To many people, my decision to move to Los Angeles seemed like an impulsive, random and almost reckless decision. In reality, moving was something on my mind for quite some time; I just didn’t know it was going to be LA until that time I visited for a week in April.
I did not move for a significant other.
I did not move for a job.
I did not move because my family was on the west coast.
I did not move for the weather (though it is definitely a plus).
I made the conscious decision to take myself completely out of what I knew and insert myself in a new environment.
I quit my job and left everything I had in New York (blog post on that here) to give myself a trial month here in LA to see if I could live here long term. I figured a month would be a long enough time to see if I would get bored, etc. After the month came to an end, I realized that I could see myself here, so I bought my official one way ticket, went back to New York for a week to pack up and say my good byes (to make sure one last time that I wouldn’t regret leaving of course), then I came back July 15th to continue my LA adventure.
So… to answer the question I get asked all the time: Why did I want to leave New York? Isn’t New York the city of dreams?
Well, it really depends what you’re looking for and the dreams you have, but here are my reasons:
1) I needed/wanted a new challenge.
After attending college in the city for 4 years, then working there for a little over 2, I felt myself getting complacent, taking a city that many could only dream of, for granted. After 6 years, I felt stuck, like I was in the perpetual hamster wheel of work and recovery. I wasn’t growing as a person anymore because I was getting drained, so I chose to leave my perfectly fine job and make the move. I didn’t have a job secure out here but was propelled by the notion that if I didn’t force or make this drastic change, it would never happen and I would be allowing myself to be miserable for a prolonged period of time. I was curious to see if I could thrive in a place that was completely new to me. Could my ambitions and personality translate in a place that pushed my comfort zone? When faced with the choice of complacency (in this case New York) or challenge (LA), I chose a new challenge.
2) I craved space.
What makes New York such a convenient and bustling city is exactly the reason why someone might dislike it. The buildings loom above you, people are always around you, there is always something going on and in your face. At one point I felt like I was getting ADD from the sensory overload. I often found my life cluttered with unnecessary noise, stressors, distractions and plans. In California, the expanse of land allows for both mental and physical space. The distance between places means that you really have to/want to do something to go out of your way to do it… Not many people are walking or in your way. The fresh air (yea yea there might be smog but the air here is definitely better) and scenery allows for visual and mental breaks.
3) I sought life balance.
I’m at the point in life where I value balance. Random and somewhat unrelated example: Ask me to choose between two options and I’ll often ask “Why not both?”. In this day and age, why can’t we have a bit of both? Call me Goldilocks but I felt the same way about the city I was living in. Los Angeles was the place I could live in to be ambitious, but at a more relaxed and manageable pace. A place to be healthy and be fit, but also indulge in the growing dining scene.
4) Room for growth and opportunity
LA may feel sleepy to many people, but I feel something happening here. There’s something in the air that buzzes with energy, growth and opportunity. Let it be known that LA is the third largest tech startup ecosystem, and home to many valuable businesses such as Snapchat, Tinder, JustFab, The Honest Co, Space X, and more. In New York, it’s Silicon Alley, in SF it’s Silicon Valley. Here in LA, it’s Silicon Beach. Take a look here for almost all of the startups that exist in LA. Downtown Los Angeles is transforming from a rough-edged haven to a desirable neighborhood for restaurants, shops and loft dwellers. Los Angeles is also becoming (if not already) a dining destination. There’s something cool happening and I wanted to be here in LA before everyone else and before it was too late.
5) Clean slate
There’s something empowering about leaving your past self behind, and starting fresh as the awesome person you’ve grown into. With this clean slate comes renewed confidence, refreshed vision and focused energy. The opportunity to be myself without the impression of my college years or preconceived notions to a new breed of people is pretty liberating. I am who I am to people I meet here, and I don’t need to explain myself. And so far? The response has been nothing but positive.
6) Improving Relationships- with myself, work and others
In New York, there are 23409823 things that demand your time whether you like it or not. There are so many things to do and seemingly not enough time. You end up doing things that are most urgent, and not most important. In California you can be just as busy, but the physical space mentioned above allows for more room for things that you care about. I’ve noticed that I listen to what people are saying here. I take the time to call people and have a conversation about nothing and everything. I have room for positive feelings because the negative energy and grumpiness from people walking past me doesn’t spread onto me. If you surround yourself with happy people, you can’t help but join in on the positive vibes. Also here, if you want to see someone, you have to plan and drive to see them. Everyone is doing their own thing. California is also a place where you can work, have a life and a significant other because “there’s time” for that. Culturally, this coast is not just all about achievement and career- it’s about attaining that with balance.
7) To learn to relax.
I apparently don’t know how to relax and take it easy. In a place like New York, instant gratification and immediate approval becomes a trained response. In Los Angeles, not everything happens within 5 minutes. Patience is a huge thing I’m working on. I am always reminded to enjoy the moment and stop thinking about what’s next and what else I could be doing. I’m learning to slow down instead of constantly being “on” all the time, doing a million things. Do it because you want to and want to do it well. Do your best and get it done but at an efficient pace, not rushed pace. Stop and take a moment to take it all in, then continue on for best results.
Simply put, these reasons were the things my mind wandered off to when I was in New York, so I knew it was what I wished/craved/longed for. When something tugs at your mind time and time again, you know it’s time to seriously consider what you’re doing wrong. I know from other people’s experiences and those who are older than I am, that right now, “when I’m young” is the time to act on my gut feeling. So here I am and so far… there’s not much to hate about LA.
To me, right now, LA is the city of dreams. You might not see it that way of course; it’s quite possible that you’ve spent 6 years in California and feel this way about somewhere else. It really depends on you and what you want in your life. For me it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for and I’m excited to build my life here.
As one of my uber drivers eloquently put it:
“LA has the kind social climate where it doesn’t matter where or who you are, what you’re doing, or how you’re doing it. It’s generally accepted no matter what. It’s always regenerative and always looking for the next thing. It’s not necessarily elegant, and there’s always a bit of chaos. SF is kind of like the “I’ve turned 40 mentality”- it’s still very open to new things but more grounded in assimilation and effectiveness. In LA there’s more opportunity and always something weird to do- just look at the craigslist creative section.”
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