That I love LA shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s been following me for a while. I love that place so much that I get a pinch in my heart every time I think about it. I’ve spent so much time in LA, exploring all parts of it, as well as researching and breathing everything LA from afar through media, the internet, celebrities, etc. for so many years that I feel like I truly get the city. Because the thing is, not everyone gets it. Going to LA for the first time a lot of people actually feel disappointed, like it wasn’t what they’d expected it to be. And… In this post I thought I’d write a bit about that, and what it’s really like to live in LA. Read on!
First and foremost, LA is a world, not a city. Well, actually it is a city, a very big one, but it’s not geographically built like a typical city. It’s spread out, a lot, and there’s no real center. I for one love it, but I’ve talked to and heard about a lot of people who are shocked about this when they go to LA. And jeez the number of times people asked me “so do you live in the center of LA?” while I’ve lived there (I’ve lived there for a few months twice – this year and about 8 years ago before that). I’m equally frustrated every time someone asks me that question because I don’t know how to respond to it.
LA is so big that it’s divided into several smaller “cities”, like Santa Monica, Venice, Beverly Hills, Downtown, Hollywood, Bel Air, West Hollywood, Studio City, Burbank, Culver City, Marina Del Rey, and so on. As I said, LA is more like a world than a city, it’s so big and has so many smaller cities in it that each has its vibe. I’ve personally lived in Santa Monica, Hollywood, and at Park La Brea (which I’d say is Mid-Wilshire/Fairfax/Miracle Mile something, it’s an area that seems to be hard to define, lol), and liked & thrived in Santa Monica the most (because it’s by the ocean, is much more peaceful, and so on). But, I have also stayed in Venice Beach, Marina del Rey, Hollywood Hills, and Hermosa Beach (at hotels, Airbnb’s, etc.). So, you could say I know LA pretty damn well and have spent time all over it.
OH and hey let’s not forget that LA is divided into areas as well, not only as smaller cities… Westside, Beach cities, The Valley, and so on. Whoa, no wonder that first-timers find LA a bit hard to navigate!
As LA is so big and the different parts of the city are so spread out – it does take a while to get from one place to the other. When I’ve been in LA as a tourist, we’ve always had a rental car, and therefore had no problem getting around. Sure, when you drive around LA it does help to know the street names, know which hours to avoid, which areas, etc. – but as long as you have some background info or have a GPS, you’ll be fine. Yeah, you might end up spending hours getting from one spot to another if you’re unlucky during rush hour, but hey, that’s the charm of being in LA!
During the two times that I’ve lived in LA, I’ve also managed fine without a car. LA does have a pretty good public transport system, and I gladly use it! The locals do look at you a bit weird when you say that you don’t mind taking the bus, but honestly – they don’t know what they’re missing… Sure, there’s usually a lot of homeless people on the buses, but so..? They’re people too, and the bus is usually the fastest way to get from one point to another, especially during rush hour. The buses in LA are also very cheap – 1.75 $ per ride/way!
As I like walking, I’ve also walked a lot around LA. Which is another thing the locals will look at you in a weird way for when you mention it, lol. The distances are a bit far, but if you like walking and got time to do it – yes you can walk around LA! I’ve walked a lot in Santa Monica, Venice, Hermosa, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Miracle Mile, Marina Del Rey, etc. and had no issues besides blisters, lol.
Getting to know LA through media and entertainment, you might get the idea that LA is always warm and sunny… But I’m here to tell you that that’s not the case! Sure, it does never get below minus degrees (Celcius), but I’ve needed my winter jacket when I’ve been in LA – honestly! It does get pretty cold, especially down in the beach cities during winter because of the strong winds by the ocean. Not every day is a beach day… The sun does shine a lot, but what seems to be becoming a bigger problem every year is days when it’s so smoggy (Google what “smog in LA” is to know what I’m talking about) that you can’t even see the sun. It’s not cloudy, just smoggy. I truly hate those days because they feel so unnatural, but hey, they seem to be a part of LA… Unfortunately.
Speaking of smog… What about the air quality in LA? Well, if you’re a person like me who cares for her lungs and notice air differences very well – you’ll notice that the air is pretty bad in LA. Not so much in the beach cities (one of the reasons why Santa Monica is my favorite place to live in LA – the air is SO much better down by the ocean!), but the air in especially Hollywood (which is right down my the mountains, so the air gets’s kind of “stuck” over there) does get really bad. It doesn’t rain very often in LA, but I can tell you that during the days when I lived there and it rained – I’d be outside breathing it in, lol.
What about living expenses in LA? The rents are frekkin’ insane in LA to be honest… To live in a complex with pool, a gym etc. you’ll spend around 1600 $ for a room, and around 800 $ for a shared room. If you settle for a “normal” building without the luxuries, you’ll spend about 1000 $ for a room. So um yeah, compared to the living costs in Scandinavia – LA is expensive as hell. BUT, on the contrary – food can be a lot cheaper in LA than in Scandinavia! Especially if you shop at Trader Joe’s, which has really affordable prices (and even 2$ wines!!!).
One of my favorite things about grocery stores in LA (and all over the US of course), is that they sell alcohol! It really is so convenient that you can buy a bottle of wine right at the grocery store, at any hour. That’s something that Scandinavia really could take after, in my opinion…
I have SO much to say about what it’s like living in LA, but I think I’ll draw the line here for now. Might do a part 2 of “what it’s really like to live in LA” at some point! And hey if there’s anyone out there that has any questions about LA, or needs tips for an upcoming trip over there – don’t hesitate to ask! I do feel like I know LA pretty well and have a lot of tips to share ♥