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SF vs. LA: "Level of Difficulty" in Day-to-day Life?
A friend of mine (who lives in West Hollywood) recently visited me here in SF, and commented that SF seems like a harder place to live than LA. She's lived in LA for about 10 years and feels like life there is pretty easy in the sense that there's a laid-back vibe, the ocean is warm enough to swim in, the weather's sunny 360 days a year, she goes surfing on weekends, rides her bike a lot, etc. She does work a full-time job during the week, but feels like in general the lifestyle in LA is low-key. She hasn't lived in SF before, only visited.
To each their own, but I feel like life in LA would be more difficult in the sense that it's car-centric, sprawling, there's heavy traffic, and the weather being sunny most every day would get to me (I dislike snow, but do like rain sometimes, as well as chillier weather).
What do you think? Which is "easier" to live in -- SF or LA?
Los Angeles is easier in the financial sense because you get a lot more for what you pay in housing, with the exception of a few posh beach towns and the hills. Try finding a 2 bedroom/2bath place in SF with parking spots. I can find a comparable place in LA for 30% cheaper than in SF, and both places have great public transit options. Good luck.
However, it is easier to get around in SF without a car, actually one of the easiest of any American city. I can take one bus line to Golden Gate Park and Glen Park. Grocery shoppng can be done without a car. It's easy to get around to different restaurants locally once you understand the public transit system- yes, it's not always high quality but the coverage is the best west of the Mississippi. To get out of SF city proper, it depends on where you live. I live right by the highways, so I get down into San Mateo County very quickly by car.
I would probably agree that living in LA would be "easier," although that doesn't necessarily mean its better. Kinda depends on what you prefer. San Francisco is definitely cramped - buses are crowded, grocery stores have long lines, apartments are smaller, a lot of people don't have cars which can cause logistical problems - its not an "easy" place to live. But there's a ton of benefits that come out of that density - street festivals, walkable neighborhoods, interesting skylines, parks that people actually use, interesting people everywhere, diversity - stuff that is more difficult to find or less accessible in LA.
I could definitely live in LA, though. Living in one of the beach towns would be great, and given how crazy rent is here it would probably be cheaper.
Day to day life in SF was easier, but that's mostly because personally I never left my neighborhood in the Mission. And work downtown was close by too.
Getting around SF beyond I wouldn't call easy. It is a huge hassle. BART is limited, the Muni lines are constantly late, and the buses are slow and crowded. The 9 San Bruno every morning was actually a dreaded sardine can on wheels. L.A. bus PT actually fares well in comparison IMO.
Having lived in both and currently in the Bay Area, here are my observations:
1/ LA offers a better value in terms of housing, more selection and definitely a better deal than in the Bay Area. (Homes are also larger in LA.)
2/ LA is more crowded and congested, and hence, the traffic is worse than the Bay Area.
3/ Cost of living in LA, is generally about 5-10% less than the Bay Area. Going out to eat is more expensive here in the Bay Area and other things (utilities, cable) are more expensive here in the Bay Area.
4/ If you work in entertainment, LA is the place.
5/ If you work in technology, the Bay Area is the place.
6/ Because the Bay Area is more compressed, the public transportation is more efficient (generally).
7/ I find that a lot more people in LA are "on the edge" (more stress?) than in the Bay Area.
Based on my experiences, I would say that LA is tougher from a day to day experience. I also don't feel that LA has a "laid back" vibe to it. It feels edgy and tense, to me.
Hop on the freeway at any hour and you will see what I mean.
SF is more expensive in all aspects. Sure there's public transportation, but you're paying for it. If you prefer cooler weather obviously SF wins there, but sun-lovers would prefer LA. Public transportation lacks in LA and so you're completely dependent on your car which is not always fun given the traffic issues, BUT.... what LA has that SF doesn't is a sprawling feel with far more diversity in neighborhoods and destinations than SF. I feel SF is cramped and congested while LA spans far greater distances and within one day you can be in what feels like several different little cities. True, entertainment = LA and tech = SF.
I have found SF people to be FAR more stressed than in LA. It's tough to live in both places b/c neither are cheap, but it's tougher in SF to afford a decent quality of life. This adds to people's stress levels. Plus, don't tell me the lack of sunshine 30%-ish of the year doesn't affect people's moods. I think LA is more laid-back and SF is more high-strung.
L.A. is a heck of a lot easier if you have a car and like to use it. San Francisco is easier if you don't once you get the ins-and-outs of public transportation down. I have a house in the Sunset (a "little boxes" type), am two blocks from the MUNI stop and work downtown. My routine is no stress at all as long as protestors don't try to shut down BART/MUNI stations out of the blue.
L.A. on surface streets is pretty good too, but all that goes out the window if you have to deal with freeways at rush hour everyday.
LA is much easier in living day to day life. First of all, everything is lower priced for the same exact item in SF. 2nd, there are more services and retail outlets available. The variety and competition is fierce for the consumer in LA. Not so in SF where there are retail stores who have a monopoly because of little competition, driving up the prices. 3rd, there is too much queing in SF. Whether it be scarce parking spaces or lines out the door restaurants because they don't have enough competition, you have to wait everywhere you go in SF. The Muni system is terrible. People rudely pile into the busses like a russian food line in winter. People are crushed sardines in Muni. 4th, the weather is horrible in SF. It's so cold that people where heavy coats which causes them to have a mean defensive personality. In contrast, LA is warm and people work out more, keeping their bodies in shape and not becoming fat like SFers. In LA, you'll see people proud of showing their legs. You can actually wear a dress in LA. In SF, ladies wear these thick pea coats to cover up their fat. 6th, people are actually nice in LA. They are laid back and relaxed. Not so in SF where they're all frigid and have something to hate.
They're very different places. Los Angeles is more like a giant San Jose than San Francisco, in that it's spread out far and wide and most people drive so they can get around more efficiently. And if you compare those cities side to side as far as housing costs, living expenses, congestion, and even climate, you'll find they are much closer comparisons. What San Jose lacks, of course, is the liveliness that comes with being the entertainment capitol of the world.
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