Los Angeles, put simply, is huge. In square miles, it's approximately the same size as New York City, but it has half the number of people and many, many more neighborhoods than Big Apple. Curbed LA, a popular real estate blog for the city, lists 108 neighborhoods; Curbed NY lists 60. And even those claims might be underplaying LA's breadth: the LA Times lists a whopping 158 neighborhoods in the City of Angels. It's no surprise, then, that a car is pretty much required in LA -- but the good news is that virtually all rental properties come with free parking. At Moveline, we've helped plenty of folks move to a new city, and we know it's often wise to take your time before putting down permanent roots or even signing a year-long lease. So, we've done a little digging to help you get your feet wet in LA before you dive all the way into the surf.
For recommendations on some of the hottest LA neighborhoods, we talked to Karen Lower, who's been a real estate broker in LA for ten years. "When I moved to LA as an East Coast transplant, I didn't want to live in an isolated suburb. I wanted a real neighborhood right in the city," she says. Her choice was Silver Lake on the east side (at that time, Venice Beach was the hottest neighborhood around) and she tells us it was a great choice: "Silver Lake is considered one of the hottest neighborhoods in LA right now." Proof? Forbes named it the #1 hipster neighborhood in the U.S., citing its food trucks, farmers' markets and booming art scene. One of the great attractions of the neighborhood is Griffith Park, where there are miles of hiking trails and a good view of the world-famous Hollywood sign from the parking lot of the observatory.
Clearly an East LA fan, Karen also recommends the adjacent neighborhood of Los Feliz. "Los Feliz means "the happy" in Spanish and in a city like LA where people drive everywhere, being able to walk to the market or to the bistro makes the residents of this thriving community very happy indeed." Nearby Echo Park is another recent favorite because of its architectural gems: "The hills are speckled with mid-century homes designed by Richard Neutra," Karen says. "Echo Park lake just had a multi-million dollar redo, the paddle boats are back and the lotus garden is looking beautiful."
Some folks might prefer to live in Downtown LA. This is the piece of the city that looks the most like a big city and has grown exponentially over the past 15 years with the Staples Center and lofts just walking distance from some pretty great nightlife. In fact, GQ kicked off 2014 by declaring Downtown LA "America's next great city" -- a new capital of cool.
On the other hand, if you want to be guided instead by the folks who voted in Curbed LA's Curbed Cup Competition for the neighborhood of the year, you'd consider living in Glendale. It beat out 15 other communities in the competition based on neighborhood growth and development in real estate, retail and restaurants.
Short-term housing standbys
Unless you've been living on a desert island for the last decade, you know all about Airbnb and Craigslist. Airbnb helps you decide on a neighborhood by giving you a checklist of things you might be looking for (artsy, lots of cultural events, nightlife, etc.) and then shows you properties that fit your requirements. A recent Airbnb listing for LA was a room in an early craftsman style house in Highland Park, one of the city's historic preservation overlay zones, with a backyard and garden and "liberal parking," all for $1298.
You'll probably want to stay away from what Curbed LA calls "the 5 places that you always, always meet on Craigslist" and any of the "4 terrible rooming situations" on the popular site. An example of the latter is one posted by a horror mogul who says he's looking for an "attractive 18-35 year old" who would enjoy what he calls "the coolest collection of Chucky puppets and props in the world." Um, yikes.
A much more appealing recent offer on Craigslist offered a two month sublet of a large one bedroom apartment near the Grove and the LA County Museum of Art -- "perfect for actors in town for pilot season", $2200 per month.
A popular local source for rentals is WestsideRentals.com, where landlords list what they have available in the LA area. Most listings are for full-time rentals, but some sublets and rooms in houses or apartments are available by the month. One we found is a light and airy studio (four big windows with blackout shades for sleeping in) in the quiet, hillside neighborhood of Echo Park for $2100 per month.
SubleaseHub.com, another local source, lists short-term rentals like this one: a room in a large house in Central Hollywood with a front and backyard and "plenty of free parking" for $600, plus $50 for utilities.
A daily property alert service designed primarily to help you find long-term rentals but that can be useful for a short-term stay as well is LiveLovely.com. According to Elizabeth Pietrzak, who does communications and marketing for the California-based site, "Renters can use the keyword search filter on Lovely to identify listings where the owner or manager has indicated short term leasing options in the listing description. Recommended keywords are "short term," "month-to-month" or "corporate housing." She gave the example of a two-bedroom, one-bath duplex in West Hollywood with a large patio for $2995.
If you want to be near a college campus, check out Uloop.com, a one-stop source for apartments to sublet as well as roommate shares. A summer sublet in a balcony bedroom in a 1200 square foot apartment that's 5 minutes away from UCLA's Bruin Walk is listed at $700 per month.
Check out Oodle, Hotpads and eBay classifieds -- all national websites with LA listings.
Start by using your own social media network. Ask friends and relatives and friends of friends and friends of relatives whether they know of anyone who would like to share space. A personal reference is always the most reliable way to find a roommate. If that route doesn't work, there are a number of national sites set up to match you with a roommate. RoomieMatch, Roomster, Roommates.com and Uloop (again, for properties close to colleges) are good places to start.
LA corporate housing
This category is usually the most expensive but it's the one that takes the least effort. The biggies in this category -- ExecuStay, Oakwood, and Bridgestreet will be more than happy to set you up in a fully-equipped apartment that is near your work. An Oakwood one-bedroom at 1010 Wilshire listed at $147 per night will put you minutes from the Staples Center and Walt Disney Concert Hall and offer building amenities including a gym, health spa, rooftop pool, theater room and rooftop fireside lounge.
Another corporate housing behemoth wants to make your four-legged friend just as comfortable as you are at its properties. Synergy Housing offers Paws on the Property, a welcome package to ease your pet's transition to its new home.
LA vacation rentals
The biggies in the field are VRBO, HomeAway and CyberRentals. Another option, less widely known, is Sabbatical Homes, a site created by the wife of a professor who turned her own search for a place to stay during a sabbatical into a business. The website also lists home swaps, house-sitting opportunities and a few shares. A sample property listed on the site is a two-bedroom cottage in LA described as "traditional, chic and updated" with a backyard fruits and vegetables garden for $2276 per month.
If you want an entire house and money is no object, there are always listings like the newly-built two-story housein Brentwood on LoveHomeSwap.com boasting a pool, outdoor jacuzzi and steam room (perfect for entertaining your new LA friends, naturally) at $3000 per week. Yes, week.
Whether you're moving to LA or anywhere else, Moveline can help. By simplifying the inventory process, comparing quotes from reputable movers and having your back every step of the way, we offer guidance on all things moving-related and save you money, time and sanity -- the most precious resource of all when you're moving from one place to another. So don't go it alone... let us help you #movebetter.