los angeles with palm trees and the sun in the background

The Ultimate Guide to Moving From San Francisco to Los Angeles

With almost four million people living there now, more and more people have made the move to Los Angeles.

It’s easy to understand why. Los Angeles has great weather, a wealth of opportunities, and some great entertainment. Even people from elsewhere in California are moving to this city, like from San Francisco.

If you’ve decided you’re interested in moving from SF to LA, it’s important to make sure it’s the best choice for you. You can do this by educating yourself on the pros and cons of LA, as well as the differences between living in SF and LA.

Here’s everything you need to know to get started with your researched and come to the right decision.

The Pros of Moving to LA

Los Angeles is a great city. There are many pros to moving there. 

Job Opportunities

There are a lot of job opportunities in LA. It’s a bustling city with a wide range of careers so regardless of what your aim is when it comes to career growth, there’s likely something here for you.

Many people move here because they want to make it in acting and LA is famously the home of many superstars. While it’s important to remember that only 2% of actors actually make a living and you need to do something else alongside to support yourself, it’s certainly the place of opportunity.

If you’ve no intention of being in the spotlight and you fancy something more corporate, LA has that too. 

Local Attractions

In any city, it’s important to have a work-life balance. California living often means getting caught up in the career world because the cost of living is somewhat high anywhere in the state, but remember there are things outside of work too.

Fortunately, LA has a lot to offer.

For example, there’s Hollywood. The Hollywood sign is a staple of the country, and you can stroll down the Walk of Fame for hours looking at the stars there. There are also some beautiful views, such as Venice Beach and at the Griffith Park and Observatory.

Many people forget that cities sometimes have beautiful scenes too, even though they aren’t out in nature.

There are also some great museums, like the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. 

There’s a reason that many people who don’t live in LA vacation there. 

Activities to Do

As well as sights to see, there are a ton of awesome activities to do which makes it difficult to get bored. Check out the nearby theme parks, like Universal Studios where there are rides to suit every thrill-seeker. 

If you’re more into nightlife, LA has some of the best bars and clubs in the country. There are also some amazing hiking spots to keep you fit, and some great views at the top of those hikes. Just make sure to stay safe. 

The Diversity

LA has become a very diverse city over the years. Less than half of the people who live there are white, creating a great mix of cultures where it’s easy to learn about others and find a home.

4.6% of the city’s population also identify as being part of the LGBTQ+ community, ranking them eighth out of America’s fifty largest metropolitan areas. For those who are looking for a safe space in that community, this makes LA a very attractive home indeed. 

While, in an ideal world, minorities would feel at home anywhere, this can make a huge difference.

The Culture

The culture in LA is definitely a very motivating one. Living in California generally means being surrounded by ambitious and driven people who are looking to keep climbing — both in terms of personal and career growth — and if you’d like to be in an inspiring place that provides you with plenty of motivation, that makes LA a solid choice.

Of course, that type of culture isn’t for everyone. Some people might prefer to be in a more relaxed place without the hustle and bustle of a city that never quite seems to rest. Others, however, thrive in this environment and it makes LA a fantastic choice for a home. 

The Prices

Where 100 is the national average for cost of living, LA sits at 173.3. This sounds high, so you might wonder why the price is an advantage.

Comparatively, if you’re moving from SF, you’ll find it’s a huge one.

SF is 269.3.

With the average cost of living almost three times higher than the rest of the USA, it’s easy to see why 173.3 doesn’t sound too bad at all! If you’re moving from a small rural town to LA, this will likely be a huge jump and you should make sure you can afford it.

However, if you’re moving from SF with a similar salary to what you’ve survived on there, you’ll find yourself with a large amount of disposable income all of a sudden. You can even afford to take a pay cut.

Great Weather

The great thing about California living is the weather and when moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles, you won’t have to give that up.

Most people thrive in the heat. It’s been proven time and time again that sunlight has a huge positive impact on your mental health and you should get as much of it as possible. That’s easy to do in a state where the sun is always shining. 

If you love the sun but aren’t a big fan of the temperature that comes, you can always enjoy the air conditioning from inside of the house when it gets too much. It’s better to have an abundance of the sun than not enough! 

Diverse Housing

Regardless of where you want to live, there’s something to suit your needs. The inner city has plenty of apartment buildings and small houses, while the suburbs have larger homes for families that will cost a fraction of the price that they did in SF.

The Cons of Moving From SF to LA

Unfortunately, there are some cons of moving from SF to LA that can’t be avoided. There are disadvantages to living anywhere, after all.

Make yourself aware of them and ensure you can handle them before you take a big leap. 

Worse Traffic

Because LA is a more densely populated city, you can expect the traffic to be worse. There’s a running joke that it takes forty-five minutes to get anywhere in LA — even if you’re only a few blocks away to start.

This might be a huge factor if you don’t work from home, because it can add a lot of time to your commute. Additionally, if you often have to leave the house to do things urgently, your time will be delayed. 

However, if you work remotely or don’t often leave the house for other reasons, this might not be a huge factor. Even better if you live within walking distance from the places you would often go, like the gym and the grocery store. 

Bad Public Transport

LA doesn’t have the worst public transport system in America, but America doesn’t put an emphasis on public transport — it puts an emphasis on cars. While New York City is very navigatable without a car, you might find it difficult to give yours up in Los Angeles (even though the traffic may tempt you to).

Ultimately though, this depends on which part of LA you live in and where you want to go. There might be buses that run conveniently right by your home to all of the places you want to go, or there might be nothing around you for miles.

If you have a particular location in mind you want to live, check out the public transport options before you move — or use them to decide on a place if it’s important to you.

Hard to Park

Because the city is so crowded, there’s not only a lot of traffic, but it’s difficult to find anywhere to park too.

This means things can get even more expensive. If you do find parking it could cost a ton of money, or you might end up using a rideshare service like Uber and Lyft to get places. These costs can rack up, especially as there’s often surge pricing in LA due to everyone having the same idea. 

Everything Is Spread Out

Despite the dense population, everything is very spread out — which is just another reason it might be difficult to give up your car. Really think about the neighborhood you’re moving to and what’s around you.

The Crime in Certain Neighborhoods

While SF has a relatively low crime rate, LA — despite its high cost of living — has a pretty high one. Homicides actually soared in 2021, with it being particularly bad in some neighborhoods.

This doesn’t mean you’ll be unsafe living there, but it does mean some precautions are necessary. Make sure you do your research about the neighborhood you’re moving to and practice some safety tips such as:

  • Carrying pepper spray, which is legal to carry and use in California for self-defense reasons
  • Take some self-defense classes so you know the basics
  • Make sure you’re always aware of your surroundings
  • Never leave your car doors unlocked, especially if there are valuables inside the car

Of course, these are good practices anywhere — even in SF where the crime is lower.

The Grind Culture

While the ambitious and driven culture might be great for some, others have been burnt out by it. 

This is particularly true if you move there with dreams of moving an actor or another star because you might have unrealistic expectations about how fast you’ll get there. Educating yourself about any dream you want to follow is key.

Competitive Housing Market

Although the housing there is diverse and you can find something to suit your needs, you will have to act quickly. Reports have shown that LA is a seller’s market right now, like many cities in the US, with more people looking to buy than sell.

It may also mean offering above the asking price if you’re buying rather than renting, so budget for that.

Tips for the Moving Process Itself

If you’ve decided that the advantages of LA suit you well, it’s time to begin the move. Make sure you research the process to make the move go smoothly.

Moving Options

You have two main moving options: you can move your things yourself or you can hire movers.

Many people choose to move their own belongings because they don’t want to hire someone and if you don’t have a lot of stuff, this can work. However, those that don’t have this advantage may want to hire movers.

The Pros of Hiring Movers

There are many advantages to hiring movers, and it’s important to consider them all if you’ve decided to move on your own and make sure they aren’t worth it.

The first is accountability and safety. Movers have insurance and the knowledge of how to pack things, and this combination makes for the safest outcome. If you have a lot of fragile items or are worried about your furniture being scratched, you’ll want someone with the best knowledge of how to protect it to take care of things.

Moving companies know how to do this.

Of course, that doesn’t guarantee anything since there’s still a chance of external circumstances like a vehicular accident or bad weather, but at least you know the insurance will pay for any damage. 

Another advantage is simply the lack of stress. When you’re moving, knowing you have to take care of everything on your own can feel overwhelming — and you may feel guilty asking friends or family for help. You may not even live close to anyone to ask!

Having professional movers handle this for you can take a lot of the stress out of moving cities. It can also let you focus on other things you need to handle before moving rather than packing and organizing transport, such as:

  • Getting medical, veterinary, and school records together to take with you to LA
  • Buying new things for your new place
  • Setting up a new doctor and dentist in the new location

You have enough to think about without worrying about the actual move itself!

How to Prepare

When deciding how to prepare for your move, you need to consider how much moving help you’re actually going to get. Are the movers going to pack for you, or are you going to handle that part?

Make sure you understand what the movers need from you and what they’ll handle on their own. If you are packing yourself, label the boxes and make sure everything is cushioned well enough that it won’t break. 

How to Find Good Movers

If you’ve finally decided you’re moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles and you know how to prepare, it’s time to find movers that will do a good job. Not all moving companies are created equal, so it’s important to do your research and ensure you have people you trust. 

Read Reviews

91% of 18-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as they’d trust a friend, and for good reason. Online reviews are left, for the most part, by neutral third parties who’ve had actual experience with the company and can tell you what went well and what didn’t.

You can find reviews on Google, Yelp, and Facebook, as well as a variety of other sites.

Any moving company you hire should have a good overall review. If you want to really do more research, you can do a deep dive into the positive and negative reviews. You can’t please everyone, so they may have some upset customers — but it should be a low number, and you may even find that the complaints seem unreasonable.

Some companies also respond to their negative reviews which will give you a good idea of their tone and how they conduct themselves. 

Scour Their Website

You should also make sure you read all of the information they have available on their website, as well as ensure their website is clean and presentable. Web design is a far cry from moving, but it’s still important to have the information there in an accessible way.

Their website at the very least should have the services they offer as well as the best way to contact them. If the numbers and email addresses are outdated, it’s a bit of a red flag.

Check They Have the Appropriate Licenses and Insurance

Anyone operating a vehicle that large at least needs a commercial license, and some states require professional movers to be registered with other boards. In California, the Bureau of Household Goods and Services regulates this so make sure whoever you use is registered with them.

You should also make sure they have insurance. This protects both you and them from damage and injuries caused during the moving process.

It’s not just your belongings you need to worry about, but what happens if they’re injured on the job — especially if it’s on your property. 

Ask About Availability

If you’ve found a company that looks promising, you can then go ahead and ask for their availability. Popular companies might be busy, so if you can be a little flexible, it might be best in terms of finding the best people for the job.

However, if you have a specific date you need moving help, then you may have to find a company available on that date rather than browsing around a lot of them.

Ask for Quotes

Once you’ve found a company available when you need to move, you should ask for a quote to ensure it’s within your budget.

A good thing to do is actually ask a few different companies for quotes and compare them. However, you shouldn’t automatically go with the cheapest company without considering other factors. 

The cheapest company may be that way for a reason — lack of experience, bad reviews they need to make up for, or subpar services. 

Balance the quote with the other factors to make the right decision for you.

 

Ask Any Questions You Have

After that, you should make sure you ask any questions you might have. Some possibilities include:

  • How should I prepare for you to arrive?
  • Do you provide packing materials?
  • What’s the best way to contact you?
  • How much experience do you have?

Any and all of these are valid, and moving companies understand that you want to make the right choice for you and need this information to make an informed decision.

Consider Their Demeanor

The last thing you need to do is consider how they actually make you feel. You may only know these movers for a short amount of time, but moving cities is stressful enough without someone making it worse.

They should strike a balance of warmth and professionalism, and ensure you that you’re in good hands. 

Make Moving From SF to LA Less Stressful

Moving from SF to LA can be a great move for some people. Despite the fact there are some disadvantages to living in LA, it’s important to remember there are cons to living anywhere and for the right people, LA is a wonderful place to live.

If you’re looking for diversity, an ambitious culture, and some great things to do outside of work then you really can’t go wrong with this California city and its great weather.

Looking for moving help between cities? Contact us today for a free moving quote and let’s see how we can help.

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