- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Los Angeles Guide (PDF)
A sprawling city, Los Angeles is an iconic travel destination and home to nearly four million residents. Outdoor visitors can experience everything from its pleasant Mediterranean climate and famous beaches to its rugged mountains and enchanting deserts. But it is perhaps most famous for its entertainment industry, considered to be unrivalled around the world and being home to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and all its trappings. Read on to find out more of the pros and cons of living in Los Angeles.
Lifestyle in Los Angeles
+ PRO: Relaxed but hard-working environment
The city is a true melting pot of cultures, nationalities and languages, meaning that expats won't feel out of place at all. A strange combination of relaxed but hectic attitudes towards work pervades. For example, many businesspeople are constantly seen in cafés and restaurants during the day as entertainment and fashion industry jobs can often be seasonal. As such, one might be tricked into thinking that people aren't working too hard but in fact, there is always something on the go.
+ PRO: Progressive and diverse culture
Los Angeles is known for its progressive and liberal thinking. Its people are constantly on the forefront of social issues such as climate change, LGBTQ+ rights and cannabis legalisation. Healthy living is extremely popular, with fad diets and new workouts in constant flux. This also means a vibrant, diverse and high-quality food scene, with specific neighbourhoods providing a wide selection of ethnic food options, be it from Ethiopian to Japanese or Persian to good old-fashioned American diners.
+ PRO: The great outdoors
The hot weather means Los Angeles is perfect for nature enthusiasts to enjoy the city's offerings of gorgeous mountains, beaches and deserts. For those who want to ease into their outdoor routine, a relaxing day at Griffith Park at the Santa Monica Mountains would be perfect, while there are luxuriant hot springs in the city and surrounding areas. Of course, the beaches speak for themselves, with famous spots like Malibu, Long Beach and Venice Beach all waiting to be explored. The city is also synonymous with surfing, seeing that Topanga, Hermosa, and Manhattan all have world-famous breaks.
Getting around in Los Angeles
- CON: Extreme traffic congestion
Los Angeles is potentially just as renowned for its traffic as it is for its fame. It is markedly worse than other massive cities such as Moscow, New York and London. Indeed, congestion becomes a part of daily life when living in the City of Angels, with an estimated 102 hours a year spent in peak jams. Expats can also forget about easy parking as spaces are very limited.
- CON: Public transport isn't great
Much of this can be attributed to the fact that a staggering number of commuters choose cars over public transport, with estimations close to 85 percent. Public transport isn't very good. While there are plans in the works to expand the Los Angeles Metro Rail System, one should not expect relief any time soon.
Cost of living in Los Angeles
+ PRO: Buying smart can help
If one is smart about their food purchases, then things can be relatively affordable. By sticking to the produce aisle in a grocery store, consumers can combat the high prices seen in cafés, restaurants and food chains. Additionally, internet is cheaper than other big cities like New York.
- CON: Extremely expensive
California is considered the second most expensive state to live in. Fast food, alcoholic beverages and fuel prices are all high. Steep fuel prices are even more of an issue considering the large amount of car transport involved in traversing the incredibly spread out city. Talking of transport, car insurance is high in the state of California, with premiums being the sixth highest in the United States.
- CON: Buying property is hard
Renting in the gorgeous sprawl is very pricey, especially for expat families who won't be considering house shares. For those looking to purchase property, the housing market will be difficult to break into as it is extremely expensive.
Weather in Los Angeles
+ PRO: Lovely climate
The sunny skies of California mean the weather in Los Angeles is generally very pleasant, making its scenic beauty even more of a pleasure to live in. While the temperatures can get quite high, it's generally a comfortably warm temperature. Referred to as a Mediterranean climate, its summers are hot and dry while winters tend to enjoy lesser temperatures and more rainfall.
Working in Los Angeles
+ PRO: Diverse job market
There are opportunities in nearly every sector for those looking to work in Los Angeles, with its unemployment rates low in recent times. Vacancies abound in everything from IT to logistics, though its main draw lies in its entertainment, fashion, and service industries. Start-ups are well supported while those in hospitality also enjoy competitive incomes.
- CON: High competition for jobs
While business is booming and there is a rich array of employers, the city also has one of the most competitive job markets in the country. This professional cut and thrust means expats must be prepared to work hard to grow in their careers. Getting a job in the first place might be fairly straightforward but climbing to the higher salary echelons requires graft.
► For an overview of life in the City of Angels, see our Moving to Los Angeles guide
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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