5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Moved To California From The South At Age 18
It makes you grow up fast.
This Opinion 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.
When I was freshly 18, I packed up what very little I owned and moved out of my parent's house for the first time to sunny Los Angeles.
As cliche as this sounds, I was in pursuit of something more interesting than life as I knew it in Savannah, GA.
Buzzing Los Angeles could not be any more different than the Hostess City. The lack of live oak trees and horse-drawn carriages was a bit jarring but welcomed after spending 18 years in one place.
Jumping off the deep end and going straight from the nest into a giant city definitely makes you grow up fast. These are five things I wish I would’ve known, before moving to one of the most bustling cities in the world.
Dry heat is different in California
Located right off the East Coast of Georgia, just minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, Savannah is infamous for its humid, swamp-like weather.
The Deep South and Los Angeles are both hot but in very different ways.
I experienced dry heat for the first time when living in California. The desert-like climate took some adjusting as I had to learn that just because it doesn't feel like you're swimming the second you step outside in July doesn't mean it isn't hot, and you need to make sure you're keeping hydrated.
You pretty much NEED a car in California
Growing up, I spent a lot of time on vacation in New York City, where it is easy to navigate the town solely by the subway, and renting a car isn't necessary.
The public transportation in Los Angeles and the overall terrain of the city create a very different situation. I wasn't aware of how spread out the city is geographically, and even though there is a Metro line, you essentially need a car to get to most places.
Luckily, my job was just a few blocks away from my apartment in Hollywood. However, I didn't spend a lot of time in any other neighborhoods due to my lack of a vehicle.
Where you live in California is important
I wish I would have spent more time choosing a neighborhood before making the move, and I also should have taken the time to see the apartment before moving in.
Where I lived in Hollywood and Highland was a relatively rough neighborhood that had a high crime rate.
I jumped at the opportunity to live in my apartment building because the rent was cheap. However, living conditions in that place were reminiscent of the Hotel Chelsea in the 1980s, just without all the artists and rock stars passing through.
While $1300 for a one-bedroom in Los Angeles is exceptionally rare to find, it wasn't worth it to sacrifice safety and comfort.
Medical marijuana is stronger in California
The strains and quality of legal marijuana that they sell in California are much stronger than anything I had ever come across before.
You have to be mindful when indulging in legal weed for the first time. The South doesn't see a lot of high-quality bud with that level of THC content.
The first time I ever took an edible from a dispensary, I got called into work at a coffee shop. I warned my manager of the situation but felt like it was okay to come in anyways. Once it hit, I fell asleep in dry storage in the back on a pile of broken-down cardboard boxes, and everyone laughed at me for weeks.
Be mindful that California weed just hits differently.
California is even more expensive than you expect it to be
I knew Los Angeles was not going to be cheap, but I had never lived on my own before, and even with a "cheap" apartment, it was nearly impossible to support myself with just a barista job.
I wish I would have known how hard I was to work to make a living, and I wish I had a much bigger savings account to fall back on.
I was beyond broke while living in California. There were definitely days when all I ate was leftover pastries from my lame coffee shop job due to my non-existent budgeting skills.
Now that I am an excellent budgeter and have experience in saving money and spotting a deal, I wish I would have known these things when I first leaped adulthood.