- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Los Angeles Guide (PDF)
Unlike other large cities such as New York and Boston, Los Angeles has grown in girth rather than height, with scores of unique neighbourhoods and eclectic communities spreading out from its centre. Despite its large scope though, it stands that the best place for an expat to find accommodation in Los Angeles is largely dependent on proximity to the workplace – as congestion can cause treacherous commutes.
Most expats moving to LA opt to rent property rather than buy. House prices are high and though renting is expensive, it is much more affordable than preparing to purchase. Furthermore, there are still some rent-controlled apartments in LA, meaning that yearly increases are limited to a certain percentage.
Types of accommodation in Los Angeles
Foreigners will find that as one of the most populous cities in America, LA has a large and varied assortment of accommodation options available to suit almost any budget and personal preference. Minute apartments, massive hillside mansions, beachfront palaces and typical two-storey brick American homes are all on offer in the city and surrounds. Furthermore, both furnished and unfurnished housing is available.
In a metropolis that considers shopping and interior design staples of a good life, there are plenty of places for expats to find and buy furniture if they decide on unfurnished accommodation.
Finding accommodation in Los Angeles
Regardless of which avenue an individual wishes to pursue – buying or renting – choosing a neighbourhood can be dizzying in a city with so many area and suburbs. Proximity to one's workplace is generally a priority when choosing housing, although expats should also consider cost, crime rates, proximity to their children's school (if applicable), and the demographics of the surrounding community.
Once expats have narrowed down which neighbourhoods align with their personal preferences, it's best to hire a real estate agent to find accommodation. These professionals are familiar with their area and can better assess which housing options would suit an individual's needs. Alternatively, online listings and classified sections in local newspapers are also good resources for finding housing.
Renting accommodation in Los Angeles
While renting accommodation in Los Angeles is becoming increasingly expensive, the rental markets are still not as competitive as those of New York and Boston. Expats looking for rental accommodation in Los Angeles should find plenty of options available to them, though they can be snapped up quickly.
Making an application
Once expats have found somewhere they're interested in moving into, they will be asked to fill out an application form along with references and proof of their ability to pay the rent, such as proof of employment. Applicants may also be subject to background and credit checks,
Most rental contracts in Los Angeles require tenants to make a year-long commitment. However, if expats are dealing with the landlord directly they may be able to negotiate a shorter lease.
Expats should be prepared to pay at least a month's rent upfront, as well as one or two months' rent as a security deposit.
When moving into a rental apartment, expats should make a note of anything that is damaged. Ideally this should be done before signing the lease, but if it is found later the tenant should be sure to provide photographic evidence of any problems. Making the landlord aware of any problems will reduce the risk of money being deducted from the security deposit when the contract expires.
If renting property in Los Angeles, accommodation normally includes the cost of water and refuse services, though this isn't always the case. Expats should anticipate paying electricity and gas costs themselves.
Extras like internet, cable television and telephone lines, are also fees shouldered by the individual renter. Some complexes may charge extra for off-street or undercover parking. In stand-alone houses, alarm systems are also a Los Angeles norm, and again, a cost to be paid by the lessee.
►For an overview of finding employment in the city, read Working in Los Angeles
Are you an expat living in Los Angeles?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Los Angeles. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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