A Guide for Moving to Los Angeles

Moving in general can be overwhelming but moving to one of the biggest cities in the world? It can feel like an overwhelming experience. Before we dive into the big topic of moving to Los Angeles I want to congratulate you for making this decision. There are people around the world of dream of moving to Los Angeles but are unable to for one reason or another. So the fact that you are considering it or actually doing it is something to be proud of.

Whether you are moving from a nearby county in Southern California, or from across the world, there will be challenges and obstacles. However, I believe there are also a lot of wonderful experiences you can have in LA that make it worth living here. 

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy something, I will earn a small commission from the advertiser at no additional cost to you.

moving to los angeles

I have put off this blog post for a long time because writing almost felt as daunting as actually planning the move. Due to how big this topic is I like to think that this post will always be a work in progress as some things change and as I continue to discover and learn more myself. I have lived in California at different points in my life but I have been back in the Golden State for over 10 years now. I lived in North Orange County for several years and have also lived in three different areas of Los Angeles County. I have called Long Beach, North Hollywood, and Porter Ranch home.

How Much Money Should You Save to Move to LA?

There is no perfect answer to this question. However, keep in mind that when you are looking for a place to live you will need to prove that you can pay rent. If possible moving with $10,000 to $20,000 will give you a good safety net. Some people are able to make it with much less but I think $10,000 is a good starting point.

What Area of Los Angeles Should I Live In

This is one of those questions that will have a different answer for everyone. Depending on your budget, commute, and what is most important to you it could be that you end up picking a completely different area than you originally imagined. The most important thing is that if you cannot truly explore an area of LA before moving there hold off before you sign a lease. If you can come out and visit and do research before moving that is awesome. If not reach out to someone living in LA for some advice. Or stay in an Airbnb while you get to know the area after moving before making a full commitment.

Be sure that you look at a map of Los Angeles to truly understand how gigantic this area is.

If you do a search on Tiktok of videos about moving to LA you’ll find so many people in the comments section saying they wish they had done more research before picking the area they live in. Granted, what is wrong for them might be completely right for you. For me, North Hollywood was a great choice when I was a single adult in my 20’s working in Burbank and living with a roommate. However, now that I’m married and in my 30s wanting to start my family it no longer feels like the right area for me.

Here are a few things to consider asking yourself as you do research on which area you can live in. How far do I want to be from work? Obviously, anyone working remotely has the ultimate flexibility but for those of us commuting be realistic about how far you’re willing to drive in traffic. Do you have reliable transportation? Public transportation isn’t too great in Los Angeles so having your own transportation makes everything so much easier. If you don’t have your own transportation you’ll want to do heavy research into making sure you’re moving into an area that will help you get to and from work.

Most people avoid traffic at all costs so they tend to spend the most amount of time in the part of town that they live in. This is another thing to keep in mind when choosing an area. For me, I am always willing to drive because I want to reap the full benefits of living in a city that always has something cool going on. Not everyone is like that which I totally understand.

porter ranch apartment
this is the pool area at my Porter Ranch apartment

Areas of Los Angeles County that I have lived in myself or have had friends live there with good experiences are Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Playa Vista, Porter Ranch, Studio City, West Hollywood, and Sherman Oaks. This is not a list of the only places you should consider. It’s just a list of areas that I personally recommend. Please do not compromise your safety to save money. 

How Can I Find a Place to Live in Los Angeles

@la.dreaming 3 One Bedroom Apartments in Los Angeles for under 3k a month. Ava, Toluca Lake Village and Ashton Sherman Village. #losangeles #losangeleslife #losangelesapartment #losangelesliving #movingtola #apartmentsforrent #apartmentsforrentla #apartmentsinlosanageles #apartmenthunters #onebedroomapartmentforrent #losangelescalifornia #apartmenttourla #apartmenttour ♬ Aesthetic Girl – Yusei

For each of the three apartments that I have rented, I found them using apartments.com. I have friends currently living in an apartment in Sherman Oaks that they found on Zillow. My husband previously rented a room from a lady in Valley Village that he found through a Facebook group called Gypsy Housing. While I don’t feel comfortable using Craigslist for housing myself, one of my best friends found a room to rent through Craigslist. He was very scared it was a scam but ultimately it ended up working out. Another friend found his apartment in Hollywood through Westside Rentals. The ways you can find a place to rent or buy are endless. 

Other Ways to Find a Place to Live in Los Angeles



Something that made me feel more comfortable when looking at different places was not only reading reviews on apartments.com but also looking up Yelp reviews on the complex. There was one apartment my husband and I looked at earlier this year that in person seemed good enough. But, once I looked the place up on Yelp I read about car break-ins being an ongoing issue and saw photos of blood in random public places that terrified me. I am so thankful we did our research and didn’t end up applying there. I will say that while those reviews scared me off the reviews for our Long Beach apartments were hit-and-miss on Yelp and we loved our 2 years there. I would just encourage you to take the reviews into consideration and use your best judgment. 

Be aware that most places charge an application fee when you apply. I believe for my last two apartments the fee was $50 with a $300 deposit. Some places will require that you make a minimum of 2.5-3 times the rent. 

If you are planning to drive a Uhaul during your move did you know that you can hire help to load and unload your truck? I have booked movers on two separate occasions through the Uhaul site which can be much cheaper than hiring a full-service moving company. 

Resources & General Tips

Learn to parallel park. This is a valuable skill that you will use often in LA.

Change your driver’s license to your new address as soon as possible so you can get an LA public library card. LAPL cards are free and available to anyone living in Los Angeles County with proof of residency. With the card, you can get free tickets to museums, rent a California State Parks Library pass for free parking at more than 200 state parks and beaches, and enjoy so many fantastic benefits. Also, consider the LA County Library card and library cards for the area you live in as well. For example, if you move to Santa Monica they have libraries that are not part of LAPL or LA County Libraries. 

Renters Insurance – A lot of apartment complexes require renters insurance. Even if your complex doesn’t require insurance consider getting it. Our friends that moved to Sherman Oaks had a roof leak after moving in and because they had insurance they were well protected.

OHM Connect – see if your area is eligible for you to participate in OHM Connect. We used it when we lived in Long Beach but where we live now our area isn’t eligible. How it works is you get rewarded for using less electricity at certain times. You can then use your rewards to get PayPal cash or Amazon gift cards. The most we ever got a year was $30 I believe but some people claim they get $200-$300 a year in rewards. It’s worth looking into because even an extra $30 is great! eligible California utilities currently are PG&E, SCE, SDG&E. You can sign up here.

The Weather – it gets cold at night which can be a shock for people who aren’t used to the weather out here. It’s good to always keep a jacket in your car or with you so that you are never freezing when the sun goes down. 

Read Parking Signs Very Closely – It is not uncommon to find multiple parking signs in one area. Be sure to pay close attention so that you can avoid getting tickets. Keep some quarters in your car in case the meters don’t accept cards. 

Apply to be a Yelp Elite – Yelp Elites get to try food from different places and have the chance to attend special events. It took me a lot of work to become a Yelp Elite but it has been a great experience for me. Tips for becoming Elite include writing a lot of thorough reviews, answering questions, and engaging with other Yelpers. 

Connect with Local Companies For Events and Freebies

Be sure to check out our blog post on Birthday Freebies in Los Angeles so you can sign up for the ones you’re interested in. I also recommend connecting with our local radio stations and news stations online. They will keep you up to date on some cool events happening in the LA area. I also recommend connecting with Los Angeles malls and shopping centers. A lot of them host free and fun events but they also have giveaways. So far this year I’ve won $300 in gift certificates from 8000 Sunset Strip and a $150 gift card from Citadel Outlet. 

Things to Consider Buying 

Items for an Earthquake Kit – Consider at least 3 gallons of water per person, nonperishable food with a manual can opener, copies of keys and identification, and money, as well as a flashlight and extra batteries. I would recommend doing some research to figure out what else you should add to your kit.

Books on Los Angeles – I love a book that I have that focuses on different areas of LA where you can get 10,000-step walks. I have also enjoyed reading a book on Griffith Park. There are so many good books that can really help you get to know LA more. You can also try to rent these from the library once you get your card. We also have an e-book, a 10/10 Would Definitely Recommend Guide to Los Angeles that you can buy here. In the e-book, we share recommendations for beaches, museums, and other activities in Los Angeles. 

Reusable Items – Most places in Los Angeles will charge you for a bag so it is worth purchasing reusable bags. I also have reusable straws since so many places use paper straws. If you plan on going to farmers markets, which are hugely popular out here, it’s great to have reusable produce bags as well. 

Join Your Local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook 

I have been blessed to be part of really great Buy Nothing Groups in Long Beach and Porter Ranch. The groups are a great resource to find items that you would otherwise be buying. 

Listen to LA Based Podcasts

Of course, we hope that you’ll check out our own podcast that focuses on things to do in Los Angeles (you can check out our episode guide here) but there are also a lot of other great shows to check out. We recommend The Crown City Podcast, LifeHacksLA, California Now, and The Creators Podcast

Moving to Los Angeles Without a Job or Need Extra Money?

Consider signing up with a temp agency or companies that provide background work in film and television. We have an entire blog post dedicated to ways to make extra money in Los Angeles that you can check out here.

Explore an area of LA County with a Mystery Picnic

mystery picnic los angeles

If you are a foodie who loves finding local places to support consider getting a mystery picnic. This is such a fun way to learn about a particular area and see some cool hidden gems along your journey. You’ll be given clues that will lead you to places where you’ll pick up the pieces of your picnic. This is also a fun idea of what to do with your friends or family when they come to visit you.

About The Author

Michelle Ares is the founder and creative director of LA Dreaming. I have a passion for Southern California and love sharing my adventures and experiences with you. I love to travel, find new places to check out, and watch movies. You can follow me on Instagram @la.dreaming

You might also enjoy:

error: Content is protected !!