I’m a New Yorker living in Los Angeles. I’ve lived in LA for over 3.5 years and I still haven’t adjusted. At nearly every opportunity I can be heard saying, “I’m a transplanted New Yorker” or that “I’m still learning the geography of Los Angeles” when I meet someone new. In my attempt to be more mindful in 2016, I’ve come to realize that the repeated mentioning about feeling like an alien living in Los Angeles has likely reached 11 on the obnoxious scale. I’m still not sure how (or if) I’m going to cure the problem.
What’s strange is that I really do enjoy living here in Los Angeles. I miss New York City but not enough to pick up the life I’ve established in Los Angeles and replant my roots. To “go back” to New York at this point wouldn’t be “going back” at all. My life is worlds different and even the apartment I left now belongs to other people. I love going back to visit but I’m not going back to live there any time soon.
How long is the acceptable allotted time for transition when uprooting and rerooting oneself? It’s been said that you become a native when you’ve lived somewhere for 20 years or more, so maybe I do have some more time left to fully adjust?
This week two different friends placed two different articles about being a transplanted New Yorker in Los Angeles on my Facebook wall: (see the Buzzfeed “8 Struggles of Being A New Yorker in LA here and the New Yorker article here). It seemed like the universe was telling me that it’s the perfect time to share some of my views about being a New Yorker living in LA:
LA wins. While NYC is gorgeous in Spring and Fall, it’s rare. New York City in August can be a cesspool (but I usually don’t mind it too much). There’s an energy in New York in Summer that is hard to beat. I enjoy watching winter storms from 3,000 miles away. I never enjoyed the cold and now that I don’t have to do deal with it, I’m relieved.
The weather in Los Angeles is pretty wonderful 98% of the time. I’ve always had thin blood but now I get cold when the temperature dips below 68 degrees. Unlike most who love the change of seasons, I don’t mind the 3 seasons in LA cool, hot and boiling. The lack of humidity makes it even a bit more bearable than expected. It doesn’t hurt that the heaviest jacket I’ve worn in 3.5 years is an Old Navy zip-up fleece. The fact that the kiddo gets to play outside and wear shorts 95% of the time is a plus (any parent of boys would definitely agree).
NY wins. It’s not just the plethora of the types of food available in New York but it’s the ability to have your pick in a 3 block radius. I miss delivery, food carts on every corner, bouncing from place to place and being able to split a bottle of wine (or 2), hop in a cab and go home.
In LA, there are good restaurants but they’re very spread out. When you go to a restaurant (except in certain neighborhoods), it’s your destination for the night. Thank goodness for Uber! I’m certain the incidences of drunk driving in this town have gone down significantly since this ride-on-demand gained popularity in the recent past.
It’s said that the Food Truck movement was started in LA. I beg to differ. Fruit stands and coffee carts on the street corners of New York City were the predecessor to food trucks. I will not be swayed on this point.
LA may be known for it’s “healthy food” but don’t underestimate the love of donuts here. LA wins when it comes to Mexican and authentic Chinese food but New York makes up for it with Indian food, upscale and authentic Italian food, pizza, bagels and the ability to access any kind of food at any time via delivery or in person.
The geography and architecture:
NY wins. Manhattan is about 33 square miles and Brooklyn is about 96 square miles (thank you, Google) but there’s so much crammed into these small spaces that it can almost overwhelm you with choice. The words “geographically undesirable” can mean you don’t go anywhere downtown/uptown/over a bridge rather than a significant distance understood in 95% of the world. The architecture in New York is also wonderful – majestic buildings, brownstones, gorgeous parks and fabulous bridges. For such a small area, there’s so much to see and do.
LA is very different. I tell people that LA is like New York smushed down and spread out. There are gorgeous areas of Los Angeles but those beautiful areas can border areas without much architectural character (IMHO). “Geographically undesirable” in LA can mean covering a 15 mile distance in an hour. If you don’t live near the beach, it isn’t often you get to the beach. However, Los Angeles has beach, mountains, city and “country” within a short distance. There is a lot of character within Los Angeles but it takes time (and effort) to explore.
However, when it comes to living architecture, LA may edge out NY. I’m not too miserable living in a house in Los Angeles with a backyard vs a 900 square foot apartment with loud and feisty neighbors on all sides.
A tie. New York City is a melting pot. Due to the smaller area of space and the population numbers, the many different cultures that make up New York City seem ubiquitous. In Los Angeles, I believe that the geographical layout has a way of segregating cultures in a way that is different than New York.
People say New Yorkers are unfriendly, I never thought so but let’s just say I never really knew my neighbors in New York. In LA, many of neighbors have become friends. I’m lucky to call so many people friends in LA and New York.
LA is a transient city. While I’ve met many people who were born and bred in Los Angeles, there are so many transplants from all over the country that it almost seems that no one is actually from Los Angeles. I can see why so many people do move to LA though – it does have so much to offer, especially if you’re in….
LA, it’s all you. New York is known to be the center of the universe in many circles but LA is the center of the entertainment industry. During a scouting mission before moving here, we were at a coffee shop and the barista asked us, “Are you in “the industry” (quotes added by me)”? Jay answered, “I’m in an industry…” because we had no idea what the barista was asking. LA almost seems to exist solely for the entertainment industry. As a huge consumer of many different entertainment streams, I’m appreciative of it’s existence but the way many of this city revolves around the entertainment industry is truly fascinating.
The bubble is an odd one. The careers of many of the people I’ve met here in Los Angeles are connected in some way to entertainment and for the most part, it’s fine but it’s the sheer volume of actors/actresses/models and their focus on youth, beauty and fitness that is beyond comprehension for me.
New York is a chic place where fashion, youth, beauty and fitness also play a part but here in Los Angeles, it seems it’s just so more blatant – the noses, the teeth, the faces, the boobs – the everything is nipped, tucked, bleached, plumped, removed or refined etc. While I’m certain there is a culture of plastic in New York, it’s just more visible here in Los Angeles. To me, it’s disturbing when women find boob jobs at 18 and Botox at 25 a rite of passage.
For me, New York wins. As a runner, there is nothing like running over the Brooklyn Bridge (see here for more NY running routes). I’m also partial to the many fitness boutiques within walking (or subway distance) to one another. I’m a city girl at heart and for me, New York will always be the city that helped me fall in love with fitness.
Don’t get me wrong, Los Angeles has weather where you can run or bike outside most days of the year. Los Angeles is likely where more fitness trends are born than anyplace else. Hiking is huge here but it holds absolutely no appeal to me at all. I haven’t availed myself of the many (nearly year round) water sport activities like surfing or SUP because they’re not up my alley. If you’re an outdoors fitness person, LA definitely is for you. While boutique fitness is a booming industry in LA as well, the clusters of studios are only in certain areas and if you’re not in close proximity to those areas (or feel like driving to them), you’re SOL.
LA might win. Proximity to Vegas (I love Vegas for 72 hours tops), San Diego, San Francisco and Mexico hold sway for me. The fact there are so many different areas to explore surrounding Los Angeles is very exciting and my family has enjoyed exploring quite a bit. I could live without camping though. Camping is a big thing here in Los Angeles. I’ve done it a few times and while it’s OK, I definitely prefer hotels.
New York has upstate (which is nice), the Hamptons (not for me) and Fire Island (which I love) as well as the surrounding Tri-State area. It’s not nearly as lovely as the surrounding areas of LA. New York City has so much packed into it’s small square footage that you don’t often even have to leave the island of Manhattan to feel like you’re traveling.
LA wins. There are a million clubs in New York and when I lived in New York I definitely went to concerts (as a teenager and as an adult). However, since moving to Los Angeles, I feel like I’ve gotten the chance to see so many artists that I love in small (and large) venues in such a short span of time. I’m not sure if it’s just that 80’s bands are having a second hey day right now or if it’s just that so many musicians live in Los Angeles but right now, my music life in LA is pretty sweet.
NY wins hands down. Black clothing has always been my staple. People in New York wear black clothing and for the most part, people in LA don’t (at least they don’t that often). Whenever I go back to New York, one of the first sights of seeing people dressed in black puts me at ease. It’s just a fact.
Yes, I have added a few colors to my wardrobe since moving to Los Angeles but there are a few things that I simply will not do – my ass will stay inside my shorts, Ugg boots will never be worn with shorts and skull caps will not be worn in weather above 40 degrees.
NY wins. I had a driver’s license but only used it about a dozen times before I moved to Los Angeles. The fact that I drive every.single.day is mind blowing to most people who know me. To be honest, I still can’t believe that I drive every single day. Most days, I don’t drive far but on the days that I do, it’s crazy. Traffic patterns dictate life in Los Angeles. 15 miles can take well over an hour on the road in rush hour traffic (which lasts from about 6:30am – 10am and then from about 2:30-7:30). The only good part about long trips are listening to music in the car. I love any opportunity to listen to music. However, LA radio has their favorite artists that they like to play often (but that’s a separate post for another time).
I may not have driven for many years but the amount and level of road rage that I can display would impress just about anyone. It’s amazing how quickly road rage can be acquired. It’s fast and fierce. When my child is in the car, it takes all of the strength I have to not give him a full education in every curse word I know. He’s learned a few but not the gems. Yet.
In New York, you walk. I miss walking and I even miss the subway. I was lucky enough to live close to 3 major subway hubs. The Los Angeles Metro has a stop not far from my house but the Metro lines are just not as extensive as the NYC Subway system. I don’t miss being body to body, being preached to or extensively hot subway stops on the NYC subways but I do miss the ability and convenience of public transportation (I was a lazy runner – I used to run the distance I wanted to cover and take the subway home often in NY).
Truth be told, until recently this was my driver’s license:
It’s a New York Driver’s License that happened to have my California address on it. When I renewed my New York license in 2013, we still owned my Brooklyn apartment and since my California address (see the yellow arrow) was put on the license, I didn’t see the need to make any changes. I’m lucky I wasn’t pulled over because California law requires you to change you license within 10 days of residence.
We sold our Brooklyn apartment in 2014 but I still couldn’t part with my New York license.
About a month ago, with 2015 turning into 2016, I figured it was time to make a deeper commitment to my new city. I took the steps required (a written driver’s test) and said good bye to my nearly 20 year old photo (and a license without my weight advertised).
According to my identification, I’m officially a California resident. It’s still very strange and even though I’ve lived here for nearly 4 years, it still doesn’t feel real.
I’m very happy living in Los Angeles but there will always be a part of me that will identify with #heartinNYbodyinLA.
Does your state list your weight on your Driver’s License?