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7 Differences Between Los Angeles and San Diego

I’ve had the great pleasure of living in two great California cities in the last five years. I spent my college years down in San Diego, and a couple years after graduation. I loved the city, most of the time; enough to write a book about it.

Recently, if you’ve been AWOL on¬†This Is Trouble, I took a new job opportunity up north. And by north, I mean two hours away in the beautiful beach city of Los Angeles – Santa Monica. Admittedly, Santa Monica is not truly the full “LA experience”, in many ways. It is an isolated little town and I find little reason to leave on most days. I can walk to the beach and work from my apartment, shopping and grocery stores are a plenty, and I have no desire to sit in traffic. Therefore, due to the circumstances, I tend to stay pretty well put in my little “bubble” of Santa Monica. In two months here, I can’t say I’ve ventured far outside of Santa Monica more than a half dozen times.

I had never liked the idea of living in Los Angeles. I always said it would be something that I would never do. I am very glad that I moved to Santa Monica. I’m not sure I would have been as happy in any other part of LA. It is probably the most similar to San Diego out of all the Los Angeles neighborhoods. So while the points below may be slightly adjusted towards the Santa Monica lifestyle, I believe two months is the point where I can make an accurate assessment on the differences between Los Angeles and San Diego.

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Differences Between Los Angeles and San Diego

1.) People in Los Angeles are more motivated than people in San Diego.

Even in the beach town of Santa Monica, I’ve found the overall work ethic to be better than most in San Diego. This may because LA is just a tougher city, and San Diego is such a…relaxed vibe. There is no other way to explain it. The only exception to this would probably be Venice, which definitely has some characters.

2.) The ratios are much better in LA.

If you’ve read my previous posts about San Diego, you would know that a¬†good night out on the town would be a ratio of 3 guys for 1 girl. Your average night would probably be more around 5 or 6 dudes for every girl. This is partially due to the numerous military bases around the city, and the fact that nearly all of the military¬†like to go out and pollute a venue with terrible game.

Los Angeles is definitely better – though many guys complain how awful it is here. At least you can find places where there are only 2 guys for every girl.

3.) San Diego has better Mexican food.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some good places in Los Angeles, but not on every corner of every block like there are in San Diego.

4.) Santa Monica, at least, is nicer than San Diego.

Most of the beach parts of San Diego are dirty. There’s graffiti everywhere, trash in the streets, and everything is run down. Santa Monica is extremely clean and beautiful.

5.) Nearly everyone in LA wants to be a part of “the industry”.

Probably 90% of the people I’ve met fall in these categories:

  • Works in film
  • Wants to be actor/actress
  • Wants to write
  • Wants to be a musician

Unfortunately every one I’ve met is still working towards their ultimate goal. The odds are against them.

6.) San Diego has more of a bro culture.

Don’t get me wrong, people in LA are in great shape. Overall though, there seems to be less meat heads walking around the gyms with massive biceps and chicken legs. The steroid use is lower. People in LA seem more into the whole organic, clean scene.

7.) You feel like everything is a bit bigger in LA.

Nothing like New York City, mind you. San Diego though, for a population of over a million, still retains that small time vibe. There is none of that in Los Angeles. You feel smaller, but a part of something bigger. You feel like you know nobody. The neighborhoods are vast and numerous. It feels like opportunity.

What do you think? Have you had the fortune to experience both these cities? If so, do you agree or disagree?

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  • December 23, 2014
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