When you think of Los Angeles, you probably think palm trees, amazing beaches, and 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 to Los Angeles, it’s important to know the cost of living in L.A. so you’re prepared beforehand, because it’s not exactly the cheapest city in the US.
According to Payscale, the average cost of living in L.A. is 43% higher than the US average. What really raises this percentage is the cost of housing, which is 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 in the US, 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 by category.
According to the Zumper National Rent Report, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is $2,420, making 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 DC, you’ll only have to pay $2,100.
Of course, you can find better deals, especially if you go to less popular neighborhoods, or even 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. Even so, it’s still far from cheap and it raises the cost of living in L.A. significantly.
You can expect to pay around $110 for basic utilities every month for a 915 square-foot apartment, which is only 7% higher than the national average. In fact, it’s cheaper than both Chicago and New York, but slightly more expensive than San Francisco.
For Internet, you’ll be paying around $40 per month, which is far better than the $62 you’d be paying in New York.
Unlike New York, you may need a car in Los Angeles. The problem is that gas prices in L.A. are pretty high. In fact, they’re almost 55% higher than the national average and combined with the terrible traffic that often leads to higher consumption rates, this can significantly increase the cost of living in L.A.
Using the transit system is an option, but it’s nowhere near as effective as the system 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 help cut down on your time spent commuting, and the 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 so that you have practically everything you need within easy reach. 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. 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 US 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. It’s even cheaper than Chicago, where you can expect to pay around $165. In terms of entertainment, you can expect to pay $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 Internet and order clothing online at far better prices.
So, if Los Angeles is so expensive, you might be wondering what the average salary is and how it stacks up against other cities. After all, people should be earning far more to be able to afford to live in L.A.
Well, in Los Angeles, the average annual paycheck is $62,545. By comparison, in San Francisco, the average salary is $86,373, while in New York it’s $69,034.
Considering that the cost of living in L.A. is around 26% cheaper than New York, clearly, people living in Los Angeles have greater purchasing power than those in New York.
Conversely, living in San Francisco might seem like a far better proposition when considering the average salaries, and this is true to a certain degree. While the salaries are far higher, the cost of living in San Francisco is also higher by about 25%.
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. And you get palm trees, stunning beaches, and Hollywood, which isn’t something you’ll be seeing in other cities.