Los Angeles, home to Hollywood stars, iconic beaches and glorious sunshine. It is no wonder it is an attractive prospect for British expats. It is also the cultural, financial and commercial centre of Southern California, as well as being the second most-populous city in the United States. This means that it presents a lot of opportunities for career progression, as well as offering a better work/life balance.
The city has a diverse population, and this shows in its architecture, its broad economy spanning so many different industries, and the many varied suburbs surrounding the main centre. There are thought to be people from over 180 different countries living in LA.
This variety extends to the types of accommodation available, which is one of the key concerns for any expat making their way to the ‘City of Angels’. Rather than being a concentrated city, with high-rise buildings dominating the skylines like in New York, Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolis. It has branched out in every direction, producing an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods and communities, presenting a lot of choice – there are more than 100 districts and neighbourhoods to choose from.
Many expats will rent rather than buy in Los Angeles. However, the cost of living in LA is high regardless. Desirable neighbourhoods, with good schools and amenities are significantly more expensive, and properties can be snapped up quickly.
The search for finding the right place to live needs to be started early. If buying somewhere, the process can be complex, though there are few restrictions on foreigners buying a home. To secure a mortgage, a good credit score is needed, which means opening a US bank and credit card account and making tax returns – these are used by lenders to determine how much can be borrowed. Look for lenders who have experience in working with expats, as this means they are better placed to judge credit history from abroad and not just within the US.
It may be best to rent first to ensure that the area is right, the commute is easy and the schools are good. It can be easier to buy once settled in the country, and real estate agents can be useful for suggesting good locations and hunting for the perfect property.
Pollution is high in the city, which is why many expats will opt to live further out and commute in for work. There is so much choice in terms of places to live, with sunny beaches to one side and fantastic hiking opportunities on the other. Living close to the sea or in the hillier areas can help in ‘smog season’, which affects the city and the valleys the most. There are government incentives to help cut down on car use and to encourage the use of ‘cleaner’ and lower-emission cars. There is a strong transport infrastructure from all the key areas, so commuting from outer-lying regions is no problem (although it can take a while at peak times).
A lot of properties will come with, or have access to, a pool. With a subtropical Mediterranean climate, little rain and long sunny days, the day-to-day lifestyle is very much centred on being outdoors. When moving with children, ensure that the pool is secure, or can be secured, as it can offer as many dangers as it does perks.
There are some places that are commonly popular with expats. Brentwood, for example, is expensive, but it’s also safe, clean and with plenty of leisure and entertainment options. Santa Monica is a good option if being near the beach is a priority, though bit can get busy in tourist seasons. Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach are more moderately priced, but still close to the seafront.
The San Fernando Valley has some good neighbourhood options, such as Burbank, Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys, which can be a little cheaper in rent while still offering good amenities and a safe location. This is a good area for those moving with families.
The type of accommodation ranges from apartments in complexes with shared facilities, to family homes, mansions and more. On the rental market, both furnished and unfurnished properties are available, and some may be rent-controlled so that costs can’t spiral over time.
Usually leases are a minimum of a year, and a deposit of one or two months is likely to be needed. It’s also worth checking what, if any, utilities are included, as some rents will cover water and refuse services.
If you are considering moving to the USA, Cadogan Tate will assist you every step of the way – from your first enquiry to unpacking at your new home, we are here to help and advise you. For more details about Cadogan Tate’s specialist international removals services from London, click here.