Moving to Los Angeles? Reddit shares tips for newbies

There’s nothing quite like living and working in Los Angeles.

While a study revealed over 75,000 people moved out of California in 2023, plenty of people continue to move in.

A Reddit user from San Diego took to the social media platform to ask Angelenos what advice they had for someone new to the area, asking "What are some typical newbie mistakes people make when they first start off in LA?"

Although "America's Finest City" is still in Southern California, it’s vastly different from the "City of Angels" in many ways. 

For example, when using the local dialect, this Reddit user is making the move up "the 5", not I-5 or Interstate 5.

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See some of the most popular responses below. 

Live Close to Where You Work

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Traffic in Los Angeles, especially during rush hour, is a nightmare. One’s commute could have a massive influence on their overall LA experience and to help, Reddit users emphasized the need to live close to your workplace if you're not working from home. 

  • "The commute is worse than you think. Way worse. Do yourself a colossal favor and live near work or work close to where you live."
  • "Absolutely this! A long and/or stressful commute will eat away at your soul."
  • "I live 4 miles from work and honestly, just getting out of my neighborhood is what takes up 90% of my commute.
  • "Live close to your work or reverse commute (work in a place where everyone lives and live where everyone works or vice versa so you'll commute against traffic)."

Another user offered some great advice around this, writing "If work is an ugly commute, some locals join gyms near their office and hit it before/after work and hit the road early or late enough to miss the slog."


The Traffic is Worse Than You Think

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No, really. The traffic is that bad.

  • "You will get traffic every single day. Including Saturdays. If anything, Saturdays may be the worse traffic day other than Friday."
  • "Traffic increases while you are en route. Your ETA gets longer after you’ve started. I’ve seen bad traffic in many cities but I’ve never seen this anywhere else."
  • "Always add on an extra 10-25 minutes to any GPS estimate once you start a route (driving), because traffic is likely to increase. Or, it may randomly lighten up a bit while you’re on your route."
  • "It took me a year to realize that driving 1 hr to meet friends is just how it is (or make new friends). Once I accepted that, I could enjoy it more here. The driving is horrible and there is no way around it besides acceptance."
  • "Everything in LA is 30 minutes away. Also, nothing in LA is actually 30 minutes away."

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Learn the Freeway Lingo

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In Los Angeles, it’s common to put a "the" before freeway names such as "the 10" or "the 405." 

  • "Saying it without the "the" or, god forbid, calling it Interstate 405, will be a dead giveaway you're not from here."
  • "In the things to say department, every freeway is preceded with "The". Eg, "The 110", "The 405", etc. just like in the Bay Area you ride BART, never "The BART".

However, locals say Pacific Coast Highway is not the PCH. It’s just simply, PCH.

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Treat LA like 20 cities

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There are 88 cities and an estimated 140 unincorporated areas and communities within Los Angeles County.

When referring to a part of LA, you’ll have to be as specific as possible and become familiar with its many neighborhoods, such as Echo Park, Koreatown, Mid-Wilshire, and many more. That doesn't include the many parts of the San Fernando Valley, like Sherman Oaks, Reseda and Woodland Hills. Overall, this will have a great impact on your social life.

  • "You’re not gonna learn it all. Where you end up living will be your "city" and you can try and travel to the few other surrounding "cities" near you."
  • "I live in Eagle Rock and rarely go west of La Brea. Going to Santa Monica qualifies as a day trip, same as going to Ojai."
  • "You will spend most all your time near where you live. so make sure you like it, if you live in West LA you're never going to Silver Lake except maybe to a party or to check out a restaurant. It's just way too much hassle to travel across the city for something you can do close to where you live."

Aim to Find a Place with Parking Included

Hunting down a parking spot after a lengthy commute could test even the most patient person. Not every apartment building comes with parking, so keep that in mind when searching for your new home.

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"If at all possible, find a place with a dedicated parking spot for you. Nothing worse than a long day at work, a long commute, and then another 20–40 minutes of circling the block looking for parking."

  • "For the love of God, make sure you rent a place with dedicated parking, preferably garage parking. Street parking can be a b**ch."
  • "Live close to where you work and have parking. Parking is non-negotiable. This will save your mental health here in LA."

Learn How to Read the Parking Signs 

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Nothing says "Welcome to LA" like receiving a parking ticket or two. Some Reddit users were kind enough to share some advice to avoid some common parking mistakes.

  • "Read the parking signs, if there are more than 3, I’d move on."
  • "Learn to read the parking signs and plan to pay for parking at meters, garages, and unavoidable valet situations, and budget for at least two parking tickets per year."
  • "Read the parking signs. Read them again. Read them a third time. Then follow the directions. You will not be safe for a few minutes with your blinkers on. You will get a ticket."
  • "The parking signs sometimes overstate the frequency of sweeping: In my neighborhood, they indicate that street sweeping is every week, but actually it's only the first and third weeks of each month, and excludes holidays etc. On off weeks, a bunch of my neighbors move their cars unnecessarily, making it super easy for me to find a spot when I know there won't be sweeping or ticketing."
  • "You need to read from the top sign down to the bottom sign. They all apply in that order. There might be five signs on a single pole. Start at the top and work down, or else you'll probably get a parking ticket."

For an LA newbie, there's a lot to learn and the first few months, even the first few years, can be overwhelming. While there's no place like LA, for many, they wouldn't have any other way.