As an Orange County native I’ve always thought I was a little more sophisticated than the rest of America, until I moved to the metropolis next door: Los Angeles. I chose not the LA basin proper, as it is for this suburbanite a bit too cramped; I still get serious anxiety about street parking and I detest population density. Living in the valley slightly ameliorated both of these problems, but I still find myself struggling with these subtle nuances of big city life which perhaps you can relate to:
5. You spend hours circling for street parking
…at least in Hollywood or K-Town. Thankfully it’s not as bad in Studio City, I’d probably still be looking for parking instead of writing. I’m too accustomed to the ample parking available at most leisurely paced suburban shopping centers in OC. The will to find immediate parking is not ingrained within as evidenced by the multitude of times I am trounced upon by LA natives with far more desire to get on with their lives—and an innate ability to spot seemingly invisible gaps between cars at every piece of pavement not marked by red, white or yellow paint—who know all the best parking tips that us suburban folk have no clue about.
4. You aren’t moving with enough purpose
And I guess in a nutshell, that’s one of the biggest differences I spot between LA and OC. You can feel the need of everybody around you wanting to get to where they need to go—and you damn sure notice it anytime you have to drive anywhere. Polite use of your horn is not an option, it’s a way of life, a second dialect you hear spoken fluently at every intersection. It’s an inherent aspect of urban dwelling, an ear-jarring soundtrack I seldom heard played among the quiet tract homes of North East Orange County. I notice my relaxed OC gait and overly defensive driving manners are off-rhythm to the beat of the city; it’s more uptempo, more bustle and hustle—it’s alive.
3. Everybody is trendier, hipper and chicer than you
I suppose that’s what makes a city a real city, the vibe, the atmosphere. There’s a scene on every sidewalk, an Instagram or Snapchat worthy moment on every corner. It’s funny, as I write this article, I feel myself with a different voice, it’s more hip, it has more flavor. This must be how you instantly are able to tell when someone is from a big city when you meet them. It’s that influence from their surroundings that permeates into them everyday manifested in their mannerisms, their speech patterns, their body language. I suppose that’s something you get gratis when you have to pay at least $1,300 a month for a decent 1-bedroom apartment—at least one I would consider to be hospitable.
2. You’re alarmed by the cost of groceries and household items
Coming from cookie-cutter neighbors where everybody has a landscaped front lawn, I never really understood why people would work so hard for 500-square feet of garage-less living space, but now that I can call LA home it all makes sense. And it’s not just the price per square foot that’s more expensive here: it’s everything. Every time I look at a receipt, I feel guilty for having spent so much and reminded that I need to get better with money management—a lot better. You’re not pinching cents here. I see single beverage items, juices in particular, hovering around a median mark of $5, and some as high as $7 or $8. Which brings me to my last sticking point: I guess I’m going to have to buy a juicer, and not just for kale and beets.
1. You now can have your food & errands juiced and bottled for you
If I can condense LA lifestyle into a single idea – it’s that everything can be made into a juice, literally and figuratively. People here can’t spare the time—but can definitely spare the money—to make everything more convenient, a concept which makes perfect sense in a city where a 10-mile drive can take 40 minutes. I’ve made two Postmates orders in the week I’ve been here, once for ramen and once for sushi; the only thing I’d ever been able to get delivered previously came in cardboard boxes, not fancy gift-box shaped containers with fresh sashimi from a driver with an Uber-esque profile photo. With a promo code, I’ve escaped the $5 delivery fee twice, but it’s something I’m finding myself more than eager to pay for now that my phone, and not my own physical body, controls what comes to my dining table (actually, it’s an Ikea plastic tray I eat everything on….a bad habit I get to indulge in now that I live alone. Thanks sis!)