6.2 out of 10

Playa Del Rey

Ranked 37th best neighborhood in Los Angeles
33.9557229370181 -118.431136628533
Great for
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Parking
  • Clean & Green
  • Internet Access
  • Resale or Rental Value
Not great for
  • Nightlife
  • Public Transport
  • Cost of Living
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Families with kids
  • Singles
  • LGBT+


4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5

"Pretty Good Except for LAX Noise"

Squeezed between Marina Del Rey and LAX, Playa Del Rey is an upscale community made up of older professionals. The beach front properties raise the prices in this area, making up for the aircraft noises. Many families are also attracted to the area because of the strong schools. El Segundo High (to the south of LAX), for example, has a 9 out of 10 API ranking—one of the highest in the LA area. Students from El Segundo average slightly higher than students statewide on the SAT and much higher on STAR testing with over 50% ranking as proficient on the math and three quarters passing the English portion. There is also a well-respected catholic private school to the north of LAX.

Of course, not all schools are great in the area. Westchester High School in the heart of north Playa del Rey, is actually the mirror opposite of El Segundo, ranking 2 on the API scale, and having some of the worst SAT and STAR tests in LA. As far as the STAR tests go, they barely manage to get one of ten students to pass the math portion. (This is part of the reason why many residents of Playa del Rey opt for the St. Bernard’s in stead.)

Many of the Mission Revival and Ranch style homes that cover the gently sloping hills of the neighborhood also offer good views of the ocean and airport, and pools--not that the pools are needed with the cooling ocean breezes and nearby beaches.

Though the neighborhood has become slightly more diverse over the last couple of decades, this is still a community made up of older, white families—only about a quarter identify themselves as minorities here. Most were born in the United States with only about one in eight being born in another country (of which, about one in eight of those who are foreign born are either Iranian or British).

Except for two strange shootings of women back in 2007, this is a pretty safe neighborhood with some of lowest assaults and murder rates in the LA area. Newer apartment buildings have also made this a slightly more accessible area for newer families. And there are also a smattering of restaurants so that residents no longer have to take to the crowded freeways to find a place to eat.

Overall a pretty good spot to live.
  • Nice Homes
  • Good Schools
  • Safe
  • Proximity to the beach
  • Airport Noise
  • Lacking Diversity
  • Remote
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • LGBT+
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5

"It's weird that it's expensive here"

Ok, I understand that Playa Del Rey is a beach city. And, that it is more residentially zones than pretty much every other beach town in Los Angeles. These two traits would make Playa Del Rey extremely desirable and I understand why the area would be so expensive. But, there are way too many issues with Playa to justify it being as expensive as the nearby Marina and Manhattan Beach.
For starters, it is directly next to LAX. In fact, a huge chunk of Playa Del Rey has been seized through eminent domain to expand the airport. I, personally, would not want to pay a buttload of money to live under that much airplane traffic and next to that much car traffic because of the airport.
The other thing that's not ideal about the neighborhood is that it's built on wetlands. Translation: it's swampy. There are a ton of mosquitoes and it just has a marshy feel and smell to it. And, while areas of Playa used to have excellent surf, that was done away with in order to conserve the beach area. So, it's really calm water and while that makes it less dangerous for swimmers, it means there's not a lot of movement in the water which, to me, equals dirty water.
And, while I understand the appeal of living in a predominantly residential community, there aren't any restaurants or bars within walking distance. You have to drive to the Marina or Manhattan Beach to go out and that is pretty lame. For the prices you pay to live here, I would rather live in the Marina. Or, anywhere else that didn't have a huge international airport on top of it.
  • Proximity to the beach
  • Swampy
  • Remote
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • LGBT+
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
scotth17 JenMac sorry but I have to get the record straight.

First, no one lives "under" airport traffic (those dwellings were torn down when the airport took over the property many many years ago). The airport is on PDR's south border and it can get loud with planes taking off all day but almost all buildings have double-paned windows to help keep the noise down. Additionally, LAX goes to "over-ocean operations" from 11PM- 630AM so all takeoffs and landings go over the ocean, and the planes that take off during these hours depart from the south runway which borders El Segundo, so the noise in PDR dies down at night. Also, some people enjoy being that close to the airport since you can see planes taking off all day long. Who wouldn't enjoy watching an behemoth A-380 or A-340 barely 50-100 feet off the ground as it crosses Pershing Ave.?

Second, the car traffic isn't that bad unless you're driving on Lincoln/Sepulveda by the main airport entrance - which is not PDR. Traffic in PDR itself isn't bad, though morning traffic on weekdays can get backed up a little as a lot of people from the South Bay area choose to commute through PDR instead of Lincoln/Sepulveda and the 405.

Third, the Ballona wetlands is on PDR's north border, so yes, that area is swampy, but the rest of PDR is not. I've lived in PDR for over 7 years and have never - never - seen a mosquito. Further, the smell is no different than the rest of LA beaches. Sometimes there's a gas smell from processing natural gas somewhere nearby (not in PDR), sometimes there's a fishy smell, but it's not different than anywhere else on the LA coast.

Fourth, the water is not calm. There are plenty of surfers that go to PDR, especially in the winter months when the waves are at their best. Maybe you're thinking of the jetty that protects Marina Del Rey, but that does not impact most of the PDR coast. The water movement in PDR is just fine, and it no cleaner or dirtier than the rest of the LA coastline.

I somewhat agree with the lack of restaurants and bars, as there aren't many, but there are enough. Not like Manhattan Beach and the other South Bay beach cities, but it's a short drive from PDR to Marina Del Rey, Westchester, etc., where you can find plenty of places.
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