A transferee’s guide to the greater Los Angeles area
From outsider to Angeleno: navigating work and play in the City of Angels
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From outsider to Angeleno: navigating work and play in the City of Angels
Hello! I'm Addison, your Relocity Personal Host for all things Los Angeles. I've been calling the broader Los Angeles area my home for about 10 years now, including four years in gorgeous Orange County. In May of 2022, I joined the Relocity team, which began serving Los Angeles in April of 2017 and Orange County — Irvine, specifically — in May of 2020. I can't wait to share my love for this vibrant, diverse region with you and provide information that will help you transition to the City of Angels.
Los Angeles proper spans approximately 466 square miles, while the greater Los Angeles area encompasses a sprawling 33,954 square miles in Southern California. The San Gabriel Mountains to the north are the region’s most prominent mountain range, while several valleys — including the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, and Santa Clarita Valley — create unique topography perfect for a wide range of activities. The beautiful Pacific Ocean, Ventura County, Kern County, San Bernardino County, and Orange County border Los Angeles County.
To the south of Los Angeles, Orange County covers approximately 798 square miles with geography varying from coastal plains in the northwest to the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains in the southeast. Most residents reside in the Santa Ana and Saddleback Valleys, two shallow coastal valleys within the Orange County basin. To the south sits San Diego County, to the east are the Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, and to the west is the Pacific Ocean. Both Los Angeles and Orange Counties enjoy favorable temperate climates.
Since you’ll soon become a local, allow me to highlight some of each region’s history. As Spain established a foothold in present-day California, Father Junípero Serra founded Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in 1771 and Mission San Fernando Rey de España in 1797 — both in what is now Los Angeles County. A short time later, in 1781, a diverse group of settlers established Los Angeles as a small farming community named "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula," after journeying over a thousand miles from present-day northern Mexico. Over time, the settlement grew under the flags of Spain, Mexico, and the United States to become one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world. Los Angeles evolved from a modest farming community into a thriving city, driven by events such as the California Gold Rush, the expansion of the transcontinental railroad, and the growth of the entertainment industry. Today, Los Angeles stands as one of the most populous and culturally diverse cities in the United States and as a global hub for the film and entertainment industry.
Like Los Angeles, Orange County’s development was highly influenced by the California Mission campaign. After the Spanish began settling the area in 1769, Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1776. After gaining independence from Spain in 1821, the Mexican government authorized land grants in Orange County, sparking the local cattle ranching economy. With the conclusion of the Mexican War in 1848, California was ceded by Mexico to the United States, becoming the 31st state in 1850.
In recent years, Los Angeles has continued to expand as America’s second largest city behind New York City, housing almost 4 million people. New communities are emerging each year, the Westside in particular is seeing noteworthy development. For example, Culver City is seeing a huge revitalization as it evolves away from its entertainment roots.
To the south, Orange County has developed in its own right, with over 3 million people residing in its borders. After Disneyland put Orange County on the map as a tourist destination in 1955, the region has expanded to accommodate population growth. In the last 30 years, South County areas like Irvine, Ladera Ranch, and San Clemente have exploded thanks to new infrastructure and commercial spaces such as the Irvine Spectrum Center.
Now that you have a sense of the Southern California region you’ll be stepping into, let’s take a closer look at the business and residential communities of Los Angeles and Orange County.
Los Angeles hosts some of the world's largest and most successful companies, including The Walt Disney Company, Snap Inc., Netflix, Live Nation Entertainment, Warner Bros., Mattel, Activision Blizzard, and SpaceX, to name just a few. Hollywood, Burbank, and Glendale are significant centers within the entertainment hub, while Downtown Los Angeles houses the booming financial and fashion districts. Additionally, the city’s remarkable growth in technology, aerospace, tourism, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and more has attracted a culturally diverse workforce from around the world. This diversity has supported the development of several thriving immigrant communities and makes Los Angeles a unique, vibrant place to work.
Orange County is also a significant business location, housing the headquarters of more than 30 companies with a net worth of over $1 billion. The likes of Alteryx, Avid Bioservices, Edwards Lifesciences, and Vizio have a prominent local presence. Top industries include high-tech, healthcare, administration and management, technical services, tourism, and construction. Orange County is also home to the largest medical device, the third largest apparel, and the sixth largest biopharmaceutical clusters in the United States.
Your daily commute — along with the local school systems if you have kids — will likely influence where you choose to live. In Los Angeles, individuals in the entertainment industry gravitate towards Hollywood, North Hollywood, and West Hollywood, while tech professionals tend to cluster in the "Silicon Beach" area. In Orange County, on the other hand, the biggest business hubs are in Irvine and Anaheim, but notable companies are located across the entire area.
When it comes to education, both Los Angeles and Orange County offer a range of schooling options. Some of the highest-rated schools in Los Angeles are located outside of the city proper, in Arcadia, Redondo Beach, Palos Verdes, Oak Park, and San Marino. Within Los Angeles, notable unified school districts include Santa Monica-Malibu, El Segundo, Beverly Hills, Torrance, Culver City, Burbank, and Glendale. There are also great charter schools and dual-language programs that cater to bilingual families.
In Orange County, some of the top-performing unified school districts are Irvine, Laguna Beach, and Los Alamitos as well as Huntington Beach Union High School District and Fullerton Joint Union High School District.
After accounting for all of the above considerations and your ideal Los Angeles lifestyle, you might love the Westside, especially if beach proximity is a high priority. Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Playa Vista are popular locations for people willing to commute into the city. If you need a more convenient lifestyle, Culver City offers everything you need closer to home. The Eastside, including Los Feliz and Silver Lake, is attractive to younger residents who enjoy cool bars and shops. I’m also partial to up-and-coming Frogtown, a progressive community with socially conscious shops and delicious dining options. If you’re looking to stretch your dollars as far as possible, you may want to check out neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley, which offer more space per unit.
If moving to Orange County, consider Niche.com’s list of best places to live. Neighborhoods in Irvine, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and South County top the list. While many of these communities — like San Joaquin Hills and Corona del Mar — are pricey, you can find more affordable options with similar commutes and great school districts in Woodbridge, Northwood, Mission Viejo, and the like.
No matter where you move within Southern California, you’re likely to face tight real estate and rental markets. In Los Angeles, one of the nation’s most active and competitive markets, some neighborhoods like Culver City and Los Feliz have witnessed significant price increases, while other communities such as West Hollywood and Hollywood have seen slight decreases. Overall, Los Angeles’ rental prices have grown at a slower rate than they did in previous years. In Orange County, while home sales have dropped since 2022, the real estate market has displayed resilience, with home values growing at a steady pace.
The tradeoffs between city living and suburban life are similar in both Los Angeles and Orange County. In both areas, each neighborhood often feels like its own city. The suburbs provide more space, tranquility, and access to nature, albeit with longer commutes. Additionally, areas closer to the beach often lack air conditioning, but typically have ocean breezes to cool down. These are all things to keep in mind as you progress through the home-finding process. With a dedicated Personal Host like me, as part of Relocity’s Concierge solution, you’ll navigate the decision-making process supported by a dedicated in-destination expert.
Once you know where you’re going to live, you can assess your daily commute to work. In Los Angeles, the average commute can range from 20-30 minutes for people who work locally. However, if you live in the suburbs or on the outskirts of the city center, your commute might extend to an hour or more. Commuting is similar in Orange County. For example, if your residence and workplace are both located in the same city, like Irvine, your commute could be a mere 10 minutes or less. However, if you must travel from one end of the county to the other, your commute might take an hour or more.
Because Southern California cities tend to be spread out, especially in the suburbs, the majority of residents opt to drive personal vehicles for convenience and flexibility. However, both Los Angeles and Orange County offer public transportation as well.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, commonly known as Metro, is the City of Angels’ public transportation hub. The Metro system includes almost 12,000 bus stops with 120 bus routes across an extensive area of 1,447 square miles. One hundred eighty rail stations with heavy and light rail cars operate across six lines, covering over 109 miles of service. Additionally, Los Angeles maintains an extensive network of bike paths, spanning a total of 1,894 miles.
In Orange County, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) manages public transportation services, including buses with a variety of routes and connections, the Metrolink trains, rideshare options, and more. There are also several Amtrak rail stations in Orange County. Through Relocity Concierge, a Personal Host like me will help you figure out the best commuting options to ease your daily work life!
In the vibrant landscape of the greater Los Angeles area, you’ll have ample opportunity to work remotely in comfortable and inspiring environments. In Los Angeles, one of my personal favorite spots to work is Citizen Public Market in Culver City, which offers a versatile setting, complete with a range of diverse dining options all equipped with Wi-Fi. Other crowd-pleasing places to work are LAMILL Coffee in Silver Lake — offering a mouthwatering weekday menu and the possibility of a celebrity sighting — and the Spoke Bicycle Cafe, an inviting outdoor eatery along the Los Angeles River where you can enjoy coffee and a fresh, organic meal while using the Wi-Fi.
In Orange County, the Capital One Café at the Irvine Spectrum Center provides a welcoming and functional atmosphere with the comforts of a coffee shop and the convenience of a coworking space, offering Wi-Fi and more to fuel your productivity.
When it's time for a lunch break, you’ll have no problem satisfying your cravings in Los Angeles. Tu Madre stands out with three locations across the city. Their breakfast burrito, with fried chicken and an explosion of flavors, is a must-try, even at lunchtime. For fans of traditional Southern cuisine, Honey's Kettle Shop is a beloved spot for fried chicken. Eataly, Milo and Olive, and the Great Maple are also popular choices, collectively offering a diverse range of cuisines. On Fridays, you can't go wrong with Night + Market Song, a Thai eatery.
In Orange County, you can explore the Anaheim Packing District or the Irvine Spectrum Center for an endless array of lunch options. If you work in South County, give Heritage Barbecue in San Juan Capistrano a try. If you’re in Irvine or Newport, indulge your taste buds at Parakeet Cafe at Crystal Cove, Lemonade at Fashion Island, and the Blue Bottle Coffee in Newport Beach. Whether you're in the mood for casual eats or a five-star meal, Orange County’s diverse culinary landscape has you covered.
After work, get to know your colleagues in your new surroundings. In Los Angeles, consider a visit to Bowlero, an ultra-cool bowling alley in Mar Vista with funky lights and a full restaurant and bar. If the weather is nice, try one of Los Angeles’ several rooftop bars, like Mama Shelter in Hollywood and ONYX Rooftop Bar in Santa Monica. Father's Office, Frogtown Brewery, and the Bungalow are great for drinks, while The Formosa Cafe, which opened in 1939, offers a historical vibe with pictures of famous patrons on the walls.
In Orange County, partake in various activities to unwind with colleagues. The Balboa Fun Zone offers an assortment of games that are perfect for bonding over friendly competition. Take a duffy boat ride in Newport Beach, gather around a bonfire on the sand in Huntington Beach, or explore the bustling atmosphere of Downtown Disney in Anaheim. Plus, the OC Fair in Costa Mesa offers a plethora of events to build camaraderie. If you’re looking to relax, the Red Bar at Hotel Irvine is renowned for its great happy hour, while the Orange Hill Restaurant in Orange offers scenic views and delectable dining.
Without a doubt, the greater Los Angeles area is a hub of activity, both for work and leisure. With numerous options for remote work, lunch, and off-the-clock fun, Los Angeles and Orange County alike offer plenty of opportunities to connect with colleagues.
Once you’ve moved in, it’s time to get familiar with Southern California’s culture. Fast-paced Los Angeles, known as the Entertainment Capital of the World, is famous for the iconic Hollywood sign, Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Grauman’s legendary Chinese Theatre. Along with these entertainment icons, Los Angeles is known for its diverse population, which contributes to a world-class culinary scene. You can savor dishes from around the world in neighborhoods like Little Ethiopia, Thai Town, Chinatown, Koreatown, and Little Tokyo. Plus, thanks to Los Angeles’ proximity to Mexico, local Mexican food is some of the best on the planet.
Beyond the glitz and glamor, Los Angeles offers renowned shopping districts, such as Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. The sunny Southern California weather makes outdoor shopping a true delight.
Nearby Orange County has equally gorgeous weather, which sets the scene for a range of outdoor activities. Famous for stunning beaches (shoutout to “Surf City” Huntington Beach), Orange County is home to the U.S. Open of Surfing. Twenty minutes away from Huntington Beach, Anaheim sparkles with the magic of Disneyland, the beloved theme park. Just south of Disneyland sit premier shopping destinations: Fashion Island and South Coast Plaza. Orange County’s culture reflects the area’s unique blend of activities. Some neighborhoods are well-to-do and buttoned-up, while others are more laid-back and casual. No matter your personal preferences and lifestyle, you’re sure to find an exceptional place to live.
Far beyond the tourist attractions, Los Angeles and Orange County offer a plethora of activities. In Los Angeles, you can enjoy the impressive art collections, stunning architecture, and beautiful gardens at the Getty Villa Museum in Malibu and the Getty Center Museum in Brentwood for free. (You just need to pay for parking.) Be sure to visit the iconic Griffith Park, which offers a historic train ride that’s perfect for families. Kids will also love the Los Angeles Zoo (inside Griffith Park) and the historic Griffith Observatory.
If you’re in the mood for a beach day, the coastal areas, including Malibu, Santa Monica, and Venice Beach, are perfect for a stroll, with boardwalks full of vendors and restaurants. Don't miss the picturesque Venice Canals, and, for a bit of adventure, go kayaking in Marina del Rey. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy a hike in Runyon Canyon — known for its fantastic views and potential celebrity sightings — and Culver City’s Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, a massive green escape with various facilities, including pools, baseball, and basketball fields. If you crave variety in your outdoor escapades, you're in luck because, in Southern California, you're just a drive away from the coast, snow-covered mountains, and deserts alike.
For individuals who enjoy the performing arts, Los Angeles has plenty to offer, including the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, the Greek Theatre, and the iconic Hollywood Bowl, the last of which lets you bring your own food and drinks to enjoy concerts under the stars.
Don’t forget to explore theme parks like Universal Studios and Six Flags Magic Mountain! If you want to do something more low-key, explore the wineries in Malibu. If shopping is your thing, check out 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica for a luxurious retail experience, or the trendy Arts District, an urban oasis known for its industrial art galleries.
If you’re a sports enthusiast, Los Angeles is a paradise, housing the Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers, Rams, Chargers, and Kings, not to mention an uber-competitive college sports scene. For a more cultural and educational outing, the Huntington Library in Pasadena makes for an absolutely gorgeous excursion, with five gardens, each flourishing with unique charm. One last tip from a Los Angeles local: Pack a picnic and catch an outdoor movie screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
If you want to expand your horizons, travel to Orange County, where you can dive into a world of amusement parks: Disneyland, California Adventure, Knott's Berry Farm, and Wild Rivers provide fun for all ages. If you have kids, spend an afternoon at the Discovery Cube Science Center, a fantastic interactive science museum for children. Be sure to visit Anaheim as well, for a Ducks hockey game or an Angels baseball game. No matter the time of year, enjoy the beautiful beaches and catch a pickup volleyball game at Huntington Beach or Doheny Beach. Or, get some fresh air on some of the county’s best hiking trails, like Top of the World in Laguna Beach and Red Rock Canyon in Trabuco Canyon.
Orange County offers a range of great restaurants for any occasion. Planning brunch? Don’t miss Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, with two locations in Orange County. If you’re looking for a go-to date spot, try Tokyo Table in Irvine (with everyday happy hour) or the Deck on Laguna Beach, renowned for its grilled cheese sandwich and delicious tomato soup. Don’t forget to have some fun at the vibrant bar scene on the Newport Beach Peninsula! Grab a friend and share a schooner at Mutt Lynch's.
If you’re looking to relax, treat yourself to a relaxing massage at the beautiful day spa Burke Williams. If you want to do something out of the ordinary, get off the mainland for a quick trip to Catalina Island, which offers scuba diving, fishing, ziplining, and other ocean and land adventures amid a fun dining and lodging scene.
The best part about living in Southern California is the dynamic and versatile lifestyle. The region’s beaches, near-constant sunshine, and endless outdoor activities are irresistible, and you’ll always have something to do!
In conclusion, the greater Los Angeles area offers a multitude of opportunities and experiences for newcomers. From Hollywood’s iconic landmarks to miles and miles of coastline, from world-class museums to thrilling theme parks, this region has something for everyone. Whether you're raising a family or enjoying life without kids, you have no shortage of diverse and vibrant activities to explore. Fantastic weather and endless options for dining, entertainment, and recreation allow you to live an exciting adventure in this dynamic part of Southern California. Welcome to Los Angeles and Orange County! I sincerely hope I have the chance to work with you during your transition to this stunning part of the world.
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