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

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 LA 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 many freeways covering 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.

See all the best places to live in California.


U.S. News analyzed 150 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:

#97 in Best Places to Live

#75 in Best Places to Retire

#3 in Most Expensive Places to Live

#5 in Best Places to Live in California




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

Los Angeles, CA Quick Stats

  • 18,629,045

    Metro Population

  • $55,599

    Average Annual Salary

  • 69.0° / 56.2°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 36.1

    Median Age

  • $525,762

    Median Home Price

  • 12.8 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.0%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $1,426

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 30.7 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

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 an 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.

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, and the cost of living is high here. 

Looking for financial advice? Find a local financial advisor in Riverside, California, or Oxnard, California, or Los Angeles, California, or Long Beach, California.

Value Index

Index Score: 3.3 /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 2017

Los Angeles


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, Oxnard, CA and Riverside, CA.

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)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

3.3 in


1.9 in


0.1 in


1.1 in


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. 

Many main business hubs and attractions are serviced by rail routes through LA's Metro system. While buses run under the same Metro banner, they are less frequent and reliable (partially due to the area's street traffic).

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
Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Equal to national average
Average Commute Time

30.7 minutes

4.1 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.

A sizable number of the metro area's residents are foreign-born. Hispanics, both immigrants and multi-generational Californians, make up a significant portion of the area's population.

There is a homelessness crisis in LA, with sidewalk encampments of tents and makeshift blanket and tarp dwellings across the city.

Los Angeles attracts young entrepreneurs and hopefuls dreaming of making it in show business. 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.

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.