We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

spending money in L.A.

Which Los Angeles hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Zagreb, Croatia
5 posts
Save Topic
spending money in L.A.

hi everyone

please help me out with planning my trip. I am going to visit my friend in L.A. and I will be staying for 3 weeks. I will be staying at her place and she has a car that we will be using. we will most likely be splitting the expenses for food, gas, drinks and other. I don't plan on shopping at all, or going to amusement parks, museums or any other attractions, but will probably have to spend some money on several business lunches and similar things. also we will probably going to go out almost every night. I am not saying the site seeing is impossible but it is definitely not the purpose of the trip. we will spend most of the time at home working on a project we need to finish.

so if we eat out about 75% time, go out at night, and maybe spend occasional money on a museum or two, how much spending money would I need?

also the reason I am asking you and not her is because she is definitely not going to let me pay for anything and will not want to even share info. she is too nice, and I have to work around it.

so- help :)

Santa Monica, CA
Destination Expert
for Santa Monica
Level Contributor
15,880 posts
238 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: spending money in L.A.

That is virtually impossible to answer! We have every price range of food here (and don't overlook some of those cheap eats). If you are interested in saving money, buying your drinks from a store and "pre-gaming" (as long as you won't be driving) at your residence before going out, then nursing a beer at a bar works.

I recommend you bring a credit card or a debit card to use rather than carrying cash.

When you go out with someone who insists on paying, a good trick is to excuse yourself toward the end of the meal (say you need the restroom), find your waiter and pay then. If she is horrified, tell her she can cover the tip!

Nuuk, Greenland
11 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: spending money in L.A.

california is expensive..

Dublin, California
Level Contributor
19,048 posts
43 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: spending money in L.A.

I'd say around $100 per day would be a good starting point.

Zagreb, Croatia
5 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: spending money in L.A.

I suppose we will not eat at especially fancy places, I suppose we'll visit ordinary restaurants (not junk food exactly, but you know... a little better)

also I guess cooking at home is also a way to save money right?

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
22,185 posts
5,164 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: spending money in L.A.

Here is a crazy swag - and I have estimated based on what you have given (i.e. you're not doing hot dogs every day but eating moderately good meals prepared at home and eating at moderate restaurants.)

I am sure others can fine tune this better - and of course your own likes and dislikes and your own looking for bargains at such places as restaurant.com or other coupon site can help as well will impact this.

But in general as a very very very very rough guideline:

Cooking at home is always the best to save money and to enjoy time together....I usually estimate $20 to $25 for cooking at home per day for 2 people- i.e. you can get it a bit less expensive if you do couponing, buy bargains, etc.

However if you are trying to estimate a moderate restaurant dinner, count on $15 to $30 per person (it depends in part what you drink - as a glass of wine can cost $10; while of course tap water is usually free) (Note: Some restaurants will not furnish tap water unless you ask for it - but when you do as long as it is tap water it is still free; any bottled water of course will cost.

It is very difficult to eat at any restaurant for less than $40 for 2....

unless of course you are doing the Fast Food options like Taco Bell, In and Out Burger and so forth. Then your costs drop dramatically. Of course, some buffet restaurants can also cost a bit less than that - look for coupons in newspapers, etc. or sign up for restaurant clubs prior to your trip. For example, Home Town Buffet often offers 2 for 1 coupons or discounts on meals. Look for those.

Of course fine dining can easily push that substantially higher.

So on the low end, estimate for 3 weeks, 21 days, at $30.00 a day, it will be boutt $700 dollars for moderate cooking and dining.

If you add on a museum or two, it can be another $100.

Gas is high in Calfiornia (albeit lower than we have seen) and will average $3.50 to $4.00 a gallon.

If you add on drink budget of $10.00 per drink per day or $210 dollars for the trip,

I would take at least $1500 with you.

but if your friend is paying, I am not sure what to say.

As already said, it is really really hard to calculate this for someone else, so treat this as a swag (silly wild a.. guess).

Edited: 2:21 pm, December 10, 2012
Pasadena, California
Destination Expert
for Pasadena
Level Contributor
5,839 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: spending money in L.A.

I know nothing about prices in Zagreb. But, if you are accustomed to travel in say, London/Paris/Rome or other major Western European cities, I think you will find that eating in California is less expensive-- my impression is perhaps 25-30 percent less for similar meals. This would include everything from supermarket takeout, to takeout pizza, to inexpensive ethnic neighborhood restaurants (Mexican, Chinese,etc), to more expensive places.

Remember that restaurants will add a tax of @ 8%. Prices do not include tax in the US. In restaurants where you are served at a table, a 15% tip on the pre-tax total is expected and customary. There is no tax on food in supermarkets, with the possible exception of hot, prepared meals (I'm not a tax expert)...

Zagreb, Croatia
5 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: spending money in L.A.

Thank you Mini for your very detailed and helpful comment! It seams pretty accurate even though you counted it for someone else, so- thank you :)

and Pasca-

yes, in most of bigger european cities you can't really dine for less the 25€ per person, and most likely around 35- 40€ depending on the city. although it depends on whether you eat places for tourists or you go to places where local people eat. those are cheaper. so, yeah, you are right. thanks for reminding me :)

los angeles
Level Contributor
788 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: spending money in L.A.


Try to google search "restaurants los angeles" and you'll see tons of restaurant listing. If you go to their website, it should show you their menu and food prices. This will give you an idea on dining costs.

Do the same on museums. google search + website = price.

Gasoline is a lot cheaper here than in Europe. Like mini said it's less than $ 4.00 per gallon, NOT liter.

enjoy your stay.

Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
Level Contributor
26,977 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: spending money in L.A.

Your European prices are on a par with our prices here, except change the euro sign to a dollar sign.

Winnipeg Canada
Destination Expert
for Winnipeg
Level Contributor
4,463 posts
427 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: spending money in L.A.

great info.