10 Best Residential Areas in Los Angeles
The best residential area to live within Los Angeles is the one that most closely matches a particular person’s – or family’s – interests and needs.
Though not everyone likes Los Angeles, many people around the globe remain intrigued by Southern California.
In part, this is 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 is offers year-round fair weather and a live-and-let-live attitude that is unparalleled.
You might be interested to know that in LA people often distinguish neighborhoods by air quality.
Perhaps a significant reason that the top 10 LA residential areas are all located in or near the Westside of Los Angeles, is because communities nearest to the ocean tend to have better air quality.
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.
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 a 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 has 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 other 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.
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
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.
If you are considering buying or selling a residence in the Holmby Hills area, you can phone real estate agent David Findley to help create a successful transaction: 310-345-6911.
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 currently has their 17-bedroom mansion on sale for $85,000,000 which includes five separate gardens, entertaining terraces with dining patios, and a fitness center with 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 be 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, among the 43 homes that were sold at $5,000,000 and above in the second half of 2016, 6 homes sold for over $20,000,000 (the most expensive of which sold in December, 2016 at $33,000,000 and the second most expensive of which was a vacant lot in the 1100 block of N Hillcrest Road Trousdale Estates that sold for $32,000,000).
Thirteen homes sold in the second half of 2016 between $10,000,000 and $20,000,000 and 24 homes sold in that same period between $5,000,000 and $10,000,000. Ten of the homes sold were transacted off-market. The average time on market for the 35 of the 45 homes that were listed in TheMLS was approximately 3 months, up slightly from the first half of 2016.
Continuing to push the envelope of values is the exclusive Beverly Hills neighborhood of Trousdale Estates. It’s rumored the new home next door to the home on Hillcrest Road that was purchased for $70,000,000 in December, 2014, by the creator of the popular computer game, Minecraft, will soon hit the market with an asking price of $90,000,000.
What many people don’t realize is how walkable this small city is.
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. (David Findley is a realtor and specialist in this area; his office is located on Foothill Road and he can be reached directly at 310-345-6911. His experience and expertise could help pave a smooth journey to selling your 90210 house or buying your new home in Beverly Hills.)
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
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
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.
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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 desk. 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.
According to our residential real estate brokerage, The Agency, sales volume slowed slightly within West Hollywood in the second quarter of 2016, recording 26 transactions during that 3-month period (just a couple of transactions short of Q2-15).
Even with tempered sales volume, prime Single Family Residence living in the WeHo area continues to demand premium valuations as homes traded for, on average, $935 a square foot, or 7.8% ahead of last year.
Condominiums, once again, advanced considerably also – up to $648/SF or $832K on average, 7.1% and 6.0% advancements, respectively. Keep in mind that not all completed real estate transactions within West Hollywood make it into the public Multiple Listing Service. Private transactions are numerous.
The highest price obtained for a single family residence in WeHo during the first half of 2016 was $3,987,000 and the highest price paid for a condo was $4,150,000. The lowest price paid in the same period for a single family home was $650,000 and the lowest price paid for a condo was $266,000.
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.
Phone David Findley with your real estate questions.
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 the 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
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 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.
A popular neighborhood for tech tycoons, A-list actors and captains of industry, the Bird Streets has commanded top LA prices for many years.
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.
According to public records, there were 22 recorded sales in the Bird Streets area in the first six months of 2016 with an average sales price of $9,503,409.
Nine of those properties sold at over $10,000,000.
Compare those statistics to all of 2015, when there were a total of 32 sales with an average sales price of $6,196,297, and we see that the average sales price in the first six months of 2016 was more than 50% more than the average sales price in 2015, when only three of the sales sold at over $10,000,000.
Also interesting to note, there were 10 sales in 2015 with a recorded sales price below $3,000,000. There were only 2 in that category in the first six months of 2016.
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.
You can browse Sunset Strip homes here, including houses within the The Birds Streets neighborhood, or simply phone David Findley at 310-345-6911 with your real estate-related questions.
Honorable Mentions for Residential Areas
These runners-up residential areas in Southern California almost our best neighborhoods list. Each of these communities offers a higher-than-average quality of daily life.
The weather and central location makes Beverly Hills Post Office a sort of inland paradise.
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It’s situated right outside the city limits of Beverly Hills.
Although technically part of the city of Los Angeles, BHPO took 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. 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 to their larger portfolio of real estate investments.
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 in New York City, Seattle, and Houston.
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.
Phone David Findley at 310-345-6911 with your Southern California real estate-related questions.
Our profession is to help people buy and sell estate homes and luxury lifestyle properties in warm-weather climates, particularly Los Angeles.
What makes us unique is that we have the most 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 is 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.
The primary purpose of this website is to provide entertaining and helpful editorial features about everyday experiences and locales that offer a higher quality of life – including specific information about luxury estate homes that are for sale in Southern California’s best residential neighborhoods.
These ten top neighborhoods in LA are 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
You can find detailed information about each of these residential areas above. Keep in mind, however, there are always exceptions.
For example, some people 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.
Additionally, many Southern Californians own a second home in Hawaii, which is only a 5.5-hour flight away.