24 Rookie Mistakes To Avoid When Moving To Los Angeles

What do you mean “hike”?”

1. Believing stereotypes about the sort of people who move to Los Angeles.

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No, not everyone who moves here is a struggling actor who played a snarky-yet-lovable love interest in a web series seen by three people.

2. …Or thinking you have to look a certain way to thrive here.

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Los Angeles has a reputation for being shallow and looks-obsessed, which may be true if you function within an industry where your value hinges on being young and beautiful. But, again, not everyone does. Relax!

3. …Or thinking that everyone who DOES work in entertainment is shallow.

There are plenty of people working in Hollywood who are talented, hardworking, kind, and genuine. Does the entertainment industry have a reputation for rewarding sociopathy? Sure. But not every person who dreams of being a producer or a movie actor is a monster. Some just really, really love the craft of making movies and TV.

4. Assuming there is no good pizza in Los Angeles.

Yes, sure, other cities’ reputation for amazing pizza precedes them (I miss you, NYC), but Los Angeles has a variety of great pizza, just maybe not as readily available. Try Mozza if you’re feeling fancy and like you’d want to part with a lot of money, or Tomato Pie if you want something thin and greasy and perfect.

5. …Or that Los Angeles is lacking foodie culture in general.

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Leaving aside all the regional, criollo-style (homemade) cooking you can find here, the city also has amazing restaurants that appeal to even the most insufferably smug of food snobs. Like meat? Like, MEAT meat. Then do try Animal, especially the oxtail poutine and the petit Basque, which will change your whole life. Do you like a bit of pot-laced ’90s nostalgia? Go to Los Angeles native/genius chef Roy Choi’s Pot, hidden away in the lobby of Koreatown’s The Line Hotel. Or actually, just try anything Roy Choi touches.

6. Having strong opinions about juice.

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Juice and juiceries and juicing and grabbing a juice and juice juicing juicy juices is definitely a thing here, and you just have to learn to accept that.

7. Lamenting the city’s lack of a drinking culture.

Los Angeles does indeed provide many fine and less-fine establishments in which you may become faded. I really like Good Luck Bar, because it serves drinks with umbrellas and also looks like a movie set out of an old, slightly uncomfortable 1930s Shanghai-inspired movie set. And, if you plan your outing right, you can simply take a shared ride service home. Or find a place within stumbling distance from your abode.

8. Not understanding what an earthquake feels like.

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“Is that an earthquake? Was THAT an earthquake?” Believe me, you’ll know it when it happens, if only because everyone on Twitter will be talking about it.

9. Thinking you understand “Mexican food.”

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Mexico is a huge country, and Los Angeles’ generations-deep Mexican population comes from all over — Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Veracruz, wherever. The city’s culinary offerings reflect that, so be sure to sample as much of it as possible.

10. Or thinking that Mexican food is the only thing this city has to offer.

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Los Angeles is home to a wide variety of people (and their food). You can find truly excellent Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Ethiopian, Hawaiian, Persian, and Armenian food here, just to name a select few.

11. Sharing your thoughts about Scientology.

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A word of advice: You truly never know who in this city is a Scientologist. Be careful when venting your thoughts about it among people you don’t know and don’t be shady.

12. Thinking you can avoid hiking.

At some point, someone is going to ask you if you want to go hiking. I’m not sure any other major urban city is so into hiking, but it is definitely a thing here and can range from a gentle stroll in unnecessary workout gear to something that will make you want to give up, assume the fetal position, and roll off into a canyon. Bring water and sunblock.

13. Thinking you understand what divides the West Side from the East Side.

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I still don’t get it, and everyone I’ve asked about it has had a different answer.

14. Believing that the division between East and West actually matters.

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If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “ugh, the West Side,” I’d have enough money to open up my own yoga juice cult.

15. Not taking advantage of the fact that you live within the heart of the film industry.

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Go watch movies! One great, unique feature of Los Angeles is that you can watch both new releases as well as older and indie movies. The Cinefamily offers a wide range of movies, musical acts, and movie-related events. The New Beverly Theater is a great place to check out some older and weirder fare, including camp classics. Be sure to check out the Downtown Independent’s “Double Feature Drink Along” showings too (They once had a Clueless and Spice World double feature, which means they really, really love you and want you to be happy). And, depending on the season, the city’s offers plenty of drive-in options as well.

16. Being surprised that everything smells like pot.

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Because, seriously, everything smells like pot.

17. Dealing with people who try to disparage the public transit system without ever having used it.

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Los Angeles’ public transportation system — which includes bus lines and the rail system — is perfectly serviceable. It does require more advance planning than those in some other big cities, and it can be really annoying to find yourself waiting 45 minutes for a transfer if you’re not able to coordinate your route properly, but it works, it’s clean, it’s better for the environment, and it’s steadily improving.

18. Or, if you do drive, taking the freeway every time.

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Sure, sometimes it can’t be avoided, but, seriously, the Waze app is your friend, especially when it comes to using surface roads as shortcuts and avoiding traffic jams.

19. Feeling that you have to pretend not to be impressed by touristy things.

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Whatever, the Hollywood sign is iconic. I’ll never not say, “Look, it’s the Hollywood sign!” Visit Hollywood Forever. Visit the Observatory. Stroll around Forest Lawn (and visit the little museum it has on its grounds). Enjoy your city.

20. …But thinking you HAVE to check out all those touristy things.

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The Walk of Fame is a great place to step in human urine.

21. …While also neglecting to check out some of Los Angeles’ more hidden, weirder offerings.

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Los Angeles is weird in the best way. It doesn’t “brand” its weirdness the way some other cities do, so it always feels organic and genuine and surprising. For instance, you can stop by the Museum of Death (which, warning, is more like The Museum of Grisly and Graphically Depicted Murders) and check out both Jayne Mansfield’s taxidermied cat and serial murderer John Wayne Gacy’s clown art. Also, if you ask nicely, you can see the museum’s two-headed turtle.

22. Snapping a picture of Angelyne.

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Angelyne is a Los Angeles institution, an angel swathed in pink poly-blends. She is an actress who garnered attention buying large, splashy billboards of herself, and she has a reputation of charging people she catches taking a picture of her. That said, I had the distinct pleasure of running into her and she is actually very, very friendly if you’re not, like, invading her space.

23. Thinking you should avoid bacon-wrapped hot dogs.

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Eat the bacon-wrapped hot dogs.

24. Believing you ever really “know” Los Angeles.

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Los Angeles is simply too massive to ever wrap it into a neat little package. Allow yourself to be confused, surprised, delighted, appalled, and seduced by it.

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