So you’ve decided to move to Los Angeles. Congratulations. But your biggest decision lies ahead of you: which neighborhood to move into to. LA, after all, contains multitudes, hundreds of neighborhoods each with their own identity that will stick to you like a bad odor. Plant your flag in Silverlake, Marina Del Rey or Thousands Oaks and whomever you are sitting next to at your next dinner party will think they know everything there is to know about you. Here’s our guide to picking where you are in fact meant to be.
If LA is the place people come to chase their dreams, the Valley is the place those people go home to get away from it all. It is said that the valley is at least 10 degrees hotter than the rest of the city. It feels like 30.
North Hollywood: Referred to as NOHO on t-shirts and coffee mugs, and home to a growing Artists District that has yet to include Artists.
Reseda: A lesser income section of the West Valley, it’s often said those in Reseda look guilty. Described in a Tom Petty song, Free Fall’n: “It’s a long day, Livin’ in Reseda. There’s a freeway, runn’n through the yard.” The freeway is the 101, and it actually runs through Tarzana.
Studio City: There was a time when people moved here because it was affordable and could be thought of as living in LA or Hollywood ‘almost pretty much’.
Burbank: Home to a Big Boys and Warner Bros., there is an airport here, the Bob Hope né Burbank Airport, which is the preferred airport for anyone living on the East Side. It is small, quick, and looks like an airport would look in Toon Town.
Woodland Hills: The pornography capital of LA. They say the worst part of a porn set is the smell. Lots of good deals on air conditioners and STD testing.
A rich tapestry, land of the hipster, the Mexican, the city lobbyist.
Downtown: Looks exactly like New York when you film it. In real life, it looks more like this one block in St. Louis. Big buildings, subways, smells, walking, “lofts.” The words ‘Skid Row’ first gained fame here. The words ‘Urban Renewal’ is taking over.
Echo Park: There are 347 definitions of the word Hipster at Urban Dictionary, and next to each one is a picture of someone who has lived in Echo Park, from artists and independent thinkers to trust fund bohos and delusional space cadets.
Silverlake: An urban paradise built by gays and Hispanics, has weathered the hipster invasion pretty well. Echo Park’s richer, quirkier Aunt.
Los Feliz: A more bourgeoisie version of Silver Lake with strollers, etc. A real melting pot for casual drinkers and alcoholics alike.
Hollywood: Hollywood is the most obvious and least-survived place to first move into. There are tourists, but only on a few main streets. Most of Hollywood is made of Hills and Canyons full of ghosts and the people who speak with them, believe in them, or want to be them.
Hancock Park: The mayor lives here.
Koreatown: Cheap, lawless and intensely treeless. Street parking is but a rumor.
Boyle Heights: Hasn’t changed a ton in the last decade or so. Gigante Mercados and Mariachis for hire in Mariachi Plaza who don’t give a shit if you hire them ironically. They’re just looking for a good time.
Atwater Village: Like a small-town version of Silver Lake. Reminiscent of early Spielberg films. Bad things don’t last there. Not much is open late.
Eagle Rock, Highland Park: The Valley with a splash of Silver Lake.
Glendale: There are so many Armenians here. They work everywhere – at the mattress stores and restaurants and Macy’s and Car Dealerships.
Pasadena: Pasadena is its own thing with its own freeways. The Rose Bowl, Santa Anita, and the Huntington Gardens are all very pretty places to take your mom when she comes to visit.
The West Side
The old and new money rich live on the West Side, the cars and buses are nicer, and there is an ocean. Steve Martin’s LA Story was based on the West Side, where a walk is laughable, rush hour is impenetrable, and magic definitely has its place.
West Hollywood: Two neighborhoods in one – the first, known affectionately as “Boy’s Town”, is dominated by incredibly muscular gay men; the other is block after block of old, disgruntled Russian Jews. A great place to play backgammon and buy nitrous.
Culver City: Famous restaurants and designer stores open their second or third locations here.
Beverly Hills: Everything I needed to know about Beverly Hills I learned from Beverly Hills Cop. It’s very nice and the people can be charming, but everything is either unaffordable, not worth having or concealed by hedges.
Bel Air: Land of such enormous wealth, that the Welcome To Bel Air sign is written in Pink Neon.
Westwood: Home to UCLA, Westwood is a popular training ground for chain restaurant employees and all you can eat specials. The 4th meal was invented here. The students are annoying and impossible to distinguish from the ‘townie’ residents.
Brentwood: OJ Simpson vs Nicole Brown Simpson – one of many love stories from this working-class town. It’s the kids who suffer.
Santa Monica: Maybe the most stereotypical idea of LA. There is a beach, a pier, an ocean, an outdoor mall next to an indoor mall next to massive free parking garages. The street signs are Blue, the bus is called Big Blue, it’s a very coordinated community. A California Über Alles.
Venice: There are canals and paintings of Jim Morrison and a beach where any kind of lowlife is free to rollerblade, play music, or sell marijuana-themed everything out of a beat-up radio flyer. It’s the ends of the earth here, where you can safely say that walking into a stranger’s home and using their sex swing by yourself or with a partner would be totally cool.
Malibu: Malibu has beaches and canyons and horses and ranches. A little like Beverly Hills on the coast, except that the people are so rich, and the estates are so massive and impossible to get to, they don’t even bother putting up fences or hedges to keep us out.
The part of LA least like Hollywood and most like Baltimore.
Inglewood: Referred to as “the Sticks” in Pulp Fiction, because it’s neither central nor convenient to give people rides to.
South LA: Used to be called South-Central, it’s since been re-branded South LA. Potholes the size of Volkswagens and great Barbecue. You will know if you are on the street too late at night because the locals will tell you.
El Segundo: I left my wallet there. Psyche. I never got out of the car.
San Pedro: There is a good harbor here and a great fish market and a so-so aquarium.
Long Beach: The 2nd busiest port in America. Home to a University, a cheaper Jet Blue option at
John Wayne Airport Long Beach Airport, and lots of punk rock.
Torrance, Redondo, and Manhattan Beach: I have cousins in each of them. I see the ones in Torrance the most. The ones in Manhattan Beach appreciate my style. The ones in Redondo have the most kids. Hawthorne Blvd cuts through all three and is a Mecca for street racing.