For a number of reasons, we get a bunch of questions asking what it’s like in LA in order to move here.
First of all, I'll tell you what it's NOT like: It's not like anything on TV. People watch shows on TV and think that’s what it’s like out here. The “Real OC”, Newport Beach, The Hills, etc. Ever wonder why people in those shows never have to pay bills, do laundry, and are NEVER stuck in traffic? Because it’s FAKE. And the news doesn’t help either, since they know that sex and sensationalism sells. News flash: There aren’t running gun battles in the street. There aren’t shootouts every day. Also, you don’t see celebrities just walking down the street, all glammed up, or sipping a cappuccino at Starbucks waiting to sign autographs. We don't go surfing during lunch hour.
Some parts of LA are really nice, others are “ghetto”. Too many people have this vision in their head that LA is one or the other (either Beverly Hills or Compton). In fact, most of it is working class and middle class stiffs working to pay the bills.
You NEED a car to live in Southern California. LA doesn’t have an effective public transportation like New York or San Francisco. One reason is that LA is larger in area than either of those, without a central hub where everything is. Back in the 1960’s, we might have done it. But by the time local governments got their act together, it was much more difficult to make a working public transit system. Also, unlike NY, we have earthquakes, which makes it a little more difficult to built underground.
The freeway traffic in LA is probably the worst thing about living here. The 405 is the worst. Know why they call it the 405? Because you go 4 o' 5 miles per hour, and it takes 4 o' 5 hours to get where you're going. Freeway Traffic is bad from 6-10 AM and bad from 3-7 PM. I don't know why they call it rush hour. It's more than an hour, and nobody's rushing, that's for sure.
The gangs in LA are the cause of many rumors. Keep in mind that there are gangs in any large town, in every part of the country. In LA, the gangs aren't really downtown, they are in South LA, East LA, and north Long Beach (an extension of the South LA gangs, actually). And here's the deal: Mostly, they just kill each other.
Gas is expensive in California. It’s about 20-30 cents above the national average.
Yes, gas and real estate are very expensive in SoCal. However, this would be the best time to BUY a house because it's a buyer's market right now. There are a lot of foreclosures, and too many houses on the market. So if you have cash, it's a great time to buy. Unfortunately, most of us don't have a half-mil just lying around. Perhaps Paris Hilton (regular poster here)?
Yep, freeways are a drag, it's smoggy in summer, and expensive to live here. Yet, if it's so bad, why do we have thousands and thousands of people moving here?
Plenty of jobs
Beaches, mountains, deserts all within driving distance
Here's my final point on the weather. In colder parts of the country, people keep their cars in their garages all winter. Kids get snow toys for Christmas. Here, kids get BIKES, scooters, and skateboards. 10 AM Christmas morning, the streets are FULL of kids on their new bikes, scooters, etc. We have a play set from Costco in the back yard. I installed a light in the yard and our youngest plays on it (sometimes with friends) at night during the “winter”, from the time homework and dinner are done until bed time. You can't do THAT in the snow.
The job market is good here, mainly because there are SO many people here that it creates its own job market. Then there are MANY industries, including tourism, entertainment, shipping, manufacturing, etc. It’s an incredible economy.
However, LA is not for everyone. Every time someone posts this question, you get the LA haters who post their bile and venom. A lot of them don’t know what they are talking about. Some of them are people who actually visited once, and found out it wasn’t pretty like it was on TV, and it certainly wasn’t Mayberry. And some actually lived here, and couldn’t deal with the expense, the traffic, or the rather impersonal nature of living in a large metropolis. You know, the kind who like to drop in on their neighbors unannounced, open the (unlocked) door, and let themselves in. Well, it’s not like that here, for better or worse. To those I would say “good luck” to you wherever you are, but please don’t spew your venom in this forum.
In a nutshell, LA a HUGE metropolis. I live in one of the nicer suburbs, but the commute is no fun, often 1-2 hours each way each day. However, 340+ days of sunshine really helps. Yeah, it's expensive. Mrs. Obviousman and I both have to work to pay the mortgage. But is it worth it? You bet!
You're welcome to move here, and even root for the Celtics and the Bosox. Just don't complain about the lack of seasons. That kind of whining kills me.