The first issue aspiring actors encounter when they decide to move to Los Angeles to pursue acting is finding the best place to live as an actor in LA. It’s a reasonable problem to have, because Los Angeles is unlike any other American city (or any other city in the world, actually).
LA is know as the world’s capital of entertainment industry. Hollywood is here with all of its top Los Angeles talent agencies and celebrities.
In this article, I’ll demystify Los Angeles’ neighborhoods for you, and give you ten choices for the best place to live in LA if you come here to work in the entertainment industry.
So why is LA unlike any other place?
Because it’s big and very spread out. Los Angeles is a cluster of a bunch of smaller towns or neighborhoods, all of which have their own unique feel, culture, people and purpose.
As an example, when you go to New York City, even though it’s much bigger than Los Angeles in population, everything is pretty centered and can be found in one place. Not so in LA. There’s no central location in the City of Angels. Even Downtown LA itself doesn’t serve the same purpose as it does in many other metropolitan cities.
Before we get into the whole LA neighborhoods discussion, would you like a simple list of best LA cities for actors in a PDF for future reference? I’ve prepared one since it may be more convenient. Just show me some social love and download the PDF below.
Download PDF: 10 Best LA Neighborhoods for Actors (PDF)
(you can always say thanks by mentioning this page on social media)
Okay, so what part of LA should actors move to? Let’s break it down with a quick intro.
Major Los Angeles neighborhood areas
- Central Los Angeles
- San Fernando Valley
- Westside Los Angeles
All three areas are completely different from each other, and they’re comprised of several smaller cities. More on this later.
The difference between these areas is the quality of living and the cost of rent. San Fernando Valley (otherwise known as The Valley) is the cheapest out of all three. Westside Los Angeles (or, Westside) is the most expensive area in the whole city. Central/Eastside Los Angeles is similar to The Valley price-wise.
There are other areas outside of these three, which I will not be discussing because if you’re moving here for the entertainment industry, you really shouldn’t even consider them. Why not? Here’s why.
Further south and to the east of Central LA you will find the most dangerous and gang-infested territories. Rent is much cheaper, but I wouldn’t risk it. Even further south you have Long Beach which has areas that are alright, but it’s simply too far from where things are happening for actors. The same applies when driving far up north, to the east and the west of The Valley, which are actually good areas but are simply too far to commute.
“But maybe I can leave earlier and commute that way?..” No! It’s definitely too far. Trust me on this. Once you move to Los Angeles and get a feel for what’s it like traffic-wise, you will understand. If, after spending 3 months in LA, you decide that it’s a good decision to move further, then you can always do that. But I bet you a $1,000 that you won’t. Moving on.
Top 3 Los Angeles areas for showbiz folks
Let’s focus on those three areas I’ve mentioned above so that you can plan your move to LA well and not just base it all on luck of living in a decent area of Tinseltown.
Central/Eastside Los Angeles neighborhoods. This used to be a poor place to live about a decade ago, but it’s getting better every year. The area is diverse and central to most locations that actors will be visiting on a regular basis. There are some choices that can be explored.
San Fernando Valley neighborhoods. This is the largest area of the three, and it can be a little confusing. A rule of thumb is to live in the most southern part of The Valley, directly above West Hollywood and Hollywood. This is a great place for actors, and that’s where I live.
- Woodland Hills
- Thousand Oaks
- Northridge/Canoga Park
- Valley Glen
- Van Nuys
- Panorama City
- Sherman Oaks
- North Hollywood
- Studio City
- Simi Valley
- Sun Valley
Westside Los Angeles. This is the most well-known and the most expensive area in the whole city. When you tell your folks about moving to Los Angeles, after they laugh at you for a while, this will be the area they will imagine: beaches, celebrities, pretty people and extremely expensive places to live. It’s a good place for actors only if they can afford it, but most cannot.
- Santa Monica
- West LA
- Mar Vista
- Playa Del Rey
- Culver City
- Beverly Hills
- West Hollywood
These are the primary areas and their neighborhoods which you should think about before you move to Los Angeles. Basically, if you plan to be going out for film acting auditions, or voice over work, or anything in the LA film industry, these are your neighborhoods.
I haven’t mentioned some of the places that stretch further in all four directions for a reason: they are either too far for actors or it’s simply too dangerous to live there. Trust me on this, I’ve being doing this research for years.
Finally, let’s talk about which of these neighborhoods are the best for aspiring actors (or anybody else in the entertainment industry) to live in.
How to choose the best LA neighborhood
For the most part, either one of these ten choices listed below can be a good place to live if you’re moving to Los Angeles to become a part of the entertainment industry. Therefore, I’d suggest to look at this list as being in no particular order.
After spending hundreds of hours researching, and then actually visiting most of these LA neighborhoods myself to decide where I should live, I’m pretty confident that you can trust 100% my list below, and use it as your point of reference.
Note that for most of you, your future home in Los Angeles will depend primarily on how much rent you can afford, thus you should definitely look into either one of these ten neighborhoods, and make a decision based on your individual needs and situation.
How did I make these choices? I considered the three major factors that would matter to aspiring showbiz professionals in Los Angeles:
- Cost of rent
- Safety of living
By default, actors are poor, so the cost of rent is an important aspect to consider. Safety is also no less important since it’s difficult to pursue your goals if you cannot even leave your home. Finally, logistics play another major role for budding actors because getting to auditions on time is what will make or break you in this business. So, without further ado…
10 Best Places to Live for an Actor in LA
Aside from Los Feliz, this is probably my favorite choice for a Los Angeles neighborhood that’s good for actors, mostly because it’s safe, relatively close and can be somewhat affordable. It also has quick access to 101 and 405 freeways, which is important for those last minute audition calls. However, being in The Valley, it can still be considered “further from the biz.”
Pros: Affordable, safe, walk-friendly
Cons: A little far, not much to do, no metro access
Rent: $1,400-$1,900 (1 bedroom)
Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5)
Right next to Sherman Oaks, this is similarly good neighborhood for actors to live in Los Angeles for pretty much the same reasons as those mentioned above. Everything here is similar to what Sherman Oaks is like, but you’ll probably have a few more actors, a bit more crime and will be closer to auditions in Burbank and Hollywood.
Pros: Affordable, more things to do
Cons: Still a little far, no metro access
Rent: $1,100-$1,500 (1 bedroom)
Quite possibly the most popular neighborhood in The Valley among struggling actors. Many artists and showbiz folk live in North Hollywood, otherwise known as NoHo. There’s always something happening here, and you can find a play or other type of performance to go to pretty much any day of the week. It’s slightly higher on crime and can seem a bit run-down.
Pros: Affordable, a lot of things to do, metro access
Cons: Higher crime, a little run-down
Rent: $1,100-$1,300 (1 bedroom)
This is the famous Burbank, and arguably the nicest area in The Valley. The rent will run higher, but you’ll live close to Disney, Universal and Warner Bros studios, find many things to do in here, and a lot of auditions take place in Burbank. It’s a well-maintained area that’s also safe with plenty of restaurants, theaters, shops and other things a young actor would love.
Pros: Safe, nice area, plenty of things to do, close to some auditions
Cons: Expensive, parking issues
Rent: $1,500-$1,900 (1 bedroom)
Finally, we’re moving south. West Hollywood is known as the favorite neighborhood of homosexuals and the wealthier class, which automatically makes it a very nice place to live. It seems that whenever you enter WeHo, everything immediately seems brighter and more colorful. West Hollywood is very well-maintained and safe, has a ton of things happening on a daily basis, but the lack of freeway access and expensive rent means it’s not ideal.
Pros: Safe, nice area, plenty of things to do, central location
Cons: Expensive, no freeway access, parking issues
Rent: $1,600-$2,500 (1 bedroom)
Los Feliz is the best area on the east side of LA. It’s a nice looking neighborhood with a few things to do here and there, full of younger people and has a strong presence of arts. It feels like an improved version of North Hollywood, but not as active. Parking isn’t as difficult here as in some other parts of the town, and you don’t see as many actors as in NoHo. This can be your best choice if you can afford the slightly higher rent price than North Hollywood.
Pros: Clean, safe, calm, close to some auditions
Cons: Can be difficult to find an apartment
Silver Lake and Echo Park neighborhoods are close to each other, thus they are often slapped together as one. They’re very similar in many ways, although Silver Lake is the originator of its culture. These neighborhoods are famous for their art-focused feel and many, many hipsters, musicians and artists. Actors are as not as prevalent here, surprisingly.
Pros: Nice area, very artsy, many things to do
Cons: Somewhat expensive
Not everybody will advise living in the infamous Hollywood, but I think if you know how to pick a good area in this neighborhood, you can win big time in terms of rent price and logistics. It’s close to West Hollywood, but the culture and the feel of it couldn’t be more different. It’s way more run-down, more dangerous and you’ll always find how to get in trouble here.
Pros: Affordable, central location, nightlife, metro access
Cons: Not safe
Another area that you won’t hear being labeled as the best place to live mostly because it’s a little further, but I don’t think that it’s that far to discount it completely. Glendale is the capital of LA’s Armenians, but it’s a relatively safe area that has enough things to do and see. The rent can be affordable and you still get quick access to auditions in Burbank or Central LA.
Pros: Somewhat affordable, decent area
K-town is the next on the list after Hollywood where you can win in terms of rent prices if you’re willing to be cautious. It’s not the safest neighborhood in Los Angeles, but it’s definitely not as bad as it used to be a decade ago. The biggest problem will be parking as Koreatown seems to be overpopulated, but the diversity is great and you’ll find people of all walks of life here.
Pros: Affordable, somewhat close to things
Cons: A little unsafe, overpopulated, parking issue
The end. This wraps up our list of ten best places to live for an actor in LA. Note that the “rating” given next to every one of these LA neighborhoods above is simply my personal view of that area without counting the cost of living. That “rating” doesn’t carry any more weight than any other person’s opinion of the neighborhood in question.
What LA neighborhood would I pick?
In conclusion, I would say that my personal top three choices would be:
- West Hollywood
- Los Feliz
- Sherman Oaks
If you can afford living in West Hollywood, go for it. Aside from the lack of a freeway access, it’s very centrally located and in general is just a great area to be. If not, your next best choice would be Los Feliz. A little cheaper with less things to do and not as centrally located, but you’ll get to Burbank auditions faster. Finally, if you can’t afford WeHo and can’t find a place in Los Feliz, then Sherman Oaks would be the next best thing.
I would advise anybody moving to Los Angeles to not rush into renting an apartment. Spend some time exploring these neighborhoods and getting a feel for them.
Quick tip: do visit these places at different times of the day. What looks safe during the daytime may have a completely different look and feel at night.
Get a room through AirBnb or a sublet through Craigslist for a week or two, and start doing your research. Make a list of pros and cons of your own, and see what works for you and what doesn’t. In the future, I’ll touch upon LA jobs, LA acting classes and other location related aspects that can be important to consider when choosing a place to live in Los Angeles.