Don’t Move Out of Los Angeles & Expect To Come Back

April 17, 2009

Whether you’re into sun tanning at the beach or into shopping on Rodeo Drive, you can do just about anything in Los Angeles. With so many great options, outsiders may wonder why people even think of leaving Los Angeles.

When I graduated college, a few of my friends mentioned to me that after college they wanted to get out of Los Angeles. While I respected their choices, being an LA native my whole life I had to question their reasoning. Perhaps it is just my biased opinion, but LA is unique compared to other cities. No where in the United States can you find a city as large and as diverse. Yes, you can make the argument that other cities are just as diverse, but not only is LA diverse ethnically, but it is diverse in its personality. LA is known for having the ‘glitz’ and ‘glamour’ but it is more than that. Living here my whole life I realized when I visited other large cities that LA has a personality unlike any other. LA has a sort of swagger to it. Perhaps it is the laid back nature of its citizens on the weekends and the intense workaholics on the weekday’s that give LA such a unique balance of work and play.

So what makes people leave?

While it may not be the million dollar question, it is a question that has many possible answers.

Cost of Living

California has the 3rd highest cost of living in the United States and 2nd if you only focus on the continental United States. Take that into account with California being the 2nd highest in cost of transportation, you couple a pair of unattractive numbers. While these numbers pertain to the whole state of California, it is important to remember that Los Angeles typically has the highest numbers within the state which correlates to Los Angeles having the highest cost of living and transportation.


According to a report by Forbes in 2008, Los Angeles has 9th worst traffic in the United States for commuters. To be honest, I won’t deny that the traffic in Los Angeles is bad, but speaking with LA natives, it is something you get used to. Similar to how you get used to waking up early to go to work, you get used to having a 10 mile drive turn into a half-hour ordeal.


Just last year, the American Lung Association published that Los Angeles was 1st in U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution and U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Ozone, and 2nd in U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-Term Particle Pollution. I can try and reason how we are close to the ocean so it’s not that bad, but to tell you the truth the numbers speak for themselves.

Gas Prices and Taxes

Did I mention Los Angeles is constantly in the top 3 of gas prices? In a city where citizens consider driving a job, gas prices are a silent killer. When you see your car hit the ‘Empty’ line, you feel sorry for your wallet.

Sales tax in California is among the highest in the nation so when LA natives visit other cities they are sometimes surprised at how low the tax is in other areas. Unfortunately, the surprise is short lived once they return to the ‘glitz’ and ‘glamour’ of taxes.

With so many reasons it is a shock that we all don’t leave. Perhaps it is the aura of Los Angeles that pulls us in and makes us not want to leave, or the culture and lifestyle that we want to be part of. Whatever it is, Los Angeles gives you the opportunity to be and do whatever you want. If you leave, it may not be so kind to you.

While I mentioned that Los Angeles is among the top in the United States for cost of living and transportation, Los Angeles county has among the highest average salary wages in the United States as well as having the honor of being the 14th richest city in the world and 2nd in the United States based on personal net earnings in 2008. Based on a 2008 Sustainability report, Los Angeles also ranks 4th in Metro Transit Ridership, 4th in Knowledge Base and Communications and Solid Waste Diversion, and 6th in City Innovation.

When deciding to move you should always take some time to look at the situation from a business aspect. Financially is it the best move? Take into account your future plans and weigh it against your choices and see how it would play out depending on what you choose. While you obviously can’t predict the future, you can always hypothesize and come up with a realistic snapshot. When leaving Los Angeles it is important to note that depending on where you move, you will most likely see a different pay scale which may lead to a lower income. Thinking years down the road, once you leave Los Angeles, it becomes difficult to move back and try and start a life again because of the financial barriers that you will encounter. If you are already in Los Angeles, you may be already ‘used’ to it and able to manage.

One of the biggest reasons why people move out of Los Angeles is obviously because of financial issues. If you plan to one day come back to Los Angeles I would suggest that you do one of two things.

  1. So you have decided to move out of Los Angeles and that you plan to come back one day. That is great, but what about all the fun stuff that happens between leaving and coming back? Make sure you plan out what you want to accomplish and how you will do it.  Just like a doctor has a game plan for how to perform an operation, so should you. Once you have that game plan, execute it.
  2. Another option is to stay in Los Angeles and re-evaluate your situation. If you are struggling financial situation, you can try going back to school to increase your job skills or maybe move to a different area of Los Angeles that might be better suited to the job you are looking for. Whatever you choose, it is important to exhaust all possible options. Just because one thing doesn’t work, doesn’t mean you should give up.

If you want to move out of Los Angeles because you are just bored by it or you don’t like living here then their is little anyone can say to stop you. For everyone else who is still at that point where you are deciding on if you should stay or go, just remember that the Lakers came here for a reason and so did the Dodgers. The Angels wanted to be like us so they even changed their name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Hollywood is the make or break, and the beach is our backyard.

Whether you’re the artsy type or the night life seeker, LA has something for everyone.

Welcome to LA.


Photo by Lucas Janin

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