What's it like to live in Los Angeles, CA?


Emily Manthei

Profile written by local expert:

Emily Manthei

Although the City of Angels is characterized as both a glamorous show business town and a traffic-gnarled metropolis, the truth about America's second-largest metropolitan area is that it's simultaneously both and neither.

Ask anyone – a doe-eyed starlet-in-training from Iowa to a second-generation Korean-American business owner – why they live in Los Angeles and a familiar cliche will emerge: "Los Angeles is the place where dreams come true." This intoxicating mix of free-spirited hope and relentless ambition is the defining characteristic of Los Angeles residents, who call themselves Angelenos.

Just as surely as the positive platitudes are true, so are the negative ones. Notorious traffic jams and hours of delays are the norm for those who drive the more than a dozen freeways that cover the total 34,149 square miles of Los Angeles. But all the mileage is not wasted. Those same freeways take residents between coastal beaches, rugged mountains, tree-lined forests and stark deserts all within an hour of the downtown area.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Los Angeles, California is ranked:

#101 in Best Places to Live

#49 in Best Places to Retire

6.1

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    7.5
  • Value
    3.9
  • Job Market
    6.9
  • Quality of Life
    6.8
  • Net Migration
    5.7

Read how we rank places

Los Angeles, CA Quick Stats

  • 18,463,122

    Metro Population

  • $53,379

    Average Annual Salary

  • 69.0° / 56.2°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 35.6

    Median Age

  • $526,442

    Median Home Price

  • 12.8 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.5%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $1,307

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 30.0 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Los Angeles, CA?

The high number of new residents arriving annually has led to a housing shortage in Los Angeles. Rental units are mostly at capacity. This has led to a dip in homeownership rates, leaving the average Angeleno paying a little less than half of his or her income in rent.

Value Index

Index Score: 3.9 /10

How we calculate this.


Los Angeles offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year


Los Angeles
$526,442

USA
$222,408

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Los Angeles, CA.

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What's the weather like in Los Angeles, CA?

The weather is more varied than one might think. Among the city, the beaches and the valleys, Los Angeles can experience temperatures that vary by 20 degrees sometimes. 

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

56.8°F


Winter

60.3°F


Spring

68.0°F


Summer

65.3°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

3.3 in


Winter

1.9 in


Spring

0.1 in


Summer

1.1 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Los Angeles, CA?

The car is king on Southern California roadways. The majority of Angelenos drive to work, which leads to the bumper-to-bumper traffic the metro area is famous for. 

The Metro rail and bus system has gone to work expanding public transportation, and now many main business hubs and attractions are serviced by rail routes. While buses run under the same Metro banner, they are less frequent and reliable (partially due to the area's street traffic) and illustrate the economic disparity in their ridership.

Los Angeles International Airport is one of the busiest air transportation hubs in the country, causing near-constant traffic logjams nearby. Two small, regional airports in Burbank and Long Beach help alleviate the flow from LAX. The metro area is also serviced by Amtrak train and coach bus companies.

Commuting in Los Angeles, CA

Means of Transportation
Driving
86%
Equal to national average

Bicycling
1%
Equal to national average

Walking
2%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
4%
Equal to national average
Average Commute Time

30.0 minutes

3.9 minutes more than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Los Angeles, CA?

In this region of transplants, everyone is a local foreigner. Of the metro area's residents, nearly 40 percent are foreign-born. Hispanics, both immigrants and multi-generational Californians, make up almost half of the area's population, contributing to the 60 percent of Angelenos who speak a language other than English at home.

Diversity also reigns supreme in the economy, with communities ranging from highly affluent to poverty-stricken sharing the same few miles. And unfortunately, nearly 22 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, contributing to the pressing homeless crisis. Sidewalk encampments of tents and makeshift blanket and tarp dwellings have multiplied across the city, where homelessness has dramatically increased.

Los Angeles attracts young, entrepreneurial types. About 52 percent of the population is single. These young, unmarried adults drive the progressive social atmosphere and are attracted to the vibrant creative atmosphere fostered by the metro area's reputation for entertainment.

Christians, especially Catholics, make up the majority of the 53 percent of Los Angeles County residents who consider themselves religious. 

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Los Angeles as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Los Angeles, CA?

Diversity is what defines Los Angeles without giving it a singular identity, especially when it comes to its reputation as the entertainment capital. Bands play live music in intimate venues, loud nightclubs and on grand stages. The number of cultural institutions and cinemas give residents an unparalleled cornucopia of entertainment, arts and culture of all brows.

But nature is an equally large part of this concrete jungle. Los Angeles has some of the largest urban parks in the country; lush, wild canyons; and miles upon miles of public beachfront. All of this contributes to residents' preoccupation with health and fitness.

Find out more about what there is to see and do in Los Angeles, CA