Is L.A. Now Cooler Than San Francisco?
This originally appeared in my Broke-Ass City column in the SF Examiner
Los Angeles is the world’s biggest high school. Celebrities function as the “popular kids” and like high school, much of the social life is designed around being in the same place as them with the hope of being noticed.
At least that’s the icky part of Los Angeles, the part that most people either absolutely love or absolutely hate. Growing up in San Diego and then spending most of my adult life in San Francisco, L.A. was like the obnoxious family member who you rolled your eyes about whenever they were brought up in conversation. It went far beyond sports rivalries, it was more of a cultural one.L.A. was gauche, vapid, and superficial, whereas us Bay Area folks saw ourselves as sophisticated, cultured, and intellectual. The funny thing about this rivalry was that it was one way; most people from L.A. either didn’t know it existed or simply didn’t care.
Things have changed though and Los Angeles is having a really amazing moment. Over the past decade, as San Francisco and New York have become cripplingly unaffordable, many of our most brilliant and talented people have fled to the land of eternal sunshine and endless traffic. I’ve seen the best minds of my generation buy a car and get a nice tan.
The sad truth is that L.A. is now cooler than San Francisco. I know, I can’t believe I put that in print either, but it’s true. Part of what makes L.A. so rad is that it’s big enough to be whatever you want it to be. You don’t have to deal with all that Hollywood jive if you don’t want to, each neighborhood has a culture in itself. And that’s the heart of it, Los Angeles is not a city as much as it’s a million little villages held together by freeways and thoroughfares. And these little villages are absorbing some pretty wonderful people.
We often talk about how so many of the interesting and creative non-tech people who were in San Francisco have moved to Oakland, but we have to be honest with ourselves, a ton of them have also fled to L.A.
My girlfriend and I spent Labor Day weekend in L.A. hanging out with some of our favorite people. We hiked in the hills behind Griffith Observatory, traipsed through dive bars in Silver Lake, drank rice wine at a downhome Korean pub in Koreatown, shot bows and arrows in Laurel Canyon, and grubbed at a 65-year-old steakhouse. While all that was great, it only mattered because the people we were with were fantastic. Many of my most interesting and inspiring friends have landed there.
Not only is Los Angeles (slightly) more affordable, so many of the people who have landed there from S.F. or N.Y. are seeing their careers take off in ways they weren’t before.
From film to music to writing to comedy to art, my friends in L.A. are absolutely killing it right now. It’s magnificent to see.
Another thing that has helped make L.A. a better place is the rise in popularity of Lyft and Uber. One of the worst parts of L.A. was always the fact that you had to drive everywhere.
Now that ridesharing is commonplace, the giants sprawl of LA is far more manageable.
When I visit I can see far more friends and way more neighborhoods.
So what am I getting at? Am I moving to LA? Nah, it’s still not for me. I love San Francisco even she often loves me back. I’ve been able to create a really unique and amazing life here where I get to make cool things while also helping people live their best lives. But people ask me all the time if I were to leave San Francisco, where would I go. I still don’t have a definite answer but, after every trip I take to Los Angeles it creeps farther up the list.
Howdy! My name is Katy Atchison and I'm an Associate Editor for Broke-Ass Stuart.
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