Living in Los Angeles: The 6-Month Review

view of los angeles skyline
Los Angeles from the top of the Hollywood sign

It’s absolutely crazy to think that I moved to Los Angeles already 6 months ago. The time has absolutely flown. And when I look back on all the experiences I’ve had, I guess it’s easy to see why.

Los Angeles is the city I dreamed about living in growing up. I always imagined myself as a typical “Southern California Girl,” tall, blonde, outdoorsy but with a seamless transition to flawless creature of the night (ok, that’s a little stretch, but it’s what I imagined, not the reality of the situation I was in). When I got the chance to come down here for good, naturally I jumped on the opportunity.

And that was 6 months ago. Half a year. 1/47th of my life.

And Los Angeles is everything I dreamed it would be, and more. But Los Angeles is also so many things I never could have imagined, both positive, and negative. So in the spirit of being an adult, and just having completed my very first official “employee review,” I’m going to do the same with Los Angeles.

Los Angeles’s Strengths:

The Live Music Scene
I’m blessed (or cursed, maybe) to have a job that allows me the freedom to listen to music basically 9-10 hours a day. And when you spend 5 days a week listening to 9-10 hours of music straight, you learn to discover new music very efficiently. Easily one of the best parts about Los Angeles is that, when you discover a new artist, there’s about a 50% chance they’re from, or currently living in, Los Angeles, and if they’re not, there’s a 100% chance they’ll be in Los Angeles within the next year. There are so many awesome venues in LA for live music, big and small, and tickets are generally very affordable. I’ve never had a negative experience at a show here. Music lovers rejoice!

The Outdoors
Two-tier explanation for this one. Because first of all, Los Angeles is literally within a 2-hour drive from any outdoors experience you could possibly want. The ocean is right there, with some of the best surfing in the world. There are mountains in the city with hiking, and bigger mountains just outside the city with more hiking. And in the winter, those bigger mountains are covered in snow. And just on the other side of those mountains? Desert. (I don’t know what you do there, but if you do, then hey, it’s right there). Also, most things in Los Angeles are also outdoors, meaning that when your mom says to “go play outside,” heading to the mall to get some shopping done, or sipping drinks on a rooftop downtown, are perfectly viable options.

The People
I don’t care what the stereotype about people in Los Angeles is, there are so many nice and amazing people here. Yeah, sure, there are some weirdos, and even some mean people, but overall, I have found that people in Los Angeles are friendly, helpful, and generally polite (except on the road). Plus, a lot, and I mean a lot of the people here are not really from here. And that means they’re looking for friends just as hard as you are. Yes, there are definitely eccentricities and oddballs, but everyone here is just trying to have a good time, and that usually makes it a good time.

The Social Scene
As I would assume is the case in about any big city, there is always something going on in Los Angeles. And even if there’s not, there are enough cool bars and places to hang out here that you could visit a new one every day for the rest of your life and never have to set foot in the same place twice (but a lot of them are so cool you’ll definitely want to). There are things for everyone here— nightlife, professional events, hiking clubs, lots of biking, shopping, music, dancing— and to top it it off, if you do get bored, Las Vegas is just a 4 hour drive away.

The Weather
Yes. Just. Yes. The worst part of the year is around June when something we affectionately call “June Gloom” sets in. Basically June Gloom just means it’s cloudy from about 5PM until around 11AM the next day. Then repeat daily for a few weeks. It doesn’t rain here much (but obviously it should rain more). It gets warm, but it’s only “hot” for a few weeks out of the summer. If you live near the ocean you get the bonus cool sea breeze that keeps it cooler. High 50s with sun is a cold winter day. And the sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking every day. And you’ll never take any of these things for granted (especially if you have friends and family living in Minnesota constantly reminding you of everything miserable about the weather there).

Los Angeles’s Weaknesses:

The Rent
I think this is pretty much a no-brainer, but rent in Los Angeles is out of control! I’m sharing a 2 bed apartment, and for what I’m paying for half an apartment here, I could be living in luxury back in Minnesota (or I could just rent the entire 4-bedroom apartment I lived in during college). It was definitely expected, but it’s still shocking and saddening to watch the bank account plummet every month.

The Homeless People
I supposed this is another no-brainer for most people, but the homeless person situation is something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to in Los Angeles. I work in Downtown LA, and just seeing dozens of people living on the streets even on my 3 block walk to work every morning, is absolutely jarring. It’s almost more sad to see all the people ignore and walk past them, but then again, usually I’m one of those people as well. I try to make an effort to acknowledge their existence, smile, or look them in the eyes as I pass, but the guilt trip usually sticks around for a while. I know I could offer them something, but I never know what, and I guess doing nothing seems better to me that doing something wrong.

The Air
So I’ll be honest about this one¬- I knew the air quality is LA was “bad,” but I never really noticed it. That is, until a few weeks ago. I was a seasonal allergy sufferer in Minnesota, and in California (this I wasn’t expecting), allergy season comes and goes basically year round. Something blows in from the mountains whenever it gets windy and gives everyone in Los Angeles a cold. It’s a real thing. So anyway, I had had a bout of allergies, but instead of fading until next time, I developed a chest cold. And this chest cold lasted weeks before I finally went to see the doctor. And when I did? Not a chest cold, but asthma. Los Angeles literally gave me asthma. And I don’t know if it’s the air pollution, or the constant onslaught of allergies, but either way, yeah, the air down here is a bummer.

The “Industry”
Having to explain to people that “no I don’t work in the industry” was one of the first spiels I perfected when I moved. Because unless you specify that you’re not “in the industry” people will literally assume you are, because most people literally are. That makes for some weird things as well. People will ask if you want to grab a long lunch… On a Tuesday. People will invite you to happy hour… At 2PM on a Thursday. People will ask if you want to go to the bar and grab drinks… At 11PM on a Monday. Because a lot of the people here don’t work typical 9-5 jobs. It’s frustrating to explain to everone over and over that “oh, no I just work fulltime… I mean I work 8-5 Monday-Friday” because there is a difference between full-time and 9-5. Apparently. (And also, you’ll meet lots of people in the industry- writers, directors, editors, producers, actors- who have worked on things you’re heard of. You’ll think this is really cool for about a month, until you finally realize how many hundreds of people work on every project that gets released. Then it’s just cool. It’s still cool. Everyone here is famous. It’s never not cool).

The Traffic and Parking
I’m not even going to justify this with a full paragraph. But yes, it’s real. Yes it’s terrible. Traffic can happen sporadically anywhere at anytime and for any reason. You will literally decide not to go to certain places just because you know how bad the parking situation is. You will only visit your friends who have guest parking available. Uber is your lifeline. Just… Yes.

Conclusion

Sure, Los Angeles has its pros and cons, but so does any city. I’m extremely happy to be here now, in my 20s, and be able to fully enjoy all the things the city has to offer. The number one thing people tell me about continuing to love LA is to keep exploring the city, make sure you don’t get locked into your neighborhood, reach out and see everything you can, and you’ll continue to thrive in the city. And I think that I will.

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