There are quite a few things about Southern California (particularly Los Angeles) that drive me crazy, and make me think “I have got to get out of this place ASAP!” Some of the top reasons:
1) The unpredictability/uncontrollability of the time/place/severity of earthquakes. (This is even more scary given recent earthquakes that have been happening here and around the world).
2) The unpredictability/uncontrollability of the time/place/severity of traffic. (What is this thing in other cities that some people call “rush hour”?! Rush hour in Los Angeles = 6:30-11:30 and 2:30-7:30. And even in those precious few hours that are not rush hours, you never know when an accident/construction/CHP randomly deciding to close down a lane for no apparent reason is going to snarl traffic for hours).
3) The fact that California is perpetually on the verge of bankruptcy, and the accompanying constant tax hikes that are bleeding my bank account to death. Perhaps I should just sign whatever is left of my paychecks after Uncle Sam has his way to Uncle Arnold.
4) The crowdedness/extremely expensive cost of living. Granted, I have now lived in London (and watched HGTV specials for places like NYC and Paris), and I realize that I don’t have it the WORST here in Los Angeles, but it is still pretty bad. The concept of paying $500K for a tiny, rundown ranch house in the L.A. area when I could practically buy a palace for that price in other states is unreal. Small condos in good areas around here start at that price. Ugg!
All that being said, there are several things that seem to make living in Los Angeles worthwhile. Namely:
1) During all of this “cold snap” business, it’s been sunny and 70s (80s in some spots) in southern california. I’ve gotten sweaty, in the MORNINGS, walking 3 blocks to work with no coat on, and my hair in a ponytail. It’s crazy to have this weather in January. Crazy AMAZING that is. We have our one day of rain/grey per month or so, and otherwise it’s sunny and decently warm 98% of the time it seems.
2) There is access to so many cool outdoorsy things in L.A. Whether the beach, the mountains, bike trails, or hiking trails in the hills are more your thing, all of these places can easily be reached for a short weekend away, or even just for a day or even just an afternoon. It’s all so close. And sure, Portland, Oregon has a similar situation, but do they have the weather to allow you to hike/beach it year round? Unfortunately no. That’s the difference.
3) The ability to get away when you’re not away. This sort of ties into #2, but I’m thinking specifically of the possibility of driving for 20 minutes to Santa Monica… and once you are down on the pier/boardwalk area it suddenly feels like you’re on a vacation and not just 20 minutes from home. It’s so relaxing and fun.
4) You’ll randomly be sitting in a restaurant/movie theater/shopping center/etc. and you’ll notice a celebrity right next to you. Today, Don Johnson (of Miami Vice and Nash Bridges fame) was sitting at the table next to me during lunch in downtown L.A.. I’ve also had Tea Leoni and David Duchovny sitting in front of me at the movie theater, and almost got in a car accident with Dick VanDyke, and saw Paris Hilton and Benji Madden making out right in front of me. Just to name a few. For some reason, despite the basic acknowledgement in my mind that celebrities are real people, it’s still fascinating for me to discover that they do, in fact, do normal things. And even though I always play it cool and pretend like I don’t even know who the celeb is, inside I feel excited about seeing one, even if I don’t particularly care for the celeb.
5) So much to do, how can you get bored? Besides cool, natury things to do, there are also endless attractions, shopping centers, restaurants, concert venues, etc. etc. to keep you busy and entertained on any given weekend. Not only do we have all the options, but we very rarely have the type of weather that discourages people from going out. Every day is a good day to drive over to 3rd street and sit out at a table on the sidewalk eating a sandwich at Joans on Third. (I love that place!). Every day is a good day to go to outdoor shopping malls! Well, except the day after Christmas which was cold and grey while my mom and bro were here. That kind of sucked. But again, those days are rare here!).
And this past weekend, my friend Amy who lives in Belflower drove up to meet me in L.A., and we went to the Griffith Observatory which is only about 15 minutes from downtown. Parking is free, entrance is free, lots of cool info about stars, lots of access to hiking trails and stunning view of the Hollywood Hills, the city, downtown, etc. FOR FREE. It’s days like Saturday, at least the first half of Saturday, that push my “get out of here ASAP!” thoughts out of my head for a little while and make me think “ok maybe I’ll stay awhile.”
Living downtown and not commuting every day also makes me love Los Angeles more because I can appreciate the good things (like the weather), without constantly being reminded of the bad things (like high gas prices, crowdedness, and traffic). Basically, whenever I’m out and about in L.A., and not in traffic, and not thinking about taxes or home prices, I’ve actually been finding that I feel really happy here.
You’re winning me over Los Angeles, at least until the next time I’m stuck in awful traffic, and the next time I buy something and pay 9.75% sales tax and then get my paycheck where you not only take a bajillion dollars from me, but also “borrow” an extra chunk of money. But at least for this moment (ie until tomorrow), I can smile about life in L.A..