For the last two months, I’ve been living in Los Angeles. That’s fifteen weeks, which feels like a lot of time to get to know a city. But I’m not going anywhere, and neither is LA. So I dug deep into my experiences, and this is what I found out: LA is full of people who are obsessed with working out, skincare routines, Pilates studios, capsule wardrobes, and green juices. It’s important for you to read this guide before considering about moving to Los Angeles.
But Los Angeles was built on immigrant labor–the backbone of California agriculture since the 1800s–so there are also communities that have been here for generations. Some people have lived here for 20 years, and others have just arrived.
This is the first time I’ve ever lived in LA, but I’m originally from Los Angeles. I was born in West Hollywood and moved to Hollywood when I was two. We moved to Palms when I was five, which is on the west side of LA, but my mom grew up in East LA, so that’s where she took me most of the time. We spent summers in Mexico City, so there are parts of the city that feel like home and others that don’t. There’s always something new to discover.
Los Angeles is a city built by fragmented cultures coming together. You can trace the history of Los Angeles along racial lines, which I think is super fascinating. Brown and Black people were not allowed in the city limits of LA until 1948, and then it wasn’t until 1953 that they could live anywhere in the city. If you know your history, you’ll know that this was because of redlining.
The only reason LA became a city was segregation policies that prevented Black and Brown people from moving into specific areas. When segregation ended, there was a massive population explosion in LA because communities could finally move into areas they were previously excluded from.
Because LA is a city built on segregationist policies, you’ll find pockets of wealth in areas that were built on the backs of the poor and marginalized–it’s the literal definition of gentrification.
Los Angeles is a city that has been built on people who are not from here. It’s just one of those cities. You’ll see people from all over Mexico, Central America, and South America who have come here to build a better life for themselves or their families. You have always thought about Los Angeles in New York for Mexicans or Latinos. You think about New York being for white people. You think that LA is the same way you can have those kinds of conversations in New York City or San Francisco, but Los Angeles is unique because it’s a city filled with immigrants and people of color. There’s a lot to unpack here. Not only culturally but also racially.
During my stay in LA, you have been getting lost while walking around the city, which is something that happens regularly when I’m out of my comfort zone and exploring. There are parts of LA that are so unfamiliar that it feels like they’re never going to become familiar.