7 Things That Had Me Culture Shocked When I Left The Deep South To Move To California

Living there made me lose my Southern accent forever.

Georgia Staff Writer
​Maeve in a faux fur coast in a "Hollywood" hat outside of In-N-Out. Right: The ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier.

Maeve in a faux fur coast in a "Hollywood" hat outside of In-N-Out. Right: The ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier.

This Essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

In 2016 I left my hometown of Savannah, GA to move into a studio apartment on Sunset Boulevard & Highland Avenue in Hollywood, mostly because I had nothing better to do.

I was eighteen, fresh out of high school, and determined to become a writer, but more determined to land myself in as much chaos as possible. Los Angeles sounded a lot more fun than a college dorm.

The differences between the West Coast and the Deep South were glaring, and I spent my year there met with constant, but welcomed surprise.

Here are seven things that left me a bit culture shocked during my tenure in the City of Angels.


It's true that the traffic in L.A. is an entirely different beast, even compared to Atlanta. But this was the first city I've lived in that had public train transit, and since I lived just a few blocks from the Red Line, this was my primary mode of transportation.

Though the L.A. metro has lots of room for improvement, I was pretty shocked at how easy it was to get around without a car at times. In Savannah, we only have a very limited bus system that runs on a very spaced-out schedule.

Luckily my job was walking distance away because I cannot imagine having to commute every morning in gridlock traffic.

The Food

Los Angeles is a major food hub with thousands of options to choose from. Before moving here there were many cultural cuisines I had never had a chance to experience.

From spiced mezze spreads in Little Armenia, to fragrant hot pots in Koreatown, I never got tired of trying new food.

I will say though, some of the popular fast food trends feel ridiculous to me. The "protein style" burger at In-N-Out with a lettuce wrap instead of a bun feels a little insulting.

While the food scene in the South is regularly expanding, I really miss the diversity of food in L.A.

Recreational & Medical Cannabis

I obtained my "med card" for legal marijuana consumption during my first month in California. Coming from Georgia, where even six years later weed is very much illegal, I was a little shocked just how easy the whole process was.

After meeting with a doctor about my chronic pain associated with my menstrual cycle, I was able to get targeted care from dispensaries, that felt more like an Apple Store than some of the smoke shops found in the South.

The Cost Of Living

It goes without saying that L.A. is one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.

From rental prices to ridiculously expensive meals, it can be hard to afford daily life.

But even by today's standards, $1600 for my shoebox studio in a high-crime area feels irrational. The building was incredibly dingy and poorly maintained, and theft and fights were a common occurrence.

I researched my old apartment building for this article and rent has almost doubled but the property looks the exact same.

Now my mortgage on my two bedroom house in Downtown Savannah is cheaper than my tiny apartment's rent six years ago.

The Beaches

Georgia's coast has some rugged hidden gems, but California's shores are downright beautiful. There are over a dozen local beaches in the area to choose from depending on what vibe you're looking for.
Malibu's blue water and tall rugged mountains are so different to Tybee Island's charming small-town vibe.
From lively, colorful boardwalks to tranquil, white-sand shores, the coasts of California stole my heart.

The Elevation

Where I'm from in Georgia is relatively flat. I really enjoyed the hilly terrain in L.A. and riding around with my friends to scope out awesome views.

I spent a lot of time at the Griffith Park Observatory, and Mulholland Scenic Overlook. Some of my best memories are driving around winding roads at night with my friends looking for a cool lookout spot.

The Weather

I am used to long, humid summers. Living in L.A. was the first time I ever experienced dry heat, and honestly I preferred it to Georgia's swampy heat that feels like you're swimming as soon as you step outside.

I was a big fan of Los Angeles weather, even when the heat index was pushing 100 °F it felt more bearable than dealing with relentless humidity.

Though I loved living in L.A, it was never my plan to stay long term. After a year on the West Coast, I decided to move back to the South to save money, and focus on growing my career. I'll always be grateful for the things I learned, the life-long friendships I made and the life experiences I gained by jumping head first into independence in a big city.

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