Last updated: October 3, 2017

7 Differences Between Los Angeles and San Diego

Dating Abroad, Travel


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.

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?

PS: If you want to have success dating in California, you have to have the right knowledge of how to play the game. [eafl id=”12363″ name=”King’s Code” text=”Click here to learn what I mean.”]

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  1. Well, I was going to comment that LA is in no way “nicer” than San Diego, but that isn’t what you said-you indicated Santa Monica is. Fair enough. But trust me, LA is overall much more dirty, gritty and polluted than San Diego. I went to graduate school in San Diego but moved years ago to work in LA. I would drive from San Diego into LA and the pollution was like a brown cloud hanging over the city.
    San Diego is, in my opinion, one of the nicest cities in America. And Santa Monica is one of the nicest cities in America. Los Angeles sure as hell isn’t. 40% of the workers in the county are undocumented. That is a lot of people.
    LA is like a checkerboard. The places around the main streets are ok, but in a block or two you have some bad places. There are very few areas where you have miles of decent neighborhoods. (Brentwood, Berverly Hills, Santa Monica–the west side of town-is nice. Otherwise, it can get tough real quick.)
    Plus, Los Angeles Unified School District is nothing buy a warehouse or way station for kids waiting to go on welfare or into jail. The percentage of high school kids who can’t read or speak English is insane.
    And if you like white girls, good luck. I walk to the nearby mall for a quick lunch at the food court. 200 people and maybe 20 or 30 don’t have black hair. Remember the high percentage of undocumented workers? Plus, I live next to the greatest concentration of Armenians outside Armenia. You liberals who have been championing diversity–well, as a white guy who like white girls we are less than 20% around here.
    Everybody I make that complaint to asks me if it isn’t true that there are “a lot” of pretty white girls trying to make it in the movie industry. I suppose there are. And I would like to try to find out where they are during the week. And mixing in a few ten thousand pretty girls looking for movie work into a population of about 4 million makes it pretty thin on the ground. I don’t want to sound racist here, but we all have the right to like a certain type of girl, and I like white girls. And they are a definite minority here. I work at a professional company with 44 employees, mostly secretaries and people with advanced degrees, and maybe 20% are white 30% tops.
    If you live in Santa Monica and think I may sound racist, well, you choose to live in a part of LA that has a white majority while I have lived for well over a decade in a lot bigger part of LA that is overwelmingly non-white. And send your white kid to a Los Angeles Unified School District that is mostly black, and hispanic. See how your white kids find that experience. (I did—he got cornered on his first day by a couple of kids who told him they never say a “guy who was mostly white” before.) (If you have problems with this I hope you get cornered by some minorities in your near future.)
    Anyway–you liberals who have been demanding “diversity” for the last several decades–it’s here for me and coming to you soon. Let’s see how big your eyes get when reality hits.
    It’s funny. I go to the clubs and hit on hispanic girls. (If you are white and anywhere in LA other than the west side/Santa Monica area you better include hispanic girls in your list or you are going to have very, very limited choices.) And lots of times I get some shit test from them—-“You like Mexican girls?” is a not uncommon come back or shit test, I suppose when I approach. My true feelings – “not really, but there aren’t any white girls around,” I have a feeling, wouldn’t go over real well.
    If you like white girls, see a “Fast and Furious” movie—-the percentages of different races are about what you will see in LA.

    1. This is a great comment. And yes I do realize my general observations are biased since I’m in SM.

      I’ll be using this comment as a cornerstone of another post, probably next week; so keep an eye out.

    2. I dig this post but, yeah, Santa Monica is the most expensive town in LA County (at least in terms of average rent) so it’s definitely not representative of LA as a whole.

      Most of LA is dumpy, the logistics are horrific (extreme sprawl and traffic), and the women are unbelievably flaky and entitled.

      1. Absolutely. But I wouldn’t want to live in a lot of places in LA except SM.

        Downtown. Hollywood. The list just ends there.

    3. Guard, there is no need to put a disclaimer out there “this may sound racist”… Because you are a racist asshole! I am considering relocating to California and just researching which is better, Santa Monica or San Diego. After returning from LA for a few weeks I had the chance to visit some great areas, Santa Monica was the best. Yet I must say LA is very diverse which is a PLUS because Whites do not rule the fucking world. You have wealthy African Americans, Hispanics, Italians, Asians etc. If your preference is white girls then good for you, but you can leave all that other racist bullshit out.

  2. Each city has its pro and cons.

    LA is more popping, it feels big and lots more going on.

    San Deigo is more laid back and peaceful, though there still a large population here.

    LA can get hotter and the golden hills get pretty dry. The air quality is bad.

    There is a reason why San Diego is called “America’s finest city” it’s 75º year round pretty much. San Diego feels more tropical and green, kind of has a Hawaii feel to it. San Deigo’s air quality feels fresh and clean. Balboa Park and the zoo has an amazing tropical feel to it, the plant life nice and green. While San Diego may feel like a tropical microclimate, as soon as you go outside SD and start heading more inland it can be more brownish and dry (due to drought and other factors. That’s really the case along any of the coast, the weather is better, plant life more green, etc

    LA does have some nice beaches, but San Deigo county also has some amazing beaches, like Coronado, Encinitas, La Jolla.

    What’s amazing about San Deigo is you can go from the desert to the snow covered mountains, to downtown San Deigo and the beach. It’s very diverse.

    If you’re looking for more action, Girls, want to experience more fomo, etc visit, LA.

    If you’re looking for a way more relaxed vacation, with fewer people, less traffic, less pollution, better weather, and much more, visit San Diego.

    They are both nice places to visit, and what’s even nicer is they are not that far apart from each other 2-hour distance from LAX to SD. Travel is only going to get faster. Who knows, maybe once the Hyperloop (800mph) is complete, they can take a 7+min detour from LA to SD, and people can stop whining about which place is better and have more time to visit them both.

  3. No offense but , the above is 100 bullshit on a toasted ass. The beaches in San Diego are far better than the cesspools like Venice . The hood beach doc Wiler , of the hideously crowded and overrated Santa Monica . Tru about the wanna b’s, bit how is that a plus ? Rich kids paid for by daddy going on audition s and 99 percent never making it , eventually becoming homeless . Smog traffic and crime (see bars on the windows in many hoods ). Most who live in LA would love to live in LA f they had a job here

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