Good news, the dream apartment I mentioned in the last post is mine! I’ll move in next month, making it the 9th place I’ve lived at in LA. Let me summarize: when I first came to LA for just the summer at 19 I stayed in North Hollywood. I had such a great time that I did so again the summer after. Then when I returned for a six month stretch at 22 I stayed with a friend in Valley Village, followed by two months in Venice with a roommate from hell. Luckily I then met a lovely American lady in Culver City who I stayed with until my return to the Netherlands. And again during my three month last-attempt-to-find-an-agent stay (interrupted by a week and a half in Hollywood).
Add to that the four different places I’ve stayed at since my permanent return three weeks ago, many acting classes, agency meetings (oh and who am I kidding: shopping trips) and I would say that despite me being fairly new to Lalaland, I have a pretty good idea of the layout of this city. So for all of you that consider visiting or moving to LA, here’s a neighborhood breakdown…
The Westside is the Los Angeles that most people think about when going off TV and films. It’s adjacent to the ocean and 90% of it is safe, super classy and even glamorous. These areas are noteworthy:
- Santa Monica & Marina Del Rey: Upper middle class to high class, right by the ocean, great restaurants and shops. Hip and classy. Oh and did I mention it’s right by the ocean?
- Culver City: Very residential, middle class, maybe slightly above. Has a cute city center with great restaurants and cocktail bars. Apparently the schools are good.
- Venice: Some areas are shabby, but in general it’s just very hippie. And bicycle friendly. Abbot Kinney is here, an upscale hipster and celebrity frequented area. The Venice Boardwalk is nice to ride your bike when it’s not too busy.
- Brentwood & The Pacific Palisades: High class, more residential area of the westside located in the Hills.
- Westwood: Home of many UCLA students and faculty. Has a lively city center with high buildings and what not.
- Beverly Hills & Bel-Air: Need I say more?
- West Hollywood: WeHo to insiders. All actors want to live here because it’s so cool, safe and central, but that of course comes at a price. Known for having a lot of LGBT inhabitants, which is probably why they have the most awesome annual Halloween parade. Some consider this Central LA.
- Century City: Sort of the business center of the Westside. Lots of talent agencies reside here. It also has the Century City Mall, which is where Ryan Gosling took Steve Carell shopping in Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Central LA is nice because it’s central to everything film industry related but it doesn’t have the best reputation. It harbours some of the sketchiest areas as well as some very nice ones. You can literally be in a ghetto one minute and then a superfancy area the next. This makes Central LA more affordable, but you do have to know where to go. Noteworthy:
- Hollywood: Attracts most of the tourists which is unfortunate since it’s not the nicest part of LA. Basically north of Santa Monica Blvd. everything’s fine, you have Sunset Blvd. where all the partying happens and the somewhat disappointing Walk of Fame. Basically the more you go north the fancier. But go so south and you’ll see some really dodgy neighbourhoods, all with a view of the Hollywood sign.
- Hollywood Hills: Big houses with stunning views.
- Los Feliz & Silverlake: Hipster, celebrity frequented areas east of Hollywood. Great restaurants (I’m told)
- Echo park: Another one of those used-to-be-sketchy-but-now-it’s-artsy neighbourhood.
- Hancock park: Area for only the rich with crazy expensive mansions, all located around a private golf course.
- Larchmont: Cute little street with nice shops and restaurants and upper class housing. Love this area.
- Koreatown: Great Korean BBQ places. Mostly a little sketchy, but has some nice streets here and there.
- Downtown: The only part of LA with a city feel. Has subway stations, high buildings, pedestrians… Some parts are super nice during daytime, but do not go here at night. It’s one of the more dangerous places in LA, encompassing the notorious Skid Row and Compton. Perhaps those are technically East LA, but it’s all Central LA to me.
San Fernando Valley
Know as The Valley by Angelenos. It’s often frowned upon since it’s literally over the hills which means far, and it gets very hot during summertime. It’s also more residential, and I suspect it has the highest rate of inhabitants that are actually from LA. It’s a good area to start in as a newbie though, since houses are cheaper, public transportation is good and touristy areas like Universal Studios and the Hollywood Walk of Fame nearby. Noteworthy:
- Studio City: Where the studios are (surprise!) and thus some theme parks. Rest of it is very residential, a little above middle class.
- Toluca Lake: I always feel like this is the Los Feliz equivalent of the valley. Hipsterish and nice.
- North Hollywood: NoHo to insiders. A mix between sketchy and artsy, they’re really pushing to be know for the artsy, cultural side though.
- Burbank: Very residential, mostly safe. Angelenos are born and raised here.
- Sherman Oaks: More urban, business-y area of the Valley. Has a nice mall and the famous Sherman Oaks Galleria.
That’s it! Well, not really, there’s also East and South LA but I haven’t really been there and there isn’t too much those areas are know for besides maybe Long Beach and Pasadena. But Angelenos consider those areas far, far away. And if an American considers something far, a Dutch girl from the middle of nowhere considers it the far side of the moon.
Hope this helps all of you prospective vistors!
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