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What Are the Pros and Cons of Living in Los Angeles, CA?

Updated on July 11, 2017
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Gary has lived in Las Vegas and Orange County, California as well as in Oregon. He has traveled and written about the West and London.

Christmas in La Cañada/Flintridge
Christmas in La Cañada/Flintridge | Source

Easy Living in Los Angeles

I lived in Orange County, a suburb of Los Angeles, for years when the smog was really terrible. That was way back in the 1970's. But I also spent a lot of spare time along the coast of the LA area. The smog has been cleared up some, making the inland areas better, but it is always better to be at the beach if you are going to live in La La land.

I really like parts of LA, like the Santa Monica and Brentwood area, as well as Marina Del Rey, Palos Verdes (and beaches north) and parts of Long Beach, like Belmont Shore. It is extra nice at the beaches of Orange County, like Newport Beach, with her back bays and fancy boats, Lido Isle, etc and also Laguna Beach with a mediterranean feel above the cliffs.

The Rose Parade is the great equalizer when those publications come out with best places to live. I am always amused when they pick some place that is 30 degrees below zero while LA is basking in 70 degree weather. But with LA, again, it is where you live and where you work that can make a big difference. You need to avoid a big commute, especially a big freeway commute, which will improve your Los Angeles quality of life. You need to be well educated offering a service that is in demand, because LA ain't cheap, even with the price declines due to the housing crash.

I have a relative who lives in a coastal area and is using his MBA to great success, but he has the skills to be there. I realized that my earning power as a social worker would not give me any relief to live in Los Angeles, especially with a family to raise. Now that my kids are grown, I would not want to pay the massive down payments required to buy a house in Los Angeles or to even pay the crazy rents. Again, if you have the skills then you can compete. No one should move to LA without a secure and well paying job unless you are Axl Rose who lived in his car.

The real estate and construction industries are really suffering right now. I even fear that foreclosures, for which there are a market, will eventually be upside down. That will really freeze the Los Angeles housing market. Based upon income, house prices should be around 180-200 thousand dollars which would be about 3 times median LA income. While the median house price has dropped from over 500 thousand dollars to roughly 350 thousand as of the writing of this article, I believe there is a long way to go.

But since this article has been written, there has been an artificial housing bubble created by cash buyers, the very wealthy, with loans from the banks. Private equity has been involved in this real estate run up.

So, there are pressures for house prices to increase in the LA area, partly due to investors buying up a large portion of the real estate. Where real estate prices go from here is anyone's guess, but there may be jobs related to the construction industry as new home construction shows signs of life.

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Because of crime issues in some areas, it really pays to do your homework when finding an area within this huge metropolis to settle. Crime is an issue in Los Angeles, but I have never felt threatened there.

Los Angeles is a very competitive environment for good jobs, and there are exciting opportunities in film, tourism, small manufacturing, imports and computers and software. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in Los Angeles, because there is a really skilled work force. And people are still going to movies, a near recession proof industry.

And don't think that this article is completely down on inland areas of the Los Angeles area. The Hollywood and West LA areas are interesting. The Mission Inn is one of the great hotels in the world and is located in downtown Riverside. It is a must-see place There are many inland jewels including tree-lined Whittier, Claremont, and La CaƱada/Flintridge.

I hope you have enjoyed my little window into the pros and cons of Los Angeles living.

LA (Hollywood) on Google Maps

A markerhollywood and vine los angeles -
Hollywood Boulevard & Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA 90028, USA
get directions

LA Hot Spots

Fleetwood Mac's Lindsay Buckingham: National Lampoon's Vacation: Take a Ride on the West Coast Kick

Fleetwood Mac: Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood  Location: 6608 Hollywood Blvd.
Fleetwood Mac: Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood Location: 6608 Hollywood Blvd. | Source

A Few Comments on Earthquakes for People Contemplating Relocation to Los Angeles

I cannot ignore the situation of earthquakes when speaking about relocation to Los Angeles. In exchange for the wonderful weather, the ambiance and the good fun that is LA comes the threat of earthquake. In the light of the earthquakes and tsunamis that have happened on the ring of fire, we need to remind ourselves that Los Angeles is on that same ring of fire.

I have a personal experience with an earthquake. In May, 1983, the small town I was living in and grew up in experienced a major earthquake of 6.7 (upgraded). I was in a brick building and one of the walls blew out before my eyes. Fortunately, the earthquake only lasted 31 seconds, but was centered only about 5 miles away, making it very powerful. The violent shaking would have destroyed the building I was in had it lasted longer. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake lasted 45-60 seconds. It was a 7.9 and inflicted massive damage. The Japanese earthquake of 2011 lasted minutes, as a 9.0 is among the world's most powerful earthquakes. Being over 50 miles offshore, it was enormous, and the tsunami did the greatest damage.

So, what about Los Angeles? While she is on the ring of fire, there is no subduction zone offshore. While that guarantees nothing, the biggest earthquakes on the ring of fire have been in subduction zone areas, where one plate grinds under another. Indonesia, Chile, Japan and Alaska are prime properties for these sort of earthquakes. And even the Pacific Northwest has a subduction zone. In Los Angeles, the plates grind together, one moving north and the other moving south.

The San Andreas fault is the boundary of the two plates. Los Angeles rests upon the Pacific Plate and the North American plate is east of this. On the San Andreas, the portion north of Los Angeles in the mountain region has been stuck for years. So there is concern that a quake could take place in that region that is quite large, even close to 8.0. That would inflict major damage to Los Angeles, that has many buildings not able to withstand the shocks.

I would say that if someone were contemplating moving to Los Angeles, they should be aware of the issues, and understand the dangers. Yet it could be many years before the big one hits the area. My only concern is for the aftermath of getting food and water in a city so large as Los Angeles. I know that in the Coalinga earthquake, help arrived a day later, and the town only held about 10 thousand people. But the logistics of getting supplies to people in Los Angeles could be quite a challenge.

I still live in the west, and have family in Los Angeles. I am concerned, but mostly about being in brick buildings. Having seen what could happen to brick structures, that becomes my biggest concern. Still, I frequent buildings that are not brick that may not survive a massive earthquake, and you just go about your life because there is risk everywhere.

I Can Sum Up My Thoughts About Living in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is an exciting yet frustrating place to live. If you can choose your area and your commute you are fine. Otherwise, quality of life is less optimal. Los Angeles is big, and you have to narrow down to local community as best you can.

I love the weather in big LA. Since I live in Las Vegas, I miss the cooler summers of Los Angeles. Las Vegas has mild winters but not quite as mild as Los Angeles.

If a really big city does not overwhelm you, Los Angeles can be a magnet for opportunity, shopping, fun, and entertainment.


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    • jewelsofawe profile image

      jewelsofawe 8 years ago from Oregon

      I hate L.A. I always avoided going there, but now and then went to the Staple Center or LAX airport, Shriners, been to rodeo drive, Hollywood, saw Guns and Roses play there in high school. I grew up in Costa Mesa, about 1 hour from L.A. sooner if there is no traffic.

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 8 years ago from Free and running....

      Traffic sucks, but I hope you're right, people are gettin' outta here, but I see a new boat of dreamers on the horizon...

    • Fraser Soul profile image

      Mildred Lucille Fraser 7 years ago from Bloomfield, CT

      Thanks for the insight. I've been to LA, it was interesting but I would not want to live there. I do have friends and family there so perhaps I'll be visiting again.

    • bgamall profile image

      Gary Anderson 7 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      YW Fraser. I probably would like to live close, you know, like Ojai (where I stayed 9 months as a young guy) or Camarillo or SB.

      If Ojai is good enough for Reece Witherspoon and Anthony Hopkins I could deal with it:)

    • odessatravel profile image

      odessatravel 7 years ago from Odessa Ukraine

      Los Angeles is a place were people are open-minded.Anybody can find a place to feel at home. I cannot say it about oher major cities in US.

    • bgamall profile image

      Gary Anderson 7 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      I think it is the patience they get from dealing with the freeways. If you can tolerate the freeways you can probably tolerate just about anything. :)

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      We lived in Redondo Beach it was beautiful there was nothing like waking up to the roll of the Ocean and walking along the beach. We used to love to drive up to Rancho PalosVerdes which was a hop,skip and jump. I miss LA but we certainly do not miss the traffic on the 405 or the freeway from you know where, which was the 110 we wouldn't travel that unless it was a las resort! I wonder if they have worked on it since we were there? Anyway thank you for sharing the positives of living in LA.:)

    • bgamall profile image

      Gary Anderson 7 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Thanks AEEvans. My son lives in the neighborhood of your travels. It is nice especially if you didn't have to go anywhere on the freeways, lol.

    • mikelong profile image

      mikelong 7 years ago from The largest convict colony in the United States

      There are many white supremacist groups in and around L.A....arguably more than in any other part of the country..

      On a more interesting note a new city tour is now being offered...for about 50 dollars per person, and a signed non-liability waiver by the participant, one can tour the "hood" the "ghetto" of the Crips, Bloods, and other gangs......

      Capitalism opening new markets.....what if the show isn't entertaining enough?? Will they try to "spice" it up somehow?

    • bgamall profile image

      Gary Anderson 7 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Mike I saw that inner city tour thing. Well, that could be spiced up for certain. I personally thought it was cute that a tour stopped in front of Sprinkles Cupcake Shop in Beverly Hills. I had to check it out, and they are the best cupcakes.

    • TylerCapp profile image

      TylerCapp 7 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      I love LA. Maybe it's because I have four generations from LA but there is so much to do that I love. The thing I don't like is the vibe from some of the people, mostly the people from other areas who moved to my city to be entertaining. For the first time in my life, I'm considering moving to another city. Nice hub though, it's a good tribute. :)

    • bgamall profile image

      Gary Anderson 7 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Thanks Tyler. There are a few places you could hide on the periphery without totally leaving. But certainly everyone can use a change, even ones considering a move to LA!

    • profile image

      tpeddyco 6 years ago

      What is there not to like about it. The weather is awesome. I hear the traffic is bad. However, it never seems too bad when I am there. Some say it is expensive - but, there are little utilities. Try dealing with $300-$400 gas bills in Winter and $300 electric in Summer.

    • bgamall profile image

      Gary Anderson 6 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      It is a bit chilly up your way I have heard. :) Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Richard Stephen 6 years ago

      Yep, living on the outskirts of LA is the way to go as long as you don't have to commute into LA or OC. That way you can have all the benefits of LA without having to fight the traffic every day. I've been here in SoCal for 36 years now and the smog has gotten noticeably better. There are very few places that you can be snow skiing in the morning and hit the beach in the afternoon!

    • bgamall profile image

      Gary Anderson 6 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Outskirts isn't such a bad idea, or as long as you live close to work it all makes more sense.

    • kingkhan78 profile image

      kingkhan78 6 years ago

      interesting information to thanks for sharing

    • bgamall profile image

      Gary Anderson 6 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Thinking about moving to LA King? Let me know.

    • profile image

      Cbay 6 years ago

      Umm... Orange county is NOT a 'suburb' of Los Angeles. Orange county is Orange county. Is located south of Los Angeles, in southern California. Los Angeles, including it's suburbs, are in Los Angeles county!

    • profile image

      Cbay 6 years ago

      Hey AEvans, from Torrance/Redondo Bch area here!

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