What I Wish I Knew About Los Angeles Before Moving Here

Los Angeles is one of the cultural jewels of the world, and it matches pound-for-pound the art, food, music, and diversity found in all of the globe’s most famous cities. Millions of people come to Southern California every year—and every year, there are millions who are surprised (pleasantly and otherwise) by the parts of LA they never heard about.

los angeles skyline

Here are the top 5 things we think you need to know to prepare for the Big Move:

#1: You’ll Be Doing a Lot of Hosting

Unlike most big out-of-state moves, people who tell you “I’ll come visit you in LA!” actually will. Even worse, they’ll often require you to brave the nightmarish traffic of LAX at the worst possible hour. New LA residents will learn real quickly how little out-of-towners realize about LA geography. You might live in Beverly Hills, but that doesn’t mean you’re available to pick your in-laws up at the airport at 6:30 PM.

Here’s what’s cool though:

It won’t take much for you to seem like a lifelong resident to your out-of-town visitors. Take them to your favorite Korean spot, and you’ll seem as at home as an LA Times beat reporter. Complain about the traffic, and you’ll really sell them on your local cred.

Just have them take an Uber from the airport. Speaking of which…

#2: Public Transport Isn’t Great, but Uber Makes It Better!

Los Angeles has an infamously difficult public transportation system. The buses, subways, and taxis are not nearly as efficient (or prevalent) as their East Coast siblings. However, thanks to Uber and other ride-sharing services, residents are finally able to taste the freedom of not owning a car. Ubers also make having a night out on the town a lot safer for drivers.

#3: Distances Mean Something Different Here

You really can’t understand how LA distances work until you live here. A few years ago, Portlandia did a bit where out-of-towners from Portland attempted to walk through LA the way that they do in other cities. Spoiler alert: it really doesn’t work. GPS distances aren’t an accurate gauge of how long it will actually take you to get from A to B. It might “look” like a 10-minute distance to a New Yorker…but it’s more like 25 or 30 in LA.

Our recommendation? Before you move, visit first and drive all the routes you’ll be taking when you live here. Getting a feel for the flow of traffic will make moving less jarring.

#4: Everything Is Much Further Than the Movies Make It Look

For the sake of pacing, most shows set in LA cut out a lot of the time it takes to travel from the beach to downtown to the Valley and back. A lot. LA is one of the most spread-out counties in the United States, and it won’t take long for you to realize it. There’s a ton of amazing things to see…but you’re never going to see it all in one day (unless you’d like to spend most of your time in the car).

#5: Southern California Is So Much More Than LA

As famous as Los Angeles might be, it’s not even the best thing about being in Southern California. Ventura County, Santa Barbara, the Central Valley, Yosemite, San Diego, Joshua Tree—these are just a few of the gems only a day trip away from your new Los Angeles home. People move out west for a lot more than just the Hollywood sign, and if you’re open to adventure, you’ll quickly find out why.

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