If you're heading to sunny L.A. to make it big in the entertainment industry or just for a change of pace, there's a lot to know about finding apartments in Los Angeles before you make the big move. Here's some vital information and tips to make your search a success:
Angelenos always talk about the latest shortcuts they've found to shave time off their commute. Why? Traffic is the worst here. It's good to know this before starting your apartment hunt because, if pricing is flexible for you, many people in L.A. would agree that it's worth it to pay a little more for an apartment to minimize the craziness of your rush hour commute. For example, even if your commute should only take 20 minutes, in rush hour on a bad day, it can take nearly two hours. In fact, drivers in L.A. spend an average of 72 hours in traffic jams per year. Needless to say, Angelenos get to know their cars very well.
Also, although public transit is available, Los Angeles is spread out over about 500 square miles, meaning you're likely than not to live in an area without excellent transit options.
Choosing a neighborhood
Like other major U.S. cities, the rent in Los Angeles varies pretty widely by neighborhood, though it averaged more than $1,600 in 2012. The most expensive neighborhoods are Bel Air, Pacific Palisades and Beverly Hills. Less expensive neighborhoods can be found closer to downtown, the east side as well as further north toward the city limits. Many of the suburbs tend to be quite expensive.
A lot of young people live in "The Valley" – neighborhoods like Studio City, Van Nuys, North Hollywood and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley. It's typically ten degrees hotter here than West L.A., but the apartments are cheaper. Westwood and Brentwood are also popular L.A. neighborhoods for young people due to their proximity to UCLA.
The bottom line
In Los Angeles, it's important to know upfront whether you plan to drive to work or find a way to use public transit. However, public transit will tightly restrict where you are able to live. Rest assured that if you choose to spend more for a conveniently located pad, you can save money by hitting up L.A.'s notorious flea markets and antique stores for some cheap finds to furnish the place.