Corporate law firms and bank offices are located Downtown along with artists’ studios. Major talent and modeling agencies have offices in West Hollywood ("WeHo") and Beverly Hills. Century City is a top-notch hub for talent agencies and entertainment law firms. Production companies have headquarters in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and, of course, Hollywood.
The major art galleries can be found in West Hollywood and Santa Monica. The Mid-Wilshire area is seeing a rise in fashion designers with a commitment to manufacturing in L.A. Interior designers work out of the Robertson Boulevard area adjacent to Beverly Hills and the West End of Melrose Avenue at San Vicente Boulevard.
Westwood: Westwood is UCLA’s “college town.” Tons of young people live here, summer sublets abound, and there are plenty of fun bars and restaurants. Every store you need for grocery or clothing shopping is usually within walking distance. Cultural offerings include The Geffen Playhouse, The Hammer Museum, and theater and music events put on by UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance. Westwood is also conveniently inland so it’s close to the Westside, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.
Santa Monica: Santa Monica sits on the cliffs above the Pacific Coast Highway (referred to as PCH) and looks out onto the sea. Its beaches are easily accessible and its inhabitants are a peaceful combination of young families, young urban professionals and yogis. The culture is concentrated on healthy lifestyle habits—runners, bikers, and outdoor classes are ubiquitous along Ocean Avenue. Smoking cigarettes is illegal outside of private homes, and every Wednesday there is an impressive farmers' market on 2nd Street.
The Ferris wheel on the famous Santa Monica Pier is perfect for watching the those spectacular Pacific sunsets and the recently opened Broad Stage offers high quality, unique theater. While there is no club scene in Santa Monica, Ocean Avenue boasts blocks of restaurants and bars. The Ivy at the Shore is particularly great for Sunday brunch, especially on the patio.
The Third Street Promenade and recently revamped Santa Monica Place shopping center have an extensive selection of stores and outdoor eateries. Santa Monica is a great place to live if you want to feel like you’re on vacation all year round!
Downtown: Downtown L.A. has undergone the most drastic transformation of any part of the city in recent history. It used to be considered fairly dangerous—it is home to the notorious “skid row”—but now it is one of the freshest scenes in Los Angeles with some of the best dining. While it would still be unwise to walk Downtown alone in the wee hours, most of the people currently living there are bankers and hipsters.
A major art scene is thriving and accessible to the public during the monthly Art Walk when the galleries open for tours. In addition to studios, banks and major corporate law firms have their offices Downtown. If you are feeling adventurous and like being pampered for cheap, try Wi Spa in nearby Koreatown—its jade and salt saunas are an unforgettable experience.
West Hollywood: West Hollywood has a lot to offer a younger crowd. The Sunset Strip attracts a consistent slew of tourists but is a necessary part of L.A. to explore even if you don’t live in WeHo. The Strip showcases the city’s Rock n’ Roll history with famed music clubs like The Roxy. The Roxy has 18+ concerts if you are not of legal drinking age yet.
If you are 21 and over, Tenmasa across the street has very reasonably priced sake bombs, and the SkyBar at the Mondrian has an amazing view of the city at night. WeHo is home to a vibrant club scene and a thriving gay community, besides attracting many residents who work in the entertainment industry.
The Valley: “The Valley” refers to the San Fernando Valley, which has a population of 1.76 million people. Rent prices are significantly cheaper in the Valley. Studio City and Sherman Oaks are safe suburbs close enough (by L.A. standards) to commute to Beverly Hills, Westwood, Hollywood and even Downtown. Laurel Canyon and Coldwater Canyon provide alternative options for these commutes when the freeways are tough during rush hour. Calabasas, although much more family oriented than Studio City and Sherman Oaks, has a manageable commute to Santa Monica, especially if you use Topanga Canyon to avoid traffic.
While dining in the Valley is less of an affair, there are some local gems like Brent’s Deli and Follow Your Heart, a vegetarian restaurant and natural foods store in Canoga Park. If your priority is to save money and you have a car, the Valley is a great option, just watch out for “Valley Girls”!