The 12 Best Places to Live in Los Angeles
LA, The City of Angels, La La Land – whatever you call it, Los Angeles is the place to be.
As the epicentre of America’s film and television industry, this exciting city is known internationally for being the home of the rich and famous, and, of course, of Hollywood.
With over 472 square miles to explore, expats can see America’s second-largest city in all its glory – but which LA neighbourhood is most suitable for you? Let’s find out.
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Best places for cheap property
Let’s get one thing straight, LA is not an affordable city – in fact, it’s infamous for being exactly the opposite.
To compare, we’ve listed both Los Angeles’s and the US’s average property prices below:
|Average in LA||Average in the US|
|Cost of rent for a 1-bedroom apartment||$2,095||$960|
Data from local real estate companies and Federal Reserve Economic Data, 2021
There are, however, a few places in LA where you can find cheaper property. We’ve listed our top two affordable destinations below.
1. Mission Hills
Average property price: $537,500
Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,650
With only around 20,000 residents, Mission Hills can offer expats a small but diverse neighbourhood on the edge of the city. Although the area is located quite far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, residents can drive to Downtown LA in less than half an hour.
Despite property prices being well over the national average, they’re still roughly $300,000 lower than the LA average. That’s why more than 70% of Mission Hills residents own their own home, proving that it really is possible to find affordable property here.
You might want to hurry with house hunting though, as people are starting to cotton on to this hidden gem. Home prices in Mission Hills grew by 3.7% during 2020.
2. Panorama City
Average property price: $478,400
Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,550
Despite being one of the largest neighbourhoods in LA, with an estimated population of almost 73,000 residents, Panorama City can offer expats some of the most affordable properties in Los Angeles.
Located a little closer than Mission Hills to the centre of LA, Panorama City offers more of an urban vibe – and it only has a 22-minute commute into Downtown Los Angeles. Interestingly, despite it having some of the most affordable properties in LA, more than 73% of residents rent, rather than buy, in Panorama City.
Again, you might want to move fast, since property prices in Panorama City grew by 4.3% during 2020.
LA's famous Hollywood sign, propped up in Griffith Park
Best places for green space
3. Hollywood Hills
Home to some of LA’s most popular parks, Hollywood Hills is perfect for anyone wanting a green oasis to hide in after time in the city centre.
One of the best things about living in Hollywood Hills is how close it is to Griffith Park – a perfect spot for hiking, stargazing, and picnicking. Covering over 4,000 acres, this green stretch is also home to a variety of sporting venues, including tennis courts, pools, and an equestrian centre.
You can also visit the Griffith Observatory, which hosts an array of stargazing and other astronomical events throughout the year.
Nearby, you can also find Runyon Canyon Park. With over 160 acres of nature to explore, this area is renowned for its unmatched hiking trails and sweeping views of the city. There’s even an off-leash dog park for any expats travelling with pets.
4. Beverly Hills
Another one of LA’s neighbourhoods that’s plastered with parks, trees, and hiking trails.
If you’re looking for a peaceful pocket of greenery after a long day, Beverly Hills has some quaint areas on offer, including the Will Rogers Memorial Park and the Beverly Garden Park. Here, you can enjoy the serenity by losing yourself in a book, catching up with friends over a picnic, or simply admiring the view.
Want more of an adventure? Head over to Franklin Canyon, where you can hike to your heart’s content, taking in spectacular views of California’s largest city. Then, you can end your walk on a high note with a stroll along the breathtaking Franklin Canyon Reservoir.
Best places for culture
5. Downtown Los Angeles
LA is soaked in culture, but Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) in particular is jam-packed with historic landmarks.
As the city’s art district, you can find new exhibitions, well-known installations, and up-and-coming artists inside any of DTLA’s galleries – and trust us, there’s a lot of them. One of the must-see institutions is LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), which houses thousands of artworks, crafted from 1940 through the present day.
If you move to DTLA, you’ll also have the majority of the city’s historic theatres on your doorstep, as well as the Walt Disney Concert Hall. You can even pop down to the Grammy Museum, and work your way through memorabilia, film clips, and interactive exhibits.
Downtown LA has garnered quite a bad reputation over the past few decades, which mainly boils down to its high level of crime and homelessness.
However, there has been a slight improvement over recent years. And like all big cities, there are safe (and not so safe) areas in the district, so make sure to do your research before moving.
6. West Hollywood
There is tonnes to do in West Hollywood. Spend your weekends visiting highly-rated restaurants, tasting tipples at local bars, dancing the night away in LA's top clubs, or laughing your socks off in cosy comedy venues.
Known to locals as WeHo, West Hollywood is also home to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as Chris Burden’s famous Urban Light installation of vintage street lamps.
Since more than 40% of West Hollywood identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, this area of LA is particularly welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community. Simply follow the rainbow-flag-lined streets to explore plenty of LGBTQ+-friendly bars.
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Best places for food
No, we haven’t confused ourselves with Italy here. By moving to Venice in LA, expats can work their way through all sorts of dishes – each with a keen focus on fresh fruit and locally sourced vegetables.
But which restaurants should you keep an eye out for?
- Gjelina – Easily the most sought-after restaurant in Venice. Gjelina’s popular brunch menu features artisan plates, including duck confit-potato hash, a seaweed and cucumber salad, and grilled squid with salsa verde
- Plant Food + Wine – This aptly-named restaurant is dedicated to upscale vegan food and organic wine. What’s more, you can tuck into your feast whilst soaking in the West Coast sunshine in the restaurant’s minimalist, chilled-out patio area
8. Little Ethiopia
Little Ethiopia is one of LA’s unique food neighbourhoods, stretching over a few blocks along Fairfax Boulevard. With rows of restaurants each serving their own take on authentic Ethiopian cuisine, visitors are well and truly spoiled, experiencing dishes that are all bursting with flavour.
Popular Ethiopian dishes include a stew of lamb, beef, trout, or foul, served up with various lentils, potatoes, and greens. To keep it traditional, stews also come with a giant spongy bread called injera – used to soak up every inch of the dish.
If you’re after the best of the best, head to Merkato’s cosy restaurant and admire the colourful Ethiopian interior (and the food, of course). The restaurant’s top dishes include the Sega Wot, which is a beef stew with a spicy kick and a smoky aroma, and the peppery veggie plate combo – perfect for sharing with friends.
The world-famous Hollywood Boulevard district illuminated at dusk
Best places for nightlife
Expats looking for eclectic nightlife options should check out Koreatown. This small area – covering only three square miles – is renowned for having the US’s largest concentration of clubs and 24/7 restaurants.
Koreatown’s diverse options include fun karaoke bars, dimly-lit speakeasies, and a wide range of watering holes. More often than not, bar-hoppers will find they’ve not even scratched the surface of Koreatown’s countless secret spots after a weekend of outings.
Looking to end the night with a bang? Head to Cafe Brass Monkey. This karaoke venue offers specialty cocktails for affordable prices, as well as a lively atmosphere – what more could you want?
10. Silver Lake and Echo Park
Once ranked as the number one hipster neighbourhood in America by Forbes, Silver Lake is rife with electric nightlife, organic restaurants, funky boutiques, vintage bars, chilled-out speakeasies, and fun comedy clubs.
Locals looking for a great night out also usually head towards the trendy Echo Park area – just a short walk from Silver Lake. The nightlife here ranges from shabby dive bars to contemporary lounges, from vintage pubs to impromptu comedy shows – most of which are located along the bustling Sunset Boulevard.
Best places for schools
Any expats moving to LA with a family should check out Glendale. This neighbourhood is located on the outskirts of the city, 10 miles north of Downtown LA.
Here, parents can commute into the city in as little as 13 minutes, whilst also having a variety of family-friendly activities (not to mention the humongous Griffith Park) to explore closer to home.
The Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) operates the area’s public schools, which all have good reputations. But just how good is Glendale for children? Well, it has one of the highest concentrations of top-ranked public schools in California.
Plus, Glendale public schools have an average math proficiency score of 48% (compared to the Californian average of 40%) and a reading proficiency score of 58% (compared to the 51% state-wide average).
The results speak for themselves.
12. San Marino
San Marino Unified School District (SMUSD) offers good quality education for both national and international students in the neighbourhood.
Working closely with the local community, schools in San Marino work hard to help students excel in academics, the arts, and athletics.
How well do schools in San Marino perform? SMUSD students consistently rank among the top 1% of all students in the state for English and maths, according to the California Assessment of Student Progress and Performance system. Plus, 87% of students are at least ‘proficient’ in math, and 88% in reading.
Finding a place to live in Los Angeles
Relocating is never an easy task, but hopefully after reading this, you’ll have a better idea of where you’ll be best suited in Los Angeles.
We know how stressful it can be looking for a new home abroad, whether you’re renting or buying.