Quick Facts About Los Angeles
Just miles from the dreamy Pacific but far from ordinary, the City of Angels has long drawn wide-eye dreamers, from those hoping to strike gold in the San Gabriel Mountains to those hoping to make it big in Hollywood. And whether you’re moving to Los Angeles for a new career or for the laid-back, West Coast lifestyle, you’ll find there are so many things to love about LA.
Outsized by only New York City, Los Angeles is now the second-largest city and metro area in the United States. Much like NYC, LA has lost a sizeable number of residents since the start of the pandemic (roughly 76,500), and the population of Los Angeles has now dropped to 3.8 million. Los Angeles County, whose population is over 9.7 million, saw similar declines. But this Southern California region is still more populous than most states in America.
In this sprawling and diverse city, newcomers will find distinct communities from all over the world. None more so than in Downtown LA, which has many lively and varied districts — from Bunker Hill to the Arts District to Little Tokyo — along with top-shelf museums like The Broad and historic spots, like Union Station.
In central Los Angeles, the glittering streets of Hollywood beckon millions of tourists each year to see where some of the world’s biggest stars were born on the silver screen. Apart from major attractions like the Chinese Theatre and Paramount Studios, the area is not as sought after for residential life, though real estate prices are still shockingly high to most Americans.
One of LA’s central arteries is Wilshire Boulevard, a historic thoroughfare that runs from the shores of Santa Monica through Beverly Hills and into the heart of the Financial District downtown. One stretch of this famous corridor is known as Miracle Mile — a dense, cultural district home to the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA), the famous La Brea Tar Pits and the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum.
On the west side of LA, Playa Vista — better known as Silicon Beach — forms LA’s creative technology hub, where companies like Google, Facebook, We Work, Toms and Samsung all have bases. The 10,000+ residents who call this professional enclave home have access to some of the most manicured developments in the city and easy access to the ocean and the air — LAX is under three miles away.
Just up the shore from Playa Vista and Playa Del Rey, Venice Beach beckons with an upscale but low-key vibe. A croque madame from Gjusta and a cool breeze off the Pacific is really all anybody needs to start their day in this dreamy ocean town.
Whatever LA neighborhood is calling your name, you can learn more about the city below. And be sure to check out our Guide to Moving to California to see if life in the Golden State is right for you.
Life in Los Angeles
California’s cost of living is notoriously high, and Los Angeles is no exception. But with that high price tag come the many benefits of residing in this West Coast jewel. The culture, economy and population of sunny LA are highly diverse, with dozens of global corporate giants from aerospace to entertainment, and scores of distinctive neighborhoods and international enclaves. In the City of Angels, one thing is certain — there is no single LA scene. The limits of what life in Los Angeles can look like are bound only by the imagination.
Cost of Living in Los Angeles
The cost of living in LA is far higher than the national average and top both New York City and Chicago — the largest and third-largest cities in the United States, respectively. The median household income in each of these cities is comparable to the others, but the price of real estate varies dramatically.
The median home value in Chicago is a mere $277,600, and New York’s comes in at a whopping $660,700, but LA’s price tag of $705,900 puts them all to shame. But this is where things get really astonishing—LA prices are far from the highest in the state. In San Jose, homes average $986,700 and San Francisco’s properties run upwards of $1.2 million, on average.
Rents in LA are similarly modest, when compared to other major California cities: the median gross rent in LA is $1,653 — a hair above the NYC’s and a couple hundred dollars higher than Chicago’s — but hundreds below rents in the Golden Gate City and the Capital of Silicon Valley. Because these prices are out of reach for most residents, Los Angeles continues to struggle with a housing shortage and homelessness, two of the biggest issues the current mayor is tackling, with some early success.
To these extraordinary housing costs, add California’s comparatively high tax rates on personal income, corporate income and retail sales. According to the Tax Foundation, California collects the second-highest collections per capita, beaten out only by Vermont. California’s tax rates are graduated and high taxes can mean more or better public services. Learn more about tax rates in Los Angeles County.
Please note: we are not tax experts and are not offering tax advice, other than you should consider obtaining additional information and advice from your legal and/or financial advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances.
Los Angeles Job Market
There’s hardly an industry in the world that Los Angeles doesn’t have a foothold in. The city has been a pioneer in tech, aerospace and the entertainment industry. But it’s also a healthcare giant and a major transportation hub — it’s hard to imagine the global economy functioning without the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s #1 container port.
Los Angeles struggled more than most cities during the global pandemic, and the unemployment rate has remained stubbornly higher than the national average, standing at around 4.9% for the past year. But non-farm employment has risen 2.3% over the past 12 months, with Private Education & Health Services gaining the most (+49,300 jobs), followed by Leisure & Hospitality (+35,600) and Professional & Business Services (+10,400).
Los Angeles County has several industry cluster initiatives underway, building on already powerful sectors like Tourism and fostering developing areas like the Blue Economy — sustainable, ocean-based industries — a sector expected to reach a global value of $3 trillion in the next 10 years.
Some of the biggest employers in the Los Angeles County area include Walt Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment, SpaceX, LAX, Cedars-Sinai Health System and the National Institutes of Health. But branding powerhouses like 72 and Sunny, who create campaigns for clients like the NFL, Google and United Airlines help drive the creative scene in LA, which overflows with talented screenwriters, visual artists and performers.
Higher Education is also high on the list of the LA region’s top assets. UCLA, USC, UC-Irvine, Caltech, CalArts and Art Center are all regional giants. And with many other private and public institutions, including 22+ community colleges, it’s hard to overestimate the cultural value of Los Angeles’ academic institutions.
Public Transportation and Commute Time in Los Angeles
With its massive population, urban sprawl and its love of automobiles, LA is infamous for its traffic. The average commute time in LA is now 31 minutes. The city does have a robust public transportation network — the LA Metro — which boasts an estimated weekly ridership of 24,941,553 across bus and rail lines, but there’s no question that having a car does make getting around LA easier.
With six rail lines and dozens of bus lines, the Metro runs across Los Angeles County, originating in the San Fernando Valley in the northwest, the San Gabriel Valley in the northeast, the Eastside area in central LA and the coastal areas of Santa Monica, Redondo Beach and Long Beach. Most lines converge downtown, simplifying transfers, and several line expansions are already underway. One of the biggest selling points of the LA Metro is the price itself: it’s only $1.75 a ride for bus or rail. That’s low enough to make Los Angelenos think twice when they’re at the gas pump, shelling out nearly $5.00 a gallon.
Los Angeles Climate
The sunny, mild climate of this coastal powerhouse is one of LA’s biggest charms. With an average of 292 days of sunshine, people move to the City of Angels for its consistently heavenly weather, which is rarely too hot or too cold. In the height of summer, city temperatures average only 85 F and beaches hold steady at just below 70°F. In the mountains, daytime temperatures can reach 100 F but cool off dramatically at night. In the winter, the mountains are usually the only place where temperatures drop below freezing, the air holding steadily about 40°F throughout January. Snowfall is rare sight, but 2023 broke longstanding records across the state.
LA’s mountains, valleys, riverways and seaside are both assets and hazards when it comes to the climate — floods, fire, earthquakes and mudslides are some of the perils of this West Coast paradise. LA’s rainy season runs from roughly November-April and El Niños can intensify these, turning ordinary showers into devastating monsoons.
Of course, one of the atmospheric hazards that has long plagued the city isn’t natural at all. LA has battled smog almost since its inception. The mountainsides enclosing the inland valleys turn the region into a topographic bowl, trapping pollutants from cars, buildings and industry. This is one reason that California leads the nation in emission standards and laws combatting pollution — it’s a problem that everyone can see and recognize the source of. All the more reason to use the Metro to get to work.
Unique Experiences in the City of Angels
Newcomers to the city will want to brave the tourists to see all of LA’s most popular attractions at least once, from the beaches of Santa Monica to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Many spots are worth returning to again and again, especially when you have guests visiting.
There’s no more iconic spot in LA than the famous Hollywood Sign, and there are several spots to check it out. The historic Griffith Observatory is a favorite spot for stargazers and tourists alike. The former come for the use of the public telescopes and astronomy exhibits; the latter come for the unbeatable view of the sign from this hillside perch. If you want an even closer look, consider taking a family horseback ride through the hills with a local outfitter or hit the trails on foot — several will bring you close to the Hollywood Sign, which is protected by a fence and a guard.
Another highlight of Griffith Park is the Greek Theatre, which showcases major musical talents on its historic, neo-classical revival stage — Ziggy Marley, Neil Young, Tori Amos and Sylvan Esso are just a few of the headliners for 2023.
Another family favorite, the Los Angeles Zoo is home to more than 1000 species of animals and plants, from the nomadic Addax and the sunburst diving beetle to the native manzanita (also known as bearberry) and the grinning monkeyflowers. Animal lovers will also want to see the Aquarium of the Pacific, which has a special California exhibit with leopard sharks, Catalina gobies and garibaldis, the state fish. The aquarium also offers deep-sea whale-watching cruises, and those who don’t want to risk rough waters can take a calmer harbor tour.
Other not-to-be-missed spots: The Getty Museum — which has an amazing art collection and stellar gardens — and the wild and wonderful, Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown.
No matter where you decide to live in LA, you’ll definitely want to hit the beach, and each spot has its own scene. Santa Monica Beach is home to the historic Santa Monica Pier, which opened in 1909. This boardwalk carnival is still the best place to get your cotton candy and Ferris wheel fix while sampling some of the newer offerings, like Japanese-style hotdogs and hot churros.
Venice Beach, on the other hand, is on a completely different side of the sea. One of the busiest attractions in this half of the state, the Venice Boardwalk is crowded with cafes, street artists, and shredders showing off their tricks at the skate plaza. With so many diversions to explore on shore, don’t forget to dip your toes into the surf.
Back on land, LA has some of the best museums in the country to explore, from LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) — the largest art museum in the West — to MOCA LA, an artist-founded museum with two locations in town that also stewards the desert landwork Double Negative, created by Michael Heizer in the Moapa Valley.
Craft Contemporary has been a part of Museum Row for the past 60 years, exhibiting surveys of stars like Betye Saar as well as emerging artists like Kazuki Takizawa. Residents can participate in programming throughout the year, where you might learn to print fabrics with the popular and cathartic “flower pounding” method or learn to make a clay critter with a local artist.
Downtown residents have plenty of free and fun attractions at their disposal, too. Gloria Molina Grand Park has a splashpad for the kiddos, gardens and green space for picnicking, and it’s regular Sunday Sessions bring everyone to the dance floor with DJs playing the latest beats.
Eat Like an Angeleno
With residents from 140 countries, Los Angeles is a place to eat globally, locally. If you’re in the mood for barbeque, for instance, you’ll find St. Louis-style, Texas-style, and Memphis-style flavors alongside Korean, Hawaiian and Chinese delicacies. One of the local faves is Zef BBQ, a weekend pop-up where you have to place your order online early (like, on Wednesday) for the following Saturday.
If you’re craving Indian fare, you can retreat into the southern joys of Mayura, where the onion and hot chili dosas will have you on your knees or wait for good things to come to you at Electric Karma, where the atmosphere is as dazzling as the dishes.
In the mood for Italian? You’ll find Venetian trattorias, northern Osterias and Neapolitan Pizzerias, just for starters. The Factory Kitchen, a Michelin-rated wonder, offers haute cuisine in a low-key setting — semolina pillows, taggia olives and tender cockle clams are just a few of the temptations on their inventive menu.
And don’t miss LA’s many local markets, where you can find hard-to-source ingredients for your family’s favorite recipes. The Brentwood Farmer’s Market and the Alhambra Farmer’s Market are two local standbys.
Be Ready for the Big Move to Los Angeles
Are you set to move to the City of Angels? Get a moving quote for Los Angeles.
When you select a professional, long-distance mover like United Van Lines to handle your move to LA, you can be confident your relocation will be a seamless experience.
If you’re moving cross-country to Los Angeles, United Van Lines can provide you with a customized, full-service moving package. We’ll take care of everything for your move to LA, including packing and unpacking, storage, shipping your car, removing debris, and more. The MyUnited Move Portal will keep track of all the details of your move.
If you’re moving to LA from another city in California or even moving within Los Angeles itself, we can help you with local moves/movers in Los Angeles. United Van Lines’ interstate California agents/movers can provide local moving services/local movers who will help you move within the Golden State independently under their own businesses and brands.
Planning a DIY move to LA? United Van Lines can provide you with helpful moving resources including packing tips, moving checklists, and regional guides.
If you’re unsure which city to move to in California, check out United Van Line’s Guide to Moving to California for information and resources about Texas’ most popular cities.