LA residents explain why they love-hate the city

Depending on whom you’re speaking with about Los Angeles, you may either get your ear talked off about the transcendence of poke bowls or the fuckedupedness of income equality, sometimes both in the same sentence.

When considering LA, or any place, one must take the good with the bad. But it seems that with Los Angeles in particular, though, ambivalence is a given. We’ve all heard the stereotypes about people being fame-hungry and clout-thirsty and fake nice, but in reality Los Angeles is an awesome place where so many people would kill to live.

There’s a lot to dissect about what’s good, what’s bad, and whether the former outweighs the latter. We talked with some cool people, both native and new to the city, to set the record straight and see what they had to say about why LA seems to be everyone’s favorite, and least favorite, place to be these days.

Whitney, 22

Where are you from? 

Woodland Hills CA. (the valley); the main geographical identification of this is that my neighborhood borders Calabasas, AKA the city that nurtured and raised the Kardashians. And yes, I saw/still see them around the neighborhood periodically.

Where in LA do you live?

Currently, I live still in Woodland Hills; last year I lived in Downtown LA.

Is there anything that defines or characterizes Woodland Hills? What’s the culture like to you?

Literally just the Kardashians. No one knows Woodland Hills for anything. Since I’m five minutes away from Calabasas, people recognize the area for the celebrity neighborhood of all these people who are so wealthy and famous. And it’s sad too because poverty and homelessness is a thing here in my town. You don’t see any of that a mile or two away in Calabasas. It’s as if they have a kind of ignorance to it since it’s not effecting their neighborhoods. Or maybe it is but they’re successfully kicking out the homeless. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me.

What are some of your favorite things about Los Angeles?

The Getty, the hole in the wall ramen places, and the used book store/record shops!

Is there anything you literally can’t stand about LA?

If I could put traffic on here three times, I would. Why does it literally take me an hour and thirty to go 22 miles???? Someone please explain this math. Like you always see those lame-ass math problems about Timmy buying 45 watermelons but what about the damn mileage to sitting in traffic ratio? I’m ANGRY.

Also probably that the public transportation system here sucks and there’s an inevitable earthquake that’s bound to happen and ruin LA.

Is there a good scene for your interests?

There is a great scene surrounding DIY/unknown music. It’s a great scene for discovering new creative interests and music, and especially for making new friends. One thing that’s hard is keeping up with the “aesthetics” kids these days. Going to a show feels like putting on your best outfit and socializing instead of actually listening and enjoying the music.

What are some LA stereotypes that are true?

More so to the Echo Park/Silverlake: picture indie art boys who make music in their bedrooms on the side and drive Uber full time to get by even though their wealthy parents are probably paying their rent, or girls who look like your favorite early 2000s pop group just raided Buffalo Exchange. This is especially evident when you visit bars like Zebulon, or Taix on Wednesday night for the “Social Club.”

What are some LA stereotypes that aren’t true?

That everyone’s vegan and on a juice cleanse. I love cheese and I hate those stupid juice cleanses, why do we need a whole shop dedicated to juicing, it is beyond me.

Do you plan on staying in Los Angeles long term?

Absolutely not, lol. I hope to leave as soon as I graduate college. When I’m older maybe I’ll come back to the valley and raise a family or something. It’s a great place for that.

Is there an “average person” you meet from LA (or not)? What is he or she like? 

On average, I meet a lot of people who are way too into themselves to hold a straight conversation. Obviously, these aren’t the only people I meet, I just feel as if these are the people who encapsulate LA and sometimes it’s hard to find a kind person. But every once in a while they come around and make you feel like you’re not alone in this city.

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Marley, 25

Where are you from?

I’m from the South Bay, a bunch of small beach towns located about 30 minutes outside of Downtown LA. Currently, I live in Gardena. I’ve lived in LA 25 years (aka my entire life).

Is there anything that characterizes the part of LA that you’re from? What is the culture like to you?

Where I’m from is like 10 minutes from the beach so we have that! Culture wise there isn’t too much going on in the South Bay, we used to be known for our beach culture (skating, surfing etc.) and we had a small stint in the 80’s were a few cool punk bands came out of the South Bay, the Beach Boys are from there too! Now though, you’ll mostly find moms running around in yoga pants and Uggs, most people from here have such a small town mentality that I’ve never understood.

Why haven’t you ever left?

I have no clue. I’ve always wanted to get the hell out of here and live in another state. But being from LA has been nice because there’s no shortage of things to do, people to meet and opportunities to have fun.

What are your three favorite things about Los Angeles?

1. The weather is unbeatable, it really is just consistently nice outside. Even when it’s raining, it’s nice!

2. Deeelicious food everywhere.

3. There is so much to do here.

What are your three least favorite things about LA? Is there anything you truly can’t stand about it?

1. Traffic

2. Traffic

3. Parking

It’s such a cliche thing to complain about, but it is so horrible! I work 16 miles away from my house and it takes me an hour and half, both ways, to get to and from work. And its almost impossible to avoid, since L.A. is so spread out you pretty much need a car to get anywhere.

What are some LA stereotypes that are true?

Oh god, there are so many! This is my fav one which I found on the Insta called @overheardla, which is also a great place to find more L.A. stereotypes:

“LA is so weird. Everyone is like, ‘Oh Cocaine on Sunday… Juice cleanse and yoga and gratitude on Monday.”

What are some stereotypes about LA that aren’t true?

That everyone here is trying to be famous or work in the T.V. and film industry. I feel like quite a bit of the authenticity of Los Angeles often times gets over shadowed by Hollywood and this idea of fame.

Would you live somewhere else if you could?

I’d like to move somewhere a little slower paced and quite. My dream is own some land with a cute little house and like have a bunch of animals, so basically a farm lol…def something you can’t do in L.A.

Do you plan on staying in Los Angeles long term?

I don’t think so. But for now I like it, the perks of living outside of the major parts of L.A. is the fact that I have a house w/ a yard which makes living here so much better. I really love my job as well so I have no reason to leave 🙂

Is there an “average person” you meet from LA (or not)? What is he or she like?

That is the great thing about this place is there are so many different types of people that live here, whether they’re from here or not. It’s hard to pin down one way to describe them.

Nathalie, 21

Where are you from? 

The suburbs of Atlanta.

Where in LA do you live?

I live in DTLA (Downtown Los Angeles)

How long have you been living in LA?

I’ve been living here for 2 years now. I’ve been studying at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and just graduated this month.

Is there anything that defines/characterizes the part of LA that you live in? What is the culture like to you?

DTLA is very historic mixed with modern. There is a lot of modern construction and expansion going on, but there is still Broadway St. Broadway is a street with lots of old theaters. Some of them are still used for small concerts or award shows. One was saved by URBN, and is now an Urban Outfitters!

In the recent years downtown has gotten a lot better. It is still an area where people don’t live, because it’s so expensive. Most people come to downtown for either the Staples Center, Last Bookstore, Grand Central Market or any fashion/art show/smaller concert.

What are your three favorite things about Los Angeles?

Food, events, and fashion.

What are your three least favorite things about LA? Is there anything you literally can’t stand about it?

Some of the people (social climbing) and traffic.

Does the good outweigh the negative?

Depends on the day. Some days are just so much fun, but some days I feel like an anxious mess.

What are some LA stereotypes that are true?

The people being fake, the traffic, so many parties. Also, there are a lot of vegan/healthy eateries. And health is a definite priority here.

What are some stereotypes about LA that aren’t true?

You don’t see celebrities every day, it’s not always sunny and hot, and it is not a perfect happy place. For example, skid row actually covers a huge area not just a street, and it’s very sad.

Do you plan on staying in Los Angeles long term?

No, I couldn’t raise kids here.

Is there an “average person” you meet from LA (or not)? What is he or she like?

The average millennial LA person can definitely be a type, and unfortunately is oftentimes someone who uses people to get to other people. A lot of people here also cancel plans a lot or pretend to like you. A lot of people in LA also wear all Instagram brands, designer, Urban Outfitters or clothing from Melrose trading post.

That said, there are so many different people here. There are business people walking around too, not just influencers. There are also some good people that are like hidden gems, and once you find them you wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Sasha, 20

Where are you from? 

I’m from NYC! I was born and raised there before moving to LA for school.

Where in LA do you currently live?

I live in Eagle Rock (between Pasadena and Glendale). I’ve been living here for the past 3 years.

Is there anything that characterizes that part of LA? What’s the culture like to you?

It’s super suburban, lots of families live here. Besides families, it’s in the process of becoming super gentrified so there are also tons of LA hipsters and LA hipster vegan burger places. The people who are attracted to this area now are very fake punk and like vintage 50’s greaser types. The older businesses in the area are really great though; there are a lot of cool stores and nice family owned restaurants.

What are your three favorite things about Los Angeles?

1. Stereotypical response sorry but the weather is really nice. It’s more nuanced than people would have you believe, not always 80 degrees and sunny. It gets really chilly at night and the dry weather makes you appreciate rain so much more.

2. Breakfast burritos are the best in the world here and they make it all worthwhile.

3. There are so many neighborhoods here that you can find anything you want. They have every store you could ever dream of and every food, you just have to find it (which is the hard part).

What are your least favorite things about LA?

1. I HATE how spread out everything is and how poorly organized the whole city is. It takes so long to get everywhere and I can’t drive so I have to Uber everywhere, or force my nice friends to drive me places. Sometimes it can take 3 hours to drive 10 miles.

2. The weather is one of my favorite things and one of my least favorite. I have to wear 2-3 outfits every day because it’s so much colder at night and in the mornings, which makes doing laundry difficult.

3. Some of the people can get so annoying. A lot of people are quite fake and self-interested.

What are some stereotypes about LA that are true?

Everyone has plastic surgery, everyone wants to be an actor, traffic is awful, weather is nice.

What are some stereotypes about LA that aren’t true?

Honestly…they’re all completely true.

Is there an “average person” you meet from LA (or not)? What is he or she like?

The average person from LA is a very interesting mix of people. They could be a vegan who shops at Whole Foods, works for the movie industry (indirectly but always talks about it), definitely drives a Prius. I think my perspective of this is very skewed though, based on where I live and how old I am, so I’m not sure how correct my perception is.

Millie, 21

Where are you from?

I’m from the Valley, specifically West Hills. I lived there for twenty one years before moving to New York.

How would you describe the Valley?

The Valley is a very interesting place, it feels like its own little bubble. Everyone kind of knows everyone, or knows someone who knows someone. I think it’s pretty much what you’d expect from movies, minus the accent; really chill, kind of slow. Two dollar Tuesdays at the bowling alley is an actual thing that actual young adults go to.

Everyone in the Valley is trying to get out, but not a lot of people actually do. Most older people you meet there have been there their whole lives. There are plenty of interesting and exciting people there, however. I grew up around a lot of cool artistic types. Lots of filmmakers and musicians.

How is New York treating you, do you regret moving from LA?

I don’t regret it at all. New York is the greatest place in the world. You never have to drive, the people are exciting, and there is something to do no matter where in the city you are. I miss LA, but I don’t see myself ever moving back.

What are some of your favorite things about Los Angeles?

Diversity. While sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, ect are definitely still very prominent issues in LA, they’re not nearly as bad as they are in other places. There are a lot of cool young people who are into activism, and that was also something I loved growing up around and being a part of. People take initiative. The youth in LA is going to change the world. I am so proud of that.

Also a given, but LA has the best weather. Hands down. I never realized how important good weather was until I moved to New York. I could always dress how I wanted, I could go to the beach in winter, I had the freedom to do pretty much anything, and I truly miss the beautiful sunny LA weather. There is nothing like it.

Is there anything you really can’t stand about Los Angeles?

LA pretty much feels like a giant clique. In the LA bubble, I was so in my head about who I knew and who I was friends with, what I posted on social media and how I was perceived; to an unhealthy point. It feels like a very small world there, and I constantly felt left out of the crowd. You’re surrounded by influencers and children of celebrities, and if not that, people who were friends with those people. I constantly felt out of my league in LA.

I’m an actress, so sometimes meeting other actors in LA frustrates me. I think you meet a lot of people pursuing fame, not just in acting but other art mediums as well and it can be disheartening after a while, because my art is something I’ve dedicated my life to studying and improving upon, and I don’t know if I see that work ethic the same way in others. To each their own, but I wish it wasn’t such a fame game.

Traffic. A given. Traffic is the worst worst WORST. I drive a car with no aux cord, all I could ever do in traffic was listen to CD’s or the radio. I learned a lot about love and dating from Karen on Love Songs KOST 103.5, and that I will always treasure.

Does the good outweigh the negative?

For me it doesn’t, which is why I don’t see myself living there again. But I am grateful to have grown up there, and miss it very much.

What are some stereotypes about LA that are true?

Traffic. It’s as bad as you think. Worse, even.

What are some stereotypes about LA that aren’t true?

Valley girls do NOT have accents.

Everyone is not fake. There are a lot of fake people here, but there are a lot of fake people everywhere and I’ve met some of my favorite people in the world in LA.

Men are not worse in LA. Everyone says they are, and that dating in LA is trash but the truth is men are trash pretty much everywhere else, too.

Is there an “average person” you meet from LA (or not)? What’s he or she like?

I think there’s a definite LA stereotype that exists in reality, but for the most part, LA is incredibly diverse in the types of people you meet. You can definitely expect to meet interesting characters there.

Samara, 21

Where are you from? 

I’m from Thousand Oaks, California! North of LA, near the valley…but we are NOT the valley. I’ve also lived in Marina Del Rey, and currently live in South Central and attend USC.

Is there anything in particular that characterizes those parts of LA?

Marina del Rey was definitely bougie LA. It’s an up and coming area and there are a crazy amount of apartments being built every day. It’s so beautiful though, and it’s right next to the beach. I now live in South Central which is a huge change from the rich area of Marina del Rey.

South Central is never boring. You have such amazing food everywhere and there are taco trucks on every corner. It is a weird culture, though, because half of the area I live in is filled with USC students paying 75k a year for school and the other half is low income families. It’s a very interesting juxtaposition.

Do you miss Thousand Oaks?

I left Thousand Oaks to go to University. I don’t regret leaving but I definitely do miss it. In Thousand Oaks you can walk in any direction for 10 min and end up on some dope hiking trail. The city is covered in trees and it’s insanely relaxing. It’s the kind of place where everyone leaves everything unlocked because you know no ones going to take your stuff. But it’s an incredibly boring place.

LA, on the other hand, is never boring.

What are your three favorite things about Los Angeles?

The weather (obvi), the amount of opportunity, and the fact that if you ever see one of those videos on Facebook talking about a cool new restaurant or ice cream museum or some other shit, there is a 90% chance the place is in LA.

What are your three least favorite things about LA?

The people are overwhelmingly sucky…Everyone is obsessed with stuff that doesn’t matter like Fit Tea or how many Instagram followers you have.

I also HATE how spread out the city is and it’s lack of public transportation. You can’t walk anywhere because everything that is cool is super far away and it then takes like 30 minutes to go 5 miles because traffic is so bad and you end up paying 20 dollars for an Uber.

Also, the income disparity in LA is insane. You can be driving through MANSIONS one second, and then five minutes later you’re driving past 20 tents set up on the sidewalk. And neither of these people will interact with each other and the rich will pretend others don’t exist even though they live right next door.

Is there a good scene for your interests in LA? 

I study Communication and Business Law. LA is a great place for Comm students. There are a million and 10 PR firms and social media is an integral part of Los Angeles. It’s also great for business law because there are so many businesses in Los Angeles that make crazy amounts of money and every business needs a lawyer.

What are some stereotypes about LA that are true?

We get cold when it’s less than 70 degrees. You will run into famous people everywhere. People are always dressed up. It’s always sunny.

What are some stereotypes about LA that aren’t true?

We’re lazy, we don’t have a good art scene, we don’t have a good music scene, we’re all rich, everyone dresses the same…

Do you plan on staying in Los Angeles long term?

We’ll see… I’m applying to law schools soon so I may be headed to New York;). But I will 100% always come back to LA.

Is there an “average person” you meet from LA (or not)? What is he or she like?

People want to pretend like there is an average person in LA but there really isn’t. Valley kids are so different from Hollywood kids are so different from south central kids are so different from down town kids are so different from….the list goes on. Beach Instagrammers and YouTubers are just a few people that live in LA, but this is such a diverse and amazing city.

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The verdict is unclear, but it’s safe to say that one’s LA experience seems to be what you make of it. It’s undoubtedly a beautiful city, filled with beautiful people and opportunity. But if traffic, clout-mongering and aggressively nice weather are deal-breakers for you, you may want to reconsider or, better yet, book yourself a ticket.

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