California’s largest city covers an area of about 469 square miles and is the seat of the single most populous county in the US, with more than 10 million inhabitants. With such an extraordinary number of people in one place, finding a safe neighborhood in Los Angeles to live in is crucial, even more so if you plan on moving to LA with your kids, or you wish to start a family here.
Being the second most populous city in the US, with nearly 4 million people, LA naturally has a higher number of violent crime and property crime cases than many other cities in the US. But statistics can be deceiving. Generally, per-capita crime rates are actually lower than in some popular tourist destinations like San Francisco or Las Vegas.
Vigilance is recommended everywhere, although some areas are less dangerous than others. So, the best thing to do is to check online which neighborhoods are safer to move to than others. Then cross-reference that search with other factors that you consider important, such as the cost of living, available amenities, career opportunities, etc. We will mention just some of the areas typically considered safe to help you narrow down your quest and choose the one that best fits you.
Finding a Safe Neighborhood in Los Angeles – Where to Start?
When moving to Los Angeles, there are a number of things to take into consideration before you make your final decision about where to live in LA and book LA movers. The statistics show that posh neighborhoods tend to be safer, so Beverly Hills, Century City, and Bel-Air are among the best-rated ones, but the list also includes Agoura Hills, Calabasas, La Canada Flintridge, Rancho Palos Verdes, Westlake Village, Brentwood, and Playa del Rey, according to the LA County Sheriff’s Department. The same source indicates that the highest crime rates are in Chesterfield Square, Crenshaw, Fairfax, Watts, Chinatown, and Exposition Park, among others.
Hollywood is a must-see during the day, but it’s best to be avoided by night because of pickpockets. Downtown is among the top places to live in Los Angeles for singles, but it also has some not so desirable areas, like Skid Row, which has a bad reputation when it comes to drug use. Skid Row also has a large population of homeless people who can get aggressive sometimes, even though they are harmless in most cases. Pico-Union, South Central, Westlake, and Boyle Heights are also not recommended. South LA used to be rather unsafe in the 1990s, but now it holds a better position than Hollywood, for example. West Side is wealthy, so it attracts burglars and vehicle thieves, while Venice Beach has earned a bad reputation because of the reported drug trade, so it should probably be avoided during the night.
The overall risk in LA is ranked medium, including pickpockets and muggers (operating in subways mostly but not exclusively). The risk of natural disasters is low, and the threat of terrorism is considered medium. Female travelers can feel reasonably safe. However, to get a better idea of the general safety of the area before you make your final decision, you should visit it yourself and listen to your instincts.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Moving Into New Cities
Before we move on to the safety aspects of a given neighborhood, the main question to ask yourself is whether your salary will cover living costs. Otherwise, your new idyllic life will turn into a daily struggle for survival, no matter how safe your new residential area is or isn’t. Next, you need to know the commute time to work, which can be a crucial factor when choosing a new home. Depending on your priorities and specific circumstances, you may choose an area closer to work or to your kids’ school.
Then, think about what kind of life you will lead. If you are planning on having a quiet life with your family, you will, obviously, choose a family-friendly district where you can be away from all the hustle and bustle. If, however, you are planning to go clubbing and enjoying LA’s rich nightlife, you might want to choose a home closer to the downtown region.
Lastly, before you decide whether to move on your own or hire professional moving services, check the crime level in your potential district as well as the level of pollution. However, the best way to choose properly and not risk hating your new surroundings later is to take a walk around it yourself and see how it feels – listen to your gut.
Tips for Staying Safe When You Live in LA
Even though LA is generally safe and there should be no rational reason to feel unsafe or threatened, there are certain rules to follow to minimize the risk of trouble – after all, we’re talking about a metropolis of 10 million people. Staying out late is never a good idea, especially if you know some parts are considered dangerous. Make sure you know your way and don’t get lost.
Teach your children your home address and rules of behavior if they get lost. If possible, don’t walk alone late in the evening. If you are moving to LA alone, then you should find somebody to walk home with or get auto transport services for your vehicle, and simply drive home from work instead of walking or using public transportation.
Wearing expensive things like jewelry, cameras, and similar stuff is something that draws the attention of individuals you do not wish to encounter. Blending in is the best course of action. Keep your car locked and don’t leave expensive things in plain sight. And do not give your trust easily to anyone.
When it comes to the risk of natural disasters, the only way of protection is getting to know the rules of behavior during such times and keeping a bag ready with essentials like a flashlight, a whistle, and a basic survival kit in general. LA is prone to flooding, wildfires, mudslides, earthquakes, and other disasters, so getting to know what they are and how to react might be a good idea.
Finally, there is something specific to LA you should pay attention to. Beware of frauds posing to be Hollywood agents for discovering talents, future actors, or models, as this is a common situation you may be exposed to. Don’t fall victim to such people and make sure you do your research on anyone who offers their services.
Finding Apartments in Los Angeles
Before starting the search for an apartment out of state, you need to set a budget for moving out for the first time. The average renting price for a one-bedroom apartment is around $2,500, then there is the security deposit in the range of one to two rents and an application fee. Search for apartments close to your potential work, as it will save you a lot of time in commuting and you certainly want to avoid rush-hour.
Don’t rely only on online searching, but rather, walk around the neighborhood to find landlords who prefer renting in person or to locals. It is also better to see the apartment and the landlord yourself rather than in pictures. Once you find a place that is satisfactory, apply for it immediately, as apartments are in short supply generally. Also, you might want to check if the building you are interested in is a rent-control unit, as it will significantly reduce your rent and you will have some kind of eviction protection.
Beverly Hills – the Home of the Rich and Famous
Beverly Hills is probably a place everyone has heard of, as it is popular for the luxury and wealth that remind us that success is achievable. Many famous people have houses there, and if you are ready to pay an average one-bedroom apartment rent of $3,000, so can you.
Like other affluent places, this popular suburb of Los Angeles is considered to be rather safe, especially since there are numerous security cameras all around. Still, there is, for example, a 1 in 19 chance of becoming a victim of property crime.
Young People Favor Culver City
Mostly known as home to Metro Goldwyn Mayer studio in the 1920s, and nowadays to Sony and Columbia Pictures studio, this neighborhood was populated by film industry employees to a great extent. Today, it is one of the best places to live for young adults in California and LA. The rents are significantly lower here, amounting to an average of $2,260 for a one-bedroom apartment, but it is still among the wealthier residential neighborhoods and as such, safer.
The chances of being a victim of property crime are 1 in 21 here. From a statistical perspective though, Culver City is listed as having a 92% higher property crime rate than the California average. So, make sure your home is protected if you decide to relocate here.
San Fernando Valley Neighborhoods
Becoming more urban and ethnically diverse, San Fernando Valley experienced a rise in poverty and, accordingly, in crime. The majority of the current population is of Hispanic origin. Large motion picture companies’ studios are situated in the Valley, such as CBS, The Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros. This part of the city has some of the most affordable places to live in Los Angeles.
As for its neighborhoods, Winnetka is the most diverse, as opposed to San Fernando. The wealthiest part is Porter Ranch, which, as a consequence, has the lowest rental rate, whereas the poorest is Van Nuys. The oldest by population is in Encino, and the youngest is in Pacoima. North Hollywood is the most popular, so the rental rate is the highest there. The regions that should be avoided for safety reasons in the Valley are Van Nuys, Pacoima, Arleta, Panorama City, Canoga Park, North Hollywood, North Hills, and Northridge.
Additional Low-Risk Places
Areas with low risk are obviously the wealthier parts, as they have a higher security level, but that does not mean there is no crime at all, so vigilance is still recommended. The crime there mostly involves pickpocketing, so basic safety measures are recommended, including trying not to stand out by wearing any conspicuous and expensive jewelry or clothes.
Statistics indicate that Temple City is among the safest neighborhoods, as the overall crime rate is 40% lower than the national average and it is considered safer than 64% of US cities. The chances of becoming a victim of crime here are 1 in 61.
This is a mixed community in which racial and ethnic diversity does not pose a problem. It is considered relatively safe, as it has upper-class parts, but there is also a part associated with gang activity. The homeless population is also on the rise, probably spilling over from Venice, which may pose a minor safety threat.
Places with Medium Risk
There are parts ranked as medium-risk from a safety point of view, as they have both safe and less safe areas or the crimes committed are considered not violent, since they mostly include car thefts or pickpocketing. As a rule, safer parts are usually residential settlements with a wealthier population, whereas poor settlements are prone to more crimes. Even in these places, you should take the same precautionary measures as you would in any other big community.
Palms is considered fairly safe compared to the rest of L.A. because the crime involves mostly car thefts. It is a rather good area to live, as it offers an urban feel with a lot of entertainment options.
Silver Lake is a lively area with lots of indie music and a diverse population. It is known for its street art and modernist architecture among art lovers. It is also popular for its safety, which is why it has been attracting famous people to settle in and becoming a very trendy area. The most prominent streets are Sunset Boulevard and Silver Lake Boulevard.