Los Angeles is a great place to live and work. People come to LA from all over the country to launch careers in the entertainment industry, to escape the cold, or for any other number of reasons. But as vast and sprawling as the city is, how do you choose the best neighborhood in which to settle?
If you’re planning to rent, you’ll find that some areas are more affordable and offer more rental inventory than others, but we advise you to not make your decision on where to live based on cost alone, at least not initially. Why? Each neighborhood has its own distinct vibe, culture, and pros and cons, so you need to consider each on its own merits. Depending on your lifestyle and what you value most, some may stand out as ideal for you.
Los Angeles is a big city and it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you don’t know where to start. To help you narrow the field, we’ve put together a list of what we feel are the top 13 neighborhoods for renters in L.A.
Best Places to Rent in Los Angeles: Renting on the West Side of Los Angeles
2. Santa Monica
3. Marina del Rey (MDR)
4. Playa del Rey
5. Pacific Palisades
6. Westwood Village
The west side of Los Angeles (generally) encompasses Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Playa Del Rey, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, and Westwood—anywhere west of the 405 freeway. There’s lots to love about the West Side of LA but the rents and locales vary significantly.
On the plus side, you’re close to the beach and Pacific Coast Highway. Most west side neighborhoods are pretty upscale, and some, like Venice, are more touristy and trendy than the bedroom communities of Playa del Rey and the Palisades. Santa Monica is very walkable, and there are lots of parks, shops, and a genuine neighborhood vibe, while Venice can be a little more colorful and edgier in parts—especially if you’re close to the beach. But if you’re a foodie and crave action all the time, Venice is definitely a hotspot. The restaurants and galleries along Abbot Kinney are destination-worthy!
On the downside, if you need to travel inland, you need to pick the time of day you to travel in order to avoid the traffic. In other words, if you intend to work in Hollywood or Beverly Hills, you’re probably better off finding something a bit further inland—unless you don’t mind the commute. There’s really no way to avoid it.
The Marina (MDR) is incredibly quiet and peaceful, and there are lots of shops and services in the immediate area. Plus, PCH is a little less busy, traffic-wise, when you start going south of MDR. If you need to travel inland, just jump on the Marina Freeway, and it’s about 30-40 minutes to Hollywood, depending on traffic.
As for what to expect to pay, current lease pricing ranges from about $1860 per month for a studio to a little under $3000 for a one-bedroom and $3500 and up for a two-bedroom apartment.
Generally speaking, the further away from the beach, the more rents start to drop. A studio apartment East of Lincoln Blvd. in MDR, Playa, or Culver City ranges from $1860 to $1950, and a one-bedroom can be anywhere from $1900 to $4000. Hence, there’s potentially more bang for your buck if you are okay with sacrificing an ocean view.
Houses in Westchester, the area directly east of Venice/Playa/MDR rent in the vicinity of $4000 and up for a three-bedroom detached home. Apartments in this neighborhood are significantly less expensive than just a couple of miles to the west at $1100 and up.
Rentals in Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silverlake, and Atwater
8. Los Feliz
If you’re working at any of the entertainment studios, Hollywood, Silverlake, and Studio City are all rather proximate. Hollywood is very walkable, and there are lots of shops, bars, theaters, and nightlife—but if there’s one caveat, the area has become quite dangerous in pockets. If you’re looking to live in Hollywood, there are many historic buildings and plenty of tree-lined streets that are quiet and far enough away from the traffic. Most condos and newer buildings have secure entry and parking. If you venture north of Hollywood Boulevard, you might even get lucky enough to find a small building or rental home tucked so neatly into a canyon you’d never even know you’re in the city!
Studios in Hollywood range from $3000 and up, but you can also find two-bedroom apartments for around the same price. The further south you go in the Hollywood district, the safer and more walkable the neighborhood—especially in the vicinity of Santa Monica Blvd. and Melrose. There are also many landmark buildings for eye candy, and if you have dogs or enjoy hiking, you’re not too far from Griffith Park and the Observatory to the east and Runyon Canyon, both popular hiking spots for locals.
Los Feliz and Silverlake are hotbeds of culture with picturesque streets that roll through the hills. Many of the stately old homes have rental apartments or carriage houses that occasionally come up for rent.
Atwater is a tiny little community bordering Los Feliz, close to the golf course and Griffith Park. Rents here are reasonable at $1900 and up, and you’ll benefit from nice, quiet neighborhoods while being close to all freeways and five minutes away from all the action you can handle in Hollywood.
Rentals in Burbank, Studio City, North Hollywood
12. Studio City
13. North Hollywood
The San Fernando Valley is generally less expensive for rentals than its Hollywood and West Side counterparts. However, that depends on where you are. The further west you go—Sherman Oaks, Encino, and throughout Laurel and Coldwater Canyons, the bigger and more exclusive the houses become.
Most of the rentals you’ll find are north of Ventura Boulevard. The further north you go, the more suburban it becomes. Most buildings in these neighborhoods are built around a central courtyard, many with pools and other communal amenities. This is the land of strip malls, but You’re never too far away from just about every service you can imagine, incredible street food, shopping malls, trendy restaurants, and some of the best and most underrated sushi bars in the valley!
On a side note, if you’re an equestrian, you’ll be interested to know that Burbank is one of the only urban neighborhoods in Los Angeles that’s zoned for horses. Rents in these neighborhoods are quite reasonable, with studios starting at just over $900 per month and just over $2000 for a two-bedroom.