Want to know the pros & cons of living in LA from a real local? Follow along for an honest opinion of what it is like to live in the city of Angels.
Los Angeles is the 2nd largest city in America with over 4 million people calling the city home each year. I am an LA native, born and raised and after living here for over 25 years I have seen both the pros & cons of living in Los Angeles, California. So here is a complete and comprehensive list of the pros & cons of living in Los Angeles from a self-proclaimed LA expert. If you are looking for a complete guide of how to pack for LA check out my thorough guide.
Pros & Cons of Living in LA According to a Local
- Food Scene
Los Angeles is a mecca for the best food in the US and where you can find a diverse array of options from almost every culture. The city is most known for its tacos, Thai cuisine, American classics, and fine dining experiences. The amount of restaurants to try is endless with new restaurants popping up weekly.
- Endless Things To Do
You will never be bored living in Los Angeles because there are hundreds, if not thousands of things to do in the city. You can do everything from going to a concert, surfing, bar crawls, axe throwing, paint nights, museums, or even riding in a helicopter.
There is something for EVERY budget. If you are looking for free things to do take a hike to the Hollywood sign or tour the Hollywood cemetery. You are guaranteed to always have a never-ending to-do list!
- Incredible Weather
How does 70-degree weather year-round sound? According to U.S. Climate Data, the average high is 72 degrees and the average low is 56 degrees meaning all you need to own is a light jacket to stay warm! Check out my packing list of the best things to wear year-round in LA. In addition, you will be able to do any activity no matter what month it is – no snow to slow you down!
- Health-Focused Culture
Los Angeles is known to be very health-conscious with most restaurants offering vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and organic food options.
There are plenty of farmer’s markets to shop locally and specialty markets to cook just about whatever your heart desires. There is no shortage of gyms, studios, or bike paths to fulfill your workout needs.
According to Thrillist, Los Angeles is the 5th most diverse city in the US. If you are looking for a melting pot of cultures, races, and ethnicities then LA is the place to be. There is a beautiful blend of communities and people to immerse yourself in which makes this city so so special.
- Road Trips
If you want to get out of the city, LA is the perfect spot to find multiple getaways and road trips just an hour away. You can easily take a trip to San Diego for their fun nightlife and beautiful beaches or Santa Barbara for great food and to ride bikes along the coast.
Maybe you want to wine taste? Temecula is about an hour’s drive away to experience some of the best wines California has to offer!
- Great City for Singles
With one of the largest populations in the US, Los Angeles is a top spot for dating. Since the weather is great all year round you are able to join plenty of activities in hopes of meeting your special person.
There are tons of festivals, events, and concerts being held weekly so you can keep finding new ways to meet people. Plus, there are so many incredible date ideas to take advantage of!
- Beaches, Mountains, and Parks
In Los Angeles, the beach, mountains, and array of city parks are at your fingertips. Some of LA’s top beaches include El Matador State Beach, Manhattan Beach, Leo Carrillo State Beach, and the list goes on!
You can find a different side of nature at the San Gabriel Mountains or while going for a run in the Hollywood Hills on popular trails like Runyon Canyon. Lastly, the city parks, such as Griffith Park, are a perfect way to get outdoors while still being close to home.
The nightlife scene is huge throughout LA. There’s a place to suit every mood whether you are looking for a laid-back sports bar, hopping nightclub, or fancy cocktail hour – there is something for everyone!
- Sports and Live Events
There are 11 professional sports teams to see and tailgate including the LA Lakers, the LA Dodgers, the LA Kings, and the LA Chargers. There’s also no shortage of live music and theater to see with over 30 concert venues to see your favorite artists and musicals at.
- Best Shopping Options
There is a vast array of malls, boutiques, outlets, vintage, and thrift shops in California! From wholesale to high-end – LA has got it all. If you are feeling extra fancy check out Rodeo Drive to fulfill all your designer dreams! If you are looking for an incredible deal, head to Santee Alley at the fashion district for cute clothes and affordable prices.
- National Parks Nearby
With both Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Park both 3-4 hours away, you can easily get your fix of the great outdoors and nature! And if you are looking for an even longer road trip, check out Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park in Northern California.
- Museums and Zoo
According to Museum Hack, there are over 90 museums in LA! Some of my favorites are The Getty, The Broad, La Brea Tar Pits, and LACMA. The Los Angeles Zoo is another great spot to visit with over 270 different species of animals to see.
Many college students come from all over the US and around the world to attend these top-rated colleges in California including USC, UCLA, Occidental College, and Loyola Marymount University. Even if you already have an undergraduate degree, these schools offer great graduate and doctoral school programs.
There is no denying traffic is rampant throughout Los Angeles. You can always expect traffic while going into the downtown area and just about everywhere in the city!
- High Cost of Living
Los Angeles is a highly desired location, and with such a high cost of living, you will need to make a decent living wage. A high cost of living means the average cost of basic necessities in LA is higher.
Salary.com says the cost of living in Los Angeles is 41.1% higher than the national average.
- Competitive Housing Market
Real estate is limited in Los Angeles which drives the prices of houses up due to the low inventory. The median sales price for a house in Los Angeles county is around $680,000. Homebuyers definitely have a tough market to sift through.
- Competitive Job Market
The job competition is fierce due to the number of qualified candidates and limited jobs available to apply to. Snagging your dream job will mean standing out in a crowd of possibly hundreds of applicants.
- High Sales Tax
One of the reasons for such a high cost of living is the sales tax in LA. The sales taxes average 8.25% with some cities in the county reaching 10.25%. You are paying a lot more for the same item in a different county or state.
- You Will Most Likely Need A Car
While LA does have buses and a metro system, getting somewhere may take you a long time since the city is very spread out. In addition, the public transit system isn’t always the most reliable so expect to leave early, account for traffic, and anticipate longer commutes.
Even though having a car is more convenient, parking spaces are limited in a city with over 4 million people. Many parking spaces and lots in the city charge high prices just for a spot. Finding free parking is even more difficult and you will usually come across paid meters on most streets.
You need to be aware that LA is prone to earthquakes due to the city being on a fault line, meaning there is a higher risk of an earthquake happening there. Most buildings in the city are built to withstand these disasters but having an earthquake plan and rations are crucial!
Neighborhood Scout calculates the crime rate in LA as 32.01 per 1000 residents in the city and gives a 13/100 for safety. The numbers are pretty alarming and anytime you are in a big city like Los Angeles you always have to be extra cautious when traveling there.
My piece of advice – never leave ANY valuables in your car!
You will come across a lot of people that are homeless in the downtown area. As I mentioned before, cost of living is high and rent can be a financial burden which makes living here a challenge.
The sheer amount of cars, trucks, ships, manufacturing plants, and planes contribute to the crippling pollution and smog that plagues Los Angeles. Having such a dense population and being a port city are all factors that create poor air quality.
Any pros & cons you would add to the list? Add them in the comments below!