Moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles – A Complete Guide

Full article 14 min read

Everything you need to know about moving to Los Angeles from San Francisco

You’ve set your sights on a new life in Los Angeles, leaving behind the Bay Area charm. As a true West-Coaster, you’re moving up a notch, but in more than one way. While San Francisco and Los Angeles are top choices for education, living, working, and entertainment, Los Angeles scores higher on quality of life. So planning a move to LA will be a happy one, provided you are well-prepared beforehand for the actual operation of moving there.


Benefits of living in Los Angeles

Moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles offers up a load of benefits. Apart from the fact that both are on the west coast of the United States, making the actual move a lot easier to manage, Los Angeles offers a quality of life worth the investment. Sure, LA is notorious for incredible traffic, but apart from that, you will find living in LA enjoyable. Here are some benefits of living in Los Angeles.

Living Costs: One of the main reasons people are moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles is the exorbitant living costs in San Francisco. Despite being quite an expensive city, LA’s living costs are approximately 56% cheaper than San Francisco.

The average price of a home: The cost of housing in Los Angeles averages at about $4,000 and $7,000 per square meter, while San Francisco prices range from $7,000 and $12,000. At the same time, the median price of a house in San Francisco is about $1,625,000, the same costs about $665,000 in Los Angeles, which is three times lower than in the Bay Area.

Rent: Rent is also cheaper in Los Angeles. While you would have to pay anywhere between $2,500 and $3,400 per month in San Francisco, LA, rent ranges approximately $1,600 and $2,100.

Weather: Los Angeles is much warmer than San Francisco and has consistently pleasant weather throughout the year, making it comfortable for Californians to enjoy the outdoors, participate in many activities and get around the city comfortably.

Cheaper, better education: Families moving with children or college goers can rest easy because the education options in LA are better than in San Fran. LA houses 3 of the top-ranking universities worldwide with a very good elementary, high school, and higher education system in place.

See Also: How to Find a Good School When Moving

Outdoor Activities & Entertainment: While both LA and San Fran can boast a plethora of fun activities to choose from, what sets LA apart are the several hiking trails, beautiful mix of mountains and beaches, Hollywood, and all the glamor it exudes and the many festivals unique to LA.

Crime: Los Angeles houses over 9 million people, which is a pretty large number. There are cases of criminal activity in certain pockets of Los Angeles; however, they are much lower in frequency than those in the Bay Area. If you avoid certain neighborhoods and stay vigilant, especially at night, as you would in any other city, you are likely to live quite safely in LA.

Vibe: Since LA has a diverse population of different ethnicities, it comes naturally to Angelinos to be welcoming, friendly, and supportive to newcomers. This makes it a lot easier for people moving to LA, either alone or with their families, who are seeking a sense of community.

Diverse industries: While you would expect entertainment to be the primary source of income in LA, that is not the case. Many significant industries are prevalent here, which contribute to the yearly state revenue. These industries that drive LA’s economy include biopharmaceuticals, transportation, fuels, medicine, aerospace, and education.


Cost of moving to Los Angeles

Like any move from one place to another, some variables determine your final moving cost. If you plan to hire a moving company, apart from their base rate, they will also consider how far you are moving, how much cargo you are planning to take with you, its weight and quantity determine how many laborers you may require during the move. There could also be additional costs based on any specific moving requirements you may have. But on average, you can expect your move to Los Angeles from San Francisco to cost you anywhere between $2,200 and $3,000.

Cost of living in Los Angeles

Living in Los Angeles can be a dream come true for many, with the romance of Hollywood, the glitz and glamor of Downtown LA, the stunning landscapes and mountains to trek, and the diverse cultures mixing.

Renting an apartment in Los Angeles for a:

  • One-bedroom apartment in the center of the city would be $1,450+ per month
  • One-bedroom apartment outside the center of the city would be $1,000+ per month
  • Three-bedroom apartment in the center of the city would be $2,500+ per month
  • Three-bedroom apartment outside the center of the city would be $2,000+ per month

Buying a house in Los Angeles would come to about:

  • $5,187 per square meter in the heart of Los Angeles
  • $2,153 per square meter outside the center of Los Angeles

Aside from housing, the living expenses for a single person should come to about $1,000 per month, and for a family of four, it would be about $3,600 per month.

Where to live in Los Angeles

These are some of the best neighborhoods live in Los Angeles that cater to different budgets and lifestyles:

Culver City: Home to young professionals from diverse backgrounds, close to Downtown LA, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica, with reasonable rents, fun nightlife, and yummy restaurants.

Downtown Los Angeles: DTLA may be infamous for traffic and Skid Row, but it is also culturally rich, with many landmarks, like Little Tokyo and the Arts District, lots of new developments, and businesses.

Glendale: This North Hollywood neighborhood is ideal for families, with views of Griffith Park and Verdugo Mountains and many family-run restaurants of various ethnic backgrounds.

Los Feliz: Where the old world meets hipsters, Los Feliz is a great place for working individuals because it offers an outstanding work-life balance, with companies within the drivable distance and hiking trails.

Hollywood: The most famous spot in LA, Hollywood is more than home to celebrities. Rent is expensive here, especially in Beverly Hills and Bel Air. But the things to do here are endless, with shows, food, celebrity-spotting, and BTS moments.

Marina Del Rey: The biggest marina in the United States, this ocean-view neighborhood is excellent for its delicious food, views, large apartments and condos, young housing professionals in LA.

Silver Lake: This is a millennial magnet from green spaces to bearable traffic. There are several trails for running, jogging, or strolling with your dogs and the Sunset Strip for lovers of LA nightlife.


Working in Los Angeles

Apart from entertainment, the popular industries in Los Angeles are technology, biotechnology, commerce, and communication. Over 2,000 startups in Los Angeles are dedicated to these industries, creating many job opportunities. Companies like Netflix, Symantec, Verizon, Ticketmaster, and SpaceX have a strong presence in Los Angeles and can offer very good salary packages.

Over and above these jobs, the fastest-growing jobs in Los Angeles include that of a miner, roofer, wind turbine technician, statistician, rod buster, field technician, cartographer, web and software developer, and pipe insulator, to name a few.

Studying in Los Angeles:

LA is an excellent place for students of all age groups. There are over 200 colleges and universities in and around Los Angeles that cater to a host of different subjects and disciplines. It is also ideal for students because it is relatively safer to find housing in Los Angeles while they study. Many universities like the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of Southern California offer on-campus housing, supervised and safe for students to choose as a housing option.

Getting around in Los Angeles

To live in Los Angeles, you will almost certainly need a car to get around. The LA Metro and buses are quite handy if you get into their schedules and connections, saving you fuel and car maintenance costs. The lesser-known DASH Shuttle service also darts throughout Downtown LA and over 20 neighborhoods. Need to connect even further? Then you can avail yourself of the bike and scooter sharing services too!

Entertainment in Los Angeles

Apart from the lively atmosphere through Hollywood, there is umpteen number of activities to enjoy in Los Angeles. You can go boating in Silver Lake, get a tattoo in Studio City, enjoy the several museums across LA county, attend music concerts and ComicCon, participate in Downtown LA PRIDE and many other LGBTQIA+-related events, go pub-hopping or food-grazing, dancing or karaoke, hiking or surfing. You name it; you can do it in LA.


You may wear a flower in your hair while in San Francisco, but you’ll have the sun in your heart once you move to balmy Los Angeles. The best part of this move is how close both cities are to each other, so you could potentially shuttle back and forth to stay in touch with friends and family. This way, you get the best of both worlds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cheaper to live in LA or San Francisco?

While there is no doubt that living in Los Angeles is expensive, it is more affordable to live in Los Angeles than in San Francisco. The cost of living in San Francisco has been about 35% higher than in Los Angeles. The average income in San Francisco lies between $73,000 and $87,000 a year.

Is LA better than San Francisco?

This mostly depends on your preferences for living, working and entertainment, and recreation. Los Angeles is the place to be if you want to be surrounded by glamor, glitter, and diverse cultural influences. San Francisco has more of a small-town vibe, with some great sights that are heavy-weights in their own right. Either way, you could live in one and drive to the other along the incredibly beautiful Pacific Coast Highway if you own a car, which you definitely should.


How much does it cost to move from Northern California to Southern California?

There are many different things to consider when calculating your moving cost from Northern California to Southern California, including the size of the house, number and weight of items you plan to move, any special requirements, time of the year you choose to move, and so on. On average, if you select a moving company, it should cost you about $2,300.

Is Los Angeles or San Francisco safer?

There used to be a time when San Francisco was one of the safest places to live in. But over the years, with the growing crime rate, it no longer is. While there is criminal activity in Los Angeles, it is mainly concentrated in certain parts of the city, so you won’t have much trouble if you avoid those areas. But between the two cities, Los Angeles is much safer.

How much money should I save to move to LA?

If you plan to move to Los Angeles from San Francisco and set up a house there, you need to make sure you have made substantial savings in advance. The cost of moving alone is about $2,300. But you will also need money to find a place to live, get a car, find a job and address a million things that come up when you are settling into a new neighborhood. Unless you have a 6-figure income when you enter Los Angeles, you should have saved at least $20,000 for your move to Los Angeles.

See also: Moving from San Francisco to Chicago – A Complete Guide

Written by

Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.