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Old 01-02-2013, 08:35 PM
Location: Houston, TX
4,679 posts, read 8,028,761 times
Reputation: 1960



For the longest time, I've wanted to move to Los Angeles. I grew up in Florida and have relocated 3 times, each time making my way further west, currently in Texas.

I've often looked up statistics trying to compare Los Angeles County to Harris County, TX (Houston) when it comes to income, affordability, ect, ect. Granted, I've heard nothing but people making claims that the cost of living in Southern California is much higher, and I do tend to believe that.

However, when comparing the median household incomes, I see that the MHI for Los Angeles County is $56,266, compared to Harris County, TX which is $52,675.

When comparing those numbers, It makes it hard for me to believe that the average person in Los Angeles could afford to live if the bills were 3-4 times what they are here in Texas.

Then I got to thinking it must also be the surrounding counties, but much like Ventura and Orange Counties in So Cal, Houston also has a few surrounding counties with high (over $65,000 for the MHI) incomes.

So, not to try to make this a thread comparing the two metro areas, but I'm curious as to how people live in Los Angeles County if it's truly that expensive to live there, and they're only making an average of $56,000 a year ? Would it be feasible for someone from Texas that secures a job in the metro-Los Angeles area making $56-60,000 a year to make a life out there ?

I'm looking forward to reading your comments.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:04 PM
Location: California
29,095 posts, read 30,618,314 times
Reputation: 24058
Why/where do you want to live in LA? I ask because there are plenty of places that don't cost too much in CA and but those places probably aren't your "California Dreaming" places. And if you don't mind a studio or roommates or have a multiple income household you can live it better places, like near a beach or a something. It's the housing that's expensive.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:07 PM
6,125 posts, read 9,183,548 times
Reputation: 7322
It is totally do-able. Many people have done it before. You just have to learn to be frugal and smart about your money. Get a roommate and it slashes most of the costs in half. You can do this by renting a room off Craiglist, AirBnB, and other places and find really good deals. The hard part is actually getting the job. Which really isn't going to be that hard to get as long as you have faith in yourself. If you really want to make it happen, lose the negative mindset (if you have one). Start getting into a mindset of positivity and hope and consistently speak affirmations that your going to find a job in Los Angeles and that's exactly what will happen. (Provided your actually searching and applying for one of course)

Last edited by allenk893; 01-02-2013 at 09:20 PM..
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:13 PM
3,627 posts, read 6,859,772 times
Reputation: 3843
A couple ways Los Angeles can be more expensive without having a higher median income:

It is more expensive for people moving in than for people who have owned their homes for a long time (11 years would be enough), both because of home prices and because of property taxes.

There are a lot of low-income people with "low" standards of living.

But not everything in Southern California is expensive. Housing costs more than in most places, and so does gasoline, but some things cost less. I can't compare it to Texas, but food costs less in CA than in NC, where we recently lived. People also don't need to spend as much to heat and air-condition their homes as in other places.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:18 PM
Location: Houston, TX
4,679 posts, read 8,028,761 times
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Thanks for the replies, I figured it wasn't as horrible as a lot of people seemed to make it out to be. I asked the question on another forum (other than City-Data) and some woman that claimed to be from Malibu said if I made $50,000 in Houston that I'd need to make atleast $85,000 to live in L.A.

I figured I wouldn't need to live in a ritzy area, but certainly wouldn't want to live in a dangerous area. Luckily, having lived in Houston, I'm fairly used to living in a large and diverse city.

I always assumed that if I had to, I might look into outlying areas like Kern or Riverside Counties but I'm sure traffic is a nightmare.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:24 PM
Location: TOVCCA
8,100 posts, read 9,783,510 times
Reputation: 11483
You mentioned Ventura County. There's a lot of variation in income in the county. Also doable.
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:57 AM
10,572 posts, read 7,996,072 times
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You would live much better in tx on 52k than on 56k in la. People here just make larger sacrifices and often live in smaller place with more people. The fact that the median incomes are similar doesnt mean much. 52k in tx might land you a single family home where 56k in la might land you a small apartment or a shared living situation. All depends what you want and can tolerate.

Bottom line you can live in la on a similar salary but you will not live the same. I believe that was what the person was meaning when they said you will need to make 85k in la.
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:02 AM
659 posts, read 867,674 times
Reputation: 491
Simply put, your biggest long term expenses are going to be your rent, vehicle registration and insurance, especially if it is a recent model and higher end, CA income tax that TX does not have, and then maybe gas for the car, as it is cheaper in TX, I think. After that, you can really find bargains if you shop at the right stores and economize where you can, you will have some $$$ left over for some fun. You may have to roommate to make your dollar go a lot farther. Try to stick to the 99 cent store, Wally World, or Target and eat at home when you can so that you can build more going out money.
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:45 AM
Location: Los Angeles, CA
1,550 posts, read 2,224,708 times
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Weighing in as someone who moved from Houston to LA within the last year.

I paid about 1100 for a large one bedroom in a supernice complex in Bellaire, inner loop area. I moved here and pay about 1300 for a small one bedroom in Long Beach (south of LA). Not a swanky area like Bellaire but not unsafe. If I wanted something comparable in west LA, I'd spend about 1600.

That being said, my AC bill in June in Houston was about 150. My electric bill here has never been above 30 bucks.

Insurance, I paid 600 for a 6 month auto policy and 300 for renters insurance in Houston. My auto insurance went down to 400 and my renters went to 250. Not sure why that was, I don't have any tickets or wrecks.

Gas is almost a dollar more a gallon here but I drive way less, you learn to compact your life in LA. I used to drive 15 miles to work in Houston and spend about 30 minutes on my commute. Here I drive 6 miles to work and it takes about 20 minutes. So although gas is more expensive, I adjusted to use less.

Food isn't that much more here. I love Fresh & Easy, there's always a $5 or $7 coupon on their website and I play their points card game so it evens out. If I just walked in to a regular grocery store and tried to compare prices to Houston, I'd pay more here.

Overall, once you get over the sticker shock of rents and home prices, it's not that different. My pay also went up as a teacher makes way more in California than in Texas, even considering extra taxes and cost of living.

My quality of life has improved greatly here. The weather, parks, hiking trails, beautiful outdoor places and scenery are things most important to me and here they're better. My family is in Texas but LA is such a cool place to live that I never have trouble getting them to visit me and I have a waiting list of casual friends from Texas who all of a sudden really miss me and want to visit.

The best advice I've found to be true is someone on here told me before I moved, "Prepare to feel REALLY ripped off your first year in Los Angeles." I laughed about that every time some weird fee popped up (paying a recycling fee on my new tv when I wasn't trading in an old one).
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:45 PM
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Still cheaper than SF.
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