Mistakes People Make When Moving to LA

Tired of people telling you everything you need to do when you move to LA? While there are plenty of things to do near your Venice Beach Starcity community, no one wants a laundry list of activities, so let’s simplify by focusing on what you should NOT do instead.

Driving Scared

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you’ve heard about our traffic … and the drivers that come with it. It’s not a “chicken or the egg” scenario. The traffic came first, and as a result, the drivers lost their minds. When you get on the road, you’re going to have to adjust quickly and make decisions even quicker.

The key is to be responsibly aggressive – if you don’t, you’ll never get anywhere – but not dangerously so. Always be safe and don’t rush a decision, but trust me, no one is going to let you into a lane if you just wait patiently with your blinker on. You have to find the gap, signal, and move. Heavy traffic reduces human beings to their primal, territorial instincts, so establish a presence, and the rival driver will back down. Otherwise, face the inevitable consequence of being forced onto an exit you didn’t want to take – or miss one entirely.

Last-Minute Beach Trips

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Lucky for you, your new home is walking distance from the sand. But Los Angeles is full of differing beaches, each with their own unique appeal, and you would be remiss if you didn’t eventually visit all of them. You can go south to the calmer Playa del Rey, further south to the ritzier Manhattan, or north to the bro-ier (and also ritzier) Santa Monica. Even further north are idyllic, more remote locations like Will Rogers; and of course, there’s the famous Malibu.

But if it’s pushing 80 – sometimes even 75 – do NOT make a last-minute, midday car trip along the coast unless you want to become part of a veritable parking lot. Simply be an adult, check the weather, and leave in the morning. You can pack everything you need and rule the beach for the day. Once you’re there, every beach location except Dockweiler has plenty of restaurants, shops, and stores right along the sand – you just have to find parking first.

Assuming You Parked Just Fine

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Now that you’ve accomplished getting to your destination, parking should be pretty simple, right? Wrong. Your hubris will be the death of you. The mistake that absolutely everybody makes when moving here is underestimating this absurd complexity. Even in what appears to be a nice, calm neighborhood, you’re likely to find a metal pole with forty different signs: all with conflicting information.

The easy fix is to always read every single sign while cross-referencing them thoroughly – don’t just glance over or assume. It’s a good chance to brush up on some basic calculation, and it’s worth it – the parking enforcement here is out for blood: the dedication to their craft matches that of the Secret Service. Make one mistake, and they will ticket you … and it won’t be some twenty-dollar brush-off.

But don’t get down if you get a ticket. When you move here, it’s most likely going to happen at least once or twice until you develop your sixth sense. Think of it as a right of passage.

Jaywalking

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Most areas laugh at jaywalking being an infraction. We’re adults. We can cross the street when we want, right? Wrong again. This is serious business in Los Angeles. Since driving can be pretty hectic here, police are not fooling around when it comes to keeping you safe. Cross the street when you’re not supposed to, and you’ll get written up faster than you can say “Sunset Boulevard.”

Getting Trapped in Your Neighborhood

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After hearing how difficult it is to get around, you might be recoiling into your shell a bit. Don’t. Los Angeles is such a fun city to explore. It just takes some planning, insider knowledge, and navigation skills.

I used to hate visiting a friend of mine in Hollywood. In fact, I was about to give up on our friendship entirely when one night, I found an elongated strip of sidewalk in the hills behind his house that somehow didn’t have restricted parking. After that, visiting was a breeze. Cue dozens of fun-filled nights hitting restaurants, clubs, bars, etc.

The Westside has enough to entertain you for quite a long time, but don’t be afraid of East LA, Downtown LA, Hollywood, and (yikes!) even the Valley. Ignore these areas, and you’ll never see the flashy Art District; you’ll never taste the best Korean food you’ve ever had before walking next door to a karaoke bar filled with private rooms; you’ll never – well, you’ll never do a lot of things.

When you’re ready to explore, pick a good time, do some research beforehand, and if possible, get some friends with can-do attitudes to accompany you on your new adventure.

Going to Sunset Strip During the Day

A classic rookie mistake. At night, the strip is famous for its energetic nightclubs, raucous comedy clubs, colorful bars, and bustling restaurants. But during the day it’s essentially a run-of-the-mill outdoor shopping mall, except all the roads are jam-packed. Save Sunset for after sunset.

Trying to Get Close to the Hollywood Sign

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I’ll make this one quick as well. Don’t try to get close to the Hollywood sign, as it’s protected by fencing and a team of security guards. Certain trails in Runyon Canyon will set you up for a nice view – settle for that. Try and bypass security for a sweet selfie and you’ll be looking at a night in jail.

Surfing Without Thinking

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LA has some world-class surf spots, and I highly recommend trying out this unparalleled sport, especially when you’re housed in such a prime location. However, surfers aren’t going to be as psyched about you taking to their spot. There are a limited number of waves and a limited number of time slots when they’re good, so tensions can rise quickly out there.

If you’re new, don’t surf north of the Venice Pier. South of it is typically more beginner-friendly: not just in waves, but attitude as well. However, if the swell picks up, those waves can slam you somethin’ fierce, so make sure to check the surf forecast first. To be safe, the easiest spot of all is located all the way south, right next to the rocks along the Marina, and it usually works best when there’s a little more power elsewhere.

If you’re willing to drive north twenty minutes or so, the ideal beginner location is Sunset Point. It’s beautiful, somewhat remote, and filled with slow, easy waves that let you cruise for long, relaxing rides.

But no matter how good you are, or where you choose to go, be respectful. Research surf etiquette, and when in doubt, defer to the locals. Sometimes they can be a little unfair, but until you have enough experience, and you’ve been out to the spot at least a few times, it’s best not to make a stand – and even then, only do it if someone is way out of line and they don’t have a posse backing them up (I’m not joking about the posse part).

Being Rude to Your Servers


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The service industry is the lifeblood of LA, where men and women work to provide for you while striving for their own goals and dreams. Unless your server is truly terrible, treat them how you would want to be treated – and yes, I’m invoking the golden rule.

This relates to an even greater issue at hand: the way people treat one another in general. LA natives can skew selfish, cold, and rude, and this behavior can be infectious. Don’t contribute to the cycle. If you do, you could mutate into a depressing kind of person, ultimately losing out on the happiness and fulfillment that can be found in this great city. Simply laugh at the narrow-minded individuals tethered to their own sad hamster wheel and move on. The world will thank you, and in the end, you’ll thank yourself.

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