The Ultimate Guide to Moving to Los Angeles

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If you’re considering moving to Los Angeles, be prepared to take its great weather, food, and entertainment in stride with the smog, traffic, and high cost of living.
Los Angeles is California’s largest city and the second-largest city in the United States—right after New York. Located within the Los Angeles basin, today, it covers a sprawling area of over 500 square miles and is home to more than 3.8 million people and counting.
Will one of them be you? Jerry, the super app that helps you easily find car, home, and renters insurance, has put together what you need to know if you’re considering a move to the City of Angels. 

What you need to know about Los Angeles before you move

Plenty of people relocate to Los Angeles and love it—but is it the right move for you? As you’re weighing your options, here are some helpful things about Los Angeles to consider.

1. It could be the most expensive place you’ll ever live 

It’s probably to be expected of the country’s second-largest city, but living in Los Angeles can be pretty expensive.
The cost of living index in Los Angeles is 173.3, which makes it 73.3% more expensive than the national average. It still beats San Francisco’s cost of living index of 269.3! It’s *slightly* more affordable than New York City, which has a cost of living index of 187.2.
The most expensive aspects of living in Los Angeles are housing (298.2) and transportation (165.3). Health and utilities costs are actually below the national average, and grocery costs are only slightly higher.
Let’s take a closer look at what living costs in Los Angeles look like. 
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A typical one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles could cost you about $2,900 per month, and a 3-bedroom apartment could cost nearly $5,000. The median income in Los Angeles is $65,290, according to census data.
A cup of coffee to go could cost you $2 to $5, depending on your place and drink of choice, and a pint of beer could run you $6 to $9.
The cost of dining out depends on how extravagant you want to get. If you’re looking for a celeb sighting at one of the hottest spots in town, you could spend $400 on a meal. However, if you’re looking to stick to a budget, you can find a sit-down meal for around $15—especially if you’re taking advantage of the city’s taco trucks and Thai food.
On a run to the grocery store, you could expect to find a gallon of milk for about $4 or a dozen eggs for about $3
With a minimum wage of $15 per hour, Los Angeles has one of the higher minimum wages in the country—but it can still make it hard to afford to live here. 

2. The job prospects could be better

Compared to other cities its size, it might not be as easy to find your next job in Los Angeles. That’s not to say it’s impossible, though. 
You’ll find a good share of Los Angeles residents employed in the arts. And while Los Angeles may be considered the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” there are plenty of other sectors that keep the city’s economic wheels turning. That includes bioscience, aerospace, manufacturing, and various kinds of startups.

3. The food options are a vegan’s dream come true 

If you’re all too familiar with the struggle of finding vegan-friendly options at restaurants where you live, you won’t have to experience it nearly as much in L.A. In fact, it’s considered one of the most vegan-friendly places in the United States!
Many Los Angeles residents tend to be health and environmentally conscious. As such, there are plenty of vegan-friendly dining options throughout the city. Even better, the southern California weather makes year-round farmers' markets possible, making it that much easier to get your hands on diverse local produce.

4. Expect smog

San Francisco has its famous fog, and Los Angeles has its… smog. The air quality problem, which is one of the worst in the country, has unfortunately plagued the city for decades. 
The sheer number of vehicles on roadways on any given day, industrial emissions, and extreme temperatures are just a few of the influencing factors at play. Wildfire smoke can further worsen air quality across the city.
Investing in an indoor air purifier and avoiding outdoor activities during high levels of air pollution can help combat some of the smog’s harmful effects.

5. Driving is the worst

Did we mention Los Angeles covers over 500 square miles? That can make having a car in the city a huge asset.
That said, Los Angeles is home to some of the heaviest traffic in the country, so getting around often takes a while. It’s common to expect it to take about 30 minutes to travel a mile—or even longer during the worst of rush hour.
If you choose to drive a car in Los Angeles, you could be looking at an annual cost of $3,000 per year to insure it, which is higher than the national average of about $2,800. (But don’t forget to check with Jerry to see if you can find a better deal!)
Plenty of people in Los Angeles get by without a vehicle, though. You can access plenty of your go-to places by walking or biking if you choose the right neighborhood, and while residents can be quick to complain about its imperfections, the city does have a far-reaching Metro system
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6. You can’t beat the weather

It’s hard to get better than L.A.’s pleasant year-round temperatures. Summers tend to be hot and dry, and winter is the rainiest season—though rain is rare. Summer highs tend to linger in the 70s and 80s, and daily low temperatures rarely fall below the 60s at any point during the year.

7. There’s plenty to do outdoors

Urban as it might be, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors in L.A. There are 69 beaches that sprawl across Los Angeles County’s 75 miles of coastline. Parks and trails in and around the city offer several ways to stay active and enjoy green spaces—including the local favorite, Griffith Park. 

Does Los Angeles live up to its stereotypes?

Los Angeles is a place that’s ever-changing. In a city with nearly 4 million people that spans the massive area that it does, there’s a little something here for everyone. Among the diverse communities here, you’re bound to find health nuts, tight-knit LGBTQ+ communities, and aspiring artists. 
And yes, you may come across a celebrity or two in a casual setting at one point or another.
If this sounds all right to you, and the smog, heavy traffic, and high cost of living haven’t deterred you, it might be worth giving L.A. a try.
Key Takeaway L.A. has great food, great entertainment, and great weather, but you’ll have to take them in stride with the city’s smog, high cost of living, and abysmal traffic conditions.

Finding a place to live in Los Angeles

As one of the most expensive cities in the U.S., finding the right home or rental at an affordable price in Los Angeles can be a challenge. As you’re looking for a place to live, you will have a wealth of options to consider, though: Los Angeles is made up of more than 400 neighborhoods!
To zero in on the Los Angeles neighborhood that will work best for you, it helps to start by establishing a budget so you can get a sense of what kind of housing you can afford. From there, you can make a list of neighborhoods with home prices that meet your needs.
The majority of Los Angeles residents are renters. If you’re looking to buy a home in Los Angeles, you’ll need to be able to supply a hefty down payment—the median home sale price is about $1 million as of April 2022, according to Realtor.com. 
To narrow down your list of potential Los Angeles neighborhoods even further, consider what you’re looking for in a lifestyle: Will you need to live in a walkable area? Are you open to living with roommates? Are you looking to be close to nightlife entertainment? Is being near a park or green space important? 
If you’re having trouble finding places within your budget that check off all your lifestyle boxes, don’t feel too discouraged—that puts you among the majority. Settling on a neighborhood might come with certain tradeoffs, but with a little research and the right amount of planning, you should eventually be able to find a place that suits you just fine.
As you’re looking for the perfect Los Angeles neighborhood for you, here are some worth considering:
  • Most iconic neighborhoods: Hollywood, Downtown Long Beach, Silver Lake, Venice
  • Best neighborhoods if you’ve got kids: Los Feliz, City Center, Mid-City, Santa Monica
  • Best neighborhoods for foodies: Koreatown, Silver Lake, Downtown L.A., Thai Town, Santa Monica
  • Most affordable neighborhoods: Arleta, Beverly Crest, Koreatown
If you’re able, visiting your top neighborhoods in person before your move can help you get a sense of what it might feel like to live in the area.
Pro Tip If your ideal neighborhood is a little too pricey for you to afford on your own, consider finding roommates as a way to cut down on rent costs.

Moving to Los Angeles checklist 

Okay, so you’re really doing this! As you’re getting ready to move into your L.A. home, here are some items worth adding to your moving to-do list—both before and after you get there.

Before you go

Before your move to Los Angeles, be sure to:
  • Book a reliable moving company to safely transport your belongings to your next home. As you’re searching for a company, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers helpful tips like what certifications to look for and how to avoid moving scams
  • Or, reserve your U-Haul if you’ll be doing the moving yourself
  • If you’re preparing for a long-distance move, you might want to consider shipping your car, depending on your circumstances
  • Let important contacts know you’re moving, like your landlord, your employer, your insurance provider(s), and your utility provider(s) 
  • Update your address and set up mail forwarding with the USPS so you don’t miss any important communications
  • Make sure your new renters or homeowners insurance policy will be active and ready to go once you’ve moved in
  • Buy that one-way Los Angeles plane ticket, or load up your car with everything you need for your big Los Angeles road trip

After you get there

Once you’re finished unpacking, there are a couple more things you may still need to take care of, like: 
  • If you’ve moved to Los Angeles from out of state, you’ll need to re-register your car in California and update your car insurance if you haven’t already.
  • Get to know your new city! Take your time exploring your new home, meet new people, and build your own personalized list of go-to places to work and play.

How to save on car, renters, and home insurance in Los Angeles

As you’re settling into your new home and getting acquainted with your new city, knowing your personal items are protected can offer greater peace of mind. The Jerry app can help you make that happen by setting you up with the right car, home, or renters insurance policy!
Whatever type of insurance you’re looking for—and whether or not you’re planning to save by bundling policies, Jerry makes the insurance shopping process easier than ever. It only takes 45 seconds to start comparing customized quotes from some of the nation’s top insurance providers in the app.
If you find a quote that works for you, Jerry can help you with switching to your new policy and canceling your old one. Later, as you approach your renewal period, Jerry can even send you new quotes automatically to help you make sure you’re still getting a good deal. 
Jerry users end up saving an average of $887 per year—and that’s just on car insurance. Savings like this can make living in L.A. a whole lot more affordable!
Jerry got me out of a bind! I bought a new car, and my existing insurance raised my prices and didn’t budge. Thankfully, Jerry got me an affordable rate without me waiting for phone calls all day.” —Felicia M.
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FAQs

Whether it’s worth it to move to Los Angeles is largely going to depend on what you can afford and what kind of lifestyle you’re looking for. L.A. has great food, great entertainment, and great weather, but you’ll have to take them in stride with the city’s smog, high cost of living, and abysmal traffic conditions.
How much you should earn to live comfortably in Los Angeles depends on what kinds of expenses you’re responsible for and what kind of lifestyle you prefer. If you rented an apartment for $2,700 per month and aimed to spend no more than a third of your income on rent, you’d want to earn at least $97,200 per year.
MIT’s living wage calculator estimates that in Los Angeles, a single adult with no children should aim to earn at least $21.62 per hour to have a livable income in Los Angeles. In a two-income household with two children, each adult would need to earn at least $30.60.

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