Post overview: Roundup of the differences between living in Los Angeles vs. New York City
It seems to me that most of my friends that live in New York City end up moving to Los Angeles. Why is that?
I decided to get to the bottom of this shorty after my childhood friend relocated to Los Angeles from NYC. I decided to give him a call and get his take on the difference between living in New York City and Los Angles.
He lived in New York City for nine years before moving to Los Angeles and considered himself a NYC local (had a large group of friends, had a long list of restaurant recommendations, didn’t use a map to get around, etc.). The opportunity to move to Los Angeles from NYC boiled down to one thing: a job offer he couldn’t refuse.
Even then, sleepness nights ensued as he tried to figure out if he was making the right call. I’m happy to report that after 4 years in L.A. he considers himself happy. Here’s a roundup of the key differences between living in Los Angeles and New York City, based on his firsthand experience.
While reading this list about the differences between living in New York City vs. Los Angles, it’s important to note that this is a personal list. Not everyone will feel the same way and that’s alright, I just hope these insights can be helpful for those making a tough decision.
Living in Los Angles vs. New York City
The lifestyles are completely different
Let’s start with the obvious: the lifestyle difference between living in Los Angles vs. New York City. The cities have completely different vibes!
Life in New York City is fast paced feels rushed. As a local, I didn’t necessarily mind the pace but slowly started to find myself inpatient wherever I went. Life in Los Angeles seems slower overall, which subsequently makes it feel easier.
If life was a highway, New Yorkers are the cars constantly in the passing lane, while LA locals are perpetually locked into cruise control.
Don’t get me wrong here: both cities have a plethora of great things to do and locals that take advantage of the good life, but people that live in New York City vs. Los Angeles tend to value different things.
LA locals are extremely healthy (kale reigns supreme) and put a huge emphasis on appearance. It seems to me that people in LA are swimming in a sea of luxury labels and status. Whereas in New York City you could easily rub elbows with a millionaire while grabbing burgers at J.G. Melon without knowing.
At the end of the day I appreciate the easy-going and laid back vibe of life in LA vs. NYC, while also appreciating the fact that New Yorkers don’t share the same passion of kale and fasting.
In terms of daily conveniences, NYC wins out
Life in New York City is synonymous with convenience. Isn’t that the reason New Yorkers pay obnoxious rent prices? The running joke in New York City is that you don’t pay for space, you pay for access and I find that to be true. One of the biggest perks of living in NYC is having access to anything you desire at 2am.
Heck, even the most daunting chore in the world (laundry) isn’t an inconvenience in the Big Apple. You can easily drop it off at 9am and pick it up (completely washed and folded) by 4pm the same day. It’s absurd and oddly satisfying — as long as you have money while living in NYC, you won’t be inconvenienced.
On the flip side, Los Angeles has a never-ending list of fun experiences to offer but it will never be mistaken as the city that never sleeps. Heck, I’m pretty sure LA takes naps. Life is calmer in California as a whole, so don’t expect your midnight cravings to be satisfied unless you planned ahead. In this regard, living in New York City vs. Los Angeles wins out.
But in terms of weather, LA takes the cake
Perhaps one of my favorite things about living in LA is the pleasant weather year-round. It’s hard to complain about living in a city that averages 284 days of sunshine a year. Plus, the overall climate in California is downright ideal and it’s hard not to love that.
You won’t experience winters while living in Los Angeles vs. NYC, but you also won’t have a true spring or fall either. The temperatures in Los Angles tend to hover around the 70-80 year-round, while NYC temps span the gamut — high 90s to low teens.
New York City winters are downright brutal and the summer humidity is no joke. So in terms of weather, living in LA vs. NYC is more ideal in my opinion.
Living in LA vs NYC: Size matters
I don’t care what you were told – size matters. New York City is the most populous city in the country, which means crowds will become a part of your daily life. Los Angeles is highly desirable and you can expect to wait in lines at top spots, but the crowds aren’t on the same level.
Population aside, the layout of the two cities varies drastically. NYC is much more compact than Los Angeles (where everything is spread apart). You can easily get between places in NYC without having to sit in traffic because everything is so close together.
- Population of Los Angeles: As of 2022, the population of Los Angles is 3.9 million.
- Population of New York City: As of 2022, the population of New York City is 8.4 million, making it the most populous city in the country and the 11th most populated city in the world.
Public transportation vs. car ownership
Let’s cut to the chase: you can’t live in Los Angeles without owning a car while owning a car in NYC is a complete headache. While living in New York City I didn’t have any car-related expenses like gas, regular vehicle maintenance and car insurance.
You can easily live in NYC without a car because the subway system is so efficient. A monthly subway pass will set you back $133 which is much less than typical car payments, insurance and gas.
On the other hand, LA’s nightmare traffic is known the world over and the proof is in the pudding. Year after year, Los Angeles is ranked one of the 10 most congested cities in the country, with an estimated 103 hours a year spent in traffic for the average commuter. Plus, California gas prices are some of the most expensive in the country.
I loved the car-less lifestyle in NYC and don’t necessarily enjoy having to own a car in LA. So in terms of transportation, I’d argue that living in New York City vs. Los Angeles is the way to go.
Which city is more affordable? New York City or L.A.
I’m probably not the first to tell you that living in New York City or Los Angeles won’t come cheap. Both cities grace the list of most expensive cities in the country, if not the world. There’s one huge fact to consider when deciding between living in Los Angeles vs. New York City: housing prices.
New York City is the 6th most expensive city in the world and a large reason for that is housing. I paid $3,000 for a tiny one-bedroom apartment in the Upper West Side. The high cost of housing is why so many people live with roommates or find themselves far from the center (and then have to commute 45+ minute each way).
The housing costs are slightly less in Los Angeles but you’ll need to account for owning a car while living in LA in addition to the high rent prices. I guess you could argue that you get more for your money while living in Los Angles because you get an apartment and car for the same cost as just the apartment in NYC.
In terms of housing affordability, living in Los Angeles vs. NYC is better. But overall costs for daily living (groceries, haircuts, restaurants, drinks, etc) is comparable between the two cities.
Let’s talk about diversity in NYC vs. L.A.
Living in either New York City or Los Angles will expose you to diversity. Los Angeles is one of the few US cities where there’s no ethnic majority: 48% of residents identify as Hispanic/Latino and 28% identify as white, making Los Angeles one of the most diverse cities in the country, second only to New York City.
However, you probably won’t notice the diversity of LA until you leave the popular downtown core and start frequenting the vibrant communities on the outskirts. It’s a bit harder to find yourself mingling with people from diverse backgrounds in LA vs. NYC.
Let’s move on to NYC’s diversity. There’s more than 200 languages spoken on a daily basis in New York City! The habits, food and dress reflect the vibrant diversity of life in the Big Apple, which is one of the biggest joys of daily living.
One of the things I loved most about living in New York City was feeling invisible (and consequently invincible). It felt like no matter what I did, I never stood out. In many ways, it feels like there’s zero judgement in the Big Apple, which allowed me to be whoever I wanted to be at that point in my life. Talk about liberating.
Access to nature
Listen, I love city living as much as the next guy, but I’ll be the first to admit that I need an escape to nature every once in a while — thankfully Los Angeles delivers.
Living in Los Angeles means you’re surrounded by beautiful beaches, breathtaking mountains and expansive deserts in every direction. What’s more, since the weather is nice year-round you’ll have ample opportunities to enjoy the great outdoor recreation nearby.
As for living in New York City, well there’s Central Park. Any desire for real nature will require an effort to upstate New York (which entails figuring out the train system). The mountains and lakes of upstate New York are beautiful, no doubt, but they don’t have anything on the breathtaking wilderness in California.
But I will admit, New York City has some EPIC parks!
Wildfire season in Los Angeles
I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention the threat of natural disasters while living in Los Angles vs New York City. I’m mostly speaking about the wildfires, which are downright devastating and seem to increase year to year.
Don’t get me wrong, NYC is not immune to natural disasters but it’s definitely not on the same scale. NYC is never safe from the threat of hurricanes, but most of them miss the city (apart from Sandy in 2012).
Job hunting while living in NYC vs LA
Both Los Angles and NYC have strong job markets, but the types of jobs vary drastically. NYC offers jobs in a plethora of fields (with a strong focus on tech + finance) while Los Angles seems to be more narrowed to the entertainment industry.
You won’t find the city streets of LA full of stuffy suits because most folks don’t work standard office jobs. The healthy work-life balance is a major perk of living in Los Angeles.
If you’re a Type A personality that takes pride in long workdays then you will find yourself rewarded in NYC. It’s hard to say which job market will suit you best because that depends on the type of person you are. Personally speaking, I loved my nine years of corporate climbing in NYC but definitely enjoy the slower pace of LA now.
You won’t go hungry in either city
With 69 Michelin-Starred restaurants, New York City is has the 5th highest concentration of Michelin-Starred restaurants in the world. And sure, you’ll need a trust fund to try them all, but you know the best part?
You don’t need to eat at these fancy places to enjoy a memorable meal because NYC’s culinary abilities range a diverse spectrum and you can find great cheap eats. New York City is a melting pot of different cultures so you are privy to the best-of-the-best regarding all types of cuisine.
Likewise, Los Angeles has a great food scene as well. Everything from award-winning high-end restaurants to some of the most delicious cheap eats in the country. It’s safe to say you won’t go hungry in either city, so this is a toss-up!
Which city is more beautiful? L.A. or NYC
This is a hard question and it’s obviously very subjective (but isn’t everything else on this list?). I think NYC wins in the aesthetic department. There’s no city in the world quite like NYC, but I’ll also be the first to admit it’s very dirty.
Los Angeles in beautiful in a different way, much cleaner and opulent, especially in the wealthy areas. But I don’t want to fool you, there’s definitely parts of LA that leave much to be desired too, we have plenty of strip malls, billboards and gas stations around here. All told, I prefer the aesthetic of NYC vs. LA, but that’s just personal preference.
Living in New York City vs. Los Angeles (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the difference between Living in Los Angeles vs. New York City.
- The lifestyle is completely different
- In terms of daily conveniences, NYC wins out
- But in terms of weather, LA takes the cake
- Living in LA vs NYC: Size matters
- Public transportation vs. car ownership
- Which city is more affordable? New York City or L.A.
- Let’s talk about diversity in NYC vs. L.A.
- Access to nature
- Wildfire season in Los Angeles
- Job hunting while living in NYC vs LA
- New York City is more beautiful than LA
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