It’s a family feud, really: Nor Cal versus So Cal. Most Angelenos don’t even like the sound of the word… “So Cal”. But without going into a full history of the West Coast Capulets and Montagues, take a quick look at how this former Bay Area kid learned to stop worrying and love sunscreen.
Here’s the thing: the metropolitan San Francisco area is an excellent place to live. You have pyramid shaped office buildings, prisons on islands, and gilded suspension bridges. The City is pure romance: Irish coffees on Victorian outdoor patios, foggy Tiburon-Belvedere vistas, vintage trolley cars that seem to wave hello to passers by. I’m not trying to convince you to hate the Bay Area. I’m trying to convince you to leave your heart in San Francisco and start living your life in LA. You’re here for a reason and people can’t wait to meet you.
Rather than form a laundry list of reasons Los Angeles is actually amazing (that’s for another article to be sure) I’m going to give you a few basic pointers to help you fit in:
- Stop hating LA. Trust me, we all hate LA for various reasons (smog, Range Rovers, Ed Hardy, jealousy… just to name a few). But isn’t everything about attitude? There’s no public transportation? Get over it. People are fake? People are fake everywhere. No culture of art and design? False. This is probably the most common misconception of Los Angeles, and fortunately it’s my favorite part of LA. This city has more museums per capita than any other city in the world, so start exploring. And although the city is most known for its stronghold on “capital E” Entertainment, most folks here are actually artists. Sure some tend to be really pretty artists, but you’ll find that the majority are trying their damn hardest to make it...and that means something distinctly different to each of them. We’re talking fashion designers, singers, writers, broadcast producers, advertising creatives, among countless other types. People here have a work ethic and inspired quality to them unparalleled in most cities. It might seem as if everyone is a cater-waiter/personal-trainer straight out of Party Down but you’re not going to find too many people that are just over-educated baristas whose parents happen to be tenured Stanford professors. And that’s what makes a city: her people.
- Los Angeles neighborhoods aren’t like San Francisco neighborhoods. They’re not 15 square blocks of separate socio-economic profiles. Rather, LA neighborhoods are whole, vibrant communities of unique people. If you live in Venice you’re going to have a completely different lifestyle than those in Los Feliz. If you live in West Hollywood you’ll have a completely different set of hang out spots than your friends in Brentwood. Each region has is its own exclusive microcosm of culture, customs, and economy. In San Francisco some neighborhoods slowly and painfully blend intoone another: Haight/Ashbury melds into Lower Haight which blurs into Hayes Valley which evolves into the Castro which transitions into the Mission. Eventually you’re at Cha Cha Cha in the Mission and you feel like maybe you never left the one in the Haight. Not so in LA. Expect dramatic shifts in all arenas. And not segregated communities like The Marina and Pacific Heights, but rather individual townships all contributing to the patchwork city that is Los Angeles. I’m not preaching one style over another—this is just a guide to loving the diversity of LA. After all, you should be an expert in that by now.
- You’re going to miss the romance of the Bay Area. San Francisco drips in nostalgia and charm. While you might have to search for that a little bit in LA, I assure you it’s here, and when you find it you’re going to fall in love all over again. Start looking at palm trees. Streets here are lined with them and the oldest trees literally gravitate toward the ocean, falling toward the setting sun. Which reminds me: in Los Angeles you can expect majestic sunsets every day. Imagine Ferris wheels on piers, surfers sans wetsuits in January, and brilliant tangerine and topaz clouds (who says smog is a bad thing?). Every night Los Angeles sits peacefully under the warm sky, wet with light, and you get to bask in all its splendor from your parking spot on the 10. Turn on KCRW, relax, and enjoy.
- You know those ten days out of the year in Northern California where the sun is hot and shining and everyone gathers at Crissy field high-fiving each other whilewatching sailboats litter the bay and all you want to do is just put on some Ray-Bans and hang out by a swimming pool to barbecue with your friends? Well, imagine that every day. And that concludes my section on the weather.
- My final piece of advice on how to transition to LA without being bitter because you miss Blue Bottle Coffee is this: You don’t have to love it right away, just be open minded and explore your options. If you feel like LA is too consumer-oriented, then run for the hills. And hills we have! A lot of ‘em. When you’re tired of the hippie beach culture or the Malibu elite, take a break at Akasha in downtown Culver City. You’ll soon forget all about those Swarovski® studded license plate frames. It’s a fact that the plastic attitude of Beverly Hills will start to overwhelm you, so take a break in theDowntown art scene and make friends with strangers on fixies. It’s gritty but it’s real and it’s all in one city. Just keep in mind, everything is better when your lens is clear and free of judgment.
After living in LA for some time you might feel as if LA and Northern California are like brothers and sisters that will just never get along. And much like siblings the parallels and perpendiculars between the two can be intense. But if you’re going to live in LA, you should know this: LA isn’t going to hand you anything like San Francisco does. The only things obvious in LA are the stereotypes. You have to search for what you’re looking for here, but when you find it, it will be yours.