Skip to main content

The Pros and Cons of Living in Los Angeles, CA

Christmas in La Cañada/Flintridge

Christmas in La Cañada/Flintridge

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 1970s. 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 the Mediterranean feel above the cliffs.

The Rose Parade is the great equalizer when those publications come out with the best places to live. I am always amused when they pick someplace 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 and offering a service that is in demand, because LA ain't cheap.

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.

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 workforce. And people are still going to movies, a nearly 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 Cañada/Flintridge.

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

LA (Hollywood) on Google Maps

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 with the threat of an earthquake. In 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 sorts 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, which 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.

History of Earthquakes in Los Angeles

  • Significant L.A. Area Earthquakes: 1769-Present | Quake City
    July 28, 1769 @ 4pm-Felt by members of the Portola Expedition in the Los Angeles basin-specifically the Santa Ana River area about 50km SE of Los Angeles-as noted in the diary of Father Juan Crespi. The estimated 6.0M quake was followed by at least a
  • Earthquake Rocks Los Angeles
    On this day in 1994, an earthquake rocks Los Angeles, California, killing 54 people and causing billions of dollars in damages. The Northridge quake (named after the San Fernando Valley community near the epicenter) was one of the most damaging in U.

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 it down to the 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.


Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on May 20, 2014:

I didn't know you lived in California Sandy! Where?

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on May 02, 2014:

It is a nice area. I lived in CA for a short time.

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on August 31, 2012:

I doubt if rent is any cheaper in LA County than Orange County. Orange County is pretty Republican, and less diverse, but in areas is somewhat diverse. It all requires some skills in order to compete with the natives, so move with caution.

Anonymous on August 31, 2012:

About LA County. You have the South Bay, which has crowded beaches and beach towns in LA County such as Santa Monica and Venice doesn't really have the cleanest beach waters out there. Plus you have too much rush hour traffic and lots of pollution in LA County. Also, you have sleepy bedroom suburbs like Arcadia, Monrovia, Glendora, Claremont, Walnut and so forth, which there is no cultural actvities (only in Pasadena). San Fernando Valley is boring bedroom communities just like the San Gabriel Valley. All the cultural activities in Los Angeles county are in Downtown LA, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica and Venice. LA county is ethnically diverse. Also, you have Santa Clarita, Palmdale and Lancaster, which are really rural.

But in Orange County, you have less pollution, more fun things to do, tons of theme parks and fun things to do, bars located next to beachfronts (especially in Huntington and Newport Beach), lots of jobs, much newer homes compare to Los Angeles County, you see nicer cars then what you see in Los Angeles County (go to South Coast Plaza in the OC and you will see the parking lot full of expensive luxury cars), people are more wealthier then people in LA County, it is more Republican, the population is 50-75% White (versus 15-35% White in Los Angeles County), it has lots of stadiums, and more fun things to do. If you are Rich, Republican, Business-minded, or a combo of the three, move to Orange County. If you are Black or Hispanic or Working/Middle Class, move to Los Angeles County.

Manny on June 16, 2012:

I love LA... I live in the Northern East ( NYC, DC), Florida (Orlando, Miami) And nothing compares to LA. There is much to do in LA... you can find the right place and the affordable price if you look around. The 626 are is good such as West Covina, Arcadia, Duarte, North El Monte, Monrovia, Pasadena. The West Side is even better, Brentwood, Hollywood, Palos Verdes, Santa Monica, Culver City, Glendale etc... there is so many places to pick... Stay away from South Central area such as Compton and surrounding areas. Organge County has nice places to live too. Also, LA is for open minders. If you are a conservative from the East Coast and are not able to deal with diversity stay at home.

LA has a lot to offer, you just to do you hw by searching for the right place for you.

villasandhomes on January 04, 2012:

Interesting Hub thanks for sharing..

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on April 25, 2011:

Yes, you can check out but you can never leave!!

P. Thorpe Christiansen from Pacific Northwest, USA on April 24, 2011:

Manhattan Beach for me, and miss it still--thanks for the great hub.

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on April 22, 2011:

Thanks for the comment. There is a rivalry isn't there?

glassvisage from Northern California on April 22, 2011:

I love to visit places, but there wasn't much in LA that tempted me. I'm from Norcal and I couldn't imagine living down south.

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on March 10, 2011:

There are a lot of nice people in LA. But I am sure in a city that size you can find all types! on March 10, 2011:

LA people are fake, plastic and full of BS....The only thing good about LA is the weather.

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on January 30, 2011:

For many people that economic disincentive is a big hurdle. But then many in SoCal make a lot of money and do better there than they could elsewhere. They may leave and retire elsewhere, but then they have the savings to do so.

Nan Mynatt from Illinois on January 29, 2011:

I lived in the Los Angeles area for four years and I loved the ocean and the beachs. However, the cost of living is too high. I think that it would be hard to get ahead and save any money. Good article.

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on January 16, 2011:

Hi Melbel, thanks for the encouragement regarding tips on moving to LA. So you are moving there? I hope you enjoy the experience.

Melanie Palen from Midwest, USA on January 16, 2011:

Fantastic hub! I will be moving to Los Angeles soon, but I actually found this hub from checking out your stuff after reading the Palin hub you wrote. I'm going to bookmark this and come back to it later. :)

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on January 05, 2011:

I think the Palmdale area is getting quite large. Then they make the long commute.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on January 05, 2011:

Oh really I guess things have sure changed since the 1970's.

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on January 05, 2011:

Traffic is an issue to be sure. Downey is beautiful in spots. There are some magnificent homes there. And you moved out to the desert by HWY 14. I know that area from passing through to 5 from 395. There are a lot of refugees out that way from high house prices in the LA area.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on January 05, 2011:

I lived in the LA area for a bit when I was a teen. Downey to be exact. That was many years ago. Moved out to Quartz Hill and attended High School there for 2 years. I have many good memories mainly of the beaches in Cali. Excellent hub really enjoyed reading it. I don't think I would like LA much now as I do remember the traffic ugh!

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on August 31, 2010:

Lol, Cbay, but if you take world populations of the largest metro areas included in the total count, Orange County is very much a part of greater Los Angeles. I met my wife in Orange County. I love Orange County. But Orange County is part of greater LA. Deal with it!! :)

Cbay on August 31, 2010:

Hey AEvans, from Torrance/Redondo Bch area here!

Cbay on August 31, 2010:

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!

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on August 22, 2010:

Thinking about moving to LA King? Let me know.

kingkhan78 on August 22, 2010:

interesting information to thanks for sharing

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on August 05, 2010:

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

Richard Stephen on August 05, 2010:

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!

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on August 02, 2010:

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

tpeddyco on August 01, 2010:

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.

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on July 15, 2010:

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!

TylerCapp from Los Angeles, California on July 15, 2010:

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. :)

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on April 26, 2010:

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.

mikelong from The largest convict colony in the United States on January 21, 2010:

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?

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on January 04, 2010:

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.

Julianna from SomeWhere Out There on January 04, 2010:

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.:)

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on December 18, 2009:

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. :)

odessatravel from Odessa Ukraine on December 17, 2009:

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.

Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on August 17, 2009:

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:)

Mildred Lucille Fraser from Bloomfield, CT on August 17, 2009:

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.

goldentoad from Free and running.... on January 16, 2009:

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

jewelsofawe from Oregon on January 15, 2009:

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.