20 Things Nobody Tells You About Moving Out Of Southern California
So you've decided to move out of Southern California. That's a life decision you've made, you're comfortable with it and here you go.
I grew up in Claremont, CA just outside of Los Angeles. When I left for college in North Carolina, there were a ton of things I found out about being a SoCal ex-pat. Things people think about Southern California, misconceptions, things I had no idea I was doing, and massive culture shock. 19 years later, I still live in Eastern NC, and still run into culture shock being away from Southern California.
If you're thinking of moving away, especially to the East Coast, think about these 20 things before you bail on Cali.
No. 20 You have an accent. No, really.
Southern California accent, you say? Yup, totally a thing.
Go watch Point Break and listen to Keanu Reeves. That's absolutely what we sound like to the rest of the country. Your pronunciation of words like "Yeah", "So", and your overuse of the word "Dude" -- these things stick out like sore thumbs.
Don't even get me started on the non existence of the word "Brah" outside of California.
No. 19 The Mexican food is terrible
You've eaten so much Mexican food in your life, that at this point you just call it "food."
Leave SoCal and you will find yourself hunting for what I call "acceptable Mexican food." People will tell you they know a really good Mexican place, you go there, and the rice is orange and was boiled in a bag. The tamales were from a can and tacos have tostada shells. Sour cream is slathered on everything and carne asada is called steak. Which it isn't.
The first Mexican meal I got in North Carolina, I asked the server what I did to him to deserve such disrespect. Finding a taqueria that serves al pastor and tripas will become your new obsession.
No. 18 You will become a traffic snob
People will talk about traffic in places like Richmond and Cleveland, and you'll giggle and say "That's cute."
Having lived your life having to correct travel times for rush hour on the 405, and being able to listen to The Kevin & Bean Show in its entirety on your 20mi morning commute -- you know about traffic. You'll scoff that a backup that slows you down for two exits on the local road is called "traffic" despite the fact everyone is actually moving. You will find yourself in a spitting contest every time someone calls anything "traffic."
No. 17 Most people have never heard of Social Distortion
Absolutely mind boggling that one of the most important bands in Southern California since The Beach Boys is nearly unheard of in the rest of the country.
I heard once they played a gig in Virginia Beach at a 700 person capacity club -- that didn't sell out. This was like hearing about a kid's birthday party that nobody showed up to. Having to play side one of "Somewhere Between Heaven And Hell" to your friends for the first time will totally make you sad. In fact, I might just go listen to "Angels Wings" right now.
No. 16 Everyone wants to know if you've been to Compton
To you, Compton is just a place off the 105 freeway that used to have a high murder rate but is actually pretty chill now.
To the rest of the country, Compton is like Somalia. Even the word "Compton" is used as a synonym for Murdertown USA. Tell someone you grew up in Southern California, they immediately want to know if you've been to Compton. When you tell them you have, they immediately think you're a Special Forces level badass.
Of course some people aren't obsessed with Compton....
No. 15 No matter where you're from, it's Beverly Hills
If you're not from Compton, you're from Beverly Hills.
There's some weird misconception that anything south of Ventura is immediately Beverly Hills. Even if you're from somewhere normal like El Monte or Baldwin Park, they immediately think it's Beverly Hills and you grew up with Brandon and Brenda while your chauffeur drove you to school.
No matter how many times I've explained where Claremont actually is, and that Los Angeles is a pretty gritty town... it's Beverly Hills.
No. 14 You will never have good produce again
I have literally stopped eating grapefruit since I left. Why? It's terrible and it just depresses me.
California has absolutely the best produce in the nation and that's fact. You have grown up with strawberries the size of your fist that taste like sugar. You know what a jicama is and why it rules. You've never had to ripen an avocado after you buy it. Your cilantro is always green. Jalapenos are 99 cents for two pounds, and never have blemishes.
Leave California and all of that ends. Your produce is never going to be up to your Cali standards.
No. 13 Nobody puts "the" before highway names
How do you get from my mom's house to Huntington Beach? You take The 10 to the 57 to the 22. Boom.
Notice how each freeway had "the" in front of it? Yeah, nobody else does that anywhere. My first year in North Carolina, I would say "the 95" and "the 264" and people looked at me like I was a sociopath. It will take you more than a year to stop doing that, if you ever do at all.
No. 12 Your NFL affiliation is completely random
There's no NFL team in Los Angeles. You have nobody to root for. Except maybe the Chargers, but who wants to do that?
You might remember pulling for the Rams, or if you were in a gang -- the Raiders. Yeah, that was literally decades ago. While you might still watch the NFL, you will find yourself having to justify to people why you're a Green Bay Packers fan despite never having been to Wisconsin. Why? Because you chose a team at random so you don't feel left out.
My father is a Colts fan and if you ask him why he pulls for the Colts, he'll tell you "If you don't, nobody else will."
No. 11 You will crave In N Out like it was crack
Nobody knows the supreme joy of wrapping your mouth around a Double Double, made just how you like it. You have been used to going to In N Out whenever you want. That's over and your body will begin craving it bad.
Sophomore year of college, my mom came out to visit and I made her put a Double Double in three bags and foil in her carry on. I ate that sucker at baggage claim like I had just gotten out of captivity -- and with absolutely zero shame about it.
No. 10 Everyone thinks you surf
Sure maybe you did surf, but it's just assumed. And if you didn't, just say you did.
People are mystified when I tell them about how I would cut sixth period once a week to go surf Huntington. Yet I have another friend who has never touched a surfboard in his life and would probably die if he paddled out. Yet for some reason, everyone is convinced he's Kelly Slater.
No. 9 Humidity is a thing -- and it sucks
You don't go outside in August, right? Because it's 112 deg and that ranks high on the "you have got to be kidding me" scale.
Move to the East Coast or the South, and you'll see "92 deg" in the forecast and assume you can do this standing on your head. Then you go outside and you are smacked in the face with a wall of humidity. You are immediately drenched with sweat and your hair triples in size. That's humidity and believe me -- you will never get used to it.
No. 8 You will forget San Diego exists
You miss Los Angeles. You find yourself actually listening to Randy Newman. You dream of taco trucks and KROQ. Suddenly you're introduced to someone who is also from Southern California. And this happens:
"Oh man, I grew up in North Hollywood, man! Where are you from?"
"San Diego! La Jolla, actually!"
"Oh.... well... that's... that's nice too."
And then they get all self righteous on you because the Padres beat the Dodgers and their inferiority complex kicks in and an awkward silence drops. You stay classy, San Diego.
No. 7 You need to know at least one famous person
"You're from California? Do you know anyone famous??"
Because we spend all our time at red carpet premieres, everyone we know has a SAG Card, and your best friend is a Kardashian. That's literally what people think and when you tell them you know nobody famous, they get disappointed.
Find someone famous you know --even if it's your cousin who used to be a Laker Girl -- and just say you know a famous person. It's way easier that way.
No. 6 You will actually miss earthquakes
This sounds utterly absurd, but two years of the ground being entirely solid and you will start praying for at least "a three and a half" to make things interesting.
While you may have hated earthquakes in California, you'll actually sort of miss them. I have no explanation for it, but when I see my friends on Facebook talking about "the four pointer last night" -- I actually get a little homesick.
No. 5 Normal stuff is famous
"Have you ever seen the Hollywood sign?? I have dreamed of that!" is maybe one of the most bizarre questions I have ever heard. Of course I've seen the Hollywood sign. It's frickin enormous.
Have you been to Grauman's Chinese or the Walk Of Fame? People will lose their minds over this. You saw a band play at the Roxy or the Whisky A Go-Go. This makes you awesome. These are completely normal to you and are kind of "meh" -- but it will impress the heck out of everyone.
No. 4 Sublime didn't exist before "What I Got"
Remember ballin' it to Tower Records after you heard "40oz To Freedom"? That never happened to other people.
No matter how close to your heart the first two Sublime albums are, and that you still know all the words to "Badfish" -- this band was brand new when "What I Got" came on the radio. Sublime is part of your memories, and you probably saw them play in some dive bar in Long Beach. Doesn't matter, the self-titled was their first album.
The same goes for No Doubt before "Just A Girl" and blink-182 before "What's My Age Again."
No. 3 Nobody else cares about area codes
Ever look down your nose at someone for being from "the 626"? Are you still furious at Riverside County for "becoming 951"? This is a foreign concept outside of California.
You are completely proud of your area code and it is your identity. You know why the 714 are snobs and why the 818 is too far to go there for anything. Nobody anywhere else in the country takes their area code seriously and will think you are a freak because you do. I have no idea how many times I have had to explain why I have "909 Pride."
No. 2 You have been breathing poison
Smog is just a thing you deal with. While I grew up 6 blocks from the foothills of Mt Baldy, there were days I literally could not see the mountains for all the smog. I never batted an eye at that, until I left.
Look out your window at all that haze. That doesn't happen anywhere else. You will breathe fresh air for the first time, and I am not kidding you -- the clean air will make you sick. My first semester in North Carolina, I was sick literally nine times. I had a doctor actually tell me it's because the air is too clean and my lungs aren't used to the new stuff.
I told the doctor that I don't trust air I can't see.
No. 1 You will miss it every day
No matter how comfortable I have become in North Carolina, and how much of an adopted home it's become -- I am still a California Boy to the grave.
Even though it's nasty, expensive, and weird as I don't know what; I love that crazy place and miss it all the time. Every desk I've ever had, I have a Bear Flag on it and I still drop what I'm doing if I hear there's a high speed chase on TV. Palm trees make me smile and the ocean is on the wrong side. (Yes, I can tell the difference)
California is a state of mind, and no matter where you go -- you will miss home
Find out what happens when you move back to Southern California here.