Commuter Solutions: The Best Suburbs Close to Los Angeles

With all the Brooklynites flocking to Silver Lake, Echo Park, or Los Feliz, you might be feeling the itch to get out of Central Los Angeles once and for all. Whether you’re looking for lower rents (the average rent across all of Los Angeles’s 272 neighborhoods is $2,251 a month, according to Rentcafé), homeownership opportunities (18 percent of homes in L.A. sell for over a million, according to Curbed), or just more space, there are a glut of nearby options. In fact, there are 87 other cities in Los Angeles County to look at, as well as cities in close-by Orange and Ventura counties.

L.A. is already such a commuter county. You can live in the the same county—or even city—as a friend and still have to drive an hour and a half in traffic to meet them for a much-needed margarita after work. So you’re not necessarily leaving that much ease and convenience behind by moving to the ‘burbs; in fact, in some cases, you might even be shortening the time you spend in your car! With all that in mind, here are the 10 best suburbs close to Los Angeles that are totally commutable:

Los Angeles County

Claremont

If you want a small town feel, Claremont is an amazing choice. In 2016, Sunset magazine considered it one of the best communities in the West. Due to the highly regarded Claremont Colleges, the area is populated with students and professors. It offers residents boutique shops, art galleries, and a variety of restaurants. The housing and rental prices are lower than most in the Los Angeles area, but outside of academia, the job market is not exactly robust (a quick search on Indeed shows most available jobs are through one of the area colleges). However, the commute to L.A. is doable (about an hour tops, even with traffic).

The Numbers:

$581,100 median home value, $1,399 median rent, both according to Niche.

The Commute:

40 minutes to DTLA by car (with no traffic), 1 hour 30 minutes by Metrolink and bus.

(Image credit: Eric Urquhart/Shutterstock)

Arcadia

Arcadia is located in the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles County, about 20 miles northeast of Downtown Los Angeles. This tranquil suburb certainly isn’t cheap, though. In 2016, Business Insider ranked Arcadia’s housing market as the 5th most expensive in the U.S, when a four-bedroom home would run you over 1.7 million dollars (and a quick search on Zillow show you that’s pretty much the going rate for 2018, too). While housing is expensive, renting can be a more economical option.

The Numbers:

$920,700 median home value, $1,460 median rent, both according to Niche.

The Commute:

34 minutes to DTLA by car (with no traffic), 1 hour 15 minutes by L.A. Metro.

(Image credit: Ken Wolter/Shutterstock)

South Pasadena

While only 10 miles northeast of DTLA, South Pasadena is a city with an undeniable small-town feel. Its neighborhoods are filled with turn-of-the-century Craftsman houses and lined with trees. The historical buildings have been kept up throughout the years, and are home to plenty of “mom and pop” shops you’ll want to spend the day perusing. If you ever need a staycation, you could stay at the historic Bissell House Bed and Breakfast, built in 1887 (they say it once played host to Albert Einstein while he was teaching at Cal Tech). Since South Pasadena is located a bit east of L.A. (i.e. farther away from the water), it tends to stay a few degrees warmer than the city year round. Head north and visit Pasadena’s iconic Rose Bowl Flea Market, which sells everything from vintage clothing to antiques. It’s open the second Sunday of every month, year round. If you have children (or are planning to), Niche ranks South Pasadena Unified School District as the seventh best school district in the Los Angeles area.

The Numbers:

$876,900 median home value, $1,466 median rent, both according to Niche.

The Commute:

20 minutes to DTLA by car (with no traffic), 38 minutes by L.A. Metro.

Torrance

Torrance is a beach city located in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County. Its neighboring beach cities include Redondo Beach to the west, Palos Verdes Estates to the southwest, Lawndale and Gardena to the north, and if you travel east, Carson. The area includes plenty of parks and recreation (Wilson Park, Madrona Marsh Preserve and Nature Center, and Columbia Park which offers jogging trails and a cherry blossom tree grove) and a wide variety of restaurants and shopping malls. Niche also ranks Torrance #3 in its list of Healthiest Cities in America.

The Numbers:

$652,600 median home value, $1,512 median rent, both according to Niche.

The Commute:

34 minutes to DTLA by car (with no traffic), 1 hour, 15 minutes via bus and L.A. Metro

Whittier

Another checking account-friendly option for someone who either doesn’t want to live the city life or can’t quite afford the steep prices, is Whittier, which offers quiet neighborhoods and restaurants with parking spots(!!!). It’s also a good option for first-time home-buyers, with houses and condos in the $400,000-$600,000 range. Downtown Whittier offers a variety of bars and brunch spots, and if you need a place in the grass to read on a Sunday, you can check out the historic Pío Pico park, which was the last Alta California governor’s home (it’s been restored, but it’s still impressive). The city houses Whittier College, a small liberal arts university.

The Numbers:

$458,500 median home value, $1,222 median rent, both according to Niche

The Commute:

30 minutes to DTLA by car (with no traffic), 2 hours by bus and L.A. Metro (not really worth it)

El Segundo

El Segundo is a coastal city, nestled between trendy beach towns Playa Del Rey and Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles County. And of the three locations, it feels the most laid back. The small community has great food, easy access to shopping and freeways, and most importantly, is steps away from the beach. The El Segundo Beach (compared to its sister towns) is not crowded, and is a great spot for walks or an evening bonfire. If you’re looking for a place to escape the heat, El Segundo stays in the mid-70s during the summer months. Just know that LAX Airport is also located near El Segundo, so be prepared for everything that goes along with low-flying airplanes.

The Numbers:

$823,300 median home value, $1,638 median rent, according to Niche.

The Commute:

40 minutes to DTLA by car (with no traffic), commuting would take 3 hours!

(Image credit: Lucky-photographer/Shutterstock)

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach is ranked the #2 suburb in Los Angeles, according to Niche, and is described by residents as a “beach paradise.” It’s one that has an excellent school district, close community, and a low crime rate (relative to other cities in the county). Bonus: Manhattan Beach has great restaurants, like Manhattan Beach Post, which is popular for its twists on contemporary classics (like blue crab gnocchi and char-siu lamb belly), and the seafood restaurant Fishing With Dynamite. Because when you’re in a beach town, you might as well take advantage of the food it’s known for. While it’s not cheap to live in Manhattan Beach (it’s home to many celebrities and professional athletes), what you’re paying for is the dreamy (and exclusive) atmosphere.

The Numbers:

$1,537,200 median home value, $2,232 median rent, both according to Niche.

The Commute:

40 minutes to DTLA by car (with no traffic), 1 hr by express bus and L.A. Metro System.

Orange County

(Image credit: David Marano Photography/Getty Images)

Irvine

Niche ranks Irvine #3 in its Los Angeles’s Best Suburbs to Live list, and ranked it #1 in Best Places to Live in Orange County. While Irvine is located in the O.C., the commute to the L.A. area is usually doable (it usually a little over an hour in traffic, but sometimes it can reach two and a half hours). But if you do a lot of traveling in Southern California, Irvine is the perfect spot (it’s only an hour and a half from San Diego). Irvine is incredibly safe (Niche ranks it the second safest city in America!) and quiet, yet still offers plenty of entertainment (in fact, if you drive another 20 minutes south, you’ll hit Disneyland) and shopping experiences (check out the Irvine Spectrum Center, which has become more of an experiential mall with its lit up ferris wheel and ice skating rink during the winter time).

The Numbers:

$718,800 median home value, $1,997 median rent, both according to Niche.

The Commute:

1 hour to DTLA by car (with no traffic), 1 hr 45 minutes by Amtrak and bus.

Cypress

Cypress, which is located in northwest Orange County, offers quiet neighborhoods and a tight-knit community. The school district is considered excellent and there’s plenty to do in the area. Disneyland is about a 20-minute drive, while Knott’s Berry Farm is a mere 12 minutes away. Over the weekend, you can stop by the Cypress College Swap Meet, which is located on its namesake campus. Cypress is also incredibly diverse, both in terms of ethnic and economic make-up.

The Numbers:

$540,900 median home value, $1,667 median rent, both according to Niche.

The Commute:

35 minutes by car (with no traffic), 2 hours by Long Beach Transit, O.C. Transportation, and L.A. Metro (again, not really worth it).

Ventura County

Thousand Oaks

East of Oxnard and North of Malibu, Thousand Oaks is the more affordable version of Calabasas (where the Kardashians and Drake live). The suburbs offer more space, a peaceful community, and a total suburban vibe. While Thousand Oaks is a quieter city, there’s still plenty to do — especially if you’re a nature lover. Hike up to Paradise Falls to see a secluded waterfall (it looks straight out of a movie), or visit The Dude’s Brewing Company if you’re a craft beer enthusiast.

The Numbers:

$637,100 median home value, $1,896 median rent, both according to Niche.

The Commute:

50 minutes to DTLA by car (with no traffic), 1 hour 30 minutes by express bus and L.A. Metro.

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