So, really, how is California?

In a few months I’ll be headed to college, and the university I most want to go to is in Malibu. As I am living in Mississippi now, deciding whether to go to California for college is a huge deal for me, since for four years I’ll essentially be living across the country from my logntime home.

So I want your honest thoughts: what is it like living in California, and particularly in the southern part of the state? I’ve heard strong opinions on both sides, and I’d love some more feedback before I make my decision. Weather, recreation, too many people or not? Anything would be helpful.

Not that location is the most important factor in deciding on a college, but it’s definitely significant.

Since I’ve never been to Mississippi, it would be hard to provide points of comparison, but I visited a friend in L.A. my junior year of college (I was on the east coast) and I moved to L.A. the second I graduated. Except for one detour to Cambridge, MA to get my Master’s, I’ve been in So. CA. ever since. Almost everyone who has visited me here has moved here as well.

It’s really difficult to emphasize a) how nice the weather is and b) how much that improves the quality of your life. However, I’d imagine that compared to Mississippi, the cost of living in So. CA is going come as a bit of a nasty surprise. It’s expensive to live here, period. Unless people are quite wealthy, they’ve been moving away of late if they want to buy a house. Imagine the most non-descript and not-very-large middle class home you’ve been in. That costs $400, 000 here. If you can find it. Gas was $2.25 a gallon at the cheapest place I could find yesterday. It’s pretty inconvenient not to have a car here, too, so gas prices are hard to get around. I could make lots more money and have a much nicer house, etc., living most other places in the country. However, I wouldn’t be able to walk on the beach on Christmas day, something I really love doing here.

Traffic can be quite bad, but can be gotten around if you can arrange your life so that you’re not on the road during rush hour. Drivers are less aggressive, in my opinion, than those in N.Y. or especially Boston.

If you have more questions, I’d be happy to answer them. My opinion is that you will absolutely love going to college in Malibu. You might even graduate :wink: .

Well, if you’re going to college in Malibu, I assume you will be attending Pepperdine. Or else you’re going to some other school that’s off the map.

Do you intend to live in Malibu? If so, you will enjoy it most of the year. Except during the winter period when there are heavy rains and you will be worrying about mudslides or in the fall during the Santa Ana winds season and there is a risk of wildfires.

If you are living in Malibu, you are in one of the most beautiful places in Southern California. However, the cost of living is pretty high there as there isn’t a lot of rental housing. You won’t be far from Santa Monica which will provide much of your entertainment options, like movies and shopping. These exist in Malibu, but to a much lesser degree.

Traffic inside Malibu isn’t all that bad. But getting into Malibu is hard. You either have to come on the coastal side on PCH (Pacific Coast Highway or Highway 1, but call it PCH) or through the canyons on Malibu Canyon or Kanan-Dume. Those are fun, but dangerous highways.

I found summers in L.A. to be too hot. Ironic, considering that before I moved to L.A. I lived in the high desert.

Housing. I was paying $783/month for a 1-br apartment in L.A., just up the street from the Sony Studios. That same apartment is going for $900/month now. Housing ain’t cheap!

You pretty much have to have a vehicle. The bad news is that traffic can be stop-and-go. The good news is that if you have a motorcycle, you can go between lanes legally. (And it’s usually good riding weather.)

When I lost my job, I could not pay for the house I was buying in northern Washington and also keep my apartment. So I moved into the house. Anyway, I was sick and tired of L.A. Too much traffic for me, and not enough rain. You have to pay to park more often than not, it seemed. Not enough space in my little apartment, and the neighbours were noisy. Too hot in the summer. (And it’s no fun sitting in traffic when it’s hot! Thank the gods for motorcycles!)

On the other hand, there’s a lot to see and do in SoCal. Coming from Mississippi, you will definitely not find the weather too hot. Humidity is usually pretty low. If you’re living in Malibu, so much the better.

Me? I’m glad to be out. I have trees and rain now. Today I went out in the zodiac to do a bit of fishing with a friend. We didn’t catch anything, but it was nice propping my feet up on the zodiac’s tube and just relaxing in the sun. But I wouldn’t rule out a short vacation in L.A. someday.

If you’re going to live on campus I’d say go for it. I can’t think of many colleges that are more happily situated. Malibu is the sort of place inhabited by celebrities, CEO’s, wildly successful lawyers and doctors, and such. It is not normally inhabited by folks with five-figure incomes. Being in college does, occasionally exempt one from those sorts of realities, and in that way does provide a unique opportunity.

You are aware, aren’t you, that Pepperdine is religiously affiliated. From the looks of it, it’s not in an extreme or oppressive way, and I think a non-Christian could be comfortable there. But it’s something you might want to look into.

Thanks for all the comments…keep 'em coming!

As Spectre conjectured, the only reason I could afford to live in Malibu is because I’d be living on campus at Pepperdine (and even there housing isn’t exactly cheap); I won’t delude myself by thinking I could buy a house there or anything. :wink:

I’m Christian (though a different denomination than the Church of Christ), so going to a religiously affiliated school isn’t a problem (actually it’d be a benefit).

Does Pepperdine still have the restrictions on members of the opposite sex visiting dorm rooms?

There used to be a requirement that there be a third party there to make sure that nothing untoward was happening.

If you enjoy sports, Pepperdine is usually pretty good in most sports. There’s no football, but the men’s basketball team is usually pretty good and both volleyball teams are very good.

And the baseball team isn’t bad either.

I think there’s a curfew, so to speak, on having girls in a guy’s dorm or vice-versa (prohibited after a certain hour). I’m not certain about that, though.

I’ll give you an idea what the coast is like north of Pt. Concepcion (where the coast of CA foes from northwest in direction to north south). In case you decide to take a trip up the coast towards San Francisco.

Unlike so cal, once you pass Pt. Concepcion, the coast is usually foggy in summer. This area is considered the “Central Coast” (which is traditionally thought to start from Santa Barbara to Just north of Santa Cruz). The weather here is much different as well as the scenery. Most of it is what’s known as Big Sur, and this is probably the PRETTIEST stretch of coast between San Francisco and San Diego. Malibu is more coastal chapparal/desert, while this area is chapparal and redwood country (up around south Monterey County). It is very rocky, mountainous, and hazardous in winter. Rockslides are common here.

Enough of nature, but what about housing? Well as others have said, housing here is expensive. Say you decided you wanted to live in the Monterey area. This is in the top 5 of most expensive places to live in the entire United States. Monterey’s median housing price is in the $400,000.00 range. Plenty of million dollar homes (which aren’t huge either). Gas is expensive up here, but produce is pretty cheap since most of it is local. It’s all beautiful country though.

I highly reccomend taking trips to places outside of So Cal. And don’t let a lot of So Cal people make your mind up for you about anything north of Santa Barbara.

I used to live in Irvine, CA. Now unfortunately I’m stuck in Ohio. I got to go on a field trip with some classmates, and the first thing they noticed about San Diego was that there was absolutely no rust or dirt on the cars. This is not normal in a state where there’s lots of salt (for snow) or mud. Shallow people will be easy to come by, but not everyone in CA subscribes to that personality type. Everything (as mentioned) cost quite a bit more, even little things. Also, your governor, and the (former) governor of Minnesota were both in “Predator”. That says something. Oh, and the weather is freakin’ awesome. I actually miss the Santa Ana winds. Also there’s a huge beach with decent sized waves. Despite what anyone says a 5.0 earthquake is more fun than scary, more than that is…uh scary. Those are quite infrequent though.

There’s quite a bit of good weather here (crossing my fingers that there won’t be another firestorm like last year), plenty to do and people to do it with–though I must say there are far too many people here, making things congested. You are going to a very desirable area, however, so I think the positives will outweigh the negatives.

Why not? :confused:

Yeah. The difference here is that they have no frigging idea where the boundaries of their cars are. LA drivers, for the most part, suck. But at least they’ll let you merge most times. They drive slow on the freeways and fast on the surface streets, which is what traffic flow allows. Boston drivers are nuts. LA drivers are just stupid.

I’ve been here twenty minus five years now (the five years in the Bay Area, where traffic is much worse, but public transport functions). I stay because of the weather, and the people I’ve met.

There is a horrible Hollywood stereotype, which you will encounter. They suck. Pay them no mind, unless you intend to go into the industry. Mock their petty ways. Point out the flaws in their plastic surgery, the superficiality of their wardrobes, the inadequacy of the scale against which they measure themselves.

If you’re happy at Pepperdine, you’d probably not like my friends a whole lot, but take heart that there are a lot of communities in Southern California. You might have to drive 40 minutes to find them, but your people are most likely here, somewhere.

Depends how you look at it, but in terms of getting pinned in rush-hour traffic L.A. is way out in front as the worst, with the SF Bay Area running a distant ( but still horrendous ) second:

*DRIVERS IN LOS ANGELES averaged 136 hours a year in rush-hour traffic - the worst in the nation, according to the annual roadway congestion survey by the Texas Transportation Institute. The San Francisco metropolitan area was the second worst at 92 hours per driver, followed by Washington, D.C., at 84, Seattle, 82, and Houston, 75. The transportation institute, which is part of Texas A&M University, concluded in its study of 75 urban areas that U.S. drivers and passengers sat in rush-hour traffic for an average of 62 hours in 2000, the most recent year with complete data. That was up from 60 hours in 1999 and 16 hours in 1982. *

However L.A. did have shorter average commute times than Oakland or SF by a couple of minutes :).

  • Tamerlane

In my experience owning a car, getting somewhere in that car was a whole lot worse in San Francisco than it ever has been in LA. In LA, you have to know the alternate routes, but there are alternate routes for almost everything. In the Bay Area, not so much. Gotta go to the East Bay? Pick a bridge. They all suck.

The only reason San Francisco drivers average fewer hours is that you don’t have to drive everywhere. BART and Muni exist. I challenge you to get from Hollywood to Santa Monica with the same ease. It’s about the same distance.

I take public transportation now when I can. Live in Pasadena, work downtown. Since the Gold Line opened, I can walk 0.9 miles and be at work in the same time as if I drove, with a lot less expense. But most of the incorporated city is not on a major transportation line.