20 Pros and Cons of Living in Los Angeles

The city of Los Angeles reportedly began when the 11 descendants of Spanish families in the region created a settlement here. This group were known as the Los Pobladores. Little changed for them in 1848 when California officially joined the United States. It would not be until 1885 when the transcontinental railroad between Chicago arrived there that the community began to see a rapid increase of interest.

Protestant families from the Midwest and South began moving west to take advantage of the opportunities in oil, agriculture, real estate, and tourism. As new inventions began to shape the way people sought out daily entertainment, Los Angeles began to be the home of the new movie-making industry. Hollywood would eventually make the city famous the world over, and then World War II gave the city a surge in new industries that would help to create a beneficial manufacturing sector that exists to this day.

Although the older industries have seen declines, entertainment, tourism, and the high-tech sector continues to see robust growth. The city was a pioneer in freeway development when its public transit system began to struggle. There are certainly some advantages and disadvantages to consider if you are thinking about moving here, so these are the pros and cons of living in Los Angeles to review.

List of the Pros of Living in Los Angeles

1. You will find numerous outdoor activities to enjoy in Los Angeles.
There is a unique combination of trails, beaches, and consistently good weather conditions in Los Angeles. You are constantly invited to enjoy everything that is available in the outdoors. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of spending a day in the sun, you can attend festivals like the California Strawberry Festival, take advantage of the free museum days in the city, or have some evening fun at the Santa Monica Pier. There are dozens of parks for you to enjoy as well, including the massive Griffith Park in Los Feliz that covers more than 4,300 acres.

2. There are plenty of professional sports to enjoy in the city.
All of the five major professional sports leagues are present in Los Angeles as of 2019, with most sports offering two teams for you to enjoy. Basketball is life in the city thanks to the Lakers and the Clippers. You can enjoy some soccer with the Galaxy and LAFC. Baseball is present with the Dodgers or a quick trip to Anaheim to see the Angels. If you prefer hockey, the Kings are going to be your team to cheer for each season. The NFL has even returned to LA with the Rams and the Clippers.

3. The climate in Los Angeles is generally quite pleasant throughout the year.
If you grew up in the 1980s, then the stories of smog in the city might be enough to still make you think twice about living in Los Angeles. You will discover that over the past couple of decades, this issue has improved dramatically. The weather tends to be pleasant all year long, with even the averages in the winter reaching 60F most days. If you are used to cold January months with lots of snow, then this advantage will be a welcome change. Even in the summer, it tends to stay at 90F or below, which is fairly tolerable if you can make your way to the beach where it tends to feel a lot cooler. The weather in LA is far from humid, so even on the hot days, it still tends to be manageable.

4. There are numerous job opportunities to consider when living in LA.
Los Angeles is a land of opportunity if you are looking for work right now. No matter what your specialty happens to be, you will discover that there is an open position waiting for your application. The number of vacancies in some industries, especially in production and entertainment, is enough that it can help you to break into whatever business you want. There is enough infrastructure support for startups, independent entrepreneurs, and freelancers who operate in the gig economy. Even if you’re just starting in your career, the hospitality industry still pays well enough to get you into a home under most circumstances.

5. Housing units have numerous features for you to enjoy without added costs.
For the price of what you would pay for a small apartment in Manhattan, Los Angeles offers you more space, access to private parking, and a common swimming pool for you to enjoy. There are typically public facilities on the grounds as well, such as a picnic area, barbecues, and pet areas where you can have your dogs run off of their leash. You might need to make your way up to Pasadena or San Fernando to maximize this advantage, but it is definitely something to consider if you plan on living in LA in the near future.

That doesn’t mean all of the homes in the city are affordable. The average person is not going to be able to afford Beverly Hills. Even Anaheim and Santa Ana are becoming more expensive, but it is not out of the realm of possibility to have a private home here when you might not have that luxury elsewhere.

6. Los Angeles is improving its transportation network.
Although there was a severe degradation in the public transportation network in Los Angeles in the decades before, the city is working to correct that problem. You have access to a metro system that makes it a 30-minute commute on a good day to go from Pasadena to Hollywood. You will also have access to LAX, which is an airport that allows you to fly almost anywhere in the world. If you must drive, the highways are going to be filled with traffic throughout most of the day and worse at rush hour, so make sure that you budget some extra time to ensure that you arrive at your destination on time.

7. You have plenty of coastline to explore when living in Los Angeles.
There are over 30 miles of beaches to enjoy once you make the move to Los Angeles. These spots aren’t cold and breezy like they would be in the Pacific Northwest or the upper East Coast either. They don’t have the humidity that you can find in the Southern states. That is why it is such a joy to spend some time in the sun and sand when start living here. Not only are the sunrises and sunsets amazing, but you will also get to enjoy entertainment options like Santa Monica pier when you want to have some outdoor fun.

There are day trips that can let you experience quieter beaches, such as the quick ferry ride over to Catalina Island. You can also head up the coast on the historic Highway 1 to enjoy an ongoing view of the Pacific Ocean that makes the journey one of the highest-rated road trips in the world today.

8. Los Angeles offers a lifestyle that is relaxed if you allow it to be.
There is no denying the fact that Los Angeles is an extremely competitive city. If you want to be stressed out all of the time, then LA will accommodate that desire. You will also discover that the ongoing sunshine, access to the coast, and the frequently good weather all combine to create a relaxed lifestyle that can be a lot of fun if you allow those elements into your life. The size of the city, along with its sometimes hectic nature, can sometimes wear people down. This rhythm might also give you the energy that you need to create the success that you want in life.

9. The diversity in the population of Los Angeles makes it a unique place to live.
Los Angeles is one of the few cities in the United States where there is not a majority ethnicity. Although the Hispanic/Latino population represents 48% of the city (and Caucasians another 28%), the wide range of personalities, cultures, and perspectives gives LA a strength that cannot be found in other locations around the country. This element applies to how people work here as well, with most of the careers not requiring you to work the typical 9-5 schedule. You may find that there could be a lot more freedom to wander or work outside of the office after you start living here too.

10. The food scene in Los Angeles is incredible.
Even though the spread-out nature of LA and the issues with traffic can present some challenges, you will find that working for the experiences that are available in the culinary world of the city is worth the effort. Every neighborhood tends to have a focal point of culture so that you can select from a variety of ethnic options after you start living here. Everything from Ethiopian to Persian food is possible. Glendale offers Armenian influences, while Sawtelle is the place for Japanese fare.

11. World-class shopping is available in Los Angeles every day.
The Port of Los Angeles manages $1.2 billion in goods each day. Along the downtown fashion district, you will find 100 blocks of wholesale and retail businesses that are independently owned and operated. There are boutique stores, designer showrooms, and plenty of campuses that allow you to find the designer brands that you might prefer. You can then find over 100 different museums to tour, take in a concert at one of the venues like the Disney Concert Hall, or productions at Pantages Theater. There are even 16 different art walks in the city to enjoy while you can satisfy your need for retail therapy at the same time.

List of the Cons of Living in Los Angeles

1. Transportation is a nightmare in Los Angeles.
Living in Los Angeles might offer several benefits, but those positives come with several sacrifices. The traffic problems that are in LA are legendary, especially if you happen to be on the highways during the rush hour. INRIX reviewed the data from major urban centers in 38 different countries and found that the traffic here is the worst anywhere in the world. You will spend over 100 hours of your life every year being stuck in traffic. There is nothing to suggest that this problem is going to stop any time soon either.

2. Parking in Los Angeles can be beyond ridiculous at times.
The reason why so many businesses offer valet parking in Los Angeles is the fact that parking is unnecessarily burdensome for drivers in the city. The parking signs can be exceptionally complicated. You must make sure to read each sign carefully to ensure that you have permission to park in that spot at the time of your arrival. The laws for parking are rigidly enforced as well, which means you are almost guaranteed to receive a ticket if you misread the instructions that were presented to you.

3. You will face some stiff competition for the jobs that you want.
Although the employment market in Los Angeles is booming relative to the rest of California and the United States, finding the right opportunity is tricky if you don’t know the right places to start looking. Many people associate tourism and entertainment careers with life in this city, but it is also the largest manufacturing urban center in the country. There are jobs available in steel, automotive, apparel, and electronics available if you move here. Technology positions are also rising rapidly, as are public-sector positions if you are interested in becoming a police officer, firefighter, or paramedic.

4. The neighborhoods in Los Angeles are spread far apart.
Los Angeles is massive on a scale you cannot believe until you experience it yourself at some point. There are more than 4 million people who live here in a radius of more than 500 square miles. That means the neighborhoods of the city are spread out a lot further than what you will experience in most metro areas. When you add in the element of traffic that causes a long commute, you will discover that most people tend to keep their social engagements as close to the vest as possible.

Choosing your neighborhood is usually as easy as sticking close to your family and friends. If you know someone a couple of neighborhoods over, then you will likely seem them less than you think that you will. You’ll want to worry more about what you want to do for socialization more than trying to find a spot that is close to where you work.

5. It is challenging to become a homeowner in the Los Angeles area.
When you make the decision to start living in Los Angeles, then you are going to be living in a spot where the cost of living is 50% higher than the national average in some neighborhoods. It is still cheaper to live here than in New York City, but that is about it. Housing tends to be the most significant variance that people face during the relocation process. Renting might be the only option available to you, and even then, the costs might be much higher than you expect.

The average price of a home in Los Angeles was about $570,000 in 2015, which meant you would need to earn almost $100,000 per year to afford the mortgage. According to Forbes, fierce bidding wars in the area since then have nearly doubled this cost. The average apartment rent in LA has climbed above $2,800 as well, which is a 10% increase from 2018 figures.

6. You will find an array of attitudes waiting for you in Los Angeles.
Because Los Angeles is a highly competitive city where even great jobs can make it tough to scrape by paycheck-to-paycheck, you will find that there is a lot of stress on the people who live here. The weight which they carry on their shoulders can place a lot of pressure which can unbalance a life and create a generalized negative attitude toward everyone and everything. That is one of the reasons why you will see so many people in this city trying to eat healthily, explore the outdoors, and join a gym. These positive activities can help to counter a lot of the negative energy that exists here.

7. There is always the threat of an earthquake to think about in the city.
The San Andreas fault line that runs up the West Coast goes through some of the most densely populated areas of Los Angeles. That means the risk of a large earthquake could create a severe emergency situation if a full eruption were to occur. This disadvantage is often referred to as “The Big One,” which is something that all cities along the Ring of Fire think about at some level. The USGS reports that there is a 46% chance that a 7.5-magnitude quake will hit California in the next 30 years, with the likely location being in the southern part of the state.

Even if that intense event never occurs, there are earthquakes that are frequent in the region. If you are not used to this natural event, then living in Los Angeles could provide a significant disadvantage for you in this regard.

8. The cost of moving to Los Angeles is significant.
When you move to a new city, there are always costs that can make the process a challenge. Relocating to LA usually comes with some expenses that some families fail to anticipate since there is a lifestyle change that is usually necessary with this decision. You’re going to need a car when living here for the commute. You will want to start your house or apartment hunt well before your move to ensure that you can get into the neighborhood you want. You might even discover that a second job is necessary for a while to ensure that you make ends meet.

9. Crime is something that you will want to consider before moving to LA.
Before you decide to make a move to Los Angeles, it is imperative that you take a look at the crime statistics for the neighborhood where you are thinking about living. As a general rule, the areas that are to the south and west of the city tend to be the most dangerous places to live, while the places along the coast and to the north tend to be significantly safer. You may wish to think about living as far out as Calabasas and then commute to work in the city if you’re trying to avoid this issue altogether.

The pros and cons of living in Los Angeles all depend on what you hope to accomplish with your move. There is plenty of sunshine to enjoy in the city, but there are also some issues with the cost of living to consider. Crime in some neighborhoods is something to think about as well. As the city continues to grow, you may find that the positives outweigh the negatives, but the opposite can also occur. LA is not for everyone, so it is essential that you figure out if you should be here before completing your move.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.