Do I need A Car In L.A.?

Car In LA

Los Angeles is infamous for needing a car. Public transit does exist in some places, but it’s largely  ineffective and can be unreliable at times. Unless you’re in a familiar area that has public transportation you’re going to need a car and a solid GPS.

If you have your own car that’s not too far away, the best option would be to drive it here. But if road tripping isn’t your thing, try a car shipping service. These usually cost about $500 depending on the distance.

If you don’t have a car already, you may want to consider buying a car when you arrive. There are several car dealerships all over the city, just be sure to do you research on average prices and the reputation of the dealer to avoid getting ripped off.

In some areas parking can be an issue, so be sure that there is ample space to park when looking for a place to live. In the suburb area parking is fairly common and not too hard to find. But, places like Downtown L.A or West Hollywood often require permits for street parking or a monthly lot rental that can cost an extra $50-$100 per month. (See this post for more on parking.)

Alas, you’ll need to register your car and apply for a California drivers license when you get here. Police officers are very strict about this and unfortunately it can be a pricey process. Drivers License + Registration + Smog Testing can inch into the $700 range so budget accordingly. (See the CA DMV website for more details.)

Two wheels are always an option. Be it a bicycle, motorcycle, or a moped, two wheels can be much more economical with gas prices steadily climbing. Riding a bike in Los Angeles can seem intimidating at first, but luckily most neighborhoods provide bike lanes as a safety measure. Biking allows you to avoid the dreaded L.A. traffic you often hear about and you never have to look for a parking space.

What mode of transportation do you rely on these days? If you have a car, did you buy it here or bring it with you?

Tiffany is an Alabama native and the founder of the LA Transplant. A journalist by trade and an explorer by nature. Away from work, you’ll find her playing competitive beach volleyball, podcasting, or winding down with a documentary and a big ol’ glass of sweat tea.


  • Reply November 8, 2013

    Jose' A. Lee

    Information provided for “Do I Need a Car In LA” is very helpful and will better prepare a person for the cost it will take to having a car in LA.

  • Reply June 3, 2014

    Parking in LA

    […] who has tried it, and you’re likely to be met by a chorus of groans and some will advise you to get a bike. But not all of us fancy navigating six-lane traffic and exhaust fumes on two wheels and with just […]

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