Los Angeles is known as the City of Angels and the Entertainment Capital of the World. If you’re dreaming about making Los Angeles your home, you probably already have a mental image of what it might be like to live among Hollywood’s stars with the sparkling Pacific nearby.
But what is it actually like to live in the second most populous city in America? In this article, we will talk about the cost of living, taxes, the employment market, housing costs, and other practical aspects of life in LA.
Los Angeles is an amazing place to call home, but there’s no beating around the bush when it comes to cost of living. Because LA is at the heart of so many industries and is one of the most lively, creative cities not just in the US, but in the world, the cost of living reflects those realities.
Sperling’s Best Places an index for comparing the cost of living for different cities around the country. Where 100 represents the US average, the cost of living in Los Angeles is 195.1. That means that it is much more expensive to live in LA than it is to live in most other communities in the country.
There are some costs which actually are comparable or even less than the US average. For example, both utilities and healthcare costs in Los Angeles are significantly cheaper than the nationwide average. Grocery costs are about the same. Miscellaneous costs are not much higher either.
There are really only two areas where costs in Los Angeles significantly outpace the nationwide average. One of these is transportation. The other is housing. We will discuss both of these in more detail shortly.
First, let’s talk about taxes in Los Angeles. Income taxes in California can range as high as 13.30%. That being said, many people fall within a lower tax bracket, and find that their income taxes are quite reasonable.
The combined sales tax rate is 9.5%. This is high, but not unexpected in light of the economic significance of the region. If you carefully plan your expenses, you should be able to maintain your budget.
The US Census reports that the median income for a household in Los Angeles is $54,501. The average per capita income is $31,563. Important industries in LA include entertainment (of course), tourism, aerospace, fashion and petroleum.
If you are in one of Los Angeles’s top industries, you may find that life-changing job opportunities await you here.
Sperling’s reports that the median home cost in the US is $216,200. The median home cost in California as a whole is $548,100. In Los Angeles, it is $670,200.
If you have a high-earning profession with great career opportunities in front of you, this can help to offset the high cost of housing in the city.
No matter what, it is vital to shop for the most affordable and flexible mortgage. This can help you pay off your home sooner and save quite a bit of money over the years in which you inhabit your home.
One of the most exciting things about moving to Los Angeles is that there are numerous schools to choose from at any educational level.
In terms of public universities, you can attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the California State University, Northridge (CSUN), or the California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA).
Along with these prominent public universities, there are abundant private colleges within city limits. Many of these are dedicated to the arts or sciences. Examples include the American Film Institute Conservatory, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy – Los Angeles campus, and the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.
There is also a system of nine community college campuses under the Los Angeles Community College District.
It is easy to imagine that Los Angeles is plagued by criminal activity, but this is an exaggeration in media and entertainment.
Actually, it may be a pleasant surprise for you to find out that crime rates in Los Angeles are not all that different from the nationwide average. Violent crime rates are only slightly higher, and property crime rates are actually almost exactly on par with the average throughout the US.
As Los Angeles is such a large city, it should not surprise you to learn that commute times are longer than the US average. Whereas the national average is around 26.4 minutes, the average commute time one direction in LA is about 30.9 minutes.
Los Angeles commuters can avail themselves of a subway and light-rail system along with bus lines operating throughout the county. These are managed by the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Quite a few professionals take advantage of this system. Around 9.8% of the working population uses mass transit, which is a significantly higher figure than the nationwide average. Around 9% carpool, 5.9% work from home, and the remaining 68.9% choose to drive by themselves.
Los Angeles features a gorgeous sunny climate year-round, getting only 17 annual inches of rain on average. Contrast that with the 39 inches of rain on average throughout the US each year. There are around 284 sunny days on average annually in LA, versus just 205 on average nationwide.
In terms of temperatures, the LA climate is quite temperate with wintertime lows ranging down to around just 46°F. Summertime highs range up to around 84°F. So it is rare to feel too hot or too cold.
For perspective, the Sperling’s Comfort Index rates the average US climate at 54 out of 100, with 100 representing an ideal climate. On that scale, Los Angeles gets an astonishing rating of 87. So not only is the weather delightful throughout the year, but you can live much more comfortably here than you can in most US locations.
An entire separate article could easily be written discussing culture and leisure in the Entertainment Capital of the World. Indeed, the arts are so central to LA’s culture and economy that one out of every six people residing in the city works in the entertainment field.
That means that if you love the performing arts, there are opportunities to take in musical performances, plays, and other live performances every single week throughout the city.
Los Angeles is also renowned for its museums and galleries. There are more than 840 in all, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Natural History Museum, the Getty Center, and others.
There are many other world-famous destinations in and around the city to visit as well. Some of these include Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Griffith Observatory, and the Santa Monica Pier.
Finally, another reason to consider Los Angeles is its incredible diversity. You will be dazzled by the dining and shopping options, the unique characters of LA neighborhoods, and the colorful, vibrant ambiance which makes the city so special.
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Shannon Christenot is an Equal Housing Lender. As prohibited by federal law, we do not engage in business practices that discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, because all or part of your income may be derived from any public assistance program, or because you have, in good faith, exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Disclaimer: Programs subject to change without notice. All borrowers must qualify per program guidelines.