Los Angeles, the Synonym of “Dreams”, Is Now a Nightmare. People Who Were Desperate to Live There Are Moving Out.
Ah Los Angeles, where aspiring actors and meth addicts can share a bus side by side up Hollywood Boulevard for a dollar.
But LA isn’t all it used to be, and the young and restless are leaving the city in droves. So, what is driving this mass migration?
There are several reasons, and here are 15 worth mentioning.
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With that in place, let’s dive straight into the article and have a look at the first reason why people are done with LA.
The west coast has always had a problem with homelessness, its milder climate and open spaces make it slightly easier for those sleeping rough. With rising unemployment and rent prices, many people have had to move into their cars, and eventually onto the streets of LA.
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the financial recession it has created, there has been a radical and sudden increase in the number of people living on LA’s streets.
The LA Homeless Services Authority has reported an increase of 16.1% so far in 2020. Meaning close to 60,000 people are living rough on LAs streets.
The City Is Overcrowded
If you want to know how stretched LA is, just witness rush hour traffic jams and you will understand. The average LA driver spends more time in traffic during peak times than any other city in the world. In 2017 time spent in traffic totalled 102 hours a year.
That’s more than London, more than New York and more than Moscow.
The 405 and 101 are the main culprits robbing Angelinos of their precious time. In 2016 the city took a vote and dedicated $120 billion towards the Measure M plan. Sounds good right, surely that amount of money will solve traffic once and for all. But no, the best case scenario is that it will reduce the average commute time by only 15% a day, and the expected completion…2057. So, it will really have little to no impact on most of the current working class in LA in their lifetime.
It’s No Longer Safe
Los Angeles boasts one of the most diverse ethnic populations, the opportunity to make your dreams come true, and an above average crime rate compared with the national average!
You have a 1 in 30 chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime in Los Angeles. Not a comforting thought for LA locals who are looking for a safer place to live outside of the city limits. Compared to other American cities, Los Angeles is only safer than 12% of the nation’s cities on the Crime index.
The Inequality Is Extreme
LA has a higher inequality average than the rest of the US. One of the game changers that created this gap was the decline of middle wage jobs between 1990 and 2012. A 27% decrease in middle wage jobs was lost when industries like trade, manufacturing and construction moved or closed down in LA.
At the same time there was a 15% increase in low-wage jobs like food services, hospitality and cleaning. And a 6% increase in high-wage jobs. And while it is easy for a middle wage earner to fill a low-wage job, it is near impossible for them to move upwards into high-wage work. Meaning that the divide widens. So, depending what side of the divide you are on, your experience of living in LA could be worlds apart.
Taxes Are Exorbitant
LA possibly took the saying “nothing is certain except taxes and death” a little too seriously.
42 Los Angeles County cities have a combined sales tax rate of at least 10.00%, as of July 1, 2020, This is the highest sales tax in the US. The problem with sales tax is that it affects the low-income families the most making it, what is known as a regressive tax.
Boosting the sales tax also makes it more lucrative for local governments to favour commercial development before housing development, because commercial business raises them far more income.
But not only is every item you buy taxed higher than elsewhere, Angeleno’s also have to swallow higher traffic fines and gas tax, plus motor vehicle tax. In short, it costs just to move in LA, and that’s why so many people are moving out.
The Price Is Not Right
Whatever you need in LA, you can expect to pay a premium. From rent to gym subscriptions, or even a bottle of water after a yoga class and don’t even get us started on the price of beer. The prices are ludicrous in LA, and it’s the locals paying the premium just to live a normal life.
Even eating in in LA costs a lot more than the rest of the US. Milk, bread eggs and cheese all carry a higher price tag than the national average. And while we guess no one settled in LA for the savings, it is really hard for the average person living in Los Angeles to make ends meet.
People Are Burnt Out
Not just the hillsides are burning in LA. People are working longer hours, taking second jobs and running a side hustle just to pay the bills to sit in traffic in LA. Los Angeles is rated America’s most stressful city. LaLa land, more like Nah Uh land!
After all the time spent working to pay bills there is no time to enjoy the social life that Los Angeles offers. So it’s just not worth staying in the city anymore. So people prefer to live outside the city where it’s cheaper and commute in for gigs or galleries.
If you’re planning to run a proper life-campaign against all that stress, here are “15 Ways to Be Less Stressed“.
Not an Easy Place to Raise Children
The Child Opportunity Index, or COI, is a study designed by Brandeis University in Massachusetts. It measured 29 neighbourhood conditions to work out which were the best and worst places to raise children in America. Some of the categories it measured were distance to childcare and education, high school graduation rates, housing vacancy and poverty levels and the opportunity for high-skills employment.
Surprise surprise! Los Angeles featured pretty low down.
So if you are planning on rearing a clutch of kids, perhaps consider settling outside the city limits of LA where you can afford a garden, a nearby daycare and a day off once a week.
Unfortunately, sometimes the best intentions can lead to unintended consequences. According to Comedian Joe Rogan, he left LA for Texas because of the traffic, homelessness and overcrowding.
And there it is again, issues of housing coming up. In fact, a 2019 voters poll conducted by LA times showed that 95% of voters call homelessness a serious or very serious problem.
So who is to blame? Well according to the same LA Times poll, voters blame government for a lack of services. 49% blame poor housing planning and low minimum wages as a primary problem. And 90% of the pole agreed that not enough support is given to people with mental health illness and substance abuse which is leading to the problem.
75% of these voters would like to see a similar law adopted to the one in NYC that requires the government to “provide temporary shelter to any homeless person who wishes to come indoors.”
And while 60% of LA voters disagree that it should be legal to sleep on the streets, the courts have upheld the rights of homeless people. They state that cities cannot ban sleeping in public unless they provide enough beds for those who want them. So it looks like LA is stuck between a Hard-Rock café and a hard place!
Insufficient Medical Care
Los Angeles is often thought of as the mecca of health and wellness. From green juice to Arnie’s Gold’s Gym it has always been the hub of the latest and greatest in fitness and beauty treatments. And while plastic surgeons might be a dime a dozen, the whole state of California faces a major shortage of doctors and medical staff.
Not only is there a long waiting period for medical help, you pay a premium for medical care in the city of dreams. So, it is almost impossible to not have private health care, driving up your monthly living expenses.
Hail the era of digitally decentralised work! For many people there is no longer a need to be tied to an office desk to be able to do their work effectively. Meaning that many people work IN the Hollywood scene, but don’t necessarily attend an office IN Los Angeles.
This affords many people the freedom to live wherever they want and work remotely, and once in a while pop in and show face at head office or attend a team building event at Griffith Park. But other than that, they save the company high office rental and save themselves the dread of the daily commute in LA traffic.
LA Has a Drug Problem
You can’t stop and smell the roses in LA, because flower beds are littered with used needles. And don’t dare walk barefoot on the grass or beach or you could earn yourself an unwanted jab.
Drug abuse and addiction have long been at epidemic heights in Los Angeles. The city has even earned itself the acronym HIDTA, which stands for: Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
LA has a long history as a hub for drug cartels smuggling drugs up from South America to the rest of the US. This means that drug cartels make it easy to access methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana on the streets. Many believe that the problem lies in easy access to prescription drugs in the area that acts as a gateway drug.
With the right legislative changes, this might curb the numbers of users. This change isn’t happening fast enough, and in the meantime those who can are moving away from LA to avoid the trouble drugs bring to the bright lights of the city.
Cost of Housing Is Exorbitant
If you ever managed to pay your rent in LA and actually got to save to be in the market for buying a house you would need around $860,000 just to enter the housing market somewhere in the middle of advertised prices. The medium property value per square foot in LA is $551.
Renting leaves little or no room for anyone to save some of their salary, as you will pay an average rent of $3,500 a month according to the online real estate database company, Zwillow.
The Smog Is Terrible – for Health Reasons People Are Leaving
One of the positives that came out of the Covid-19 stay home orders in LA is that the smog has cleared up more than the city has enjoyed since 1995. Dr. Yifang Zhu, a professor of environmental health sciences at UCLA, reported a decrease of 40% in levels of PM 2.5. PM 2.5 is a class of air pollutants linked to cardiovascular and respiratory problems.
This is super during lock-down, but when that is over it is expected that the same levels of emissions will return. The geological make up of LA are the reason so much smog forms and stays over the city. LA is in a low basin surrounded by mountains. Then add millions of cars and industrial sites releasing emissions and you have the perfect conditions for hazardous levels of air pollution.
Seeing as Angelinos will still be crammed on high ways for years to come, we don’t see the smog clearing up soon.
It’s the City of Broken Dreams
Many shiny dreamers have arrived in Los Angeles ready to make the world a better place with their acting, singing and movie making skills only to be disillusioned by the reality.
Sadly, like any big city with a speciality industry, you’re a small fish in a big pond when you arrive. It takes a lot of courage, drive and luck to make it in Hollywood, and along the way it can be lonely and depressing. Another area that can create a lot of disappointment is how “fake” people seem in LA. Execs feigning excitement for your project and then never calling you back. Gorgeous people excited to find out all about you until they realise that there is nothing in it for them and dropping you like a hot potato.
The reality is that if you go in knowing all of this there is still a lot of magic to Tinseltown.
Nothing beats the beach culture around Venice Beach, or the night light of West Hollywood, the mix of traditional food served by the diverse cultural groups is amazing, and the art and creativity of the side walk culture is a thing to behold.
So perhaps LA won’t break your heart, perhaps you will just need to recalibrate to what LA is, and let go of your expectations of what it isn’t.
What are your thoughts on LA and why do you think people are leaving?