After spending 5 months here in California, I thought I’d do a small comparison of my experiences living in here and in New York.
The main difference, which I believe causes most of the further distinctions, is the area size of the cities. Los Angeles is enormous in size compared to Manhattan, even if you add on the surrounding boroughs. You could walk around the whole Manhattan in one day if you wanted. In Los Angeles, no one walks and even if you were to defy this unwritten rule you wouldn’t get too far, as walking a simple 6-minute drive down the road takes you 50 minutes. I tried it once, never doing it again.
The subway system in New York City is the essence of getting around, and it works! The city is compact enough for it to be super practical. It is the prerequisite for the city, as it is, to function. Just try to imagine if all the people from the subways were put in cars (which basically is the case in LA) and onto the streets of Manhattan. Yes, all the cars probably wouldn’t even fit, not to mention anyone being able to move a length of a whisker. In Los Angeles, public transportation is called Uber. Seriously, I haven’t used the Metro train system here once. The bus system I did give a try, for one week, which was enough of that. I ended up getting a ride home from a worried security guard. Precisely week later I bought a car and joined the army of plate wrapped Angelenos crawling forward on the highways.
Despite the traffic this saved me almost an hour in travel time. That’s how bad the public transit is here. I wonder why it is so poor though. I know that this city was built for cars and because LA is such a big area to cover, it is difficult to design a network that would be favorable to all, but it can’t be that hard to implement a semi-working transition system in such a highly populated metropolis. Maybe one day people get tired of sitting in the traffic and do something about the matter.
I am lucky enough to not to have go through crazy traffics every day, but it’s no joke when you accidentally head towards Downtown or Santa Monica during the peak of traffic hour. That is when a 20-minute drive turns into two hours.
Another clear difference is the climate. East coast versus West coast. There is 284 sunny days in average per year in Los Angeles. In New York, there is equal amount of “Where the **** did this come from?” -weather days. Which does keep things interesting, but for me it meant always being a day late with trying to dress accordingly to the weather. In New York having a sunny day with plus 18 degrees Celsius doesn’t mean that the following day it wouldn’t be a snowstorm. I do enjoy the consistency of weather here. You pretty much know which clothes are appropriate to wear without checking the weather. And if not, you’ll probably be outside just to walk from your car to the door, so it really doesn’t matter what you are wearing. Although, lately California has been getting some pretty intense rain. So much in fact that the drought is said to be conquered for now. Good for Cali, not so good for my tan. I’m not too worried though, because I’m sure I’ll be getting more than plenty of vitamin D going into the Summer.
Avocados, wine and cigarettes (too bad I don’t smoke) are cheaper here. The convenience of just jumping into your car instead of walking to the nearest subway station is countered with the inconvenience of traffic and finding parking (and those damn parking tickets!). In here, planning ahead of time is more important. You must know where you’re going, just strolling around hoping to bump into something cool doesn’t work the way it does in New York. Spontaneous gatherings with friends are rarer and it is easier to feel isolated and lonely. The same amount of money gives you almost three times more living space: I have an actual room now.
LA Fitness is cheaper, but New York Sports Clubs offer better classes. Here, you have way more boring suburbs with nothing to do, but you also have almost anything you can imagine within driving distance. Beaches to swim and surf, mountains to hike and ski, deserts to visit, cities to party and shop, amusement parks and culture to enjoy and so on. The threshold to go out and do all these things just seems to be higher here. I guess it’s easier (and faster) to jump into a train and travel few stops to reach your destination than it is to drive 30 miles and find parking (not to mention the traffic). LA’s bagels and pizzas are trash compared to New York, but here you have better selection of fresh and locally grown produce. No more dragging groceries in the subways or taking your laundry to cleaners, but a lot more inactive way of living.
In conclusion, the two cities are just too different to put on the same line. In many ways, they seem the opposites of each other so it all comes down to preferences. I guess you just can’t have it all.
LA took more time than NYC to get used to and get the life started and organized, but as of now California is home and each day spent here makes it more so.