Updated 2 weeks ago

Los Angeles is an iconic city, evoking images of sunshine, palm trees and Hollywood stars. For this likely reason, Los Angeles is the second largest city in the country and has one of the highest rates of immigration. As the center of entertainment, L.A. drives the cutting edge of entertainment and sets trends in food, technology, and fashion. Though a vibrant and trendy place, expats moving to Los Angeles should be aware of some of its downsides such as a high cost of living, traffic, crime, and air pollution.

For general advice on searching for a home and signing a lease in the United States, see the article Accommodation in the USA.


Choosing a neighborhood in Los Angeles can be a daunting task — in the greater L.A. area there are more than 250 neighborhoods! Where the density of other American urban centers has caused them to rise upward, Los Angeles simply sprawls outward. This is important because L.A. differs from most other large U.S. cities in one critical area: public transportation. Most people use a car for daily commuting because the public transportation system isn’t convenient or efficient. Additionally, because there are so many cars on the road, traffic in Los Angeles can be terrible. The first priority when choosing accommodation in L.A. should be a neighborhood that’s convenient to your workplace.

Downtown Los Angeles is hip and modern with lots of new restaurants, art galleries, and new buildings. It’s a very walkable area and one of the few zones that is thoroughly connected by public transport.

Pasadena is a very popular area for families. It has a charming pedestrian-friendly “old town”, but also convenient freeway access for those commuting to downtown Los Angeles. This area has many single-family homes and is known for its excellent schools.

Culver City is trendy, energetic, and diverse. Because it’s an up-and-coming area, housing and the cost of living tend to be more affordable.

Santa Monica is a popular and pricey area that has both a city and beach community feel. The pier is a popular pedestrian zone that is over 100 years old.

Sherman Oaks and the San Fernando Valley are popular L.A. suburbs where you’ll find lots of families, nice homes, shopping opportunities, and restaurants.

Accommodation and cost of living

One thing Los Angeles offers that most other big American cities do not is the multiple housing options. Here you’ll find a big mix of accommodation types from studio apartments to one bedroom bungalows and townhomes to luxurious mansions. For an 85 m² (900 ft²) apartment, expect to pay an average monthly rent of USD $1950 to USD $2380. A 45 m² (480 ft²) studio apartment averages between USD $1370 and USD $2030 per month.

Generally, leases in Los Angeles include charges such as water, trash service, and building maintenance. Many L.A. accommodations have some kind of air conditioning unit and most include major appliances like a refrigerator and stove/oven. Usually, apartments include one or two designated parking spaces, though older buildings may not. That being said, be sure to carefully read what is and is not included in your monthly rent before signing your lease.

Life in Los Angeles

L.A. is synonymous with Hollywood and is the entertainment capital of the U.S. It’s home to major movie studios, film lots, and many movie stars. Expats will find lots of entertainment-related activities like Universal Studios. Family excursions to DisneyLand, the Santa Monica Pier or sporting events are also options. For museum lovers, the Getty Center, Natural History Museum, and Science Center are a must visit.

The weather in L.A. is warm year round and has very mild winters. Both this and its proximity to the beach means that people spend lots of time outside enjoying an active, healthy lifestyle. Additionally, its location in southern California means you can easily take a day trip to the nearby wine regions, the Palm Springs desert, or a replicated Danish village in Solvang.

 Important: Los Angeles is located over numerous geological fault lines and experiences regular earthquakes. The majority of these go unnoticed but scientists recommend that L.A. should be prepared in case of a larger event. Experts recommend preparing an emergency kit, having an earthquake action plan and making sure you live in an earthquake-resistant building (L.A. has laws on new construction and retrofitting older buildings).

 Useful Links:

Los Angeles Times housing ads
Los Angeles cost of living calculator
Los Angeles crime map
Lists of 100 free and almost-free things to do in Los Angeles

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.