I’ve Finally Found A City I’m Ready To Call Home… Eventually

There’s not a day where I don’t pinch myself for how lucky I am. Not only do I get to do what I love for a living, but I have virtually unlimited flexibility. I “work” a ton of hours, though being able to do so from anywhere in the world is such an incredible opportunity.

So I figured I’d recap my journey a bit until now, and then talk about how I’ve found a place where I’m finally ready to settle down… eventually… I think.

New York, Florida, Seattle…

For what it’s worth, I was born in New York, and lived there for the first several years of my life. Then then I was young we moved down to Florida, where I lived until I graduated college.

From there I made the decision to move to Seattle, after much thought… I chronicled that extensively on the blog. Seattle was a city I’ve always been captivated by, as someone who loves airplanes, nature, and coffee. And it’s a city I’d absolutely consider moving back to in the future at some point.

Seattle-3

Prior to that I had lived on the east coast all my life, and realized it really wasn’t for me. Admittedly there are many parts to the east coast, but something just felt more “right” about living on the west coast. It’s tough to explain, but as someone who has never had a “traditional” job and didn’t go to a fancy school or have a fancy job title, the west coast just felt so much more accepting. And as someone who is generally pretty tightly wound, I found the more laid back attitude on the west coast to be good for me.

Then I moved into hotels full time…

Due to a variety of factors (relationships, the fact that I was traveling about 75% of the time, etc.) I decided to move into hotels full time as of last April.

I reflect on my decision to live in hotels almost daily. Shortly before I moved into hotels I figured I’d either love it with a passion or hate it with a passion. But the truth has been somewhere in the middle… or maybe I’m just maturing.

I guess my sentiment about living in hotels can be summed up as follows:

  • Living in hotels has given me so much freedom to actually spend time with friends more than was previously possible. When I have a few days off I can fly just about anywhere and hang out, which I previously felt guilty about when having a home.
  • At the end of the day I’m truly living my dream. If I could tell 14 year old me that I’d be living in hotels and flying nonstop he’d tell me to go to hell, because that literally sounds like a dream come true.
  • But this lifestyle also takes a toll on me — mentally, physically, and in a way, socially. My recent health scare sort of reinforced that for me. Traveling constantly is awesome. Constantly being jetlagged isn’t. Having mental freedom is awesome. Living your life day-by-day and constantly moving (or maybe even “escaping”) isn’t, in many ways. Having friends all over the world is awesome. Not seeing them more than once every few months isn’t.

So I’m having a blast doing what I’m doing, but I also recognize I don’t want to be doing this in a decade. I want to have a home, and a dog, and be in a relationship. That’s what’s actually important to me, at some point.

I know where I want to move… I think

The biggest roadblock in me actually living anywhere has been trying to decide where to live. I’m an incredibly risk averse person nowadays, so typically I won’t change anything about my life unless I see a compelling reason to do so. So part of what has kept me living in hotels past the initial year has been trying to decide where I want to live. I’m not giving up this pretty awesome lifestyle to move to a city I feel lukewarm about, at best.

I’ve been to dozens and dozens of cities all over the world, including many in the US. And a lot of friends give me tips about where I should move — “you should live in New York,” or “you should live in San Francisco.” But as much as I like visiting those places, I can’t actually see myself living in either.

But I’ve found a city I really, truly, honestly love… and 90% of you will likely think I’m crazy.

Los Angeles?!?

LA is a polarizing city… people either love it or hate it, in my experience. And I do think most people simply hate it. LA has a lot working against it, not the least of which is terrible public transportation and arguably not the most “substantial” human beings in the world.

Los-Angeles

But I love Los Angeles. Why?

  • The weather. I know this is something others maybe don’t care about as much, but I’m someone who loves nice weather. I get miserable when I’m in bad weather. I can’t handle the cold. When I’m in LA I find myself saying “ugh, isn’t the weather amazing?” every five minutes. So while it might not be important to others, it’s probably the single most important thing to me in deciding where to settle down.
  • 20 cities in one. LA has terrible public transportation. But part of that is because LA is so damn spread out. That’s something which drives most people crazy, but I sort of love how it’s 20 cities in one. From Beverly Hills to Santa Monica, there are just so many “unique” areas within driving distance. And if we’re talking about trips within driving distance, you have everything from San Diego to Santa Barbara to Las Vegas to Palm Springs.
  • It’s not that expensive. Admittedly this is a relative point, because LA is still expensive. But since so many have suggested NY or SF to me, I think it’s worth pointing out that LA isn’t that expensive. San Francisco is a great city, but with the cost of living and mediocre weather, I just don’t think I’d be happy there. As far as New York goes, I love visiting it, but it’s just too busy for me. I would feel like I’d need to escape.
  • There’s something electric about LA for me. You know how some places have the “X factor,” where we feel sort of energized just be being there? LA gives me that feeling. I can’t explain why. But LA feels special to me. I can’t really explain it…
  • A lot of my best friends live in the area. I’m generally an introvert, so I’m not someone who could handle going out with friends every night. That being said, several of my very good friends live in LA (or within a couple of hours drive), so I wouldn’t be moving to a city where I don’t know anyone.

Beach

Bottom line

Am I ready to change my life tomorrow and settle down? Nope. But for the first time since living in hotels I’ve actually found a place I could see myself (happily) settling down.

Though given the flexibility of settling down anywhere in the world long term, something tells me I’ll get some flak for picking Los Angeles of all places.

Am I crazy?

Comments

  1. Having livd in five countries I have fond memories of living in Laguna Beach ( 45 minutes south of LA I know) and would move there in a heartbeat! And I know live in San Francisco. So no not crazy…..

  2. What does it mean in practice Ben? Do you plan to end traveling around the globe full-time? When do you move to LA?

    Btw, don’t call yourself introvert. The reason why you might consider yourself is that you speak less and think more than the average people. In my terms it’s wise, not introvert.

  3. Does it matter if you are crazy?

    I could never live in LA. I hate to drive, I need a place where things are close by, where I don’t need a car. I need seasons, I need weather. I live in Busan, the Hoboken of Asia. You would go crazy here. I love it.

    Live where you want. If you like LA, go to LA. You are allowed to change your mind.

    (Be careful about the dog: someone has to stay home.)

  4. To each his own. I personally loathe LA. I feel like it’s the most overrated city in the world and terribly fake. It’s decent to visit, but a pain to live in thanks to a high cost of living, smog, horrible traffic, superficiality at every turn and did I mention horrible traffic? It holds no charm for me. I avoid that place. Personally, I would like San Diego (if your think is awesome weather, great beaches and an electric vibe). LA is just a crowded, silicone, celebrity-packed cesspool that lacks authenticity or any real personality.

  5. I figured this would be the case based on your frequent instagrams from hotels in Hollywood. I spent 3 years in SoCal & had a lot of fun but it was too much traffic & people to live in full time for me. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said LA is like 40 cities in one though, hell you can basically take a tour through asia without ever leaving it.

  6. I think LA would be a great place for you, so long as YOU have people to share your life with.

    I thought you’d list another reason to settle down… Maybe you’ll agree that Southern California has some amazing looking specimens. Even if they be a little shallow at times.

    Here’s to hoping you get even luckier and find yourself a nice one to settle down with. Or travel in first class. Or watch romantic sunsets over the Pacific Ocean… Or wherever your heart takes you, Ben…

  7. You are finding out what I found out when I lived out of a suitcase. At the end of the day, its the personal relationships that you miss when you are a vagabond. It was impossible to develop a serious relationship when I was on the road. I had a lot of boyfriends, but no one permanent. I also honestly believe that you have to find a city that feels like home. And when it does, and you know it, go for it. LA is an amazing world city, like no other. It didn’t feel like home for me, so I didn’t move there. Never ‘take flak’ from anyone as to where you choose to live. Home is where you say ‘This must be the place’. Go for it!

  8. I think the bad rap people give LA is totally undeserved. I’ve spent a ton of time there (about 90 weeks) in the past five years, and I love it. I think the people are far nicer than they are given credit for, and I don’t think the traffic is that terrible, either (I would take the traffic in LA over the traffic in NYC or DC any day of the week). Beyond that, weather is great, food options are endless, you can be at the beach and in the mountains at the same time…I would totally live there if life circumstances were a little different.

  9. Ben,
    LA with horrible mass transit, traffic jam and smog… I’d trade these with four seasons weather on the east coast.

  10. Congrats! As a native San Franciscan it’s in my DNA to hate LA but I lived there a few years and there are parts that are great. Sure, there are a lot of vapid souls but there’s great weather, cute neighborhoods, arts, ethnic markets, and more. You’ll love it.

  11. Awesome decision Ben! I moved to Santa Monica from the East Coast a few years ago after being born and raised in Long Island, school and afterwards in DC. I spend most weeks on the road for work and there is nowhere else that I am happier to return to that Southern California. The weather is amazing and I really do enjoy the massive variety of things to do in the area. I absolutely love it and have no plans of leaving.

    I’d definitely recommend living on the West Side (Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Ray). The weather is more temperate (~65-75 for 95% of the year), the vibe is more relaxed, and you are close to LAX. You may also want to pick Santa Monica just for the name cred– it’s pretty funny anytime I tell someone that I live in LA, I get the “are you serious?” face… When I tell them I live in Santa Monica, it’s all jealousy. If you do live in Santa Monica, I’d highly recommend Ocean Park/Sunset Park or the Monata Area. I’d avoid the 3rd street promenade like the plague.

    If you ever need any advice, please shoot me a note. And when you are settled, we should get together for a drink!

  12. I actually would have guessed San Diego for you but hey, if youre boyfriend lives in LA, then go for it!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  13. Shhhhh…. you’ll let the secret out. LA can be (is) a great place to live.

    And if you are looking for an area to live when you travel a lot — Marina del Rey. Close to the beach, close to the airport. I often take a bus to the airport (if the flight isn’t too early), You can also quickly get to Santa Monica, Downtown Culver City by bus. Even downtown LA is easy to do with transit. Oh, and we’re on the beach bike path, once of the prettiest I’ve ever ridden.

  14. Well, I’m biased because I’ve spent my whole life in LA, but I think it’s a great choice. There’s so much to do here, and you really can’t beat the weather.

    Looking forward to (eventually) welcoming you to La La Land!

  15. Lucky I agree with you.
    My partner and I have also been actively considering moving to the LA area in the future for many of the same reasons as you!

    San Francisco is too expensive and weather too iffy
    San Diego a bit provincial and conservative for us.

  16. you can still live in hotel and travel slower. i have been n the road for over one year and i dnt feel exhausted at all… but again, i dont fly as much as u, only 350k in 2014 and 150k in 2015 so far.

  17. LA? Really? Hope you always save enough time to make it to the airport and find a great doctor to help with all the respiratory issues you may face there. It is a nice place to visit but….. that’s about it.

  18. I totally get what you mean about east coast vs. west coast. I have a lot of friends with east coast roots who moved to the west coast and have never looked back. I AM surprised you didn’t choose to return to Seattle. However, the choice is so obvious in retrospect. Drinks with Lisa and Ken, dinner at SUR or Villa Blanca, more drinks at Pump. It will be a RHOBH/Rules crazyfest. What’s not to like? But will it be Team Kyle or Team Kim?

  19. Welcome to the neighborhood!

    Public transit isn’t as bad as people say. I’ve lived here for over 16 years and have never owned a car! It’s possible to movie around without too much hastle.

    As others have pointed out, stick to the westside. Avoid beverly hills (not worth the money) places like the marina and santa monica and Culver City are great neighborhoods.

    I’d be happy to share my experience and knowledge of the area. Feel free to get in touch. It’s about time some of us returned the favor!

  20. No Lucky, you aren’t crazy, you just possess stunningly poor taste. I’m sure you’ve seen this manifest itself in other ways.

  21. Three points. Taxes, taxes, taxes. California? Ugh.

    California has really tricky tax rules if you run a business from there, even in part and even if for not very many days. That’s a separate point from the residency rules should you try to maintain official “residency” in Florida.

    I’m not a tax expert by any means — not even close — but I believe you’re about to commit fiscal hara-kiri. You no doubt know more than I do, I sincerely hope.

  22. When you say LA has terrible public transportation, are you aware that there is now valet parking at Runyon Canyon? Yeah. Things are changing.

  23. No you are not crazy. I was born and raised in northern California and grew up despising southern California until I was forced to transfer there by my job. Ended up loving it there. So when I was transferred back north, I still fondly recall my days in the southern part of the state.

    Welcome to California – a state full of dreams, the seventh largest economy in the world, great diversity of people and cuisines, and still my home. Best of luck!

    p.s. For those who think being an introvert means you are shy, that is not the case, although people often use that term as that description. Being an introvert means you lose energy being around people. So an extrovert will love a big party with lots going on, while an introvert is more likely to sit with one or two people or prefer to be alone to recharge.

  24. Lucky,
    I think you’ll love it! LA is such a great place to live. I totally understand visitors hating it for all of their reasons, but I loved living there. That said, if you ever tire of the big city, you might consider the Central Coast. We’re in San Luis Obispo, 3 hours north of LAX. We’re near the ocean but far enough away (10 miles) to avoid the fog. There’s so much to do, the weather’s great, and we have been named America’s Happiest Town: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Happiest-City-in-America-San-Luis-Obispo-Video

  25. It seems like nobody cares that there is a massive drought.
    Oh well. You’ll be sorry.

  26. Is Hawaii an option for you? If I had the chance to work/live there…I think I would move instantly.
    On the other hand, it might get boring after some years…

  27. I totally get what you mean about traveling so much. I haven’t traveled nearly as much as you have, but I have traveled a lot (I’ve been to 28 countries, many of them 10x or more) but all that nonstop travel is for the young. Its not all its cracked up to be, and you stop appreciating it…especially when you do it all the time. Its called the law of diminishing returns.

    I’m 43 now, with a wife, 3 kids, a dog, 2 houses(1 in PDX and 1 in PHX) and everything that goes with a stable, normal life. We don’t go out on the town much, we stay at home a lot. We go to movies and we garden. We watch TV and play games. We do travel to Europe once every 18 months or so and to our house in PDX 3x a year…but that’s it. What’s funny is that I love it! I wouldn’t have loved it 10 years ago, but I’m in the family mode now, and being a little older, it feels really great. I get more joy out of my kids and my tomato plants than any first class flight.

    When I was 30, cities excited me. I wanted to live in SEA or SFO or BCN or CDG…now all I want is the countryside. PDX is the biggest city that I can handle, and its too big for me. Our tastes change as we get older. I know I don’t have to tell you this, but be flexible man…..nothing is set in stone.

    but dude, LA sucks.

  28. Ever considered a move out of the US? Vancouver and Toronto are both great cities in a great country, and the US is within a couple of hours drive of either of those (not sure if that’s a good thing 🙂 ).

  29. Lucky if your boyfriend is there than this is the perfect city. Even if your date is in International Falls, MN then that would be the best place on earth. Poor weather – thats why we have the AC. Excellent weather wears down quickly.
    I lived in the LA region where I met my husband and have moved since to SFO and PDX and currently living in NYC. Weather, transportation, traffic seems like nothing when you are with your favourite person.

  30. Ben, I think what’s most important is that YOU’RE happy. Everyone on this blog will have an opinion, and one person’s reason for loving a city could be the reason another hates it. Everything is relative.

    If you want to live in Los Angeles, congratulations and more power to you. Ignore the crazies.

  31. It’s funny how it looks like a really hard process to choose one place to settle down when the whole world is available to you.

    Glad you found a place that suits you!

  32. Interesting choice…if I had to move to SoCal, I think that I would prefer San Diego over Los Angeles. Granted, global non-stop connectivity is not as good there (which is probably a factor in your decision).

  33. Hey lucky – first (hopefully of many) comment from an avid reader.
    I’ve actually been struggling a lot with that question of where to settle down also. I know that I would eventually like to end up in LA area, since my parents are there and it’s a great place to raise kids (which seems like very far in the future for me given that I don’t even have a serious girlfriend yet!)
    Every time I visit LA, though, I can’t seem to find the right neighborhood to fit in to. As you said, LA is like 20 cities in one, and I’ve explored probably 8 of them.
    Have you decided on which area you’ll call home? How did you make that decision?

  34. fires, floods, earthquakes and riots. LA is a great place. Yea, its expensive, but i agree there is a vibe here. Don’t live in LA proper. Live in Marina Del Rey, Santa Monica, Culver City, Torrance or the beach cities. Close to LAX and great communities. Good Luck and make sure you carry you’re survival kit with you at all times!

  35. Welcome to Cali, traffic is gonna suck but who cares we have GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS.. and we have food, not good or great food.. but phenomenal food. Especially in LA you will eat your heart at for cheap.

  36. Tom, it is hard to get around CA taxes even if you spend only part of your year in CA. I was advised by to divest all real estate properties and business there and make a clean break when I decided to move to Florida for tax relief. Apparently CA is very strict about residency and want their “share” of your income based on percentage of days spent in the state, and will go to great lengths to get it.

  37. More people are moving out of CA than moving in, including illegals, because of the insane fiscal policy of the state. Maybe you’ll be ok when CA goes on the Drachma. lol

  38. @David–don’t knock BH until you’ve tried it! 😉

    In all seriousness, Beverly Hills, while lovely, is very expensive when compared to comparable neighborhoods (as David mentioned). Santa Monica would probably be a great fit.

    We should have an LA meetup to welcome you to the neighborhood.

  39. I’d discount the ’20 cities in 1′ factor, what I’ve noticed is that because of the traffic folks are loathe to leave their locales unless they have to, so pick your neighborhood wisely.

    I’d second the San Diego suggestion because it has even better weather, but you almost always have to connect if flying internationally.

  40. Would be San Diego or South Orange beaches for me (San Clemente). The rapid trains to LA and San Diego make it transit-friendly.

    Close-in trips from LA are nice; Hawaii and the surprisingly new hip Las Vegas. $40 fares LA-LAS.

    WeHo isn’t cheap.

  41. Absolutely not crazy – and with all due respect (bearing in mind we don’t really don’t know each other), I think it is important to have a real place to call home. I don’t travel 1/10th of what you travel – and you know that I love travelling, bearing in mind you don’t know me, but what you know of me, you know what I mean – but that’s because I want to have some sort of life. At home. And it’s lovely to be back – and home is pretty damn nice too.

    As for LA, I love it – and it is one of the few places in the world I would consider moving to one day. I play the ‘would we live here’ game very often with Mr O and LA is the only place we could see ourselves living in – for all the reasons you mention exactly. We visit every year religiously at the end of August and I’m counting the weeks until it is time to go back.

  42. As a native Angeleno, we’re ready to give you a warm welcome whenever you decide to settle down here. 🙂

  43. Home is wherever you feel at home. I think it is more intangible than anything else. As an example, I am passionate about traveling bit I always enjoy coming back home and being in someplace where everything feels right and is predictable.

    Do what feels right, L.A. or elsewhere. You can always reevaluate in the future.

  44. Hi Lucky,

    Just curious is the reason why you are top tier of Hyatt, Starwood, Hilton because you stay at hotel all year long? When I moved from NY to Oregon because of an attractive job offer after college graduation, I stayed at Hilton Garden Inn for 9 months( I did not want to settle down in OR). But I did not earn any status because I booked everything on Priceline. I should’ve read your blog earlier since graduation from college.

  45. I moved down here 10 years ago (I’m from the SF Bay Area), and while it took me some time to get used to, I’ve finally gotten to the point where it feels like Southern California is my “home.” I agree with you that LA is polarizing, but I love it here now, and totally agree with you on your “20 cities in one city” point. It’s a great place that has a little bit of everything.

  46. I was born In England, Lived there until 22, Moved to Cairns, Australia of all places, Enjoyed the hot weather for a few years, Moved back to England for 1 year, at 28 Moved to San Diego where I have been living for the last 4 years.

    My office is in LA and San Diego. I do enjoy my work trips up to LA , and I do find the vibe very different , but the traffic kills me.

    I guess what does work for you if you do live in LA is you probably won’t drive that much as you can work from home. But you would need a car to go anywhere half the time.

    But I do prefer living in San Diego, for me its a big city with a small city vibe and I really do love living here. The weather has its benefits 🙂

  47. Being that you look up to Justin Lee Ross as an idol, I’m not really all that much surprised by this

  48. Welcome to the neighborhood! If you ever need the occasional home-cooked meal, let me know (no double miles on dining at our house though).

  49. I don’t think I’d ever like LA, but just because I have different answers to what you listed about weather, vibe, west coast life… it sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into it, and come up with a logical answer.

  50. @ Ryan — Indeed. Staying in hotels 300+ nights per year sure helps with earning top tier status.

  51. @ PennAdam — Truth be told I don’t have many friends there and while I didn’t mind the weather, LA just seems a lot more attractive at this point. I see Seattle again at some point in the future, but just not yet.

  52. @ Hayk — Nope, that remains the big question for me as well, so can certainly relate. Pros and cons to so many of the areas…

  53. @ Thomas_888 — I like Hawaii in theory, but the timezone is a real killer for me, as someone who likes to be up by 8AM ET no matter where in the world I am.

  54. @ 31583 — Don’t have a timeframe yet, and don’t plan on changing anything immediately. Though when I do settle down, I think it’ll be in LA. That’s all I’ve decided as of now.

  55. @ Terence — Haha, a hub isn’t necessarily good news. It means higher airfare, and I certainly don’t mind connecting and earning more miles!

  56. Definitely 2nd San Diego… Has pretty much everything LA has to offer, but is way more laid back! Might not be as “world-class” of a city as LA (which really just means less museums and stuff), but has better weather, less traffic, a tiny bit less expensive (which is not by much, at all), and better Mexican food!!! Much, much safer as well.

  57. Lucky, why don’t you update us on your progress in all the hotel chains that have lifetime membership elite status (and how close u r in achieving each of them)?

    I guess once u are more or less there, it is indeed time to settle down.

  58. Also, also, also I think it’s an unfair comment to make about the substance of the residents of this city. I’m a native Angeleno (born in West Hollywood-giggles, raised in Palos Verdes-LAish, and lived everywhere), and I know amazing people here. I’m also one of those “the limited circle is pure” kind of guys. One of my closest friends from Paris (and very, very, very Parisian) loves this city because he knows it. He hated it the first time, but after dozens of visits it is his favorite city in the world. This coming from a freaking Parisian… Anyway, once you start spending some time here, I hope to run into you.

  59. As a native Californian, I lived the majority of my live in the SF Bay area. Loved it and still do. Then went to Seattle for 18 months and loved the city and hated the weather. Got a chance to move to LA area and immediately lived in Seal Beach (single heterosexual male and older than you at the time). Love it there. Now I reside in Orange County (no longer single with a teenage daughter. Don’t let the traffic bother you. You will find it just becomes a part of your life and you basically ignore it and plan on it. (I work downtown LA when not at the airport for business travel). You can find a place to live near transportation, great food all around, easy transit to LAX either from $20 shuttle or bus to and from train station.

    On the selfish side, I look forward to reading some blogs on how you booked your trips to and from LA. I have been locked into United for a few reasons but may be the next AA convert in 2016.

  60. I am honestly happy you are thinking about settling at some point. Unfortunately my writing skills in english are not good enought for me to make a big point here about how much I think it is important for someone to have a few things in live. A place to come back whenever things go too wrong, and that doesn`t mean going back to your parent`s place. Someone to look after, when we loose sight of what we truly want to be in live of what the hell we are living our lives for. Love is somehow always the answer for the unexplainable.

    I have only one suggestion to you. Be close to a major airport. You are not changing how much you fly today.

  61. As one who moved from Seattle to Long Beach for his husband’s job, life in the LA metroplex isn’t that bad. Live where you can get to the airport easily… the equivalent of living where you can commute easily! Marina del Rey has some really nice apartments. And, actually, West Hollywood to the airport isn’t that bad if you know how to get there avoiding the freeways. Live somewhere pretty. We live on the marina in Long Beach, close to my husband’s work. There is a lot of ugly in LA, but living where it isn’t is really nice. Take advantage of the great things the city has to offer.

    I miss Seattle… not so much in the middle of the winter… but LA can be a good place to be if you make decisions which match your lifestyle.

  62. Great choice Ben! Outside of cost of living, LA is really a great place to live. I always tell people that LA might not be the most charming city to visit for a few days as a tourist, but when you live here and experience the city as a local, it’s awesome. Would love to meet you once you’re here.

  63. Yes, you are crazy. And I say that as a SoCal native who lived there from the time I was born until about 8 years ago (I am in my mid-30s now). Many of us who grew up there either want to get out or we end up sticking around for one reason or another. I’ve been living on the East Coast for the past 4 years and love it. Yes the weather sucks, but you all have seasons out here! Leaves turn colors other than green and a pukish brown! On the other hand, many of my East Coast friends can’t wait to move to California.

    I visit about once every other month, and try to fly into SNA when I do. It’s a tease: the weather, the freeways that work (I generally arrive before or after ‘rush hour’), the ’20 cities in one’ as you put it, and damn good taqueria (check out the truck that sets up shop nights on the corner of Union and Washington in Pico Union, if its still there). But then I remember that I’m only visiting and not having a quotidian existence, which for me included a daily commute of anywhere from an hour to two or more IN EACH DIRECTION, depending upon the tens of hundreds of thousands of other drivers whom I have no control over. And I was only going from the San Gabriel Valley to the other side of Downtown!

  64. I grew up in California, and if someone told child/teenage me I’d someday be a British citizen living in Oxford, with the English countryside literally at my doorstep and London within an hour…I would have handed them another glass.
    I think you need to be happy with who you are, as you’re the same “who” no matter the “where”. If you’re not content with who you are, no “where” (or, nowhere) is going to do that for you. From what I remember of you (when I knew you in person, and I do miss those days) and from what I read of you now, the “maturing” you speak of has served you well in that respect.
    I was JUST in L.A., and can see you thriving in chilled-out California. But that seems to still be a bit down the road for you, and who knows what can happen between now & then.
    It’s like driving down the PCH/California’s Highway 1. Sure, you want to keep a thought on your eventual destination. If you see a few cars off the side of the road, chances are there is a great beach down below, or great redwoods above, or a delicious fruit stand/cafe/taco-truck around the corner, or something worth stopping for. One keeps an eye on a destination, yet not at the expense of enjoying the detours.

  65. Welcome to LA! Moved here last year from DC and it definitely is different. Live in Santa Monica, and honestly, I think it’s the best place to live (if a person can afford it). Walk to the ocean in a few blocks, generally clean, lots of restaurant options, and close to LAX. I’m curious to see where you decide to live in LA because I know you lived in Bellevue because you thought it was cleaner. I totally was going to guess that your choice was going to be San Diego!

  66. @ Victoria

    I lived briefly in Beverly Hills so speak form experience!

    I second the meet up idea! It would be good!

  67. I think you should live in East Hollywood or DTLA. Forget the Westside, so car-dependent.

    You could also act like a member of the LA Kings and live in Manhattan Beach for its LAX-adjacency…

  68. Born and bred Angeleno here.

    What a lot of people say about LA (smog, traffic, horrible public transportation, etc.) *used* to be true (or is still true, but to a far lesser extent than is intimated). As Curtis Stone (of Top Chef and Maude fame)said “LA is a horrible place to visit, but a fantastic place to live”. I agree, at first glance, LA is a hard city to figure out (hence the comments about uncultured people and horrible public trans) but if you’ve been in the city long enough, there comes a time when you “get it” and thoroughly enjoy LA for what it is – a great cosmopolitan city with nice people, fantastic food and culture, and great weather.

    LA used to be the smog capital of America, but that hasn’t been the case for the last 20 years. LA is the biggest adopter of alternative fuel vehicles, and also has very stringent policies concerning emissions and air pollution. While LA will never have the cleanest air, it is also far from having the dirties/worst.

    The MTA was ranked as the #1 rapid transit system in the US recently and is expanding rapidly through the city. The Aqua Line that will run through Santa Monica(connecting from Culver City) should be done in a few years. The extension of the Gold line further east should also come one line within the next decade. If Beverly Hills NIMBYs would get their heads out of their asses, the extension of the Purple Line through the Wilshire Corridor through Westwood may be completed in our lifetime. Once those are up and running, within one or two connections on a bus, you’ll be able to get to most anywhere you want.

    As mentioned before, great food can be had at multiple price points throughout the city. $1 tacos? check. $5 gourmet burgers? check. $6 thai lunch specials? check. $10 all you can eat Korean barbecue? check.

  69. I grew up in Massachusetts (for the most part), and when I was 22 the image that I had of L.A. was pretty much the collection of stereotypical negatives. But this is where I found a job, so I came here thinking it would be temporary. That was 31 years ago. I’m never leaving.

    OK, there are some vapid people here. Some make careers out of it. I found myself driving behind Angelyne just the other day! But millions of people live here, of all kinds. Most of us have nothing to do with “the industry,” and wouldn’t recognize most celebrities if they sat in our laps. We have Caltech and the L.A. Phil, and so many other great institutions. There’s no nerdier/brainier set anywhere than the folks who play pub trivia at O’Brien’s in Santa Monica on Wednesday nights.

    Interesting that so many people say you have to live near the beach. I’ve always lived near WeHo and have mostly worked downtown; I don’t go west of Doheny much at all. But that’s not a bug; it’s a feature. You’ll find your place!

    Also – as crummy as LAX is for many transfers, it’s really not bad as an origin/destination airport.

    P.S. Here is the venue for your welcome meetup: http://www.nowboardingla.com/

  70. Ben,

    As soon as I saw this, I thought…LA!! Not sure why, just a feeling. Congrats, its an awesome city/metro area!! The only people who dis our wonderful paradise are those who do not live here, or have only been here on vacation/business.

    I was born in the UK, lived in NYC, Denver and Miami…..none of them come close.

    Exploring LA is fun….so I wish you happiness here.

    Of course non stop flights to pretty much everywhere except Africa and most of SE Asia…so whats not to love for you 🙂

  71. @ Ivan Y

    International Falls is my dream place to retire. Despite the cold, you can afford to live in a gigantic house on a lake with abundant wildlife all around. For a price less than the cheapest property you could buy anywhere in California, including the inland desert areas.

  72. You sound exactly like me, trying to find somewhere to be stable at, but no actual place meeting the mark until you found the one.
    As an introvert, I also like Los Angeles, you can be a completely unique person without inflicting yourself on your life, but also finding the perfect people to spend time with due to the unique districts of LA, (like westwood, santa monica, downtown etc.)

  73. I forgot to mention, there are MAJOR renovations going on at LAX. TBIT is already the best international hub in the US, Alaska Airlines renovated Terminal 2, Delta renovated Terminal 5, United is renovating Terminals 6/7, I also believe Terminal 4 is being renovated by American. In 5-10 years, LAX will undoubted be the most impressive airport in the US.

  74. Met you in Centurion in DFW last year in August. Would be cool to get drinks when you are in LA. 🙂

  75. LA???? I’d hoped for somewhere better. All LA is good for is a jumping off point for international trips.

  76. I totally agree with you Ben. I’m so grateful that my parents dragged me to LA in 1959 from Boston and I’ve travelled the whole world and there is no other place that I would rather live

  77. Lucky, we Angelenos really do have a good public transportation system. Norman’s comments are good, but not quite right.

    The Expo (Aqua was the original name) Line now goes from Downtown LA (DTLA) to Culver City with connecting rapid buses to Santa Monica. Next year, it will go all the way to Santa Monica, four blocks from the beach.

    The Gold Line, which starts in East LA (*wonderful* Latino food), past Little Tokyo (*great* ramen at Daikokuya but with a helluva wait), through Union Station and out to Pasadena now; next year it’ll go to Azusa.

    An express bus service (Orange Line) goes across the southern part of the San Fernando Valley, connecting in North Hollywood to the Red Line subway that goes to Universal City, Hollywood, DTLA, and Union Station.

    We even have another subway line! The Purple Line subway goes from DTLA to Koreatown; construction has started on the extension to Westwood (UCLA).

    There are two other light rail lines plus both rapid and local buses that blanket the city. The major problem with the buses is our traffic, which can be very difficult at rush hours. I live near Culver City and my partner lives in Pasadena; going back and forth takes nearly 2 hours by car at rush hour and less than 1.5 hours by Metro Rail.

    Metro fare: $1.75 for two hours in the same direction; no charge for transfers. And there are Flyaway express buses that take freeway carpool lanes from Union Station to LAX and vice versa every half-hour around the clock: $8.

    A lot of millennials don’t own cars: they choose to live and work within walking distance of Metro Rail. When they need cars, they get ZipCars or use Lyft or Uber. The money saved on car ownership, insurance, and parking can pay for a nice apartment upgrade and/or serious partying!

    As to activities and events near Metro Rail, [shameless plug] see our LA by Metro blog: http://metroduo.wordpress.com/. It hasn’t been updated lately — we’ve been pretty busy — but it’ll show you how to use Metro Rail and give you some ideas on cool stuff.

    LA iis a great place to live! Come on down!

  78. Ben, As you know I live in LA (Hollywood) but would never be so audacious as to recommend one city over another in regards to where you settle (realizing that no such move has to be considered as permanent). Though a native of Manhattan (up to leaving for college in the Boston area), since graduate school I have lived and worked in Washington, DC (2 years), New York (an additional 12 years), Paris (8 years), the Principality of Monaco (4 years), San Francisco (10 years), Miami/Fort Lauderdale (4 years) and have now been in LA for 10 years and intend to remain here.

    The observation I’d like to make here is that I have found that, while there are common denominators, the nature on one’s environment does impact one’s perspective. What I like about LA is that despite (or perhaps because of) its geographical size and diversity, it lets one adhere to their own persona, while the dynamics of another place can in some regards be overwhelming (New York’s bustle & competitiveness, San Francisco’s stunning geography, etc.).

    Since you prefer staying at the Andaz West Hollywood, I assume you will probably focus on that area, which is certainly central and convenient, as well as being animated.

  79. You are quite right in saying LA is “cities”. My suggestion to you is to continue your vagabond ways even once you’re ready to settle down, at least for a while. Spend some time in some different areas, perhaps even ones you’ve not previously considered. Certainly, Santa Monica deserves some attention, as does Venice, Culver City, Silver Lake, the south bay beach towns (Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, El Segundo). Also spend some time in Pasadena, Long Beach, and, maybe, even some parts of the San Fernando Valley.

    I grew up in Long Beach, so I’m very biased, but, for me, it’s almost perfect. It’s very affordable (by LA standards), it’s got good road and light rail connections, its airport is undersung, it’s got beaches, great neighborhoods, a vibrant intellectual life and, yet, for all this, it’s a manageable size and has a sense of place that’s unusual in Southern California.

  80. Garry – you are right. LA is getting pretty good about public trans. And even some bike lanes.

    My biggest beef with the public trans is that lack of airport support. That’s pathetic.

    Anyway, for all of you LA haters out there: Fine!

    We know we’ve got it good.

  81. I love LA! I agree with your point about 20 cities. I didn’t grow up here but after a few years, I feel connected to the city and am continually amazed by the culture and diversity here. A never-ending adventure through the city and surrounding areas.

  82. I would be remiss go also mention that starting next year, LA will also roll out a city wide bike share network a la CitiBike in NYC. We also have a wonderful quarterly event called CicLAVia where whole areas are closed to car traffic and opened up to pedestrians, bicyclists, exercisers, demonstrators, etc for an afternoon of car-free enjoyment

  83. I lived in los angeles full time for ten years in the 60s and 70s. Remember the street cars; shame they took them out. The traffic is easy if you know the terrain; you don’t really NEED the freeways or the main boulevards if you pay attention.

    The only caveat I would offer is one I’ve learned over more than fifty years: figure out a way to own your residence free and clear. I know that sounds quite crazy if you are under thirty or forty; but I wish someone had told me that in 1961! Learn that cash flow is DIFFERENT from blocks of capital. Make sure you get yourself financially sound as soon as you can. Don’t pay interest. Don’t waste money on things when you need to make sure you have a secure bolt hole. hth,

  84. Hey Ben, whatever feels righ to you, so LA is a good choice. I lived for many years in San Francisco and enjoyed my regular visits to LA. I’d echo the suggestions for the West side. But the next city to live in doesn’t have to mean “settling down” forever. if you like San Francisco (except the cost and weather) and LA feels right, how about a few years in another city that has an SF-vibe with better weather, like Sydney? It has some of my favorite things about SF and LA weather and beaches (although starting work at 8am EST would be tough…) or Cape Town – great weather , walkable, good vibes,… Or finally, Buenos Aires, lots of fun, good weather,… so many great cities, a chance to travel in different regions of the world and LA will still be there in a few years…

  85. I find myself saying the same thing about the weather while we visited there. Love it! Good for you Ben and good luck!

    Kate

  86. Welcome to the neighborhood! Those of us who are lucky enough to hail from LA will tell you that it’s just the folks with stars in their eyes who tend to personify Shallow Hal. The natives are perfectly down to earth (says the LA-born/bred dude who still struggles to recognize celebrities at LAX).

  87. I’d rather be homeless than live in that hell hole of a city. Just a giant festering turd of a city

  88. LA is definitely having a moment. It’s got a lot going for it, as well as a few little issues like traffic, drought, and taxes. But why not? A lot of transplants have found happiness there.

  89. I’m not surprised at Lucky choosing LA as a likely place to stay long term, as it fits him on numerous grounds (particularly, a major airport hub for international and domestic flights, with pretty much every airline of interest to Lucky servicing LA).

    However, I consider the greatest challenge he’ll face is staying put. It’s easy to complain about the on the move lifestyle, but actually doing something about it will be hard. It’s what Lucky is used to, and is firmly entrenched. He’s going to find it very hard to fight old habits when it comes to putting down an anchor. Itchy feet can be a curse!

  90. Wow… you’ve got quite the devoted readers, myself included! When I was younger I was one of the East Coast types you mentioned and I looked down on LA. Now, not at all. I think it could be a great place to live, lot to do, and lots to do nearby and, of course, a large airport. As I swelter in DC in the summer and freeze in the winter, the climate of LA looks pretty darn attractive. Only thing I wonder about is the dog. I think it is possible you’d have a difficult time leaving it so much…unless maybe you have friends willing to care for it while you are away. But I suppose where there’s a will there’s a way. A dog can’t be more limiting than the two children I have!

  91. For a traveler the one reason I would pick San Diego over LA is how close SAN is from downtown, and how many condos downtown and in Mission Valley are still (more) reasonably priced thanks to the bubble. You can walk from downtown to the airport, and quite a few people do. That’s not possible with LAX.

  92. As a native Angelino who has lived in the South and Midwest, I understand the the need for consistent tolerable weather. Hope to welcome you to the city soon.

  93. When I got married I gave my wife a list of 5 places I didn’t want to live and L.A. was on that list. Fast-forward many years and we are now living in L.A. and loving it. We have lived in 12 states, 3 countries, and L.A. comes out on top for us. People that haven’t lived here don’t understand the city, hell its not really a city. It is 100’s of unique neighborhoods mashed together. Sure there are tons of pretentious hipsters to make fun of in WEHO and Silverlake but the working class neighborhoods far outnumber the painfully ironic. Sure traffic sucks……but its dependant on where you live in where you want to go. Live in the Southbay and you can get to LAX in 20 minutes on any given day and have the best weather in the world. While living in the Southbay why not work in Torrance, Long Beach, El Segundo, etc and never have to deal with traffic? Want to explore farther away? Traffic on Saturday and Sunday is relatively light and allows you to participate in even the most far flung event with a minimum of aggravation. Like food? There are more varieties within a 20 minute drive of ones house than offered in other cities as a whole (and they are dirt cheap). L.A. is a popular target that is often trashed by people that have never lived here. Its not a city for tourists for sure, its too spread out, but its a great city to live in for the right person.

  94. Geeze, I was impressed with the public transportation in Los Angeles. I stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Redondo Beach. For a $6 day pass, I rode the 109 Beach City Transit to the subway, then up to Burbank for a day at Universal Studios, then back to Redondo Beach in the evening. With gas prices the way they are in SoCal, $6 was a steal.

  95. Ben, I work as a management consultant and travel the world 3 weeks out of each month. I live in Long Beach (20 miles south of LAX), and its heaven to me! I have been here 20+ years and its a wonderful community that is highly diverse, (white, black, asian, latino, gay, etc.) We all get along, have wonderful neighborhoods, and a real city (with a flourishing downtown, arts scene, great restaurants), and a wonderful local airport (LGB is my airport of choice if I can go there from there… I often take the AA flights to PHX and connect there just to avoid LAX), but as a traveler, being an $11 cab ride and 10 minutes from LGB, 30 minutes to either LAX or SNA, its a travelers dream! I hope to welcome you to Southern California personally!

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