Friday, July 18, 2008

Why Again Am I Living in LA?

The latest census numbers are in, and Los Angeles (my current home base) remains the second largest city in the US. First, of course, is New York (8.3 million people). Third is Chicago (2.8 million). Fourth and fifth are Houston and Phoenix (tied at 1.6 million).

When I think about living in such a gargantuan metropolis (3.8 million in the city, 11 million in the county), I sometimes wonder what I’m doing. I think about: the outrageous cost of real estate (as much as $1,000+/square foot in some areas), the traffic (especially the misery of getting anywhere at rush hour), the insane drivers, the stress, the noise, the crowds, the $12 cocktails, the (occasional) rudeness and the endless cycle of development and sprawl.

When I think about leaving LA for a smaller city, though, here are the things that give me a serious pang: the beach (including playing paddle tennis at Venice Beach), summer concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, the brilliant independent radio station KCRW, the amazing diversity (at seven million, LA County has the largest minority population in the US), the superb restaurants, the emphasis on healthy/eco-conscious living, the fact that all movies open here and, last but not least, the country’s best (and most seductive) climate.

Case in point: It’s sunny and 75 degrees today. I am not running the A/C, and it’s mid-July. So let’s be honest. Summer is not a good time to contemplate leaving. But I’m going to try.

The question is: What size city is right for me? Under 1 million? Under 500,00? Under 100,000? Despite our recent love affair, could I really live somewhere as small as Eureka Springs, Arkansas (2,300 people)? Could you? Stay tuned as I "size up" this key factor.


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Chris said...

I am a transplant to the San Francisco bay area from the lovely smogy Los Angeles area. Born and raised there I have to admit I long for home but if you are looking for something smaller and yet the same but some how different from L.A. there are a few area's up here you shoudl check out. Good luck on your quest.

Jessica said...

Seriously, you should consider dating Salt Lake and Park City. I know, I know -- all the crazy poligamists and the weird drinking laws keep people out, but now I know why, and honestly am quite happy that only 2 million people live in the entire state. So never mind, don't date my city!

Jessica said...

PS to my last post -- it is 85 and sunny in Park City, not a smidge of smog in site and an added bonus, not a lot of cars and people!