The Pros and Cons of Living in Los Angeles, CA
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 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 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 is 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 the 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.
Poll About Moving to Los Angeles
Would You Move to Los Angeles Given the Opportunity?
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
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Hollywood: Classic Rock on the Walk of Fame
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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 an 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, 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.
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.