When you think of Los Angeles, you probably picture palm trees, amazing beaches, and the glitz and glam of Hollywood. However, there is a lot more to living in this amazing city than that. And no, not everybody works in the entertainment industry. If you’re thinking of moving here, it’s important to know the real cost of living in L.A. so you’re prepared beforehand, because it’s not exactly the cheapest city in the U.S.
According to Payscale, the average cost of living in L.A. is 43% higher than the U.S. average. What really raises this percentage is the cost of housing, which is actually 127% more expensive than the national average! Things like groceries, utilities, and healthcare are only 12%, 7%, and 9% more expensive, respectively. When comparing the cost of living in L.A. to other major metropolitan areas across the country, it’s not the most expensive, but not the cheapest either. For example, the cost of living in New York is 59% higher than in Los Angeles, though Chicago is 14% cheaper.
Now, let’s take a look at the cost of living in Los Angeles, broken down by category.
According to the Zumper National Rent Report, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is $2,420, which makes L.A. the fifth most expensive city to rent in the United States. By comparison, renting the same apartment in San Francisco will cost you $3,500, whereas, in Washington, D.C., you’ll only have to pay $2,100.
Of course, you can find better deals out there, especially if you go to some of the less popular neighborhoods, or even further outside the city. For example, you can rent a two-bedroom apartment in Bell for $1,315, and it’s only a difference of six miles.
According to Zillow, the median home price in Los Angeles is $687,200 and the median list price per square foot is $515. In other words, buying a home in Los Angeles is quite expensive, which is probably why more than half of the population is made up of renters.
The closer you go to the city center, the more expensive it is. Thus, for an apartment, you can expect to pay somewhere near $700 per square foot, but if you go outside of the center, you can expect to pay somewhere around $440. Regardless, it’s still far from cheap and it raises the cost of living in L.A. significantly.
For a 915 square-foot apartment, you can expect to pay around $110 for basic utilities every month, which is only 7% higher than the national average. In fact, that’s cheaper than both Chicago and New York, but still slightly more expensive than San Francisco.
For Internet access, you’ll be paying around $40 per month, which is far better than the $62 you’d be paying in New York.
Unlike in New York, you may actually need a car in Los Angeles. The only problem is that gas prices in this city are pretty high. In fact, they’re almost 55% higher than the national average and combined with the terrible traffic and higher consumption rates, this can significantly increase the cost of living in L.A.
Using the transit system is an option, but keep in mind that it’s nowhere near as effective or expansive as the system that exits in New York. Still, it’s cheaper than a car, since a 30-day pass on the L.A. Metro, for example, will cost you $100. One option to make life easier when it comes to transportation is to find an apartment close to where you work. That would certainly help cut down on your time spent commuting, and all of the extra associated costs.
While it might be difficult to find a good place near your job, especially considering how competitive the market is in L.A., it’s not impossible. Blueground, for example, rents out apartments all over Los Angeles and they are all strategically positioned close to major employers, public transit, shopping, and grocery stores. All the apartments are not only beautifully decorated, but also fully-furnished and equipped, which will make your move hassle-free.
In Los Angeles, when it comes to food, you have a ridiculous number of options. You can enjoy everything from food trucks to extremely upscale restaurants, and the food is great practically everywhere. Also, whatever dietary restrictions you have, you’ll still easily find a place that caters to you. However, you can expect to pay, on average, $56 for a meal for two at a mid-range restaurant, which is $11 higher than the national average.
While groceries are also slightly more expensive, they’re only 12% higher than the national average. And some items are actually cheaper than the national average, such as tomatoes, apples, oranges, and potatoes. Even wine is cheaper than the average by about $2 per mid-range bottle, which will cost you around $10.
If you need to see a primary care physician for a routine checkup, you’ll be paying around $121, which is far cheaper than San Francisco, where you’ll pay $251 for the same thing. It’s even cheaper than Chicago, where you can expect to pay around $165. In terms of entertainment, you can expect to pay around $13 in L.A. for a movie ticket, compared to the national average of $10.
Even clothing is more expensive by about 18%. However, this isn’t as much of an issue, since you can always take advantage of the many thrift stores. Of course, there’s also the Internet which allows you to order clothing online at far better prices.
So, when compared to the national average, the cost of living in L.A. is pretty high, but when you compare it to places like New York or San Francisco, you can say it’s quite reasonable. Also, here you’ll get constant sunshine, palm trees, stunning beaches, and red carpet events which surely aren’t something you’ll be seeing as much in other cities.