Saturday, January 20, 2018

To Live In LA

A game we play sometimes is trying to come up with 10 cities in the US that we'd be willing to live in. Obviously I am not aware of all cities in the US and my views of places I have spent time in are of course mostly dated. I don't have perfect information about everywhere in the US. I am also not so picky that I am unwilling to go places temporarily. I'd go many places for a year or two without complaint if need be, but that's different than wanting to live in them "forever."

Anyway, Los Angeles never really made that list before. I lived in SoCal 17 years ago, and while I didn't live in LA, I spent a reasonable amount of time there. I did not like it. It was not good. I just spent 10 days or so there and I can say...maybe it's good now?

I have my own peculiar baseline for wanting to live anywhere. I need to be able to get around without a car. I don't mean that I need to not own a car, I just have to not need to use it all the time. I want to be able to walk or use public transit for most of my regular needs/wants. You know, supermarket, coffee shop, some restaurants+bars, basic neighborhood amenities... within walking distance, and then decent transit (including buses!) to take me to at least some other places I want to go.

17 years ago LA lived up to its stereotype pretty well. Transit was pretty bad. Nobody walked anywhere. Downtown was deserted at night (and not actually thriving during the day).

Now they have trains and subways (they had a bit of this when I was there, but they were not so useful) and a bus system that is really really good. I went "everywhere" on transit - during the day, at night - and had no problems. The LA region is really really big, so trying to get around on mass transit is never going to be perfect, but... it worked really really well! Downtown is hopping. Having an active downtown makes it easier to establish a good transit system, allowing it to radiate from a core, even if visiting downtown doesn't interest people.

And the surrounding areas are... much nicer now. Except for the obvious "rich people areas" much of LA was pretty run down 17 years ago. A lot of retail strips struggling or even boarded up. The city is "back" even in the non-downtown areas. And, yes, having a reprieve from the cold is not so bad. I am getting old.