Tell me about living in L.A. (relocation)

So there’s a possibility I may have a shot at a damn fine career opportunity. It’s still pretty early in the process, so it may not happen at all. The thing is that they’re in Los Angeles, CA (Venice), an area I’ve really had no interest in living.

I’m fine with relocating, but I’ve never really considered myself an L.A. kind of guy. I’m originally from the WI/MN areas and currently live in Kansas City (which I’ve never been married to). Anyway, my impression is that <broad generalization> the culture out there seems to value surface over substance </broad generalization>. I don’t really go in for the party scene or status seeking. Oh, and then there is the cost of living! We haven’t even begun negotiating salary yet, so I don’t know how much I’d have to spend, but YIKES!

So can any of you help manage my expectations if this relocation comes to pass?

I grew up in L.A. (Westchester, which is just north of the L.A. Airport) and at the time was pretty oblivious to most things. Hey, I was a kid! I didn’t commute, I didn’t go out and party, etc.

I live in San Diego now, and still have family up in L.A. so I visit a few times a year. About a year ago I was in the Santa Monica area - which is close to Venice and didn’t like the vibe I got. It felt like I was in the midst of “the beautiful people” and for the first time I really did feel bothered by the whole surface over substance thing. So that area in particular might be a high concentration of that kind of people, I don’t know. Sadly, I find the Westside to be one of the neat parts of town to be in.

However, I really think it depends on where you end up living, and who you hook up with. L.A. is tremendously huge, and for every douchebag you meet you might also find someone who is actually cool! Hell, so many people move TO the area that I’m sure you’ll find some midwest transplants you can commisserate with. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but life is what you make of it. If you expect to be surrounded by assholes, you probably won’t be disappointed. If you keep an open mind and say “well, at least I don’t have to shovel the driveway in the winter” you might find you actually like the place.

I’d guarantee some culture shock, though. We have some friends here in San Diego who moved out from Wisconsin and North Dakota, and they can’t shut up about how things just aren’t as great as back home. It’s taking them awhile to adapt.

One other thing about cost of living:

Sure, you might be boggled by the rent. But keep in mind your utilities are probably going to be a lot less. You won’t have to run the heater much in winter, and depending on where you end up living, you may or may not have to run the A/C in the summer.

I’ve always been fond of the South Bay area, which would include places like Torrance, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, etc. That’s not horribly far from Venice (though again, the traffic SUCKS) and for the most part I find it has a pretty laid back vibe.

Fresh meat! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! We feast on your broken dreams!


Previous threads that might be helpful:






Venice is interesting; it’s a quirky city, lots of old houses, crumbling canals, the beach strip with the sidewalk cafes and people like this guy roaming around. If you enjoy people watching at all, you’ll never be bored. The region is very multicultural, you can expect to see people and establishments representing all nationalities and cuisines.

Downsides to LA… the smog really is that bad; I used to work near LAX and there were many days it wasn’t possible to see the Hollywood sign due to smog. Everything is paved, including the riverbeds, and I’m not sure you can imagine the sprawl until you actually see it. It can be hard to make connections with people, just due to the sheer size of the population. I’d also agree there is a certain amount of general superficiality; looks aren’t everything, but there is frequently more of an emphasis on being slim, attractive, and fashionable than you might find in other parts of the country.

You’ll probably want to increase your salary by 65-68% to maintain your standard of living. If you can afford to live near where you work, you’ll be golden, otherwise the commute can get long. I’d really suggest getting out there for a visit to see how you like the “vibe” before you commit to moving.

Accept for USC homegames and authentic Mexican food, it is a horrible place to live. Hot, dirty, crowded, expensive, traffic, crime, pollution…

Fun to visit, however.

I had several paragraphs written on my own experience as a transplant here (I moved from Ohio 2.5 years ago) but it sounded so depressing that I figured I ought not scare you off! :smiley:

I’ll just say that my first 4-6 months were difficult, because people here are just…different. Generally, with some exceptions, people aren’t quite as warm as they can be in the midwest. My Cali-native boyfriend warned me of this before I came here and I didn’t believe him until I got here and “felt it” for myself. After a few months of really taking it personally, I just got used to it because you either do, or you run screaming back to where you came from! :smiley: There’s definitely “surface” out here, but there’s also a great deal of substance, sometimes you just have to look past lots of people, signs, stores, traffic, and surface to get to it.

What can I say- it’s definitely a different place, but 2.5 years later, I can honestly say that I love it here.

I’ve found impressions of LA to be far worse than the actual city. The place isn’t for everybody, but it gets a bad rap, IMO. I live near Venice, but I’m from Hawaii, which is one of the most laid-back places in the country. I’m maybe .5% cool, I wear casual clothes, and I’m not nearly as hot or trendy as I could be. I’m not a partier or extreme social butterfly, and I prefer to spend my time either at home or at casual, been-there-a-thousand-times hangout spots. I’m not the LA type. But I’ve done just fine in the 4 years I’ve been here. Never had a problem here I couldn’t have had anywhere else I’ve lived, and the mix of people here isn’t anything special. That they’re supposed to be prettier here is news to me. :stuck_out_tongue:

Where I live and work is just far enough from downtown that I don’t see most of the smog. The ocean breezes keep the sky pretty clear. Traffic is a non-issue for me, since I work a mile from home and walk to work. I know I’m lucky in this respect, but I have coworkers who are able to avoid freeways entirely. Some bike to work. (We work in a fancy, secured building, pushing papers and staring at computer monitors all day, just so you know I don’t work in construction or something.) So it’s not a foregone conclusion that fighting LA traffic and inhaling carcinogens is in your future.

LA is just too damn big to make any kid of generalizations. I don’t think you’ll really get a good idea of how you’ll like it until you actually come spend some time here.

I’m originally from the East, and moved to L.A. when I was in high school. I finished school there as well as college, then came up to the Bay Area, where I’ve been living for many years. My sister and parents still live in L.A., so I go back there to visit frequently.

So that’s my background.

The bottom line is that L.A. is a huge city, much bigger than any stereotypes can make it out to be. Yes, it is full of cultural dimwits, but it also has the Getty Museum and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. It has Hollywood, but it also has the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The kind of people you like do live there, if you know where to look.


I think LA can be very enjoyable, but the key is to live close to where you work. Commuting there sucks.

Some cool communities near Venice are Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Santa Monica. They’re all very expensive.

That’s the truth.


Check out Mar Vista. It’s near Venice and generally cheaper; but it’s still not clear if you can take your dog to the Santa Monica airport dog park.

Anywhere west of the 405 (south of the Santa Monica hills…well, maybe not Long Beach) the air quality is not that bad.

There’s no such thing. You’ve spent too much time in movie theaters and not enough time in L.A.

Been hearing about the weather down there this week. I’m glad I’m up north!

My brother has lived in LA for the last 25 years or so. I never look forward to visiting. It’s a fascinating place, but I hate driving there, and my car has been broken into more than once.

A word about Venice. Parts of Venice are rough. Very rough. Rough as in I would not go there without a tail gunner rough, and I grew up in East LA around street gangs.
Mar Vista is a cool neighborhood near Venice as is Culver City, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, and Playa Del Rey.
When checking out areas to live, try the drive to work and home at the times you will be commuting. I know people that have bought houses on a Saturday, and thought their commute would be a walk in the park. Then they found out that Saturday AM != Monday morning. :smack:

LA is what you make it. You can find anyone, or anything here you want. let us know when you are coming out, maybe we can set up a dopefest.

If you live within walking distance of some areas of Venice, you can not own anything worth more than $5 or that will fit out your window- more or less like Rick said. Very bad. However, Venice itself has little smog. That being said, walking along Venice beach is fun.

Santa Monica, which is close by is very nice- except for finding a place to live that isn’t super expensive. I used to live there.

Traffic on the Frwy is very very bad.

So- live as close to the coast as you can afford (less smog), and don’t live too close or too far from Venice (less traffic).

Try craigslist for Santa Monica apt prices, before you say yes. Talk to the company dudes and ask them about where to live close to the company that is moderately safe. Maybe they know of something.

For me, LA was an endless, oppressive hellhole and I couldn’t wait to get out. But Rick is probably right – LA is what you make it.

I think the culture is definitely a bit different that the rest of the US. Very competitive and fast paced. People seem to spend a lot more money on clothes, cosmetics, and hair than anywhere else. Maybe it’s the proximity to Hollywood. A lot more people look like movie stars than what you’re probably used to seeing.

The cost of living is unbelievable. If you plan on moving, be very careful about calculating living expenses. The same salary I got in SoCal would make me rich up here in Oregon, but it was barely enough to cover the basics.

Also, Brad, have you used any salary calculators? To see what the average salary is for you industry in the L.A. area?

Here’s one that’s part of the website and you can pick your industry/job and see what the average salary is in the area.

I think there are other calculators out there that tell you things like what you’d need to make in L.A. to have the purchasing power of what you make now, but I couldn’t find one easily.

But I’d say be prepared to downsize your living quarters.

Sites like this one offer cost of living calculators to get an idea of what you’ll need to make in LA to maintain your standard of living from Kansas City (Google cost of living comparison to find other calculators). Checking a couple of them is where I came up with the 65-68% increase I mentioned above (which I probably also should’ve cited above, sorry).