The City of Angels
It took me two years to finally call Los Angeles home
It dawned on me today that I’ve written nothing about Los Angeles since we moved here. In every city that I’ve lived in–Cebu, Singapore, San Francisco–I’ve always had something to write about.
When we moved to San Francisco, I instantly fell in love with the seven-by-seven-mile city even after five years of living there. There’s so much magic, charm, and beauty in that city. So why did we move?
In late 2019, Jeremie and I started exploring with the idea of living in a different city. We were curious about whether we’d love other cities as much as we did San Francisco. At that time, we were living in a small one-bedroom apartment so moving was easy. We hadn’t bought a house yet, we had little furniture, and we weren’t tied to anything (except our jobs).
By the end of 2019, I had quit my job to explore a different path. Jeremie had plans to take time off from work as well to focus on learning new things. We had saved up just enough to take a quick break and build something we loved. This was the perfect time to move somewhere new.
Before deciding where we wanted to move, we list down a criteria of what we were looking for in our new place. It had to be:
- Close to the ocean. I’m using the word “ocean” over “beach” because apparently (and I just learned this when I moved to the US), a beach refers to a strip of land close to water–that includes lakes or swamps. Back home, we refer to beaches only to a sandy area near the coast so this confused me at first.
- Warm enough. As people who grew up in a warm place, snow seems too depressing for us. It’s only fun for a few days, but constant snow was not something we wanted.
- Close to nature. We wanted a place where you can drive 10-15 minutes to a “secluded” hiking trail.
- Diverse with plenty of food options. Must have Asian food that isn’t just Panda Express. No disrespect to Panda Express. It’s not so bad, but we prefer more authentic Asian food that tastes more like home.
- Active with easy access to things that we love. We want to still be able to visit a climbing gym, hang out in cute cafes, visit museums/galleries, explore cozy shops, and check out fun events to keep us entertained.
- A tech hub. So we can easily find work when we decide to quit our jobs. This list was made before the pandemic hit and before remote jobs became mainstream.
- Considered a city but still had neighborhoods that had very few high-rises. We wanted to live in a smaller apartment complex/house that isn’t more than 3-4 stories high. The lower, the better.
- Predominantly liberal. As immigrants without any family in the country, it seemed safer to stay in cities that were more likely to accept and protect us. I know all cities are dangerous in their own way, but if we can lessen the stress of dealing with people who push their personal beliefs on us, then we’ll take that option. Not saying that ALL conservatives are bad, but in our personal experience, they have consistently been more pushy with their beliefs.
- A place with a thriving Filipino 🇵🇭 community. It feels nice to have people who look and talk like you when you don’t have family around. It makes us feel closer to where we grew up.
- Somewhere that required less hours of flying back home. We love going home to the Philippines often to see family. One of the biggest reason we save up money is so we can always fly home to family.
It sounds like a lot but listing down what we were looking for in a new place really helped us narrow down our choices. New York was off the list–adds extra hours of flying home. Chicago–cold winters + no ocean. Portland and Seattle were too rainy and gloomy. Which led us to LA and Honolulu. We loved going to Hawaii so much that we considered moving there. Honolulu was a great option BUT what convinced me to pick LA was the added bonus of going to endless roadtrips.
Then 2020 happened. The cities were in lockdown which made us rethink our plans. But after a few months when things started to loosen up, we found an opportunity. People started moving out cities thanks to companies transitioning to remote work and many apartments started losing tenants and lowering their rent significantly. LA, in contrast to SF, offers lower rent prices for an apartment that was almost double the size of our apartment. So, we took the opportunity and moved to Los Angeles.
The first thing we did after moving to our new apartment was buy a car. While we can get away with not having a car in SF since everything is walkable, LA is huge. Cars were necessary to get to the grocery store, to the gym, or to hiking trails. And with the pandemic still at its peak, we felt that driving a car rather than taking public transportation was safer.
While I fell in love with SF instantly, LA took a while to feel like home. In fact, it took me two years to finally call Los Angeles home. When I dig deep and think about why, I come to the conclusion that because we moved during the middle of the pandemic, we didn’t get a chance to explore the city. Plus, we took on a responsibility of bringing home and raising Lil’ Chips just a month after we moved to our new apartment. 😅
Every city has its charms but what I love about Los Angeles is that despite being an enormous city, it’s not hard to meet people with different backgrounds as you. In San Francisco, most of the people we’d encountered worked in tech so conversations sometimes become monotonous. Here, our neighbors come from different backgrounds. We’ve met lawyers, doctors, nurses, actors, photographers, models, film makers, artists, musicians, and so on.
I love the fact that conversations aren’t always about work or the latest app you’re working on. I love that we can enjoy the weather most days of the year and be outdoor as much as we can. I love that we can go to the beach in 10 minutes and enjoy the gorgeous LA sunsets for free. I love that we never run out of restaurants/cafes to try. And lastly, I like the laid back attitude of most people we meet. Despite being a big city, people still find ways to go outdoors to hike, surf, or even just go for a walk.
LA is more than just the Hollywood sign, Beverly Hills, or Disneyland. There’s so much more to it. It’s full of history and culture, food you won’t find anywhere else, and endless trails to explore. It took me a long time to get used to it, but now I can finally say that Los Angeles is home.