Life in LA — tips and tricks to live like a local

by Ashley

As you know, D and I have been living in Los Angeles for one month! It has been a huge transition moving from the South to the West Coast. Of course, we expected the 75º weather and the gridlock traffic. But, even being here for as few as 4 weeks, there are already many things that we have discovered about LA. Here are my top 10 tips on how to live your life in LA like a local:


Tips and Tricks for your Life in LA featured by popular Los Angeles lifestyle blogger, Ashley Hodges Tips and Tricks for your Life in LA featured by popular Los Angeles lifestyle blogger, Ashley Hodges Tips and Tricks for your Life in LA featured by popular Los Angeles lifestyle blogger, Ashley Hodges

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1. Keep reusable bags in your car.

I am sure you have seen the reusable bags for sale at grocery stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. In cities outside LA, they can seem like the coolest, trendiest way to carry your groceries to the car. In LA, they aren’t just a trend — they’re a necessity! Plastic bags cost 10c a piece, and that can add up! Just think about having to pay 10c for every bag at a drug store or grocery store. You can avoid the fee by keeping reusable bags in your car and taking them inside with you when you shop!


2. Keep quarters in your car and learn how to parallel park.

It’s true that most everyone knows about LA’s infamous traffic. Something what is less talked about is the parking! Unless you are very familiar with the area you are going to, or know that your destination has a parking lot, you need to be prepared for all kinds of parking situations! There may be a parking structure, metered parking, or open parking available. More often than not you will probably want to park in a metered spot on the street (to avoid a fee at a parking structure). Most meters take cards and coins, but keep coins in your car just in case. And don’t forget that you will need to hone your parallel parking skills to fit in those metered compact car spots.


3. Use Waze, or else!

As a longtime user of Google Maps, I didn’t know there was a more savvy maps app out there! After moving to LA I quickly found out that everyone uses Waze…for good reason! Waze always navigates you to your destination using the fastest route and improvises while on the trip to keep you on the fast track. Waze also notifies you of road alerts such as a collision or traffic, and allows you to add stops to your trip. Finally, Waze allows you to preview traffic for a trip ahead of time based on its collected data. This means that it will calculate when you need to leave tomorrow to make your meeting at 9am across town. This app is a true lifesaver in the midst of crazy traffic.


4. June Gloom is real.

As we are now getting into the end of May and close to the beginning of June, I can confirm that June Gloom is a real thing! During the months of May and June as the weather heats up, the Pacific Ocean is still cold which causes low clouds to form over the ocean. These clouds form overnight and start to make their way onto land in the morning. That means that for those of us living in SoCal, we wake up to gloomy, cloudy weather. Luckily, the clouds usually disappear by the afternoon, and the sun comes out! But, beware if you are planning a trip to the West Coast: on average, May and June tend to be the cloudiest days of the year for Southern California and much of the Pacific Coast!


5. Housing is super expensive. Some people make their own rules.

David and I opted to rent a duplex in LA instead of owning a house like we did in Alabama. It made more sense given our budget and our desired neighborhood in LA. We knew that housing prices were super expensive. What we didn’t know was that some people make their own rules. When we moved into our duplex (which is newly built), there were squatters in the unit directly below ours. I didn’t even know what squatters were until I moved to LA. Essentially they broke into the building and changed the locks before anyone moved in. They then set up wifi, water and other bills in their name. Apparently, the California Law favors squatters so it took the police, management and lawyers over a month to finally kick them out. How wild! Moral of the story: housing is expensive, but you can make it work. Just don’t do anything illegal.


6. Dogs are welcome almost anywhere.

A perk of moving to the West Coast with a growing family (that includes Zola!) is that any place a human can go, a dog can go. Seriously! From restaurants to shopping centers to coffee shops, dogs are welcome. You might even see dogs in strollers because that is how much people in LA love their dogs: they are a part of the family. Zola definitely loves tagging along on our activities and being able to go where we go! You can bring your pup with you just plan to bring poop bags and pick up after them wherever you are.


7. There aren’t many chain restaurants. Miss you Chick-fil-A.

Los Angeles is known for its melting pot culture. With so many diverse people groups in one place, there is not a shortage of one-of-a-kind restaurants. You can find almost any kind of food that you would like except for maybe your favorite chain restaurant. Don’t expect to grab lunch at Panera or even Chick-fil-A if you are in the center of Los Angeles. It’s likely that the closest Chick-fil-A is over 20 minutes away. Which is a problem if you’re addicted like I am!


8. You definitely have to budget

David and I have found ourselves getting to the end of the week and wondering where all of our spending money went. Because everything costs money here (shopping bags, parking, etc.) and everything is a lot more expensive (food, gas, etc).


9. In-n-Out is a tourist attraction.

I hate to say it, but don’t believe the hype! After seeing all the cute In-n-Out hats and tempting animal style fries all over social media for years, I was very excited to try the famous California fast food. But, I have to say it wasn’t that great. Sure, it was good, but it wasn’t amazing. I enjoyed my food but I don’t think I would go out of my way to eat there. And I definitely wouldn’t pick it over CFA! In-n-Out is a fun activity if you’re visiting, but it wont be a staple for me now that I’m a local.


10. There are so many cool spots that you will never be able to see them all: restaurants, coffee shops, beaches. There is not just one “cool spot”

In Birmingham, everyone knew where the cool spots are. Specifically, there was a strip of cool shops and restaurants downtown that everyone migrated to. If you were at the Summit or Homewood, you were in a cool spot. In LA, there is not just one cool spot, everywhere you go is amazing and unique in its own way! You will never run out of awesome and amazing things to see and do! 


Click >>here<< to see my LA Travel Guide

Hope you guys enjoyed these tips and tricks to enjoy your time in LA! David and I absolutely LOVE it here! Let me know if you have any questions!


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Emily Randall May 29, 2018 - 10:43 pm

You are well established and well rounded for your age.

Kelli May 30, 2018 - 8:29 am

Hi Ashley! My daughter and I love following you on social media! We are visiting LA in July and would love to know best part of town to stay in a hotel but not too expensive! Also, any must-do places to see?

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