Money Magazine has once again listed its Top 50 Best Places to Live in America, and like when I watch House Hunters, I begin to fantasize over what it might be like to live somewhere else…somewhere where the cost of living is a lot cheaper, and perhaps a bit more livable, then where I currently live: Los Angeles.
I’m not the only one who thinks this. There was a great article in LA Magazine called Leaving Los Angeles, where the author writes,
“For many of us in Los Angeles—a metropolitan area that 57 percent of Angelenos can’t afford to live in, according to a recent study—this is a city from which we are constantly on the brink of slipping away. Average rent in L.A. is $2,550 for a two-bedroom apartment. In fact, the disparity between wages and market prices here is the worst in the country, nastier than in New York City or the Bay Area, and it’s become the toughest American city in which to buy a house.”
This city is no joke. It’s tough unless you make a good income. On Friday I wrote about how I should write a book called, Frugal Hack Your Way To Living in LA, which is something I do on a daily basis. That’s all well and good to just “survive” living here, but unless you live out of a cardboard box, you are going to need a certain level of income to thrive here…and that’s the key difference.
I totally get that money doesn’t make you happy, but I’m pretty sure the studies that say if you reach at least 75k you should be pretty happy are true. That’s what I was making at my full time job before I was laid off. I mean, I wasn’t cruising on my personal yacht, but I felt very content financially, and was certainly saving money for short term goals (like a trip), and retirement.
But LA is like that really good-looking, charismatic boyfriend/girlfriend who sometimes treats you like crap, but then makes up for it by showering you with love and praise…just enough to keep you in the game, but not enough to think this might lead to anything long term.
How LA treats me right:
- Amazing weather…like seriously, the best weather in the world. Never too humid, never to dry.
- Access to the beach daily (of course this will depend on where you live in LA).
- Really fit and happy people (I forget how much this is true until I travel to other places).
- Beach volleyball (the greatest sport on earth).
- Really awesome friends.
- Side hustles & other financial opportunities, because of the connections I have here.
- Low utilities (because of said great weather).
- No mosquitoes!
- The geography of California…we really have it all.
- The farmers’ markets and the most amazing fresh produce available at your fingertips year round.
When LA treats me like crap:
- Not enough work as a freelancer.
- Expensive rent for sub-par dwellings.
- Having a very difficult time saving anything for my future.
- Not being able to travel as much as I’d like.
- Just getting by.
- Sometimes feeling a bit of disconnect with people in this city…meaning there is definitely a lot of flakiness here, but there is something else missing that is hard to put your finger on. Although I will say it is a giant misconception that everyone here works in the “industry” and we are all blonde with big boobs. So. Not. True.
So Why Don’t You Move?
Whenever I have this internal debate, this is the question I’m most often asked, just as I would ask anyone in a bad relationship, “so why do you stay with him/her?” It’s funny, because when it comes to relationships it seems easy to just say, “get out!” But it doesn’t feel so easy when it comes to living here. Why?
My biggest source of income is still here. If I move, I will probably lose my biggest paying client. Video editing is different than being a freelance writer, in that you still have to work from hard drives, which are hand-delivered to me. Fedex’ing them back and forth would take a huge chunk of change out of my pocket.
My biggest sources of side income are also here: coaching beach volleyball, working at events for my friends, babysitting, and other odds and ends that come up.
I do make money from sponsored posts and occasionally writing, but we’re talking maybe about $600-$800 per month. If I lived off that income somewhere cheaper, I’d still be in the same predicament. No doubt about it, it’s a huge Catch-22.
Aside from money, I also have no pull to any particular place. I’ve toyed with the idea of living in Austin, Texas, Portland & Bend, Oregon, and Boulder & Denver, Colorado. I picked those places because of a certain lifestyle appeal. For instance:
- Living by water. I could almost give up beach volleyball if I could do something like kayaking…maybe. 🙂
- A very active city.
- Decent weather (although anywhere I go will be a weather downgrade).
- Walkable amenities (shops, restaurants, recreation).
- That kind of small town feel without something being small town.
- And oh yeah, more affordable living.
Yes, I ask for a lot. And I’m not sure where to get it. I sometimes feel I have champagne taste on a beer budget. 🙂
So here I am…stuck in limbo. Sometimes I feel like I’m either here nor there. It’s like I need that one big catalyst for change for me to make some kind of move.
Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with where they live? Do you get kind of obsessed with those “best places to live” articles like I do?