Why I Left Southern California
I lived in Southern California for many years before deciding it was time to move on. I was not born there, but like many people moved to the Golden State in search of dreams, thinking that if you couldn't have fun in California you couldn't have fun anywhere. While I lived there, nearly everyday was perfect, or at least good enough that the weather was no excuse not to get outside and do something.
A lot of people think of California as the ultimate place to be: sun, sand, perfect weather, and beautiful women. All of those are true, though the women are not quite as beautiful as one would expect - I'll explain later. In fact, the hardest part of leaving was saying good by to the weather. Just about everything else was easy to say goodbye to. Let me explain the reasons I left Southern California for good.
No, It Was Not Due to the Earthquakes
I only saw one earth quake while I was living in California and it was pretty mild, a 3.0 to be exact. One day I was sitting in the living room watching TV when I felt a shake. It was only later that I found out it was an earthquake. Most people who live in the state don't even think much about the possibility until one hits. Sure they joke about it, but no one is letting the possibility slow down their day. The people who talk about and fear earthquakes the most are those who don't live in California.
Cost of Living
First of all, yes the cost of living is miserable. I moved to California with a roommate, and the cost of renting an apartment was a real sticker shock. Easily twice what I was paying back home. My first trip to the grocery store had me second guessing my decision to move since everything was a little more expensive. All those pennies add up.
Things are so expensive in California that most people are living in homes with extended family members. If you don't live with family, you have roommates. A hand full of people that come from outside the state into high paying professions can make it - but even they complain.
The downsides of the cost of living is that most people are working as many hours as they can at multiple jobs. I worked 7 days a week for awhile. That just isn't sustainable, and I have more than a few friends who have moved on due to the cost of living. The other downside is that since things are so expensive, it's hard to enjoy all the things California is known for - if you are not broke, you just don't have the time because you are working.
You've probably heard that California taxes are high, and they are. What's even more stupid is that some of the poorest counties have the highest taxes. So the state thinks it's a good idea to take more from the poorest people. Most counties have a tax rate around 10% and that means everything you do is even more expensive.
As high as taxes are, they are always trying to raise them. I voted 'no' to tax hikes regardless of what the state or county claimed the increase was for. That's because somehow the money gets funneled elsewhere, then they want another tax hike for the thing they said the first one was for. I made the mistake once of telling a friend that I voted against a tax increase to fund some school program, and they beat me up about it. I said well how high can we go before we are all broke?
On the surface, California people seem really open and friendly. Everyone is trying to get to know you, and find out where you're from since there are so many transplants. It doesn't take long to realize why: everyone is networking.
Just about everyone is Southern California is a wannabe actor/musician/artist and therefore they are looking to find people who can help with their career. If you can't help them, most don't have an interest in continuing the conversation. People will add you on social media just on the chance that you might be someone, or become someone that can get them a role or gig. You'll have a huge following or friends list, but still be lonely on weekends.
I was in a popular club on Sunset Strip once when a 21 year old blonde came up and asked for my phone. I asked why and she said she wanted to give me her number. I thought wow, I got it! A few days and texts later, she asked if I was a producer or director. I said no, and we never talked again.
You can make real friends in California, but it takes time. The natives are just as tribal as people in any other state. Wary of outsiders and sticking to themselves. Quickly made friends are usually the fellow outsiders just trying to make it, but most outsiders end up leaving and heading home within months.
Dating in California Sucks
I think dating everywhere sucks, but it's worse in California. I imagine it's much like any large city where you have a pool of people trying to match up with someone who can forward their career. I am attractive enough that I matched up on dating sites and apps with some really attractive women, but rarely did it go beyond a few conversations or a single date.
One time, I hit it off with a raven haired knockout who started planning our first date - which included a high priced restaurant, dancing, all the works - all on my dime. I said "I was thinking we could meet for coffee first" and she said that she was accustomed to successful men who "treated her well".
The date never happened. I was doing pretty well for myself, but not well enough to meet the standards of women who were use to celebrities inviting them to pool parties. The first date I had in California was with a girl from Laguna Beach who told me that the previous weekend she was at a party where Dennis Rodman dropped by. I knew it was going to be tough after that, but I did ok for myself while dating. It's definitely a class based culture, and I knew my roots.
The Women Are Not As Beautiful As You Think
Watching television, it's easy to fall into the belief that people in California are beautiful. Sure, there are plenty of attractive men and women in Southern California, especially in the Los Angeles area. Probably a higher percentage than any other city I have been to. But you're just seeing the creme of the crop and many are from somewhere else in the world.
Overall, the people are average and derive most of that beauty by working out and taking care of their bodies. Fitness is part of the culture, and with so much sunshine it's easy to be active. Beyond that, IMHO, the faces are not on par with what can be found elsewhere. LA girls know how to do their makeup and sell what they have. Plastic surgery and around the clock tanning covers the flaws, but ages quickly. As a result, most women in Southern California just looked fake - especially to an outsider like me.
Now that I live in another part of the country, I can honestly say that the women I see are just as attractive if not better.
Immigration is a Real Problem
I had many friends who were kids of immigrants, and many of their parents were in the United States illegally. One friends dad was caught after being here 20 years illegally and threatened with deportation. Only then did he decide he wanted to do things the right way.
Another time, I went with a friend to Mexico - helping to drive her dad down to a spot he was going to retire to. Along the way he told me about how many years ago he snuck into the United States illegally by moving at night along the coast. Now that he had worked here 30 years, he was taking the money he saved to buy a piece of property in his home town to retire and live well.
Before living in California, I didn't really have a sense of how bad the immigration problem was. Sure, you hear about it, but California is the biggest source of illegal immigration. I worked for a company doing sales that had a warehouse. One day I came into work and noticed it was a ghost town in the warehouse: someone told me that there was an immigration raid late the day before, now shipping would be slowed to a crawl as we scrambled for employees.
People say that illegals only take jobs that Americans don't want or will not work. That is a lie. Every fast food restaurant and small business I went to in California employed people who didn't even speak English. Where I live now, I see average people and teenagers working their first job at places like that. Illegals do take jobs from Americans.
Another time, I saw a guy crash into a phone pole, then drag his bloody friend out of the driver seat and leave him laying there before running into the nearby community. I stuck around long enough to find out that no one had seen him when the cops asked. Everyone is looking the other way. Even if you feel just a little bit that illegal immigration is wrong - you don't dare speak about it in California because everyone has an uncle/cousin/grandma that is here illegally.
Cops and Cameras
Let me start off by saying that I have a lot of respect for cops, and have had several friends who were cops - the good kind. But in California, there are a lot of bad cops. I never saw anyone get beat up, but did see a lot of cops who seem to nitpick and look for petty things to harass people over. But they pick and choose who to target and it's not who you think.
In my experience, cops look the other way when it comes to illegal immigrants. I never saw them get pulled over. The illegals were easy to spot - they always had old cars leaking oil or puffing smoke. Beaters that even my Mexican friends would joke about. I think there is an unwritten policy to just leave illegals alone.
California has emission requirements for any vehicle, but I witnessed cars driving down the road puffing clouds of smoke and they never get pulled over. I even saw a guy driving down the road one time chugging tequila and the cop that rode by looked away.
On the other hand, cops in California know every rule when it comes to car modifications. I received a ticket one time for a modified exhaust, but all I had was a $5 chrome cover over the end of the muffler tip. That was not a violation according to the law but I still got a ticket. Many of my friends received tickets for little things like that as well.
I get it, cops need to justify their jobs and write tickets and boy do they. For everything. On top of that, red light cameras are everywhere and I swear some of them are rigged. I've seen red light cameras go off after the car was in the intersection. How do you fight that or prove that you were already in the intersection? Each infraction goes up in price as well, and so does your insurance.
Living in California, I can honestly say that I hated it almost as much as I loved it. Being able to drive to the beach on a lunch break was an amazing experience, unfortunately due to the cost of living - quite often that was the highlight of my week.
A lot of people dream of experiencing life in the big city, and to those brave souls I encourage you try try it. You only live once. Eventually though, I think you will find that the quality of life in a smaller locale far surpasses that of the big city. And the stress is way less if you ask me.