I had always assumed it was a vacant city, full of isolation, fake boobs and broken dreams. Daniel had foreseen an endless sprawl of suburbs/ex-urbs, connected by a tangle of freeways. Well, he is right about that.
But the City of Angels is, in fact, a fantastic place to live. And a malleable one. Our friends Olivia and David, who've been there for nine years or so, described it as being so immense and so varied that it becomes whatever you make it - as opposed to a city with a character so overwhelming that one has no choice but to conform. To build your own bespoke LA, though, they say you must employ both time and effort.
Like London, LA is a conglomerate of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct character. But unlike London, it boasts a-m-a-z-i-n-g weather all year round…and palm trees, everywhere!
Most people get to live in a house – usually a single-floor bungalow – with a backyard and trees bearing more fruit than you could ever realistically eat. This seems to be true in good areas as well as less desirable ones. Accommodation, especially if it’s rented, sounds like it’s reasonably priced.
It's easy to find great food from many nations and cultures, as long as you avoid Burrito King in Silverlake. Daniel, who never complains, suffered for three days.
Generally speaking, the population appears pretty happy – everyone likes to say “hi” on the street. It’s fun, and catchy. We like to say “hi” back. People talk a lot about movies and TV shows, referencing actors and famous lines - something unfortunately lost on us, most times.
The major drawback, of course, is all the driving. Most people seem to drive one to a car, guided by GPS, which could certainly lead to a feeling of isolation. We don’t know if it’s this sense of isolation that makes the vast majority of the population fail to signal when driving, and think that texting/emailing/talking on the phone while on the freeway is a good idea.
For more information on driving in LA, please see Julia Johnson's proposed book 'Free Parking and Treacherous Highways'.
Claire – On maternity leave from career as editor of monthly finance trade magazines, and occasionally a freelance translator. Half-American/half-English, raised in the suburbs of New York, has lived in London for almost nine years.
Daniel – Furniture designer/maker based on London’s Columbia Road flower market, for ten years, also an aspiring painter and DIY supremo. On one-year career break to reconsider options. English by birth, but mother is half-American and spent part of her childhood in Bronxville, New York.
Sophia – 3.5-year old spitfire who loves school, singing, swimming and being a big sister
Lulu – Born May 8 of this year, a model baby who eats, sleeps and gurgles.
Special guests – American, British and international friends and family who drop in along our trip to see whatever part of the country they fancy. They’re welcome to travel in the car with us and sleep in an adjoining tent.