variety of genres and musical acts, while LACMA and the Getty Centre have rotating and permanent exhibits that will keep you coming back for more. Don’t miss out on the Japanese American National Museum or a visit to Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana to get a feel for LA.
While London has six Premier League football clubs, LA has one decent MLS team, the LA Galaxy, that calls the StubHub Centre in Carson home. You may also be drawn to the allure of basketball games (Lakers or Clippers), hockey matches (LA Kings), and baseball (LA Dodgers and Angels of Anaheim).
You will be forgiven for calling football ‘soccer’, as a majority of the pre 2017 World Cup fans call it that, but you won’t find many cricket fans here.
While you will rarely have to worry about storms in LA like you do in the UK, you will get used to the frequent, small earthquakes that occur up and down California Yet, there’s nothing to worry about. As long as you and your family have an earthquake plan, bag, and meeting place in case of a real emergency, you will be fine.
Visas and work permits for Brits moving to Los Angeles
One of the most important aspects of your move abroad is to make sure that you have the proper legal documentation to allow you to live and work here. If you have yet to sort out your American visa, add that to the top of your to do list.
Upon arrival in LA, make sure to register with the British Consulate General, located in Century City, south of Santa Monica Blvd.
Packing list for your move to Los Angeles
Whether you are moving from Edinburgh or Brighton, there are a few things you’ll want to leave at home (read: bin) and others you’ll want to pack with you when you move from the UK to Los Angeles.
- Heavy winter coats and jackets (unless you plan on travelling to cold climates more than once a year)
- Umbrella – it rarely ever rains in LA, and you’ll be inside when this happens
- Half your jumpers
- All but one of your winter scarves and a pair of gloves
- Your kettle
- Summer clothes
- Cadbury’s and Nando’s hot sauces (to make friends upon arrival)
You’ll obviously want to bring more with you than just the above items, so take a look at the cost of shipping from the UK to Los Angeles. We cover the costs, options, duration, and what you can and cannot bring into the USA.