How Do People Afford To Live In LA? (10 Ways)

Downtown Los Angeles


When people think of California, one of the cities that immediately comes to mind is Los Angeles.

With an estimated population of 3,919,973 in 2022, there’s no small number of people who call the city their home.

The cost of living in LA for a family of four is about $3,925 without rent.

The cost of living for a single person in LA is close to $1,077 without rent.

Here are 10 ways that people can afford to live in LA despite its high cost of living.


How Do People Afford to Live In LA? (10 Ways)


1. They Spend Time Outdoors

Venice Beach Los Angeles California


One of the reasons people love living in Los Angeles is the weather.

The city also has incredible beaches.

It’s also only a short drive from a few national parks.

That means there’s plenty of outdoor fun nearby that doesn’t cost anything.

For example, if you’re someone who loves spending time on the beach, then LA has everything you could need.

People who live in Los Angeles tend to be fans of the beach or outdoor activities.

This makes the city more affordable because it means they’re able to save money by not spending it on other forms of entertainment.

For example, many people live in climates where the weather can become bad or even snowy, meaning they are stuck at home or have to rely on indoor entertainment.

In many cases, you need to pay to even get inside the entertainment venue.

That isn’t the case with Los Angeles.

Because it tends to have great weather, it means you’re almost always able to go to the beach or do other outdoor activities.

Since it doesn’t cost you anything to go to the beach, aside from parking if you’re driving, you’re not spending any money for your entertainment.

This could end up saving you a few hundred dollars each month.

You can then use that to pay your rent or other bills.

Some Californians can afford to live in Los Angeles because they don’t spend money on entertainment and instead take advantage of the free outdoor activities.


2. Roommates

Happy friends standing back to back holding moving boxes


Another way that people can afford to live in LA is by having roommates.

The average cost of rent is $2,734.

Living alone might be difficult for people who don’t make a high salary.

You might have enough for the rent, but then you might not have enough for your groceries or other bills.

A way to make your rent more affordable is to live with a roommate.

A lot of people in Los Angeles live with a roommate because it makes things cheaper.

Instead of paying $2,000 and some change for an apartment, you can pay half that amount.

That’s another $1,000 in your pocket, at least.

That makes it far easier to budget and pay for more things.

You might even have enough money to go out to eat now and then.

Roommates can also help break down other utility costs, too.

For example, if everyone shares the same Internet, electric, or cable plans, then you can cut those bills in half by sharing the expense.

That puts even more money in your pocket.

You can make housing even cheaper if you invite another roommate into the apartment.

The more roommates that you have, the cheaper the rent and other utilities become.

While it does mean you’ll have to sacrifice space, living with roommates can make living in LA far more affordable.

Some people will live with friends as their roommates.

Others will have their significant other move in with them to help pay the rent.

You can probably find classified ads from people looking for roommates if you are having trouble finding one.

Some Californians can afford to live in Los Angeles because they live with roommates.


3. Living With Family

Happy family


Some people don’t live with roommates to make their rent more affordable.

Instead, they rely on their family.

Some families live in multigenerational houses or apartments.

Grandparents may have gotten the apartment or home years ago.

They then pass it on to their children when they pass.

Those parents then pass it on to their children when they pass and so on.

Meanwhile, everyone lives in the house or apartment together.

You have grandparents, parents, and children all in one apartment or house.

This makes living in the city more affordable because it means there are more people working under one roof.

With more people working, there are more incomes that, when put together, can make the rent and other bills affordable.

Multigenerational homes also help with other costs.

For example, retired grandparents can help watch young children while the parents are at work.

This can help eliminate daycare costs.

They can also help cook meals for everyone.

This removes the need to order takeout or go out to eat if someone is too tired to cook dinner after work.

It also allows them to carpool.

Only one person may have a car instead of everyone.

This helps reduce the amount of money that everyone spends on their cars.

Instead, all their incomes go toward a single car which makes owning it far more affordable.

Living with family is similar to having roommates except it’s a bit more secure.

Roommates may one day leave.

Your family, in most cases, is likely there to stay and will continue helping you pay for the house or apartment.

Some Californians are able to afford to live in Los Angeles because they live in multigenerational homes.


4. Inherited Homes

Beautiful Newly Constructed Modern Home


One of the most expensive parts of living in Los Angeles is housing.

If you’re looking to buy a home in the city, then you can expect to pay a lot of money.

The average cost of a home in Los Angeles is over $1,000,000.

Not a lot of people can afford a house like that.

Even if they’re able to get a loan from a bank, they’re going to be stuck paying a high mortgage bill every month.

Even without house insurance costs and property taxes, the monthly mortgage payments alone can make living in Los Angeles impossible.

As such, you may wonder why some people, especially those with lower or mid-tier incomes, can afford a home in Los Angeles.

The secret is that they probably inherited the home from a family member.

While homes in Los Angeles are expensive now, that wasn’t always the case.

There was a time when LA had affordable housing.

At the very least, it had houses available that didn’t cost millions of dollars.

Since housing was more affordable, it was easier for families to buy them and pay off their mortgages.

After they paid off their mortgages, they officially owned the home.

Once their children grew up, they could inherit the home.

Other than paying property taxes and home insurance costs, that’s all they had to pay.

They didn’t have a mortgage to worry about.

While property taxes and insurance costs can still be expensive, they’re not as tough to handle when you’re not also paying a home loan to the bank.

Because of this, those who inherited homes from their family members can do more with their money.

They can invest, save, or spend it as they see fit.

They don’t have to worry about mortgage payments.

Some Californians can afford to live in Los Angeles because their parents paid off their homes a long time ago.


5. Studio Apartment Subleasing

Ground floor of studio apartment


Another way that some people in LA make living there more affordable is by subleasing their studio apartments.

Studio apartments are for people living alone or couples who don’t mind a lack of privacy.

They don’t have separate rooms.

Rather, it’s usually one big room with everything in it.

Some might have an enclosed area for a bathroom, but that isn’t always the case.

Because they are intended for one person, studio apartments tend to be a bit cheaper than one-bedroom apartments.

They’re also smaller.

The average price of a studio apartment in Los Angeles is $1,695 as of August 2022.

While this is a bit more affordable for some people, it may still be a stretch for others.

A way to make studio apartments more affordable in Los Angeles is to sublease them.

This means that the person renting the apartment ends up dividing the space and bringing in a roommate.

In many cases, the living room ends up becoming a second bedroom.

While this means there’s no space to entertain guests, it also means that living in the studio is far more affordable.

For example, if someone’s rent was $1,600 on their own, then they could cut the rent in half by subleasing and only pay $800 a month instead.

That means $800 goes back into their pocket that they can use elsewhere.

While getting a third roommate in a studio apartment is difficult, it’s possible if it happens to be someone’s partner.

That makes the rent even more affordable.

Some Californians can live in Los Angeles because they sublease a studio apartment.


6. Rent Control

House model near cubes with rent lettering on wooden table


While a lot of the apartments in downtown Los Angeles and other pricey areas are quite expensive, it is possible to find cheaper apartments.

That’s because Los Angeles has a rent control ordinance that protects certain buildings, and thus their tenants, from increased rent.

While landlords can raise the rent every few years, it isn’t easy.

They also have to show proof of why they’re raising the rent if a tenant challenges them.

In most cases, a landlord can raise rent due to an increase in operational costs.

However, if they’re unable to prove the increase in their operating costs, then the board which reviews rent increases can deny it in favor of the tenant.

Essentially, apartment complexes that have a rent control ordinance attached to them are cheap compared to the market price.

While other apartment complexes might have their rent increase by a few hundred dollars every so often, rent-controlled apartments typically stay around the same price.

The city put rent control in place to ensure that affordable housing remained affordable.

Some people living in Los Angeles are able to afford to live there because they live in one of these rent-controlled apartments.

Their rent isn’t that expensive.

That allows them to use their money elsewhere.

They might be able to save it, invest it, or even spend it on something fun.

By saving on rent, people can free up their finances and Los Angeles can be a more affordable place to live.

Some people also are lucky enough to inherit an apartment from a family member after they have passed.

This ensures that the family can always rely on affordable housing.

Some Californians are able to afford to live in Los Angeles because they live in rent-controlled apartments.


7. Shop At Diverse Stores

Couple with shopping bags on street


One of the things that Los Angeles has a reputation for is its diversity.

There are tons of different people of all cultures in the city.

Because of that, there’s no shortage of Mexican or Asian stores.

The great thing about those stores is that they often have items for sale that are even cheaper than what you’ll find in other supermarkets.

One big part of anyone’s budget is groceries.

If you have a large family, then you need to pay more for food to keep everyone fed.

That can be difficult to do in Los Angeles where the cost of living is quite high.

If you’re shopping for groceries at popular chain stores, then you’re probably paying moderate prices.

A better option is to get to know the local grocery stores in your area.

Local stores often sell items at lower prices.

While there might sometimes be a language barrier, you’ll still be able to walk out of the store with a lot of food for a great price.

You may even find items that other stores don’t sell.

They might also offer certain items in bulk that other stores won’t.

A lot of the bigger stores rely on convenience and familiarity so they can sell you slightly higher-priced items.

Residents of Los Angeles know that by shopping at Mexican or Asian stores, they’re able to support their local community while buying cheaper goods.

Some Californians can afford to live in Los Angeles by getting their groceries at local stores which saves them money.


8. No Air Conditioning

Remote control of the air conditioner


While Los Angeles tends to have great weather, there are times when it becomes too hot.

When that happens, some people will turn on their air conditioners for a bit of relief.

However, that also means that they’re spending more money on electricity.

Not everyone can afford a high electric bill.

Because of that, some people don’t have an air conditioning unit in their homes at all.

While this can be dangerous when a heat wave occurs, it does help them save money.

In most cases, it’s okay to go without air conditioning in Los Angeles because the beach is right there.

Instead of staying cooped up in a hot house, you can easily go to the beach to cool off.

You can spend as much time there as you want.

When the sun goes down, the temperatures ease, and your home is a bit more comfortable.

There are plenty of other businesses and venues that have air conditioning where you can relax and stay cool.

You could go grocery shopping during the hottest part of the day to take advantage of the air conditioning.

It might also be an ideal time to go see a movie at a theater that has air conditioning.

A $10 ticket is going to be far cheaper than your electric bill would be if you had air conditioning.

While air conditioning is a nice convenience, for some people in Los Angeles, it’s an expensive one.

Around 22% of homes in Los Angeles don’t have air conditioning.

Those without AC are able to use the savings they generate for other expenses instead.

Some Californians are able to afford to live in Los Angeles because they don’t have air conditioning.


9. Living On Boats

Catalina Island


Because Los Angeles is a coastal city, there are plenty of piers and docks for boats.

Since living on land can be quite expensive, some people opt to live on boats instead.

Whether they live on an expansive houseboat, a luxury yacht, or a simple sailboat, some people live on their boats so they can live in Los Angeles.

It’s not unlike living in a tiny home except you’re on the water.

There are some expenses associated with living on a boat, however.

For example, you need to buy a boat which can be expensive depending on the size and type.

You also have to pay a monthly slip fee which allows you to dock your boat at the pier.

Some slips offer a plug into their electrical system or plumbing for additional fees.

If you can generate your own electricity through solar or water sources, then you can shrug off that expense.

Living on the water can be a lot cheaper than living on land, but you’ll need to check your budget to ensure you don’t end up spending more than you would if you were in a traditional home or apartment.

Some Californians are able to afford to live in Los Angeles by living in a boat on the water.


10. Second Jobs

Handsome young waiter showing menu list to female customer


A final way that people can afford to live in Los Angeles is by taking on a second job.

If they don’t make enough with their primary job to pay the bills, then they’ll take on a second one.

This second job may be a part-time job or even just a side hustle.

Whatever it is, it can provide them with the additional money that they need to cover their expenses.

Some may even find that it’s enough to start saving for the future or to put away for retirement.

Some residents will take on a second job to be able to afford to live in Los Angeles.



Los Angeles is an expensive city to live in.

To make ends meet, some residents will live with roommates or turn studio apartments into two-bedrooms to make the rent cheaper.

Others might use a mix of the ideas listed above to make living in Los Angeles affordable.

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