The Los Angeles County is made up of 88 cities and 8 main regions, so needless to say, it is a huge area. There are 272 neighborhoods within the LA county, so picking the right one for you can be a daunting task.
Before I go into the best neighborhoods to consider, note that:
The regions include: Central LA, Westside, South Bay, San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley (Santa Clarita Valley, Antelope Valley and Gateway cities will not be covered)
The “best” neighborhood should ideally be within 10 miles of your workplace. Any further than that can make commuting a daily, miserable struggle.
They are not ranked in any particular order!
1 . SAN MARINO
San Marino is home to the most expensive real estate in the San Gabriel Valley and is known to be one of the best school districts in the LA county. Also known as the Chinese Beverly Hills, over 53% of the residents are Asian, and a little over 30% are White. It’s a quiet, safe suburb with wide roads, beautiful tree lined streets and impressive looking houses. With that said, it is definitely more suburban and doesn’t have much of a night life. There are no apartment complexes, condos or townhouses in San Marino.
Schools: 5/5 Safety: 5/5 Transportation: 2/5 Night Life: 1/5 Affordability: 2/5
2 . PALOS VERDES PENNINSULA
The Palos Verdes Peninsula is in the South Bay region of LA County and consists of the affluent cities of Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills and the Rolling Hills Estates. The hill cities are known for their stunning ocean and city views, distinguished schools and extensive horse trails. This area is one of the best school districts in the country, however it may not be the best option for younger folks as 86% of residents own their homes, and there are virtually no restaurants and zero nightlife in the area. If you value privacy, stunning views and palatial style homes, this is the perfect area for you. It’s a great place to raise your kids!
It’s worth noting that any areas along the coast (such as Palos Verdes Peninsula) are considerably cooler than inner cities of Los Angeles, which makes the sweltering summer heat a lot more tolerable!
Schools: 5/5 Safety: 5/5 Transportation: 0/5 Night Life: 1/5 Affordability: 2.5/5
My personal favorite neighborhood in Los Angeles. Los Feliz is a perfect balance of nightlife, convenience, proximity to restaurants/bars, good schools and nature. The area is filled with creatives in the entertainment industry. What makes this neighborhood so special is the people. Everyone feels like your neighbor here, even your local grocery store clerk. You see a lot of people running, walking dogs, pushing strollers, and staying fit.
Commuting to and from work is fairly easy, and access to the freeways, is very convenient. One of the biggest Los Angeles attractions called The Griffith Observatory is less than a mile away. People from all over the world meet here for hiking activities, picnics, and cycling courses. You won't find many stores or restaurants in the area, but the few that you do come across are wonderful. There is a strong sense of community in Los Feliz.
To learn more about Los Feliz and its neighborhoods, click here.
Schools: 4/5 Safety: 4/5 Transportation: 3/5 Night Life: 4/5 Affordability: 3/5
4 . SILVER LAKE
Silver Lake is known as the hipster capital of Los Angeles and lies South East of Los Feliz. The neighborhood is relatively safe and is very close to Downtown Los Angeles. Silver Lake is home to a lot of writers and creatives and you’ll find them casually working at coffee shops like Intelligentsia or La Colombe. The neighborhood itself is walkable along Sunset Blvd and Silver Lake Blvd, where you will find the majority of the hip restaurants, cafes and shops.
Silver Lake is not the best place to raise a family simply because it isn’t a great school district and parking around here is very difficult. Rush hour traffic can be particularly bad around here due to the lack of larger streets. Rents have also been steadily increasing, making this once affordable trendy neighborhood more exclusive. Areas bordering Silver Lake such as Echo Park, Atwater Village and East LA are gentrifying and becoming the more affordable “trendy” alternative neighborhoods.
Schools: 2/5 Safety: 3.5/5 Transportation: 2/5 Night Life: 4.5/5 Affordability: 3.5/5
5 . DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (DTLA)
Downtown Los Angeles is the central business district of LA and is being rapidly redeveloped especially in the area of South Park. It is becoming cleaner and safer than it used to be in the past and is one of the most walkable neighborhoods. There is no shortage of restaurants and cafes in DTLA, however the parking situation is pretty terrible. Parking lots are very expensive and most restaurants only have valet services. Within DTLA there are other areas such as Little Tokyo and the Arts District which are both great places to eat at and explore.
Schools: 2/5 Safety: 3/5 Transportation: 5/5 Night Life: 4.5/5 Affordability: 3.5/5
5 . HIGHLAND PARK
Probably the "coolest" part of Los Angeles right now. Highland Park is a diverse and historic community within Los Angeles. It’s what Silver Lake used to be many years ago and is already well into the process of being gentrified, which is reflected through the establishment of hipster shops and higher end restaurants. Because of this, rent and house prices in this area are increasing but at this point still relatively affordable compared to central and west LA. Other areas to consider are the neighborhoods Glassell Park, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, Mount Washington and Elysian Valley (Northeast neighborhoods). These areas are all being gentrified and are still relatively affordable.
Schools: 1/5 Safety: 3/5 Transportation: 2/5 Night Life: 4/5 Affordability: 4/5
6 . HANCOCK PARK
Hancock Park is a historic, residential and affluent neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles. The funny thing about this neighborhood is that you’ll be driving down 3rd street or Beverly Blvd and instantly start to notice that the streets start looking nicer, the grass starts looking greener and the homes start looking grander. That’s when you know you have entered Hancock Park.
Developed in the 1920s, the neighborhood features architecturally distinctive residences, many of which were constructed in the early 20th century. Within Hancock Park is the oldest gated community in Los Angeles, Fremont Place. The homes of Fremont Place range from modestly unassuming to exorbitantly luxurious. The fantastic thing about Hancock Park is its central location: with easy access to both the 101 and I-10 freeways, no part of Los Angeles is too far away. It is also right next to the prestigious Wilshire Country Club and Larchmont Village. It has great private schools (public schools not as great), libraries and recreational facilities.
The downside with this neighborhood is that it is bordered by neighborhoods that aren’t as nice - Koreatown, Hollywood and Mid-City. These aren’t terrible areas, but there is definitely a lot more crime present which can spill into Hancock Park and Windsor Square. Traffic can get terrible simply because it is so central and everyone has to drive through the neighborhood.
Schools: 3/5 Safety: 4/5 Transportation: 4/5 Night Life: 3/5 Affordability: 2/5
7 . SANTA MONICA
Probably one of the most iconic neighborhoods of Los Angeles, it is bordered on three sides by the city of Los Angeles, with Pacific Palisades to the north, Brentwood on the northeast, West Los Angeles on the east, Mar Vista on the southeast, and Venice on the south. It is also one of the busiest neighborhoods as it is a major tourist attraction.
Back in 2017, it was the most expensive place to rent in the whole country, with an average rent price of $4,799.20 per month! (Rental prices are also skewed as some of the homes along the beach are rented out for over $40,000 a month!) A 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo will cost on average $3200-$3800/month in Santa Monica. Santa Monica is full of great restaurants, bars and excellent shopping options along 3rd street promenade. It truly has it all and is the picturesque embodiment of true Los Angeles living.
Schools: 5/5 Safety: 3/5 Transportation: 4/5 Night Life: 5/5 Affordability: 1/5
8 . MANHATTAN BEACH
Manhattan Beach boasts two miles of beautiful coastline and is easily the most expensive of the beach cities in Los Angeles. It’s a great place for families with children as it is ranked in the top 1% of high schools nationally. It’s not as crowded as Santa Monica Beach and feels more residential and suburban. Housing here is very expensive, with homes starting at about $2,000,000 for small homes with very small lot sizes. There are plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes in Manhattan Beach, however street parking isn’t always the easiest. The neighborhood is also quite far from the rest of Los Angeles and not that easy to get to due to the lack of nearby freeways.
Schools: 5/5 Safety: 4/5 Transportation: 4/5 Night Life: 5/5 Affordability: 1/5
9 . BEVERLY HILLS/BEL-AIR/BEVERLY CREST
Beverly Hills is probably the most well known neighborhood in Los Angeles. It is also consistently one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the nation. The city is home to luxurious hotels, celebrity homes and the world class luxury shopping district of Rodeo Drive. I included the neighborhoods of Bel-Air and Beverly Crest as they are also extremely affluent neighborhoods and excellent areas for families. Crime is virtually non existent here due to the heavy security patrolling the area.
The residential streets are wide, glamorous and well maintained. The Beverly Hills Flats is the neighborhood north of Santa Monica Blvd and has some of the most impressive, magnificent and expensive houses in Los Angeles. There is no night life besides some of the hotels around the area.
Schools: 5/5 Safety: 5/5 Transportation: 2/5 Night Life: 1/5 Affordability: 0/5
10 . WEST HOLLYWOOD
West Hollywood is a vibrant and vivacious city filled with diversity and opportunity. The neighborhoods are well manicured and have a sophisticated air about them. All local stores and shops are conveniently located and relatively easy to get to. Most of West Hollywood is safe and very walkable. The epicenter of the city would be Santa Monica Blvd which has many exciting bars, clubs, restaurants, and shops. Rental prices in West Hollywood are not cheap, but they are still relatively affordable compared to some of the Westside areas of Los Angeles.
Above Sunset Boulevard, you’ll find the neighborhood of Hollywood Hills West which has some of the most modern, luxurious and expensive real estate in Los Angeles. A lot of these homes have some of the best views of Downtown Los Angeles, however like most hillside neighborhoods they aren’t easy accessible and walking isn’t really an option if you live in the hills.
Schools: 2/5 Safety: 3.5/5 Transportation: 4/5 Night Life: 5/5 Affordability: 3.5/5
11 . KOREATOWN
Koreatown's many bars and casual 24/7 dining makes for a buzzing late-night scene. There are Korean BBQ restaurants, hip speakeasies and flashy clubs, as well as the landmark Wiltern Theatre. K-town’s dense mix of historic buildings and contemporary complexes also features traditional spas, boba cafes and specialty Korean grocery stores.
Koreatown is great for the younger demographic as rents are very affordable (by LA standards), however its not the best place for a family. The homeless population is very prominent and there are frequent cases of theft in the area. However, as long as you hang around the busier areas of Koreatown (Wilshire Blvd, 6th street) and walk in a group at night you should be fine. Koreatown is also very centrally located, with a decent transportation system of buses and metro stations.
Schools: 2/5 Safety: 3/5 Transportation: 4/5 Night Life: 4.5/5 Affordability: 5/5
12 . SHERMAN OAKS and ENCINO
Sherman Oaks and Encino are both neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley and are popular with families seeking suburban comforts. Sherman Oaks is a suburban paradise and one of the most popular places to raise a family. These two neighborhoods are home to the upper middle-class, but because they are in the valley, they are a lot more affordable than the nearby areas of Brentwood, Bel-Air and Beverly Hills.
Bordered by busy freeways, it features a pair of slick shopping malls, including the open-air Sherman Oaks Galleria. Ventura Boulevard is the area’s main commercial strip and has numerous gastropubs, wine bars, brunch spots and restaurants. There is a lot of new construction for single family homes in both Sherman Oaks and Encino. In recent years however, there have been more issues with crime such as break ins and theft. Traffic is particularly bad around this area due to the nearby I-405 congestion during rush hour. The San Fernando Valley is also known to be significantly hotter than other parts of Los Angeles which can be unbearable in the summer.
Schools: 3.5/5 Safety: 3.5/5 Transportation: 2/5 Night Life: 3.5/5 Affordability: 3.5/5
13 . WESTWOOD
Westwood is an affluent neighborhood that encompasses the sprawling UCLA campus and the Westwood Village, a walkable historic commercial district with student-friendly restaurants, grocery stores and shops. It also borders Holmby Hills, home to some of the richest people in the country, with multiple homes in the area worth over $100,000,000.
Westwood is a great student and family neighborhood ideal for taking walks as it has very well kept, clean streets. It is close to the 405 freeway, Brentwood, Century City and Beverly Hills. The neighborhood is relatively safe so walking around at night is a non-issue most of the time. The downsides to this area is rent can be quite expensive and parking in the village is often challenging.
Schools: 3.5/5 Safety: 4/5 Transportation: 3/5 Night Life: 4/5 Affordability: 3/5
14. CULVER CITY
Culver City is a highly diverse, family-friendly city. It has been completely gentrified over the last 20 years and is now a highly desirable place to live, while housing remains somewhat affordable compared to the other Westside neighborhoods. It has a mix of single-family houses and larger condo/apartment complexes. It has great schools and parks and is also home to the world famous Sony Studios and FOX Productions.
The school district is recognized as one of the most diverse in the country. The Expo Line runs through Culver City, terminating at Santa Monica in the west and Downtown LA in the east. Overall Culver City is safe and conveniently located to other areas such as Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Venice and the South Bay. The only downsides to Culver City is the traffic (but isn’t that most of LA anyway?) and the fact that rents are becoming unaffordable compared to a few years ago.
Schools: 4/5 Safety: 4/5 Transportation: 4/5 Night Life: 4/5 Affordability: 3/5
15. MIRACLE MILE
Miracle Mile is is full of things to do from museums, concert halls, bars, cafes, restaurants, shopping, and festivals. Miracle Mile is right between Downtown and the beach in Santa Monica, which makes it a central and convenient area to live in. It’s also a great neighborhood for kids and home-loving couples. Houses are generally charming 1920s architecture, with lots of duplexes and often good yard space. The sidewalks are well paved for walking and it is close to the Interstate 10 freeway.
The downside to the area is that it’s not the most exciting neighborhood, especially at night. Crime does exist in this area but it is nowhere near as unsafe as it used to be a few years ago. It borders some of the nicer neighborhoods of Hancock Park and Beverly Grove.
Schools: 3.5/5 Safety: 3/5 Transportation: 3/5 Night Life: 3/5 Affordability: 3.5/5