There’s been a lot of questions about why I, a girl who adores simplicity, authenticity and a European lifestyle would move to L.A. – a place where everything seems to go against all that I write about. People have been wondering why I would make such a move and if it’s because I’m now buying into some kind of lifestyle.
The truth is, I moved for two reasons: warmth/sun and for a creative career. Los Angeles seemed the best place. However, I too, had reservations about moving here because of everything I’d ever heard about the city (none of which was ever good).
But on a visit in September and another in December, I knew that for right now, I belonged here. Specifically Santa Monica.
In North America I have only ever lived in Vancouver BC, Banff AB, Seattle WA, Nashville TN and Lexington KY and only the last 6 years in America. So when I compare, this is what I compare against. But from my experiences, LA/Santa Monica is by far the best place. Seattle was the most judgmental city I’ve ever been to in my entire life. There’s a certain kind of person that is supposed to live there (and loves it) and if you don’t fit into that, there’s something wrong. People judged you by how you dressed, I received more dirty looks from women than I can count and being different (even just by wearing something besides navy) made you an outsider. The weather? Crap. The city itself, crap. Jobs? Crap. I was so unhappy in that city, it wasn’t for me despite many, many efforts.
Canada, though nice on a lot of levels, always felt very limiting to me by the fact that taxation is so high and the red tape for companies even higher. Jobs there are limiting and jobs in the entertainment field even more so now due to the Canadian dollar rising and Arnold wanting companies to film in California. Vancouver, once a favourite city, has turned out to me, at least, to be very uncomfortable, too hip, too trying. It also seems as though it has a cap on what you can do and right now I want to break through the roof on so many levels.
When I first came to LA, the first thing I noticed was that nobody cared what I was wearing or doing. The staring that was so often done in the pacific northwest was not done here. No one asked where I was from, people weren’t bitter or even stupid. In fact, people here are the most genuinely friendly, helpful people I’ve ever met. In the two weeks I’ve lived here, I’ve met more people who have honestly helped me than I did anywhere else. And everyone I’ve made friends with are truly authentic, creative, helpful, kind people – none of whom are in the entertainment business. Most are artists but a lot have regular office jobs. A nice mix instead of only knowing computer people or corporate managers.
In Santa Monica, there’s a farmers market three times a week which would rival any in Provence. The streets are lined with small cafes that serve very good food and a very reasonable price and the best part? Just like in Europe they expect no turnover which means you can linger for as long as you like. No waiters trying to be your friend or bitter because they have to work. Everyone seems to take their job a little more seriously here (which is surprising because a lot of peoples “day jobs” are not what they really want to do) which makes for better service.
The sunshine is amazing – it’s currently 80F/25C. People are relaxed, happy, and casual. Yes, people are attractive here but it’s in a very natural European way (in fact, there are more Europeans here than in any other city I’ve lived in outside of Europe). I’ve seen more naturally pretty women here than anywhere else – ones with simple hair, makeup and clothes. But everyone seems put together. No slop.
I live in Santa Monica and must confess to spending most of my time here. I’ve been up to Pasadena, spent time in Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Long Beach and there it’s probably more “LA.” But for me, Santa Monica feels so European – it feels like what Vancouver’s West End used to be like before it got all “cool” and in my opinion, lost a lot of that genuine feeling.
The downsides for me is that it’s very, very expensive. My rent has tripled and I live in a 700sf one bedroom without the usual ameneties and when moving I had to pay first months, last months and a pet deposit which equaled one months rent, my auto and home insurance increased, water/gas/electric/internet all went up as well and a lot of general services cost more. I moved with literally no furniture and have been holding off on repurchasing several things to do a lot of stores costing more here (so far, just the bed has been done but no frame yet). Gas is more and one tends to use more of it. I saved every penny for months before moving and have used up all my savings to be here – and there’s still more costs involved like switching car registration, licensing, parking permits and so forth. So financially, it’s been a challenge but I believe that the outcome will be worth it and that I will have more oppurtunities to create more money here than where I lived previously.
Will I live here forever? Most likely not. I still wish to move back to France and set up shop there but that’s not for years to come. Right now, I’m just so thrilled to be here – something I never expected I’d say. The possibilities are endless. Any job you can dream up you can have. Any place you want to go to is here. Or, if you just wish to hang out at a beach and quietly have a little picnic you can do that – even in January.
Stereotypes come from somewhere and there are jerks here like everywhere else. There’s the hustlers, the women with very large breasts and actors on every street corner. But L.A. is such a massive, massive place (it’s unlike any major city I’ve ever been to including London and Paris) that there’s little pockets of amazingness everywhere.
And I feel like I fit in perfectly here – Santa Monica specifically – without having to change one bit. In fact, I’m more myself than ever before.