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Moving to Los Angeles

A sprawling behemoth of a city, Los Angeles boasts awe-inspiring semidesert landscapes fringed by pristine, seemingly endless beaches. These golden beaches, along with the city's beautifully manicured people who populate them, project the glamorous LA culture which resonates around the world. The city's 'centre of the Earth' aura inspires ultra-modern trends, cutting-edge entertainment, trendy restaurants and vibrant nightlife.

Living in Los Angeles as an expat

A diverse population spread over such a large area has created microcosms within the city. These insular neighbourhoods can offer a sense of community within an expansive area. However, everyone must endure some realities of living within the greater LA metropolis, such as below-par air quality and extremely long commutes and notorious traffic jams across a city with a far-from-perfect public transportation system.

Los Angeles has a diverse business community, with industries tapping into nearly every sector of America's economy as well as overseas markets. While the business culture in LA might be more relaxed than one would find in cities along the East Coast, those moving to the city for job opportunities will find that the working world in LA is still exceptionally competitive. 

Cost of living in Los Angeles

Living the high life in Los Angeles comes at a price. After New York City, LA has the highest cost of living in the US. Accommodation, healthcare and transport are major expenses, and it's all too easy to splurge on the many tempting entertainment options in the city. Securing a good salary is important, as is budgeting carefully with the money earned.

Expat families and children

Home to the nation's second-largest school district, LA's schools vary widely in quality. Public schools are assigned according to zoning of neighbourhoods and can be a great way to meet other families in the area. Alternatively, international schools can give expats a more familiar experience, though tuition can be frighteningly high.

The residents of Los Angeles are a health-conscious bunch and, as a result, there are a number of fantastic healthcare facilities available – provided patients possess fully comprehensive health insurance. While the standard of hospitals and medical treatment in LA is excellent, it does come with a hefty price tag.

Climate in Los Angeles

The breadth and hilly landscape of Los Angeles creates numerous microclimates, so inland and coastal temperatures can be surprisingly different. Still, the default conditions across LA are generally dry and hot. The year-round summery weather of Tinsel Town is one of its best assets, especially considering the abundance of beaches in LA.

Despite the challenges of living in Los Angeles, such as its high cost of living and difficult transport situation, the city continues to attract expats and Americans in their droves, all wanting to experience a bit of the magic of California. Freshly arrived residents open to the full experience of LA are bound to find their place in this dazzling city.

Weather in Los Angeles

Los Angeles has a Mediterranean climate, with pleasant weather throughout the year. Summers in the city are warm and dry with coastal highs of 74°F (23°C), while inland temperatures can rise to well over 90°F (32°C). During the dry season, smog can often accumulate in the low-lying areas on still days, making the cityscape look somewhat unattractive.

Winters in Los Angeles can be cool and wet with temperatures ranging from 48°F (9°C) to 68°F (20°C). This time of year also often brings the warm, dry Santa Ana wind from the northeast, which can push winter temperatures as high as 86 °F (30 °C).

 

 

Pros and Cons of Moving to Los Angeles

A sprawling city, Los Angeles is an iconic travel destination and home to nearly four million residents. Outdoorsy visitors can experience everything from its pleasant Mediterranean climate and famous beaches to its rugged mountains and enchanting deserts. But it's perhaps most famous for its entertainment industry, which is 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 about the pros and cons of living in Los Angeles.


Lifestyle in Los Angeles

+ PRO: Progressive and diverse culture

Los Angeles is known for its progressive and liberal thinking, with a diverse population to match. The city's people are constantly on the forefront of social issues such as climate change, LGBTQ+ rights and cannabis legalisation. The mix of cultures in the city also brings with it 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 who can enjoy the city's offerings of gorgeous mountains, beaches and deserts year round. For those who want to ease into their outdoor routine, a relaxing day at Griffith Park at the Santa Monica Mountains would be perfect, and there are also luxurious 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 beaches 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 being a celebrity hotspot. 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. Drivers can also forget about easy parking as spaces are extremely limited.

- CON: Public transport isn't great

The public transport system in LA could be better, much of which can be attributed to a lack of demand as the vast majority of commuters choose to drive. While there are plans in the works to expand the Los Angeles Metro Rail System, new arrivals should not expect relief any time soon.


Cost of living in Los Angeles

- CON: Extremely expensive

California as a whole is a pricey state to live in, and LA is no exception. 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.

+ 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 or frequenting farmer's markets, consumers can combat the high prices seen in cafes, restaurants and food chains.


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 comfortably warm. With its Mediterranean climate, LA's 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. Unemployment rates have been low in recent times, and vacancies abound in everything from IT to logistics, though the city's main draw lies in its entertainment, fashion, and service industries. Start-ups are well supported and 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 newcomers 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.

Working in Los Angeles

California is often credited as the USA's most fertile ground for innovation, and Los Angeles, alongside San Francisco, is one of the primary driving forces behind the state's spirit of ingenuity and sense of creativity.

Additionally, expats considering working in LA will find themselves at the heart of a well-oiled manufacturing machine and amidst one of the world's busiest ports.


Job market in Los Angeles

The city's economy is exceptionally diverse, but due to its impressive population – the second highest in the country – the varied nature of business in LA doesn't always equate with job opportunities.

First and foremost, Los Angeles is often seen as synonymous with the entertainment industry. For decades, the allure of Hollywood has nudged both local and foreign migrants to abandon dour nine-to-five jobs in favour of moving to LA to follow their dreams of stardom. Needless to say, not everyone achieves their dream of fame in LA – but as a hub of creative industries, the city may offer satisfying and exciting career development opportunities in related fields, perhaps behind the scenes.

The glamorous, star-studded city also attracts holidaymakers in droves, and the tourism industry is one of LA's strongest.

Other major contributors to the city's economy are business services and international trade. Additionally, expats with a background in finance will find a large representation of foreign banks and corporations in the metropolis, and an intra-company transfer may in fact be the easiest way to pursue employment in LA.

Aside from opportunities in these sectors, the Los Angeles working world is becoming increasingly technology-driven with some dubbing the city the 'new Silicon Valley'. Information technology, biomedical technology and environmental technology are dominating the new economy. Expats with specialised skills in these areas are more likely to find a job in the city.


Finding a job in Los Angeles

It is recommended that potential LA residents secure a job before moving to the city. Many jobs in Los Angeles can be found on online career portals. Networking is also a fantastic way to find a job in Los Angeles, and thanks to the access afforded by social media, even expats located abroad can start seeding queries and making contacts before making the big move.

Once expats have secured a job, they will need to obtain a work permit to be legally employed in LA.


Work culture in Los Angeles

As a creative hub, the work culture in Los Angeles is fairly laid back in both attitude and dress, especially when compared to East Coast business norms. While suits are certainly not necessary, appearance is still important among the image-conscious locals and good grooming is key.

Many companies have fairly flat structures, especially in the tech industry, and employees are treated as valuable assets. Socialising after a day at the office is common. Hard work is expected, but plenty of workplace perks are offered as well. Despite this casual and open culture, a competitive atmosphere is also present among coworkers.

Cost of Living in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the third most expensive city in the US, after New York and San Francisco. Globally, LA is ranked 20th out of 209 cities in Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2021. Those moving to Los Angeles should make sure that they're well compensated by their employer to offset the high cost of living.

New arrivals in Los Angeles will find that there are plenty of opportunities to keep themselves busy. Some of the pricier pursuits include attending events, enjoying the city's nightlife and indulging in some fantastic cuisine. On the other hand, many LA residents enjoy partaking in sports and outdoor activities, which are generally free or low cost. Ultimately, an individual's lifestyle will have a significant impact on their cost of living.


Cost of accommodation in Los Angeles

Rent will be the biggest expense for LA residents, though the cost can vary greatly depending on where one chooses to live. That said, much of the accommodation available in Los Angeles tends to be on the luxurious end of the spectrum, with a price tag to match.

Many younger new arrivals opt to live in less established neighbourhoods. More affordable accommodation can be found in these areas and there are also lots of house-share accommodation options available, which allow tenants to save money by sharing household expenses.


Cost of eating out and entertainment in Los Angeles

An individual’s cost of living in LA will be very much affected by their lifestyle choices. There's no shortage of entertainment options in Los Angeles, but being out and about in the city doesn’t come cheap.

LA has a wealth of dining options and there will be lots of opportunities to try eclectic new cuisines. Eating out in the city can become quite expensive though, so those on a budget will have to plan accordingly. There are cheap eats to be found at local haunts around the city; new arrivals will just need to spend some time exploring and asking around in order to find them. 


Cost of healthcare in Los Angeles

Los Angeles has some of the most advanced healthcare facilities in the US, but such high-quality care is extremely expensive. Investing in a comprehensive health insurance policy is therefore a must.


Cost of education in Los Angeles

Many expat families in Los Angeles choose to send their children to private or international schools. While it's possible for expats to access LA public schools at no cost, many bypass this option in favour of continuing with the curriculum of their home country at an international school.

When it comes to public schools, charter and magnet schools are good options but competition for places can be tough and many operate long waiting lists. Once this hurdle is overcome though, parents won't have to worry about paying school fees.


Cost of transport in Los Angeles

The majority of people in LA choose to drive their own car. The cost of a private vehicle is an expense that anyone moving to Los Angeles should budget for. Drivers will also need to budget for the expenses associated with maintaining a vehicle, the cost of car insurance, parking fees and the cost of petrol.

While Los Angeles does have a public transport network, it isn't as comprehensive as the systems in other US cities. Still, using public transport is cost effective and, though limited, it can be useful for getting around the city centre of LA. 


Cost of living in Los Angeles chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for September 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 4,300

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 3,100

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 2,500

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,800

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

USD 3.40

Milk (1 litre)

USD 1

Rice (1kg)

USD 4.70

Loaf of white bread

USD 3.30

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 12

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 10

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 9

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 2.40

Cappuccino

USD 5

Bottle of local beer

USD 7

Three-course meal for two at mid-range restaurant

USD 80

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)  

USD 0.15

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 60

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 160

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 1.70

Bus/train fare in the city centre

USD 1.75

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 1

Accommodation in Los Angeles

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 a house hunter to find accommodation in Los Angeles is largely dependent on proximity to the workplace, as congestion can cause treacherous commutes.

Most new arrivals 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

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 to find and buy furniture if newcomers 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 areas and suburbs. Proximity to one's workplace is generally a priority when choosing housing, while other considerations include cost, crime rates, proximity to school (if applicable), and the demographics of the surrounding community.

Once prospective residents 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 City and Boston. Those 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

Prospective tenants 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.

Leases

Most rental contracts in Los Angeles require tenants to make a year-long commitment. Those dealing with the landlord directly, however, may be able to negotiate a shorter lease.

Deposits

Applicants 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, new tenants should make a note of anything that is damaged. Ideally this should be done before signing the lease, but if it's 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.

Utilities

If renting property in Los Angeles, accommodation normally includes the cost of water and refuse services, though this isn't always the case. Tenants should anticipate paying electricity and gas costs themselves.

Extras like internet, cable television and telephone lines, are also fees shouldered by the tenant. Some complexes may charge extra for off-street or undercover parking.

Areas and suburbs in Los Angeles

The best places to live in Los Angeles

Most areas and suburbs of Los Angeles have carved out their own niche and come with their own sense of identity, character and atmosphere. With an overwhelming array of options, house hunting in LA can be harrowing but with a little patience, new arrivals and expats are sure to find an area that ticks all of their boxes.

Here are some recommended neighbourhoods in Los Angeles. 


Family-friendly areas in Los Angeles

Pasadena

San Fernando Valley

Often referred to simply as 'the Valley', this large area of LA is a seemingly endless sprawl of affluent suburbs and malls. Boasting both Ventura Boulevard, an expansive strip of shopping, dining, and entertainment options, and Universal Studios Hollywood, arguably the broker of the world's most famous movie magic, families with children will find little beyond their reach in this area of town.

Pasadena

Just 10 miles (16 km) from the city centre, Pasadena offers families easy access to highways while still allowing them to maintain the leisurely lifestyle most often associated with a not-so-sleepy town. Old Town Pasadena presents residents with a pedestrian-friendly centre where an assortment of bars, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants cluster together. Charming neighbourhoods populated with quaint California bungalows sit aside good-quality schools, cultural institutions, and top-notch universities.


Beachside living in Los Angeles

Venice Beach

Santa Monica

This popular beach community marries all the characteristics of an urban centre with the beauty of a seaside destination. With a cost of living lower than Malibu's and a character cleaner than that of Venice Beach, Santa Monica is a good option for middle-class newcomers taken with the idea of fresh ocean air and the famed Third Street Promenade – a pedestrian-only entertainment, dining, and shopping venue.

Venice Beach

The edgier cousin of Santa Monica and Malibu, Venice Beach's beachside community is considered slightly more bohemian. The iconic boardwalk offers residents a prime people-watching and exercise platform, but can be dangerous at night. This is a great area for young artsy couples or beach bodies looking for an easygoing neighbourhood with plenty of eclectic entertainment on offer.


Young and hip areas in Los Angeles

Silver Lake

Culver City

An up-and-coming neighbourhood with all the energy and buzz of a big city packed into a small town, Culver City is increasingly being called home by a young, diverse crowd of residents. Constantly evolving and developing, there's always something new and exciting going on in Culver City.

Silver Lake

This hilly neighbourhood acts as a point of congregation for throngs of creatives. Countless coffee bars, art galleries, and ethnic restaurants may entice those new arrivals of artistic inclination, while the area's large reservoir proves an attractive asset for those with dogs or those who fancy a bit of greenery.


Luxury living in Los Angeles

Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills

Referring to residents of this neighbourhood as upper crust would be an understatement. Beverly Hills is one of the wealthiest areas of Los Angeles, and unsurprisingly, one of the quietest and the safest. Many of Hollywood's megastars play house behind the perfectly manicured hedges. The area is also renowned for its ritzy shopping options, most notably the famed Rodeo Drive. Those with big dreams of settling down in this area will need a super-sized budget to match.

West Hollywood

The home of Sunset Strip, West Hollywood is an upscale area that is less expensive than Beverly Hills but still offers luxury. The area is known to be clean and safe, and a number of young families are beginning to flock to this neighbourhood. West Hollywood is known as a walkable area with fantastic furniture stores, restaurants, and boutique retail outlets.

Healthcare in Los Angeles

Healthcare in Los Angeles is particularly advanced, and the city is home to some of the best hospitals in the USA. Such high-quality care, however, does not come without a price. Services are extremely expensive, so it's vital to invest in comprehensive private health insurance to get the best treatment. Some excellent specialists can be found in the city and private hospitals tend to have short waiting times.

California is known for being health- and beauty-conscious and many trendy diets and health fads begin in Los Angeles. It follows that the city is a centre for alternative and homoeopathic medical treatment, which is becoming more widely accepted and increasingly popular, especially in the forward-thinking state of California.

Below is a list of recommended hospitals in Los Angeles.


Hospitals in Los Angeles

California Hospital Medical Center

Website: www.chmcla.org
Address: 1401 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90015

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Los Angeles

Website: www.cedars-sinai.edu
Address: 8700 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Website: www.chla.org
Address: 4650 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Keck Hospital of USC

Website: www.keckmedicine.org
Address: 1500 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center

Website: www.uclahealth.org
Address: 757 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095

Education and Schools in Los Angeles

There are plenty of options for parents when it comes to schools and education in Los Angeles. Both the quality and cost of these options vary greatly, and parents should conduct thorough research before settling on a decision.

On the whole, the city's private schools enjoy a better reputation than their public counterparts, but parents are reminded that there are huge variations among schools in both sectors. Reputation only counts for so much, and often doesn't accurately reflect the quality of learning in schools.

Before enrolling a student at a particular school, it's a good idea to call the principal and ask for a tour of the school and a class visit. Once parents visit a school, they will be able to gauge the suitability of the school for themselves, by judging things such as class size, the types of resources available, and the programmes that are offered. 


Public schools in Los Angeles

Historically, the Los Angeles Unified School District has been plagued with high drop-out rates, underfunding, and overcrowding. In recent years, however, the situation has begun to improve, and today LA public schools are well worth considering.

Two major advantages of public schooling are the cost (tuition is free) and the fact that zoning regulations require children to attend a school close to home. As a result, children will interact with peers from their own neighbourhood. It is common to find that many parents even pick a neighbourhood to live in based on its proximity to their preferred school.

Furthermore, if expats are seeking immersion into American culture for their child, the public school system will allow them to interact with a wider, more varied, and more representative sample of American kids.

Charter schools

Charter schools in the USA are free-to-attend non-profit institutions that receive less public funding than regular public schools and instead receive additional funding from private sources. They have more freedom in teaching methods than state schools and are often considered a better alternative.

There are a number of charter schools in LA. Due to high demand, many of the schools operate admission lotteries to ensure the allocation of places is fair.

Magnet schools

For expats with children who are gifted in a particular area, a magnet school in LA would be a good option. There are a number of magnet schools to choose from in LA, with each institution being geared towards students pursuing careers in very particular fields such as languages, sciences, and the arts. Admission criteria can vary from school to school depending on its specialisation. For instance, music students will usually need to partake in an audition. Not all magnet schools require admissions testing, though, in which case lotteries are used to place students.


Private schools in Los Angeles

Private schools are funded by tuition and governing bodies. As a result, they have much more leniency and do not have to conform to educational directives handed down to them by the government. This allows teachers the freedom to customise their curricula and teaching styles, which can range from quite alternative to conservative and strict. 

Choosing an appropriate private school is important, and will depend on several factors. It is important to remember that the competition for places in top private schools is incredibly stiff; often, parents are forced to battle against limited space and selective entrance requirements to get their children enrolled. It is also worth noting that a large number of private schools in Los Angeles are religious (often Catholic) institutions. These schools are usually cheaper than schools without religious affiliations, but may have restrictions on who can attend.


International schools in Los Angeles

There are also a number of international schools in LA, where children may be able to continue the curriculum they initially started in their home countries. Most expats in LA do not feel it is necessary to send their children to an international school as their children can get a good education for a fraction of the price at a good public or private school.

Still, the option of an international school is well worth exploring, especially for those who do not plan on staying in Los Angeles for a long period of time. International schools will generally allow expat students to make the transition to life in LA with the least amount of disruption to their education. It's also a great way for both parents and children to meet similar families with shared experiences of relocation and living in a foreign country.


Special-needs education in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Unified School District has a robust special-needs programme run by the Division of Special Education.

More than a third of special-needs students in the district have a diagnosis of Specific Learning Disability (SLD), while Speech and Language Impairment (SLI) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) each account for around 20 percent of students. In many cases, a mainstream school environment can accommodate these students by means of extra support and resources. Particularly severe cases and conditions that require more a higher level of care may instead call for the use of specialised resource centres and special schools.

International schools often offer some form of support for students who need it, especially for mild learning disabilities or language proficiency. This typically comes at an additional cost to regular fees. The degree of support and the conditions catered for vary widely.


Tutors in Los Angeles

For newly arrived families adapting to life in LA, tutors can be an immensely useful resource, especially for those moving from overseas. Tutors can help build proficiency in English where needed or can be hired to maintain an expat child's mother tongue, if they're being taught in another language full time.

For many, a new city also means adjusting to a new curriculum, and playing catch-up can be tough. The process can be eased with tutoring, and specialised assistance is also available for trouble subjects like maths or science. In addition, teenagers on the cusp of graduating can benefit greatly from doing exam prep with a tutor.

The best way to find a reputable tutor is to ask other parents or the school for recommendations.

Lifestyle in Los Angeles

Home to Hollywood and a huge contingent of the world’s celebrities, the cosmopolitan city of Los Angeles is certainly an exciting place to relocate to.

With emphasis on an energetic, healthy, and clean-living lifestyle, it's becoming a more and more attractive city to Americans and expats alike, but those looking to make the move best be prepared to splash out, as LA’s high-profile sun and fun come at a price.

Boasting a great variety of attractions, Los Angeles is not only renowned for its shopping, nightlife, and restaurants, but also features an impressive variety of entertainment venues, world-class sports facilities, and spas.


Shopping in Los Angeles

For all the big design labels such as Versace and Louis Vuitton, hit the iconic Rodeo Drive, where one may even brush shoulders with a celebrity or two. Venice Boardwalk, on the other hand, is a good place to pick up arty items and anything unusual.

For great bargains, head to Ontario Mills; for big-name brands at substantial discounts have a look at Desert Hills Premium Outlets; or mingle, browse, and pick through an eclectic selection at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.


Eating out in Los Angeles

Catering to every taste and budget under the sun, the vast variety of restaurants in Los Angeles are second to none. With everything from delicious Mexican food at street-side vendors to haute cuisine in the city’s finest eateries, there’s something to suit every palate, and newcomers to the city will find a tremendous emphasis on fusion foods.

West Hollywood is where the swish and celebrity-owned LA restaurants can be found, but these tend to be outrageously priced. Pasadena offers some great eateries, as does Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, and downtown LA.


Nightlife in Los Angeles

LA’s nightlife is world-renowned, and with global hot spots such as Sunset Strip and Hollywood Boulevard, those relocating to this city will have some of the best clubs, pubs, and lounges in the world right on their doorstep.

Expats will be pleased to know that, on any given night, something is happening somewhere, and a dazzling party, often star-studded, can be found in almost every corner of town.


Sports and outdoor activities in Los Angeles

In a city obsessed with looking good, it comes as no surprise that sport and fitness activities are popular pastimes among the beautiful residents of LA.

Los Angeles is home to a number of world-famous sports teams, including the LA Dodgers and the LA Lakers. College sports are also prominent on the city's sporting calendar with teams such as the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans commanding a large support base. Expats also shouldn't miss out on the opportunity to catch a football or baseball game at one of LA's major sporting venues such as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or the Staples Center.

LA is also a great place for outdoor pursuits. From hiking, trail running, and mountain biking to horse riding, fishing, or just catching some rays on one of LA's pristine beaches, there really is no excuse not to spend time outdoors in this city.

Sport and fitness in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is known for its health- and image-conscious residents. Naturally, fitness and nutrition are taken very seriously in LA, which, along with the wider California, has been at the epicentre of several health movements. Fitness junkies and outdoorsy types will therefore have plenty of options.


Gyms in Los Angeles

As befitting a dense urban jungle with variable air quality, indoor exercise is hugely popular. There are several gym chains such as the world-famous Gold’s Gym which prides itself on its wide reach, skilled instructors and good value for money.

Gym instructors and private trainers are an industry of their own in LA. Drawing on the motivational energy and technical advice of a qualified instructor can be a great help in one's journey to fitness and good health. But word-of-mouth recommendations are essential when choosing a guru from the thousands available online.


Outdoor exercise in Los Angeles

Los Angeles has plenty of natural, open spaces. If one is willing to drive a little way out of town there are mountain bike paths and jogging trails to be found in the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Gabriel Mountains. 

Closer to town, Santa Monica Boulevard has a bike trail and popular jogging paths. These lead past Venice Beach where those seeking both a tan and a workout can enjoy the outdoor weightlifting complex known as Muscle Beach Venice.

Kids and Family in Los Angeles

As the entertainment capital of the world, parents heading to Los Angeles will be pleased to know that there are plenty of fabulous activities and attractions to keep children amused in this sprawling metropolis.


Activities for kids in Los Angeles

As far as theme and amusement parks go, LA surely has one of the most enviable selections of any city on the planet. Disneyland, Universal Studios, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Castle Park are all here – and indeed, parents might want to consider buying a season pass to one or two of them, as they could end up saving a lot of money in the long run.

In a more creative vein, the Peach Tree Pottery facilitates lessons in a fun and friendly atmosphere, offering a wonderful environment for children to make friends while engaging in educational and artistic pursuits.

The quintessentially American phenomenon of shopping malls is perhaps nowhere more celebrated than in LA, and 'mall ratting' remains a popular pastime for kids of all ages.

Bookish children are sure to enjoy exploring wealth of museums on offer (the Natural History Museum is especially child-friendly) as well as the excellent quality of public libraries in the city; while parents who desire that their children spend more time outdoors being active also have cause to celebrate. Los Angeles boasts a plethora of parks, promenades and beaches, and – coupled with the great weather – it's the perfect city in which to spend some quality time outside with the kids, perhaps taking in some light exercise while at it.

See and Do in Los Angeles

Those moving to Los Angeles will most likely be familiar with the city's storied fame and starlit attractions, but even those not into celebrity culture would be hard-pressed to ignore the enormous and iconic Hollywood hillside sign for long. Needless to say, there is plenty to see and do in LA, but sightseeing can be more complicated than one may initially think.

The immense scope of the city will soon become apparent to potential sightseers, and it follows that touristic endeavours are best tackled over a long period of time, rather than in a single stretch. The metropolis was initially separated into a number of separate towns, so attractions are spread far and wide without a true focal point. Not to mention, the traffic flow in LA is notorious for being among the most congested and troublesome in the country, so getting around can take quite some time.

Take the touring slowly and enjoy the ride, but be sure to spend some time on any one of the city's gorgeous beaches, under the spotlight in one of the famous movie production houses, or among the beautiful people in West LA.


Recommended sightseeing in Los Angeles

Hollywood

Hollywood is the epicentre of the world's entertainment and film industry. The looming white letters of the Hollywood hillside sign are constant encouragement to explore some of the city's landmark attractions, most of which are centred on the famous Hollywood Boulevard. Check out Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the mile-long and literally starstudded Walk of Fame in front. The Hollywood Wax Museum and the Dolby Theatre are also well worth a visit.

Universal Studios Hollywood

For film-transfixed fans, Universal Studios is an unforgettable experience. Visitors young and old will be transported through the dressing rooms of the stars and iconic backlot sets, and through staged shark attacks and monkey madness in homage to films like Jaws and King Kong. Alongside this breathtaking tram experience, the themepark portion of the site marries special effects and adrenaline-inspired adventures to keep visitors on the edge of their seats.

LA beaches

As famous as LA may be for the glitz and glamour of its film industry residents, it's nearly as celebrated for the miles of sandy beach stretching up and down the Californian Pacific coastline. Numerous communities line the oceanfront, each with its own reputation and allure. Malibu, Santa Monica and Venice all claim their own unique sway, some more stately and others more indicative of the city's underbelly, but all nonetheless are worth a visit.

Griffith Park and Observatory

This sprawling gush of green is famous for its stunning views of the city unfolding below and its well-kept grounds. Griffith Park is situated beneath the legendary Hollywood sign and also hosts the Griffith Observatory. For those who need a little time out from their bustling LA life, this is the perfect place to enjoy a bike ride, gaze into the cosmos or even just enjoy a dose of quiet – a rare experience in this busy city.

Grammy Museum

This is a must for all music lovers. Visitors to the museum can get lost in the interactive exhibits, which include everything from recording booths and behind-the-scenes tours to special items belonging to Grammy winners, including handwritten lyrics, outfits and instruments.

Museum of Contemporary Art

This museum, known as MOCA for short, hosts art collections from the 1940s up to the present. It is home to stunning works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. To learn more about these unique and interesting pieces, it's well worth taking one of the museum's complimentary tours.

What's On in Los Angeles

The city of Los Angeles is home to a blend of cultures and traditions, many of which are tied to its status as the home of Hollywood. There are a number of annual events throughout the year for everyone to enjoy, ranging from star-spotting activities to the culturally eclectic.

Below are some of the annual events that have put Los Angeles on the map.


Annual events in Los Angeles

Japanese New Year (January)

Experience Japanese culture and cuisine in LA's Little Tokyo district. From exciting and diverse performers, delectable food stalls and activities for kids, this is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Also known as the Oshogatsu Festival, the celebrations usually take place on the first weekend in January.

Academy Awards (February)

There’s no bigger event in Tinsel Town than the annual Academy Awards, and new residents of LA should head down to the Dolby Theatre, cameras in hand, to catch a glimpse of their favourite movie stars dressed to the nines.

The Los Angeles Marathon (March)

Each year more than 25,000 runners from across the country and beyond come together to experience traffic-free streets in normally congested Los Angeles. The route of this well-loved race passes LA's most famous landmarks and winds through the city's diverse neighbourhoods. The marathon is a great way for fitness fanatics to explore the city while taking in some entertainment en route.

LA Pride Festival and Parade (June)

A celebration of love and tolerance, LA Pride is held across West Hollywood every summer. The event consists of parades, parties and concerts, and anyone regardless of age, gender, race or sexual orientation is welcomed as part of the community at this unique event.

Doo Dah Parade (November)

This parade began as a parody of the Rose Parade where strict rules and regulations bound the event. Today, the Doo Dah Parade boasts a free-for-all attitude with no themes, no judges and no commercials. Each year, thousands of marching groups and acts parade the streets doing and wearing anything they please in this humorous event.

Frequently Asked Questions about Los Angeles

Expats moving to Los Angeles will likely have many concerns and queries about what life in the City of Angels is really like. Read on for some frequently asked questions about living in Los Angeles.

Do I need a car in Los Angeles?

Yes, probably more than in any other US city. Having a car makes getting around in LA much easier. Distances between districts of the city are long and an underdeveloped public transport system means that longer commutes can take hours. People in LA are infamous for driving even short distances.

How bad is the commute?

The length of one's commute really depends on the time of day and where one is going, although LA does have a reputation of having some of the worst traffic in all of the US. Rush-hour traffic can be absurd and most Los Angeles residents have a commute of nearly an hour each way.

Is Los Angeles expensive?

LA is one of the most expensive cities in the US, outdone only by New York City. Salaries do tend to be high in LA to compensate for the cost of living, but it's all too easy to overspend if not keeping an eye on the budget. A person's lifestyle can have a big impact on their spending in LA. The city is replete with expensive entertainment options, but there are also a number of great free options, like public parks and beaches. Meanwhile, parents can save money by sending their children to a public school, which is free of charge, rather than a pricey private or international school.

Do I need to know Spanish?

Hispanic and non-Hispanic populations are almost equally represented in LA's population. There are many neighbourhoods that are primarily Spanish speaking, but overall it is not necessary to speak Spanish. That said, it can still be a big help in forging connections and is a great way for expats to meet new people.

Getting Around in Los Angeles

Getting around Los Angeles is truly a lesson in the art of patience. This 'cartopia' is notorious for sluggish and lengthy rush hours, highways choked with congestion, and rather painful commutes.

The unfortunate reality is that having a car in Los Angeles is a must, as the public transport system is far from comprehensive, and the sprawl of the city means many areas remain inaccessible by bus and rail.

While certain neighbourhoods are pedestrian friendly, many are not, and it is usually not long before the car-crazed LA mentality has new residents driving even the shortest distances.


Public transportation in Los Angeles

Public transportation in Los Angeles has improved over recent years, but is still greatly limited in scope and efficiency. Buses and trains are the main modes of transit, with supplementary smaller shuttles operating in the downtown and Hollywood areas. Commuters often need to combine multiple modes of public transport to get where they are going.

Metro

The Los Angeles metro is certainly fast and easy to use but it only services certain districts, although this is slowly changing with expansions. The metro is most popular with commuters in outlying suburbs making their way into the city. Fares are affordable, and weekly or monthly passes are available for purchase.

Buses

Buses are best used for travelling short distances. Service is generally slow, but what the system lacks in speed it makes up for in economy. Buses start early and run quite late, but taking the bus at night is not recommended, especially in areas with high crime rates.

Downtown Area Short Hop (DASH)

These simple shuttle routes make getting around areas such as Downtown LA and Hollywood quick and easy. On weekdays, departures are roughly every seven to 10 minutes, while on weekends, service is more limited.


Taxis in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a sprawling city and it follows that even a small trip in a taxi can easily balloon into a large expense as cab fares are costly. They're not recommended unless sharing the fee with a few other people. With the exception of the downtown area, cabs can't be hailed, so it's often necessary to find a reputable company and call for service.

Another option is making use of ride-hailing applications such as Lyft and Uber, both of which are operational in LA. 


Driving in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a monstrous metropolis, and those looking to master driving in LA will first have to familiarise themselves with the city's roads. Highways, interstates, and surfaceways interweave in a mess of arteries and veins to connect various communities. The system is extensive and well maintained, but it can be overwhelming initially. That said, a little patience and a maps app will make a huge difference.

Drivers should pay attention to traffic patterns and learn to consult real-time traffic charts before they begin their commute. Planning a route beforehand is the best way to minimise stress and travel time.

Residents of California will need a local licence to drive legally. For these purposes, a resident is legally defined as someone who works, rents or owns a property in California. Driver's licences from other states can be swapped for a California licence, but a knowledge test must be passed before the licence is granted. Expats with licences from outside of the US will have to take both a knowledge and practical test to obtain a local licence.