The most sought-after residential areas in Los Angeles are the ones that match people’s interests and needs.
Many people around the globe remain intrigued by Southern California:
- This is, in part, because people grow up watching television shows and movies that are filmed in L.A., and the surf-and-sun mystique somehow finds its way into our collective unconscious.
- Another reason that Los Angeles intrigues is that it offers year-round fair weather and a live-and-let-live attitude that is unparalleled.
Interestingly, in LA neighborhoods are often distinguished by air quality.
A significant reason for the top 10 LA residential areas are being located in or near the Westside of Los Angeles, is because communities nearest to the ocean tend to have better air quality.
Here are 10 popular residential areas you may want to consider for your next move.
1. Pacific Palisades
Nestled in the hills next to the Pacific with Malibu to the north, Santa Monica to the south, and Brentwood to the east, Pacific Palisades is an area of natural beauty.
It has the homey, family, community feel of so many small American towns – but with an unprecedented backdrop of sunny canyons, majestic mountains, and panoramic ocean vistas.
2. Malibu Among the Top Residential Areas
A coastal wonderland of mountains and ocean, Malibu is a 30-mile long strip of paradise running along the north end of Santa Monica Bay from the Pacific Palisades to the Ventura county line.
Its main thoroughfare, the Pacific Coast Highway, winds along the coast – dotted with magnificent beach homes, gourmet restaurants, and exclusive boutiques.
3. Bel Air
Bel Air is among the world’s most exclusive communities, while Holmby Hills has some of the most stunning lifestyle estates found anywhere.
These adjacent Los Angeles neighborhoods provide a higher-than-normal quality of daily life.
Among the most exclusive communities in Los Angeles, Bel Air comprises large, beautiful single-family homes in all architectural styles, perched above Westwood and UCLA on the hilly streets that wind through the Santa Monica Mountains.
Bel Air boasts some of the most elegant and expansive estates in Los Angeles and offers unrivaled seclusion.
What’s It Like to Live in Bel Air?
The prestige and privacy of owning a Bel Air home have been well-documented, even if it’s not as famous as Beverly Hills.
Bel Air residents are some of the wealthiest people in the country, and real estate in this neighborhood is some of the most expensive to be found anywhere.
Primarily a residential community, Bel Air homes and properties are typically enormous – you may not find more opulent examples of residential architecture in any other neighborhood.
While you can find single-level ranch homes and simple two-story structures in Bel Air, it’s the luxury estates that really capture the imagination of all who come here.
One of the most peculiar aspects of the Bel Air neighborhood is that almost everyone here has enormous privacy hedges, so a casual drive through the neighborhood will not yield many vistas of their famous luxury lifestyle estates – all you’ll probably see are very tall, very green hedges.
Another odd aspect of life in Bel Air is that the community has no sidewalks. This makes it challenging for people who have children or pets – or those who enjoy a nice stroll after dinner.
What Bel Air does have, however, are some of the most spectacular homes in Southern California.
In the second quarter of 2021 home sales in the zipcode of 90077 were up 104% compared to the same quarter the previous year.
Bel Air is part of the Westside of Los Angeles (and one side of the ‘Platinum Triangle’ that also includes Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills).
Once you get behind those security gates and tall hedges, Bel Air showcases its well-maintained real estate optimally. The neighborhood has been protected by the community from overdevelopment, thanks in large part to old zoning laws that date back to the 1920s.
Even today, there are only three roads that lead into Bel Air, and virtually no foot traffic. While residents have to leave Bel Air to partake in the limitless amenities of Los Angeles, there is rarely any traffic.
One of the distinct advantages to living in Bel Air is its proximity to the 405 freeway – important for those who want easy access to the airport, the 10 freeway, and/or the valley.
4. Holmby Hills Among the Top Residential Areas
Holmby Hills is located between Beverly Hills and Bel Air.
The upside of living in Holmby Hills is the availability of so many large lot sizes for the homes.
The downside of living in Holmby Hills is being sequestered among so many towering hedges.
When very tall hedges surround every house, it doesn’t necessarily optimize the charm of a neighborhood. Though high hedges do create privacy while inside each property when viewed from outside – the street – looming hedges create little visual interest and imbue a street with a dull, claustrophobic feeling.
Facts for Holmby Hills:
- the Aaron Spelling estate was built here and recently sold for $85 million.
- the Playboy Mansion is also located in Holmby Hills and recently sold for a record-breaking $100 million (was listed at $200 million – the next door neighbor purchased it for half the asking price)
- the Owlwood estate (formerly owned by Sony-and-Cher and Tony Curtis) sold for $90 million this year
- Ellen Degeneres has a house in this neighborhood
- a few years back one movie star who was also a hobby home-collector sold his fabulous old-style English Tudor (a house that itself has been in many movies) because he was over-invested in global real estate and needed to streamline his portfolio; the home sold for $10,500,000.
- during the classic era of television, the Beverly Hillbillies mansion was in Holmby Hills.
Residents of Holmby Hills can spend their days hitting the links at the Los Angeles Country Club, shopping at the exclusive stores at nearby Rodeo Drive, and taking day trips up the coast to Malibu – just a short 20 minute drive away.
Many of the estates in Holmby Hills boast panoramic views of the entire Los Angeles Basin.
The Holmby Hills neighborhood is located in an area often referred to as the “Platinum Triangle” – due to the wealth of its residents and the high list prices of the luxury homes for sale there. For example, the Azria family recently had their 17-bedroom mansion on sale for $85,000,000 which included five separate gardens, entertaining terraces with dining patios, and a fitness center with a tennis court.
5. Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills is renowned worldwide for its luxury and exclusivity. It’s a city of showcase estates designed by world-famous architects, perfectly manicured lawns, extravagant gardens, and majestic palms. A self-contained city in its own right, Beverly Hills sustains a thriving business district that is considered walkable and fun, as well as quiet residential areas.
Many of the streets in Beverly Hills are wider – compared to other Southern California communities – which decreases noise, improves charm, and makes sidewalks possible.
Beverly Hills is known by its main zip code – 90210 – all around the world.
If you have never yet set foot in Beverly Hills, you are still probably familiar with its reputation for being among the most luxurious cities in the US.
The real estate within this small city is a clear reflection of its cachet, with some of the most majestic homes and estates, you’ll ever see framed between iconic California Palm trees.
What makes Beverly Hills real estate such an intriguing investment is that it puts the buyer in the middle of a vibrant city that, in many ways, is even more incredible than its reputation.
Some of the estate homes within this area are symbols of architectural perfection, and the city offers a business district that showcases the best shops, restaurants, and hotels along streets such as the famous Rodeo Drive (it’s little wonder that many of LA’s finance executives have chosen to live in Beverly Hills, as its location puts them close to the business centers and gives them an address that reflects their success).
The cost of living in Beverly Hills is well above the average. For example, In the second quarter of 2021 home sales in the zipcode of 90211 were up 450%, and the average sales price went up 24% compared to the same quarter the previous year. (Continuing to push the envelope of values is the exclusive Beverly Hills neighborhood of Trousdale Estates. In the second quarter of 2021 home sales in the zipcode of 90210 were up 232% compared to the same quarter the previous year.)
What many people don’t realize is how walkable the flats of this small city are.
Though the stores and restaurants are not cheap, there are some amazing shops, health food stores, cafés, and gyms in Beverly Hills and many of them can be accessed on foot. It’s a fun area to walk around in, especially if you live there.
The Maple Drive neighborhood in the Beverly Hills Flats is considered by many to be charming and a highly desirable place to live – and within walking distance to the Rodeo Drive shopping district.
Some of Southern California’s most sought-after properties are within the city of Beverly Hills, and this has catapulted the housing market to become one of the most expensive in the entire United States.
You’ll find all manner of luxury properties here – from gated, expansive estate homes to smaller homes and condominiums.
Beverly Hills offers a stimulating lifestyle for people of all ages. Culturally, the city has rich offerings in the way of theaters, museums, opera, ballet, and symphony.
The city’s school system is known as one of the best in the area, and there are several universities conveniently close by.
Drive Times to and from Beverly Hills:
- Downtown Los Angeles: 30 minutes
- LAX: 30 minutes
- Burbank: 45 minutes
- Sherman: Oaks 25 minutes
- Glendale: 35 minutes
“I’ve lived in the Los Angeles area for almost 30 years, but if I’d known how walkable Beverly Hills was, I would have moved here sooner. Now I live and work in Beverly Hills. I walk to my office at the Rodeo Collection, to my favorite cafe on Brighton for coffee-to-go, to my gym on Wilshire Blvd for my daily workout, to Whole Foods on Crescent – I walk and walk and walk, and I love it.” — Beverly Hills Resident
6. Brentwood Among the Top Residential Areas
Running west from Bel Air and the San Diego Freeway all the way to the Pacific Palisades, Brentwood is a community set in the south-facing foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. An exclusive and affluent community, Brentwood is home to many executives and well-known personalities. Consisting of many California Ranch, and Spanish-style homes on large lots.
7. Santa Monica
The city of Santa Monica is the essence of the Southern California shoreline community. It’s politically active with a fiercely independent city council. Santa Monica has its own school system which is known for its quality education.
8. West Hollywood Among the Top Residential Areas
West Hollywood is one of the most frequented destinations in Los Angeles for its thriving nightlife and celebrity culture. Though it doesn’t have easy freeway access, many citizens find its central location to be convenient. Nice mix of modern properties and traditional homes in a fun, village atmosphere.
Many Angelenos would describe the “vibe” in West Hollywood as being generally upbeat.
West Hollywood, also known as “WeHo,” is hip like Silver Lake, but a bit more upscale and established – and is considered by many to be a very safe area (compared to other communities such as Venice, Hollywood, Fairfax, or Downtown).
WeHo is perhaps not the kind of city where people have a sandwich at their desks. Because the weather is often excellent, people will usually try to get out and meet their friends for lunch at a local eatery, or maybe even workout at one of the many gyms or fitness training facilities – then grab a smoothie on their way back to the office.
The city of West Hollywood offers a festive, celebrity-minded culture:
- For those who want to live close to fashionable boutiques and trendy establishments, a residence near the stretch of Melrose Avenue between Doheny Drive and La Brea Avenue could be a great fit.
- The neighborhoods and districts immediately surrounding Santa Monica Boulevard are considered by many to be more walkable and enjoyable.
- If you are after something a bit more architecturally historic, visit the area around Havenhurst Drive, Fountain Avenue, and Harper Avenue.
In the second quarter of 2021 home sales in the zipcode of 90046 were up 141%, and the average price went up 2% compared to the same quarter the previous year.
West Hollywood Offers a Mix of Architectural Home Styles
Homes in “WeHo” are a nice mix of modern properties and traditional homes – making the area appealing to people from all walks of life.
Driving along the streets of this small city one can’t help but notice some of the unique design schemas. A number of the buildings here have postmodern influences adding to the character of the community.
The diversity of real estate in this area is what lends it its charm – everything from quaint golden-era bungalows to palatial luxury homes.
Living in West Hollywood means proximity to the Beverly Center – still one of the most fun places to shop in LA. Also, residents are close to Cedars-Sanai Medical Center and the popular Beverly Sunset Medical Building (9201 Sunset Blvd).
There is a Trader Joe’s and a Whole Foods, plus the Pacifica Design Center and the showrooms of Robertson Boulevard.
West Hollywood was incorporated in 1984. The weather tends to be warmer and sunnier than at the foggy beach neighborhoods, but it’s still close enough that you often get good sea air.
Westwood is dominated by the influence of UCLA and its world-class Medical Center.
Not only does the University provide an atmosphere of intellectual endeavor, but it also offers superb musical and dramatic performances.
Adjacent to the University, Westwood Village bustles with shops, restaurants, movie theaters, the Westwood Playhouse, and a museum.
10. Sunset Strip Among LA’s Top Residential Areas
The Sunset Strip area is the place to live if you are one of those people who enjoy the hubbub of nightlife and faster-paced living. Although this section of Los Angeles has a lot going on, one can certainly opt to just take things easy and relax within the confines of home. A host of eclectic bars, music venues, restaurants, and shops line the strip.
The area of Sunset Strip within Los Angeles is the place to live if you are a person who enjoys city lights, nightlife, and faster-paced living.
A host of eclectic bars, music venues, restaurants, and shops line the strip and are frequented by many celebrities, entertainers, and media executives.
Most of “the Strip” is located within the city of West Hollywood.
Although this section of Los Angeles has a lot going on, one can certainly opt to just take things easy and relax within the confines of home.
Or, for those who do not want to live directly on the strip, homes in the Hollywood Hills West area are a desirable option – though most of these homes do not fall strictly within the boundaries of the city of West Hollywood.
Overlooking the hustle and bustle of Sunset Strip, these estates tend to be quite grand and typically possess stunning views.
Bird Streets Comprise Desirable Neighborhood in Sunset Strip
Perched above Doheny, the Bird Streets offer luxury homes in a variety of architectural styles, many also with the stellar city and ocean vistas.
Though lacking in sidewalks, many residents of the Bird Streets area enjoy the proximity to the Sunset Strip, West Hollywood Shopping, and Beverly Hills – which it borders.
Some homes in the Bird Streets have commanded record-breaking prices per square foot.
With winding streets leading to homes with some of the most spectacular views in all of L.A., the Bird Streets enjoy quick and easy access to all that the world-famous Sunset Strip has to offer.
Beverly Hills, with its great restaurants and boutiques, is also in close proximity.
The terrific views come at a price, and many of the top residential real estate transactions have taken place in the Bird Streets over the past several years.
Recent market activity in the Bird Streets confirms the area’s ongoing appeal.
In the second quarter of 2021 home sales in the zipcode of 90069 were up 253% compared to the same quarter the previous year.
Uber’s Influence on the The Sunset Strip
With the advent of Uber, the Sunset Strip is experiencing a bit of a renaissance.
The affordable car service has made it fashionable and convenient for people to enjoyably – and safely – have a glass of wine with dinner and then visit a nightclub or comedy showcase with friends after. This seems to have re-energized nightlife within the district.
Honorable Mentions for These Highly Regarded Residential Areas
These runners-up residential areas in Southern California almost made our best neighborhoods list. Each of these communities offers a higher-than-average quality of daily life.
The weather and central location make Beverly Hills Post Office a sort of an inland paradise.
It’s situated right outside the city limits of Beverly Hills.
Although technically part of the city of Los Angeles, BHPO took the center stage back in 1963 when it was assigned the 90210 zip code for ease of mail delivery. This instantly recognizable postal code adds an air of allure to the community.
LA Neighborhood with an Odd Name: Beverly Hills Post Office
Beverly Hills Post Office is a neighborhood situated directly outside the city limits of Beverly Hills.
This neighborhood is well-located for easy access to Beverly Hills and the valley. Investment-wise, you get more for your money (more house, more property, better views) in this neighborhood than in Beverly Hills-proper (although the schools and services are perhaps not as good).
The Desirability of the Beverly Hills Post Office Neighborhood
90210 is an instantly recognizable postal code.
More people are purchasing property in this area, spreading out of Beverly Hills. Older single-family homes have made room for opulent estates, the neighborhood is growing, and yet somehow Beverly Hills Post Office seems to have retained its charm so far.
There are roughly 5,500 homes in Beverly Hills Post Office. The architecture here is varied – from contemporary American to European-style villas. These elegant and spacious homes with spectacular views contribute to the popularity of Beverly Hills Post Office.
Property values in this area of Los Angeles have increased greatly, which in theory moves this neighborhood toward the top of the list of wise real estate investments.
Palm Springs is a vibrant, enchanting desert community. Just a short drive from Los Angeles, this little city has a storied legacy, serving as the retreat of choice for Hollywood’s brightest stars.
A gorgeous valley and resort only 90 minutes from LA. Many Angelenos have their second “getaway” homes in Ojai, and many artists live there full-time. Famous for its private schools.
How Difficult Is It to Relocate to Los Angeles from International Locations?
Every day, people from outside California invest in Southern California properties. Many choose to relocate here full-time, while others simply add a Los Angeles property from within the top residential areas to their larger portfolio of real estate investments.
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Year-round fair weather, the entertainment business, and the relaxed live-and-let-live culture combine to create a comparatively robust economy and happy environment that has been depicted in thousands of television shows and movies seen the world over.
Consequently, many established families choose to own a home here in one of the residential areas listed above, even though their primary residence might be places like New York City, Seattle, and Houston.
Are You Ready to Own A Home within LA’s Top Residential Areas?
An increasing trend, however, is for families and individuals to invest in Southern California residential real estate from outside the US. Locations from which international buyers often come include Canada (especially Toronto, Calgary, Prince Albert, and St. John’s), Germany (Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, Düsseldorf), Switzerland, Seoul, Mexico City, Argentina, India, China, Japan, and – especially – London and the UK.
My profession is to help people buy and sell estate homes and luxury lifestyle properties in warm-weather climates, including Los Angeles.
What makes me unique is that I have vast experience in helping people buy and sell lifestyle estates in warm-weather climates (there are only a handful of Realtors who are experienced with and highly skilled at assisting clients to buy and sell $40 million dollar homes and working adeptly and cooperatively with their entire team of business managers, accountants, and attorneys).
Most of our clients who are purchasing from outside the US already have an immigration attorney who provides them with additional support in the legalities and paperwork involved in leasing or buying US properties.
Exactly how challenging international relocation depends on the individual who is relocating and their unique circumstances. Generally, however, we’ve noticed that many of these endeavors are handled easily and with minimum fuss.
Summary of Los Angeles’ Top Residential Areas
The primary purpose of this article is for entertainment purposes only – to provide inspiration about experiences and locales that offer a higher quality of life, including information about luxury estate homes in residential neighborhoods.
Please do your own due diligence when making significant decisions about real estate, relocation, or investing. This article is not intended to provide financial advice; you are encouraged to consult with your own professional advisors.
These ten top neighborhoods in LA are often considered particularly desirable for people looking for a luxury estate home:
- Pacific Palisades
- Holmby Hills
- Bel Air
- Beverly Hills
- Santa Monica
- West Hollywood
- Sunset Strip
Article by David Findley – Certified International Luxury Property Specialist
PHONE: (1) 310-345-6911
You can find detailed information about each of these residential areas above. Keep in mind, however, there are always exceptions. For example:
- Some want to live in Southern California, but not in Los Angeles County-proper, and for them, Ojai and Palm Springs are frequent choices.
- Some people want to own horses and might choose the Sullivan Canyon or Hidden Hills residential neighborhoods.
- Some people prefer a younger, more bohemian vibe and might choose Los Feliz or Hancock Park.