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From Bel Air to Brentwood: Which Westside Neighborhood Is Right for You?

Mary Lu Tuthill  |  April 2, 2020

From Bel Air to Brentwood: Which Westside Neighborhood Is Right for You?

The Collection of Communities That Make Up Los Angeles' Westside Region Has No Peer. But Which One of These Stellar Enclaves Is the Right One for You?

If there is a better collection of communities than the neighborhoods that make up Los Angeles' Westside region, we have yet to find it. The pinnacle in upscale living, Westside L.A. is where you'll find the exclusive Bel Air, the ritzy Beverly Hills, and the beachside California-cool Malibu.
But these communities are so much more than what you see on television or read about in magazines. These are genuine places to live, work, and play—to lay down roots not just for your family but for those that come long after.
And they represent the best in upscale living. But if you're relocating to the Westside of L.A., which one should you choose? It's an excellent question that we are here to help you answer.
From Bel Air to Malibu to Westwood and all the points in-between, let's explore which Westside neighborhood is right for you.

Bel Air

It's not at all hyperbole to call this part of Westside Los Angeles genuinely rarified air. Residents include Jennifer Aniston, Beyonce and Jay-Z, and Elon Musk, with past legends Elizabeth Taylor, Alfred Hitchcock, and even Ronald Regan calling Bel Air home. There is an incredible level of prestige and an even greater amount of privacy that comes with a Bel Air address.
While the whole of Bel Air is almost exclusively residential, southern Bel Air offers quick access to Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. It's here you'll find the Bel Air Country Club and the winding streets and massive multi-million dollar estates of the adjoining neighborhood.
While much of Bel Air is the definition of estate living, head north of Getty View Park and you'll find both seclusion and variety in the gated Bel Air Crest. Homes here regularly fetch in high seven figures, but there are more modest houses in the neighborhood's middle section, which are perfect for those in transition or are looking for an investment property.

Beverly Hills

Quintessential California. Or, at least, what everyone's vision of California is—glitz, glamor, and some of the finest, most magnificent real estate anywhere in the country. To be honest, that vision isn't too far from the truth. There's high-end shopping on Rodeo Drive. The dining and nightlife of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevard. The cultural gems of Greystone Mansion, the Virginia Robinson Gardens, and the Beverly Gardens Park.
But, of course, it's all about the address. From historic Trousdale Estates to the trendy and vibrant Flats area to the gorgeous Gateway neighborhood, there is no one right answer when it comes to figuring out where to live in Beverly Hills—just what's right for you.
No matter your choice, the real estate can get competitive and pricey. Homes regularly sell for well over $5 million, and that's before you decide to put your own stamp on it. But that's the glitz and glamor of Beverly Hills, and there's nowhere else like it.


What might be the most under the radar and underappreciated part of Westside is the quiet, bedroom-like community of Brentwood. A predominantly residential community that gives way to more rural, wide-open spaces on its northern border, Brentwood is a retreat away from Los Angeles' bustling pace of life.
The culture in Brentwood is heavily influenced by the Getty Center, a sprawling 110-acre campus dedicated to the arts. It houses the J. Paul Getty permanent collection. Neighborhoods in southern Brentwood include gated enclaves of thick foliage and lush green lawns where privacy is paramount. In the north, estate homes stretch up the Santa Monica Mountains and offer commanding views and access to hiking and equestrian trails. For families, a number of wonderful public and private schools are nearby.
Similar to its differing locations, home selection in Brentwood is quite varied. Listings start around the $2 million mark, with the more esteemed neighborhoods commanding $4 million-plus. For ultra-exclusive listings, expect to pay eight-figures.


Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu. When people conjure up the image of what it's like living in California beyond the Hollywood backlots, these three places are most often what comes to mind. The latter of the three, Malibu, might prove to be the most unique and mesmerizing spot to call home. Long a playground and secluded retreat for Hollywood's elite, there's plenty here that’s attainable for those who aren’t in the public eye. And while you don't have to love the ocean to find happiness and comfort in Malibu, it certainly helps.
Located in the southern foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, where the sea and land merge, Malibu itself is part of the park. At the city's widest point, you’ll remain fewer than three miles from the coast. A number of quaint shops and inviting cafés and restaurants are within walking distance of practically every Malibu neighborhood which, coupled with the setting, makes for spectacular, convenient living.
Areas like Broad Beach, Point Dume, and Malibu Park offer beachside living in a traditional neighborhood setting with homes in the $2 million to $4 million range. The gated getaway of Malibu Colony features an ultra-exclusive lifestyle with $5 million-plus homes. Prefer to live above the ocean? Climb Big Rock Mesa for $3 million-plus homes with spectacular views.

Pacific Palisades

Unlike almost any other Westside community, there is a distinctive rural vibe that permeates throughout the Pacific Palisades landscape. Similar to Brentwood, life is a bit slower and a bit less rushed than in other areas of Los Angeles. And this calm pace isn't just found in one neighborhood—it can be enjoyed in all of them.
Consider the quiet remoteness of Palisades Highlands and Rustic Canyon, the latter of which extends into Will Rogers State Historic Park. Or the meandering, narrow roads that snake through Castellammare, where the Getty Villa and its Greek and Roman artifacts make its home. There is also Rivera, the namesake neighborhood to one of the country's most famous golf courses.
Wherever you choose to find your serenity in Pacific Palisades, you can expect a price of $2.5 million for more modest homes. Grander estates—and there are plenty—can easily push the $10 million-plus range.

Santa Monica

Few things are more iconic in the Westside of Los Angeles than the solar-powered Pacific Park Ferris wheel that sits prominently on the Santa Monica Pier, where it best symbolizes how this oceanside community is in constant motion. Young families, in particular, will find a lot to like here, with excellent public and private schools, highly walkable streets, and plenty of activities that are well worth the walk. For those who want resort-style living—every day—Santa Monica offers that too.
Between the beachside pursuits and the celebrated shopping destinations of Santa Monica Place and Third Street Promenade, there are plenty of reasons to be out and about. The city is also a big draw for tourism, which might deter some seeking permanent residence, but it does aid in making this area one of Southern California's most vibrant communities.
Listings in Santa Monica run $2 million to $3 million, but there is a lot of housing diversity. Small studio apartments, eco-conscience ranch homes, and larger SoCal estates can all be bought at the right price.


Finally, let's finish our journey just to the south of Bel Air, in what many consider to be the heart of Westside L.A.—the community of Westwood. Here, you’ll find the iconic institutions of UCLA and the Los Angeles Country Club. The Westwood Village is a vital center of commerce that merges with the UCLA campus. It's also the location of a number of classic movie theaters.
However, the true gem of Westwood is Holmby Hills, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Along with Bel Air and Beverly Hills, it forms the Westside's Platinum Triangle of luxury L.A. living. Long a landing spot of L.A.’s elite, this enclave features massive estate homes on equally massive lots, many of which are secluded behind lush landscaping.
Although eight-figure (and sometimes nine-figure) homes are the norm in Holmby Hills, other pockets in Westwood are far less expensive—anywhere from $1 million to $3.5 million. The housing here is highly competitive, thanks in large part to Westwood's central location and the presence of UCLA.
There's a lot to love about Los Angeles' Westside communities—from high-end Bel Air and Beverly Hills to the collective-cool of Malibu or Santa Monica. No matter which one catches your eye and suits your needs, rest assured there is a place for you among some of the country's most desirable neighborhoods to call home.
Interested in finding that picture-perfect home in Bel Air? Or need to know about the latest luxury homes for sale in Beverly Hills? Perhaps you want to explore the surrounding communities of Malibu, Pacific Palisades, or Westwood? 

Regardless of your neighborhood of choice, allow Mary Lu Tuthill to be your guide to the Westside real estate market. Her years of expertise working in Los Angeles' most distinctive neighborhoods will ensure an unmatched level of service during your home-finding journey.

Mary Lu Tuthill

About the Author

Mary Lu Tuthill

Mary Lu Tuthill is the Vice President of Global Luxury Brentwood. She brings a refreshingly genuine, earnest and forthright work ethic to the business of real estate. It's these qualities along with her incredible knowledge and experience, that has allowed her to become a leading luxury realtor on the LA Westside.

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