Whether it’s the proximity to Hollywood, the flip-flop-wearing beach culture (no need for actual beach), or that it’s a zillion miles away from whatever hole-in-the-wall town you’ve just escaped, there is something about the City of Angels that inspires people from all over the world to move here.
But like any good dream, it’s often seen through rose-colored glasses. Or, in the case of LA, smog-colored glasses. No, we’re not impressed with every celebrity we see at Whole Foods Market, no we’re not all vapid, soulless, botoxed hipsters, and no, you won’t die all alone in your apartment if you don’t have wheels.
If you’re thinking about moving to Los Angeles, you need to differentiate between myth and reality. So here is a taste of what actual life looks like:
LA = Hollywood
First things first. If I have to tell one more person that I live in Los Angeles and no that’s not the same as Hollywood, I’m going to tap dance on his windpipe. Hollywood is a district in the heart of Los Angeles and was annexed by the city in 1910 because it was too much of a struggle to maintain itself. Los Angeles, née El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula, is made up of a gazillion sprawling neighborhoods, of which Tinseltown is just one.
You Can’t Survive in LA Without a Car
Poppycock. That’s like saying you can’t survive in outer space without an oxygen tank. Kidding. Okay, here’s the truth: you can survive in this city without a car—it just depends where you live and where you generally need to go. Because Los Angeles is so spread out, if you live in Whittier and need to go to Santa Monica on a daily basis, that’s going to be four buses over the course of almost four hours—one way. However, if you live in central LA, work from home, or are an avid daredevil, I mean cyclist, you can actually survive very well in Los Angeles without contributing to the smog.
It Never Gets Cold
My mom refused to believe it ever got cold in Los Angeles until she finally came to visit me in December (notice I didn’t say “winter”). When she shivered in the 46-degree weather (8 degrees Celsius), I wrapped my scarf more tightly around my neck and said, “Told you so!” No it doesn’t get as cold as most other places in the country (hence the quotations around the word winter), but yes it does get cold enough to justify scarves, hats, and warm coats. Or, if you insist on giving the rest of the country another reason to scorn LA, you can wear shorts with your Uggs.
You Spend All Day at the Beach
Only if you live there. If you happen to reside one mile or more inland, your chances of hitting the beach on a regular basis goes down to about 3 percent. Why? Traffic, impossible parking, overcrowded beaches, and shark sightings.
People Are Fake
Spend a day in this city and you’re bound to hear at least five people complain that “you can’t meet decent people in LA!” With a population of 3.8 million, if you haven’t met one genuinely nice person, you have a lot more to worry about than your dating status. Chances are, to quote Johnny Lee, you’re looking for love in all the wrong places—like seedy bars, abortion clinics, AA meetings, Tinder, etc.
It Takes An Hour To Get Anywhere
Okay, this is pretty much true. Between 468 square miles of land and all-day rush hour traffic, it takes at least an hour to get anywhere. The 405 freeway has been officially designated a parking lot (so be sure to validate your ticket on the way out!) and the traffic lights will NEVER be in your favor. This is the reality, so why fight it? That’s why so many people meditate in this town: to breathe out the urge to either kill other drivers or themselves. And by the way, to really assimilate with the natives, preface all freeway names with “The,” as The 405, The 101, The 5, etc.
Cockroaches Are the Size of Chihuahuas
You haven’t seen a scary-ass cockroach until you’ve seen a Southern Californian one. These suckers are BIG. I saw one in my kitchen once that actually lifted a ceramic teapot out of its way. It was about three inches long, one and a half inches wide, and had a saddle on its back. Ugh. Okay, moving on….
Everyone Smokes Weed
Come on, this isn’t Amsterdam. Just because California was the first state to legalize marijuana everyone thinks we’re a bunch of potheads. Sure people walk down the street toking up and yeah you’re likely to get offered a joint at most dinner parties and I guess the smell of ganja in the majority of dance clubs is pretty common, but…I’m sorry, what was I saying?
Everyone Eats Kale, Quinoa, and Green Juice
Yes kale, quinoa, green juice and other “hippy-dippy” foodstuffs has risen in popularity lately, but don’t worry, pastries, pizza, fried chicken, and whip-cream-topped Frappuccinos will never go out of style.
Everyone’s an Actor
Yup. True. Okay, taking into consideration the first point in this list (LA = Hollywood—which is a myth), yes everyone’s an actor if you’re talking to people who live in Hollywood or its surrounding areas. Ask someone in Chatsworth, however, and you’re likely to get laughed out of the mini mall.
LA Is Filled With Crazy People
No s**t, Sherlock! A city to which so many people travel from all over the world to fulfill their dream of “being a star” (talent optional) is sure to embrace ridiculousness. And that’s not including the native crazies, which every city has. But Los Angeles also has a whopping number of incredibly creative people whose talent makes this city (and world) a better place. If you can’t have light without dark, rest without play, or up without down, then you can’t have genius without insanity.