Relocating Asian: LA vs. NYC (London: how much, transfer, elementary school)
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So my firm finally approved my request to hop the pond and work in its US offices. I'm a Southeast Asian currently working in London who was raised and educated in Sydney...get all that?
I've briefly visited NYC and LA in the past and have narrowed my prospects to those two cities. I work in financial services and some buddies of mine, have told me that being of Asian descent will give me more leverage in LA vs. NYC, despite NYC obviously being the financial mecca in USA.
I've never even considered there to be a difference in acceptance for Asians between the two cities since I figured they're both so diverse. But after considering my somewhat different experiences as an Asian in Sydney vs. London, I'm starting to believe I might be a bit naive about this and my buddies are right?
Has anyone who's experienced both cities noticed any major attitude differences for Asians, or other minority group for that matter? I consider myself pretty thick skinned (despite this post) so I don't fall apart whenever I here a slur at a bar, but to have several non-related people tell me I could climb the ladder quicker, or in general be more accepted b/c of my race in LA vs. NYC was really unexpected. Thanks in advance!
PS Reasons for LA = I love the sun and beach
Reasons for NYC = I'm at awe every time I visit, so many options in a small vicinity
Asian means something different in the UK than here. But you SEA, and ten bucks say from Indochina. I do know people in the accounting firms in LA, they are ALL Asian. I swear to god, your friend is right. Asians from the Bay Area gravitate to LA for financial positions. LA, unlike SF, has more connections with Asia. The intensity of business relations here with Asia seem to be more intense than anywhere else in the US.
Asians are not exotic in LA/SoCal. They're pretty much a given here. You can find them anywhere, and I haven't experienced Asian racism since elementary school. Because of the large peasant Mexican population, you may 'hear' Chinito/a being said, but it's of no consequence. I think in NY because of the persistence of moneyed WASP culture, it's harder to belong as an immigrant let alone from Asia. I've been to NY and they do have pockets of Asian population, but the larger ones are in Queens. Their presence seems to be magnitudes smaller than in LA.
Asian culture in LA are composed of primarily Korea, Chinese, Filipino, Thai, and Vietnamese. That means, hands down, Asian food is better here than anywhere else in the US, ESPECIALLY our Southeast Asian cuisine. You will love it!
Thanks for your post Desert. I actually had a coworker who trained here in London and re re-iterated your sentiment. He, of Asian descent, grew up in Weehoken, New Jersey (supposedly right next to NYC?) and moved out to LA for and after college. He told me he felt less of a minority in LA then he did where he grew up.
He never got into specifics, but I figured it was just b/c he was younger and had a different perspective. I never really put much weight to his words until I came to his situation, and after having met others reverberate his view.
You think it's b/c Asians are more spread out and less pocketed than in NYC? Or maybe it's just the "laid-back" vibe that LA has that they really don't give a crap? Despite my firm being quite large and international, their is still an old boys club (read straight/WASPish) system ingrained in its culture (at least in the London office) so I know how much of an effect office culture/perspective will have on my career.
Thanks for the food tips, there are actually some great, authentic Asian rests in London, despite our crummy reputation for food in general!
NYC is king for financial. I lived there for six years. It is very diverse and it is not uncommon to walk the streets of Manhattan at lunch and hear multiple conversations around you in different languages... much like London. I also lived in London for a year and loved it... didn't want to leave but was just a temporary assignment.
I think you should think about your salary and what sort of lifestyle you're looking for. I would forget about the racial thing. NYC is really expensive (way more than LA from my brief research), but very walkable so U don't need a car... and it is really convenient if you live on the west side of Manhattan (more subway lines on the west side)... but the winter can be brutal. I'm moving now from Atlanta to LA. Both Atlanta and LA share some traits in that they are spread out and U probably need a car. Traffic can sometimes be maddening in Atlanta... just as I hear it is in LA. It would typically take me 45 minutes to drive my 7 mile commute on Friday eve.'s in rush hour (which lasts until around 7:30 PM).
I really loved the NYC lifestyle, but I got greedy and cashed out. Didn't realize what I would miss until I left and then it became too expensive to be practical for me to return. What left an impression on me was how everyone in NYC that I told I was moving, was passionate about trying to make me reconsider... even the teller at the bank whom I didn't even know!
I agree with all of the above posts. I've lived in both NY and LA before as well (and I'm Asian), so I guess I'll add my .02.
Based on your post, I agree it would be wise to choose NY for the exposure and to gain an understanding of the way the company operates in the US and then decide if you want to transfer again. As many have said including yourself, NY is the financial mecca (although I think these days London actually has the leading edge). LA, as I understand, acts more of an outpost for specialty financial services such as private banking. The lifestyle and pace would be a huge adjustment in comparison. You might have more freedom and comfort of "not being an exotic" in LA and love it (like I did)- I feel there is an entrepreneurial spirit there that I did not sense in NY (but that is just my own opinion), but there is some risk you won't get the chance to go to NY if you don't like it there.
I understand what people have said about NY being diverse and yet still somehow segregated. Years ago when I worked for a large bank there, I found it interesting though strange to see quite a difference in the racial mix of people as I visited different departments, from finance, marketing, systems, operations even between cash and securities. But, like someone else said, I would forget about the racial thing. Having ties to Asia will put you at an advantage with today's emerging markets.
Posted this in NYC forum too and it seems the consensus is LA.
FYI I'm in high-net worth group, meaning I deal w/individuals as opposed to strictly i-banking, hedge funds, or private equity. Had I been in the latter group, NYC would be the obvious choice.
As much as I think LA would be a great fit long term, I can't pass up the opportunity to be in NYC. I feel I can always request to be in LA down the line, but I can't say the same for NYC since competition for spots there are 10X more intense. My assignment is only for 1.5 years so I figure that's a good time frame to experience NYC.
I feel I'll always have the option to check out LA if NYC is too much for me...can't really say the same about NYC since everyone wants that city on their resume. I think I'll give NYC a try and run west to the beaches if it gets too intense.
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