What to Look for When Moving to Los Angeles



Los Angeles remains a popular destination for a variety reasons, at least as many of which are fiction as reality. For example, many people move here hoping to succeed in Hollywood, while others come lured by the myth that everyone spends their evenings on the beach. This is why Los Angeles has a much healthier real estate market than the insanely priced San Francisco area. However, Los Angeles is much more expensive than most housing markets in Middle America or even the Inland Empire. Let’s talk about what you should look for when moving to Los Angeles. 


Housing You Can Afford 

The average single family home in Los Angeles is two thirds of a million dollars. That sounds insane relative to the median US home price of 250,000 dollars. Yet it is a relative bargain by California standards. For example, the average home in San Francisco approaches a million dollars. What if you want to get a condo? A condo in LA costs around half a million dollars. This is why nearly two thirds of people in Los Angeles rent.

The high cost of real estate in Los Angeles also affects the rental rates. The average apartment in Los Angeles rents for roughly 2,500 dollars a month for an 800 square foot apartment. Of course, the rental rates vary by neighborhood. Rents in Jefferson Park are around 1400 dollars a month. Leimert Park rents are close to 1600 dollars a month. Ironically, Hollywood rent is only slightly higher than average at 2500 dollars a month. The most expensive rental market in Los Angeles is midcity and downtown Santa Monica; rent for the average apartment there is over four thousand dollars a month. North of Montana, a neighborhood in Santa Monica, is the most expensive rental market in LA. It costs more than 4500 dollars a month to live there. You’ll pay even more for property close to the water. And yes, Santa Monica beats Beverley Hills as the place to be, if you want to say you’re living in luxury.

The challenge many face is finding a place to live that they can afford. The average salary in LA is around 75,000 dollars a year. If you are planning on moving here, rent a very small, private apartment so you don’t have to fight to find a reliable roommate. However, you need to be careful about the community you choose to move into. After all, there’s no point in saving money on rent if you’re afraid to leave the apartment due to the high crime rate. Research each community’s crime maps so that you find relatively safe, affordable neighborhoods to begin looking for an apartment in. 

The More Diverse Affordable Housing Market 

We’ve already demonstrated that Los Angeles is a relatively unaffordable real estate market. However, the city is trying to expand the affordable housing supply by encouraging people to build accessory dwelling units or ADUs. These are small self-contained housing units that might have been called granny flats a few years ago. It has a bathroom and small kitchen, and it can house one or two people. Los Angeles companies are building these bungalows in peoples’ backyards so they can be rented out. This means you might be able to live in a standalone building the same size as an efficiency apartment. You may get a parking space or stay in a nicer neighborhood, while you have more privacy than you would living in an apartment building.

On the other hand, you can find a number of garages converted into rental units, too. Just know that it isn’t legal to live in if you have to actually open a standard garage door to get in. You can’t be arrested for living there. The crime is by the landlord renting it out. But if the inspector finds it and posts a notice, you’re probably going to have to move soon. In theory, they could make the illegal unit legal, but that costs tens of thousands of dollars. Ask if the rental unit has an occupancy permit. We can expect to see more garages turned into apartments, since so many homes in LA have large garages and the government wants more affordable housing. Note that since this is LA, it isn’t uncommon to see former pool houses turned into rental units, either. It is certainly better than people living in vans or shelters.

On the flipside, Los Angeles has very few trailer parks. The land was typically too valuable to leave as an RV park, when you could sell it to developers in the high priced LA real estate market. If you’re coming to LA in an RV, know that it can be very hard to find a place to stay where you can park your vehicle unless it is a van that fits in a standard parking space. 

The Premium to Place on Proximity to Work 

Los Angeles is famous for its bad traffic. And in this regard, reality mirrors the horror stories you hear about people stuck two to four hours due to a minor traffic jam. Try to find an apartment close to your employer, because what is a thirty minute drive in other parts of the country easily take an hour on a light day in LA. Consider paying a little more to be in walking distance of work or having access to public transit that spares you the commute. 


The Weird Quirks in LA Real Estate 
When you’re searching for apartments for rent in Los Angeles, know that there are a few quirks that make renting an apartment here unusual. For example, the law says the landlord must provide a stove or a refrigerator but not both. Since stoves are cheaper and last longer, a low-rent apartment tends to have a stove but not a fridge. Then you have to get your own ice box. On the other hand, you can often find cheap second-hand refrigerators from neighbors moving out who would rather sell the fridge to you so they don’t have to move it. In other cases, you can offer money to departing tenants so that they leave you their refrigerator.