Last updated on September 12, 2018
I recently moved to Los Angeles for 3 months. It’s been a dream to live near the beach and experience Southern California weather.
Thought it’d be interesting to share what I’ve observed since being out here for a bit.
Right away you notice the billboards… they’re ALL about entertainment. The newest movie, the latest TV show, some musician you haven’t heard of… yet.
This is life in Los Angeles.
When going around the city, you can’t help but want to be, or feel, or see someone famous. It’s addicting.
I assume that subsides over time as people just get used to being in this environment.
When you enter the city, it’s also interesting how you feel the need to appear rich, too. No joke. I saw 3 SUPERCARS within 15 minutes on the same street driving. I’m not sure I’d say this is a city of excess, but it’s a city that wants you to believe its excessive.
When I visited Los Angeles in the past, I didn’t realize HOW big it is here (over 16 million people) — and how DIFFERENT the areas of the city can be.
Venice, Santa Monica, and Marina Del Rey are beach living. This area is also called Silicon Beach. Lots of tech companies have established large presences around here… like Facebook, Snapchat, and Google.
Silicon Beach is much different from the glamorous Hollywood Hills, which feels like it’s in a different state. And both areas are different than hipster living in Los Feliz, or the up-and-coming area of Downtown LA which is right next to famous Skid Row (homeless mecca).
When you can live and work in the same area, and mostly avoid LA traffic (I’ll get to that later), it’s an amazing place.
LA living is a stark contrast to my original home of Bay Area and my recent home of Austin, TX.
The Bay Area is about tech companies, hoodies, talking about tech all the time, and appearing poor but being very rich. In the Bay Area, you have the most expensive real estate in the world… and at the same time one of the dirtiest cities in the world.
The billboards in the Bay Area are about tech, tech, and more tech. I guess billboards say a lot more than we thought.
And then you have my current home and one of America’s fastest growing cities: Austin, TX.
Our billboards are all about beer, drunk driving, and lawyers that rock (if you live there, you know what this means).
So what does it all mean?
Every place is great to live, it just depends what's important to you and where you are at in life.
Here are a few other high-level comparisons I’ve noticed in my short time “vacationing” in Los Angeles.
Traffic. It’s here and it ain’t going nowhere. BUT I’ve noticed traffic in the Bay Area is almost worse, and lately Austin’s freeways are jam-packed.
The main difference I notice with traffic in Los Angeles is that you KNOW there is traffic and expect it. That makes it easier to handle. You figure out when to leave for places (1 hour earlier to go 8 miles like I did yesterday). You bicycle, Uber or electric scooter as much as possible. You prepare for it with amazing radio, audiobooks, or podcasts. And you start figuring out the best times to drive.
Another cool thing about LA being such a large city is that Uber + Lyft out here are shockingly cheap because of so much supply.
Music. This is not something I expected, but being in the heart of entertainment and having to sit in your car so much means the music out here is noticeably better. Higher variety, better DJs, and just overall great selection.
Real Estate. Los Angeles is expensive, but so is California. Limiting your mortgage interest deduction to $750k, and the general high cost of homes, make it nearly impossible for normal wage earners to buy a home in California. This is huge disadvantage for being out here.
I’ve checked a few places and it costs around $2 million for an OK bungalow near the beach. It’s expensive, plus it’s pretty shitty that after you buy a home a homeless person can sleep for FREE right outside your door.
Gentrification is a whole other story, but home prices are a huge reason many people are fleeing California for places like Austin, Denver, Portland (where you can actually own a home).
It’d be different if $2 million got you an amazing home, but check out Redfin and you’ll see what I mean. What’s happening now in LA is that more people are moving to lower-income areas like Inglewood and gentrifying. Not sure where those original residents are going. Seems like a problem in popular areas or areas with high-tech and high-wages.
Food. Yes, there are a lot of tacos here. It’s great in most places depending on what you like. The notable difference in LA is that the food is VERY expensive compared to other areas BUT there are a lot of great restaurants. There’s great food in Austin but just not as many options.
Tech companies. They are definitely here and bringing good talent with it… but at the end of the day, Silicon Valley is where it’s at. It’s the mecca. Austin has some great companies like my own (#shamelessplug) but if you want to be in tech, you know where you have to live. There are trade-offs to living in Silicon Valley, but it’s cool to be around the emergence of tech and entertainment.
It’s also interesting that companies like Bird Scooters came OUT of Los Angeles. That’s a first and promising. You also have SpaceX nearby Hawthorne, so LA is showing promise that more may come in the future.
Weather. You don’t realize how much great weather makes life better until you give it up.
Years ago, I left California for Austin and I didn’t realize how painful the summers could be in Austin. Yes, you are in AC all day and yes there’s a ton of lake and boating options available in Texas. However, when you walk around the block on a phone call and then you’re covered in sweat, you notice how much the heat can limit you.
You can’t beat LA since most days are around 75 F with low humidity. Weather tax is worth it.
Beach. Having an amazing beach nearby is dope AF. It makes you feel alive and realize how big the world actually is. A lake and river are nice, don’t get me wrong Austin people, but it doesn’t stand in the wave of a beach. Pun intended.
When the sunset hits the beach of Santa Monica… you just can’t top it. I’ve had a few days off, and when I’m on the beach I feel amazing and appreciate being alive.
Cost of living. Holy F it’s expensive out here. Not just the real estate. Sales tax is higher. There’s 13% state income tax. There’s a bottle tax when you buy a bottle at a store. For real. Most breakfasts are $20 a person, lunch is around $20-$30, and dinner is $40-$50. This is not just because I eat bougie food. Life is more expensive here in general.
People. When I think of LA people I imagine this scenario:
Noah: “Hey, want to come over to my party Friday night?”
LA-an: “Sure, sounds like fun I can be there at 7 pm.”
1 day before party
LA-an: “Hey, I’m not sure if I’m coming, something came up” (another party for them to go to)
Noah: “Okay, no sweat. I’ll see you another time”
Day of party
LA-an: “Okay, I’m coming” (after evaluating every option they determined my party was highest status)
LA is a city with long-ass commutes which limits friendships, a shit ton of flaky people in general, and a lot of different egos you’ll meet.
Austin is shockingly friendly, but I’ve noticed it’s gone downhill since I moved 8 years ago with all the new people moving in from out of state. As with any new location, making friends takes time and there are great people all over the world.
Time Zones. You kinda forget going back to Pacific time zone how most of America is already doing a bunch of shit by the time you get up. I forgot how in Central time zone it’s great for all customer service calls and getting a bunch more shit done before the work day is over.
Airport. LAX is a major hub for whole world which is magical. Austin’s airport has grown a ton but for most major flights you still need to connect through Houston or Dallas. LAX also has amazing lounges throughout the complex and having a Turo parking lot is surprisingly convenient.
Access to local areas. Even with traffic, traveling around SoCal is pretty easy from LA. It’s simple to go down to San Diego, Joshua Tree, 1 hour flight to SF, and easy access to Mexico. This is nice because I’ve been able to see lots of different areas and try new things in only a few hours driving.
California as a state is its own planet. The highest taxes imaginable. Restrictions on everything. Minimum wage to $15. High cost of living (the cheapest breakfast I’ve had is $20 just for myself). It’s the weather tax you pay to live in this state.
What are your experiences with LA — or your favorite place to eat in LA? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear.