Most people I know from back east wonder why it is that I live in Los Angeles of all places. LA has a lot of preconceived notions about it. More than a lot of other cities since a lot of it is on film.
Where my parents live in conservative northern Michigan, it’s called the land of fruits and nuts. This is a not very clever double entendre on the fact that California exports a lot of fruits and nuts. Fruits and nuts also refers to people who are not conservative.
When people outside of Los Angeles think of Los Angeles, they think of beaches or the film industry or fake, superficial people. All of that can be found here if that’s what you’re looking for, but there’s so much more to this city.
So, this is a personal list of the best and worst parts of living in Los Angeles. Let’s start with the bad parts first.
The constant teeming masses
Los Angeles in the largest city on the west coast of the United States, both in population and geographical size. Because it is so vast, it is also very populous. As of 2013, there are 3.884 million people within 503 sq. miles (1,302 km²). That’s just the city of Los Angeles proper. The Greater Los Angeles Area has an estimated population of over 18 million. That’s 18 million people milling about in my way, and those are just the residents. That’s not including tourists.
The film industry
There was a time when I thought the film industry was neat. They make movies here! Cool! Most new residents of LA think that way until the first film shoot inconveniences them personally.
Film crews take up a lot of space. They park trailers not quite on the side of the road so it’s hard to get around them. They close streets and freeways at will. Their awards shows effectively shut down all of Hollywood.
While the film industry is LA’s bread and butter, non-industry people who’ve lived here longer than a month, like me, are generally more annoyed by the inconvenience than wowed by movie magic.
Los Angeles traffic is world famous. Lucky us. I used to have to commute to the valley from downtown LA (DTLA) every day, from one black star to the other and back, about 30 miles one way.
It doesn’t look that bad of a commute until you realize that it essentially takes you through all of Los Angeles north of downtown, including Hollywood. It sucked. The longest it ever took me was 2 hours and 45 minutes. That commute is the main reason I moved away from DTLA. I couldn’t take it anymore.
People don’t generally think of LA as a cultural hub, at least, not like they do New York or some other large cities, but they’re wrong. There are a ton of museums here, and a billion little independent art galleries and theaters. LA is still not only the film industry capital of the world, but it’s also the music capital.
Bands still flock to LA in the hopes of being discovered. This means that there are multitudes of amazing artists and musicians performing here all the time. If you’re very lucky, you might even catch the next big thing before it happens.
Because LA is so populous, we’re always included on tours. Right now, there are a few art exhibits that are only touring for a short while and LA is one of only one or two stops in the whole of the US. I never miss anything here.
People come to LA from all over the world and they bring their culture with them. You could probably get food in Los Angeles from every single culture on earth. There are restaurants here from countries most people have never heard of.
It’s two in the morning and you have a craving for sushi? No problem. You could probably even get it delivered. Sometimes, all you have to do is walk outside to find a gourmet food truck. You can walk outside your house in any direction and find amazing Mexican food within a few hundred yards.
The lack of real winter is what brought me here. I absolutely adore Los Angeles winters. It’s chilly enough to wear a coat and boots, but rarely does it ever get cold enough to snow, not that it ever does (except in the mountains). And our winters are almost always sunny. About one or two nights a winter, it might get down to 20°F (-6°C), but that’s as cold as it ever gets.
The summers, on the other hand, can be brutally hot with several days in the neighborhood of 110°F (43°C), but even that doesn’t last long. If I had the money, I would buy a house on the ocean where it rarely ever gets above 90°F (32°C).
The best part about Los Angeles though is that, if it’s really unbearably hot or cold where you live, if you drive only an hour or two, you will find entirely different environs. From where I currently sit, depending on which direction I chose, in an hour, I could be at the beach or in the mountains. Within the month or so, there will be snow-capped peaks.
Really, the best part of LA is that no matter what you’re looking for, whether it be stereotypes, movies stars, multicultural offerings or pristine sandy beaches, you can find it here.
What’s it like where you live? What do you love and hate about it?