Skyline view of Downtown Los Angeles, including high-rise buildings and palm trees.

City Guide / Los Angeles

What Is the Cost of Living in Los Angeles?

By Bri Hand | Nov 18, 2021

If you’re moving to Los Angeles, you know that the city has a reputation of glitz and glamour. After all, it is the media capital of the world. But, do you have to be a star to afford living in this beachside city? 

While it’s true home prices are slightly higher in LA, people of all economic backgrounds and lifestyles can live comfortably in this diverse metropolis. If you’re curious about living in a fully furnished apartment in LA, this guide can help you out. From Santa Monica apartments to transportation costs and  gas prices, this article breaks down the cost of living in LA, including:

  • Average Rent
  • Utilities
  • Transportation
  • Food and leisure
  • Healthcare
  • Overall cost of living

Let’s get started! 

Rent

Like most metropolises, Los Angeles’s pricey housing market took a dip during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is good news for renters. While the median one-bedroom rent has climbed back up to $1,779 per month (much higher than the national median of $1,219 per month), it’s still lower than before the pandemic. 

Even better news? The city’s urban centers have stayed affordable, with ample housing for young workers. Let’s explore the range of housing in the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles available to Los Angelinos:

The most expensive neighborhoods in Los Angeles

With gorgeous beaches and plenty of celebrities, LA will always have its luxurious neighborhoods. The pandemic might have lowered rents, but these chic areas still sit at the top of the market. For a taste of the beachside or movie star life, consider these opulent Los Angeles neighborhoods

  • Pacific Palisades
  • Brentwood
  • Bel-Air
  • Santa Monica
  • Beverly Hills
  • Venice
  • Downtown

The most affordable neighborhoods in Los Angeles

Between its 114 neighborhoods, LA has more than a few budget-friendly spots if you’re looking to live here. Plenty of young professionals, creatives, and renters live comfortably here, whether near the city center or on its outskirts. To experience LA culture minus the high housing costs, check out these affordable areas:

  • West Hollywood
  • Encino
  • Los Feliz
  • Panorama City
  • Koreatown
  • South Los Angeles
  • Boyle Heights

Utilities

The acronyms LA and AC go hand in hand. Luckily, out of all your monthly expenses, utilities are one of the few areas where LA isn’t too expensive—just about 8% above the national average. 

Let’s explore the typical living costs you’ll need to budget for when living in LA:

  • Electricity, water, and gas: Depending on your housing situation, your basic utilities bill could fluctuate. However, most Los Angelinos pay $181 per month for their energy and gas bill. Water can stack on another $65 to that number.
  • Mobile phone: Single-payer plans will cost $193 per month on average.
  • Internet: Your typical internet provider in LA will charge between $30 to $50 per month for everyday download speed services.

Transportation

You’ll probably need a car to make your way around Los Angeles. But if you prefer other modes of transportation while living here, you’re not stuck behind the wheel. Here are the top ways to navigate LA and their expenses:

  • Driving
  • Public transportation
  • Fares
  • Modes of transportation

Driving

There’s a reason people living in LA always talk about traffic. Driving is the easiest way to get around this sprawling city, with 87.8% of LA residents owning cars. In short, you should fit a car into your budget if you’re moving to LA. Start by adding these expenses to your plan:

  • Car unit: As it turns out, California ranks No. 1 in car sales across all states—meaning more options for you. A new car will cost you $41,000 on average, while a used car clocks in at $24,500. Prices have steadily risen over the past year, so it’s best to hit the sales when you can.
  • Insurance: Like most states, California requires car insurance for all operating vehicles. Unfortunately, policies get pretty expensive in the driving-heavy Los Angeles area. Average full-coverage plans cost about $2,838 per year in this state (almost $1,200 above the national average). And, the younger you are, the higher the price.
  • Gas: Currently, regular gas clocks in at $4.43 per gallon here. Compared to the national average of $3.26 per gallon, that’s a pretty hefty price.
  • Maintenance: Most people living in California spend about $385 per year on car maintenance, ranking third for average repair cost across all states.

Picked out the sedan of your dreams? All in all, the average cost of owning a car in California over five years comes out to a steep $30,987—the second priciest state in the country. Driving may be expensive in LA, but it’s a necessary cost.

Public transportation 

You’ll definitely need four wheels to navigate Los Angeles. But to get around your neighborhood or nearby area, the city’s robust public transportation system can take the wheel. Keep your gas bill low by incorporating the Los Angeles Metro into your commute:

  • Rail Lines: To zoom easily between LA’s main neighborhoods, the Metro offers six established rail lines with a total of 93 stations. Zip from Long Beach to Burbank with ease.
  • Buses: By far, buses are the most popular public transportation option in Los Angeles. The city has 165 different bus routes to carry you between every neighborhood, with local, rapid, and express options.
  • Bike share: Kill two birds with one stone and fit your workout into your commute. Los Angeles has community bike stations located across the city, particularly in the West and North neighborhoods. Choose between single ride, one-day, 30-day, or 365-day passes, depending on your needs.

The best part? Los Angeles public transportation is pretty affordable. Rail lines and buses offer the following fares:

  • Single ride: $1.75
  • One-day pass: $7
  • Seven-day pass: $25
  • Seven-day pass (low-income): $19
  • 30-day pass: $100
  • 30-day pass (low-income): $76

Food and leisure

As a popular city with some luxurious crowds, Los Angeles isn’t exactly cheap. Those daily expenses—groceries, movie tickets, drinks—can add up fast. However, you can always find fun things to do in LA and budget-friendly options in such a large and diverse metropolis. To create a solid budget, here’s a breakdown of food and leisure costs in Los Angeles:

Food

Overall, those living in Los Angeles spend slightly more on food than people in the rest of the U.S . Grocery prices sit 12% higher than national averages, typically costing about $368 per month. To stay on track, keep the specialty and gourmet shops to a minimum (Erehwon, Catalina’s), and go to more affordable grocery stores at Aldi’s or Trader Joe’s.

Meanwhile, dining out in LA can be a steal or wallet-breaker. Discover some of the best restaurants in LA, where you can score some mean tacos for just $1 each from a truck, or you can blow $400 for the best sushi of your life at Urasawa.

Leisure

Ever heard of a little town called Hollywood? As the world’s film industry capital, Los Angeles has plenty of entertainment and cultural events to fill your calendar. Not to mention, those living here can easily drive to some of California’s best hiking trails right by the city. 

Consider these average prices for typical leisure activities in LA:

  • Movie ticket: $15
  • Gym (monthly membership): $45
  • Concert ticket: $128

Overall, you can expect to spend about $2,434 per year on entertainment and leisure alone by living in Los Angeles. In such a lively city, who wouldn’t take advantage of all there is to see?

Healthcare and living

No matter your state, healthcare can be a pain. But even in a health-conscious city like Los Angeles, you have to budget for your medical expenses. Compared to national averages, hospital prices in LA are nearly twice as high, and overall healthcare expenses rank about 10% higher. Here are some typical healthcare costs for LA residents:

  • Doctor’s visit: $122
  • Dentist visit: $105
  • Optometrist visit: $114
  • Prescription drugs (annually): $485
  • Health insurance premiums (monthly): $830

Overall cost of living 

Can you afford the Los Angeles life? Absolutely—with some careful planning, of course.

There’s no getting around the fact that Los Angeles is pricey. In fact, it’s ranked the third most expensive U.S city., with average monthly expenses of $2,899. But compared to other California cities, like Oakland or San Francisco, Los Angeles is actually less expensive. 

Additionally, the average annual salary in LA is around $78,000 a year, so if you can score a job in the area with a comparable salary, it should be easier to afford living in the city of your dreams.

Discover your new home in Los Angeles with Landing

The home of Hollywood does boast a slightly more luxurious price tag. But you don’t have to be on the A-list to enjoy Los Angeles. Affordable neighborhoods, excellent cheap food, and some savvy budgeting can open the doors to this sunny metropolis. 

Curious to experience the LA lifestyle firsthand? We can help. Landing offers fully furnished apartments in over 100 greater Los Angeles locations, from Oxnard to Long Beach. And, with our flexible leases and premium amenities, moving has never been an easier choice. Explore everything that Los Angeles has to offer from the comfort of our handpicked apartments. Browse our available apartments for rent in Los Angeles today!

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About the author

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.