I asked 25 people for the worst things about living in LA — and it's not just the traffic

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  • Los Angeles is known for its perfect weather, constant sunshine, and chilled-out locals.
  • When it comes to the worst things about Los Angeles, locals define their “worst things” in several different ways.
  • Here, 25 people share the worst things about Los Angeles, from cost of living to traffic.

You may remember the movie “LA Story,” a 1991 comedy Steve Martin wrote and starred in. In it, Martin plays Harris, a TV meteorologist who struggles with his romantic relationship, but also with his relationship with Los Angeles.

The movie’s satirical descriptions of traffic woes, jokes about the weather being the same every day, and a humorous scene with a table of friends all ordering their coffee in different ways are likely relatable to many Los Angeles locals.

Of course, traffic in LA is a common complaint. In fact, the city has the worst traffic congestion in the world, according to a 2017 study by the Inrix Global Traffic Scorecard, beating out Moscow, NYC, and Sao Paulo, Brazil, respectively. But the city has challenges beyond commute congestion.

Here, I asked 25 residents for the worst things about Los Angeles. (Responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.)


1. Regina, 50s

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One word: traffic! Friends visit me and look at the literal distance between places. I tell them miles are meaningless – it’s all about time of day!


2. Jade, 31

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I find that the lack of public transportation is the worst part about LA. It seems that the existing public transport goes everywhere Idon’t need to go, and construction for new train lines, etc., has been going on forever.


3. Mike, mid-40s

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There are way too many homeless encampments, and I wish more could be done for the homeless.


4. Tina, 37

Dating! I’ve lived in the Midwest, on the East Coast, and abroad, and I swear dating is the worst in LA! Whether it’s a guy I meet on an app or in real life, I feel many of them look at other women while on a date with me, are scared of commitment, and want to date several people at once.

In a way, I don’t blame them, since there are so many beautiful people – men and women – in LA. But people also seem to have very limited attention spans!


5. Scott, 38

I’d say the smartphone culture is the worst. It’s hard to go anywhere and see people not glued to their phones, whether it’s in line at Starbucks, at the grocery store, in line at the DMV, you name it. It’s sad. No one talks to each other anymore in person.


6. Eddie, 46

When I fly into LA, the only green I see is golf courses.


7. Kris, 51

I hate picking up or dropping off people at LAX – it just sucks. I’m also irritated that we have two new football teams that will add to the traffic and congestion in LA the Chargers should have stayed in San Diego.

And I especially hate that LA hasn’t sufficiently addressed its homeless problem. We have too many people that need a safe place to live.


8. Sarah, 39

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While I love how diverse LA is with all its neighbourhoods, I don’t love how unsafe I feel in certain areas when walking down the street, like the Venice Boardwalk after dark. I carry my pepper spray around more in LA than any other city in the US!


9. Kate, 50s

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The worst things about LA are:

  1. Distracted drivers – lots to look at here
  2. Traffic (though a good audiobook can make it bearable)
  3. POTHOLES! Don’t even get me started!

10. Amy, 42

One of the hardest things about living in LA is knowing so many people who are so often doing everything they can, and then some, to meet their life goals, yet they keep struggling – whether that be financially, creatively, romantically, or occupationally.


11. Cecil, mid-50s

LA’s population density has resulted in world-famous daily traffic jams on the freeways, with many hours lost each year by Angelenos, as they spend more time in their cars than residents of other large cities. Overall, there are too many people packed into public spaces.


12. Rory, 31

I love a lot of things about LA, but in certain pockets, I do get sick of all the fake and plastic people – literally! – i.e., people with plastic surgery who are trying to look years younger.

Also, too many people diet and are too skinny! When I go back to the Midwest, it’s always refreshing to see people age naturally and not try to hide it behind surgery. Plus, back home, it’s nice to see people of all shapes and sizes.


13. Rob, 29

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If you live on the Westside and you have friends downtown, you’re pretty much never going to see them!


14. Robyn, 57

For me, there are only two downsides – the overall cost of living(housing, property taxes, and utilities), which is still lower than other cosmopolitan cities – and the quality of the roads. The poor state of many of the streets, particularly in neighbourhoods and surface arteries (i.e., not the freeways) is a function of the number of cars here.

I have been happy to see the development of rail lines and enjoy taking the buses, but the roads still make that latter procedure uncomfortable. The wait times to have things such as potholes repaired on your own residential street are too long – with the result that the repair job gets bigger and bigger.


15. Jenn, 33

I’d say the worst thing about LA is traffic, but I gave up my car a few years ago, so I have a different response. (And, yes, it’s possible to be car-free in LA!)

I hate that, when you first meet someone at a party, nine times out of ten (or more!), they ask what you do, and if your answer doesn’t please them, they just walk away. What happened to just wanting to get to know someone for them, not their job and what they can do for you?


16. Deborah, 40

Is it bad that the worst thing is the early last-call time? Bars in NYC close so much later!


17. Marc, 36

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Aside from traffic, the worst part about LA is dating. I meet women, but it seems a lot of them are superficial or have narcissistic tendencies. I also think the countless number of dating options in LA definitely hinders the whole experience – too much quantity, not enough quality. I also think it’s crazy that people won’t date someone on the other side of the city!


18. Adi, 30s

TierneyMJ/Shutterstock.com

I’ve been in LA all my life. The worst thing? Obviously, traffic, by far. When driving in LA, you don’t measure in miles – you measure in hours when getting across town!


19. Rachel, 39

TierneyMJ/Shutterstock

Housing is on my “worst things about LA” list. Granted, I love living here, but it’s tough to live alone and have enough money left for other things. I’ve had roommates, but now I’m at the age where I’m past that.


20. Karen, 53

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I have lived in LA for most of my life. In the past few years, traffic has gotten so horrible that I seriously avoid going out at night – I know that once I get there, I will be so stressed because of the traffic.

It is only eight miles from my home to my office, and it takes me 45 minutes to do that eight miles. Here’s the funny thing: I actually rearranged my work schedule to avoid the high-traffic times, so if I were to have a 9-5 schedule, it would take me about an hour each way to go eight miles!


21. Kelly, 35

To me, the worst is how picky people are – what they eat (avocado toast, but the bread has to be gluten-free), what they drink (a non-fat cappuccino with soy milk), what they do to work out (yoga, yoga, and more yoga), etc.

While I get it, it also gets a bit extreme, like everyone is in one big cult. Secretly, I want to take them all back to the farm where I grew up in the Midwest and see how they’d do without all the endless choices!


22. Marla, 54

I am a publicist and need to meet with clients all over LA, and it can literally take hours to go 20 miles. The most frustrating thing is, if I am seeing a client in Santa Monica and have to go from my Burbank office – I need to plan to be out of the office at least six hours. Ridiculous.

Parking is an issue, too. There are very few actual lots, and street parking is always hit or miss if you don’t have a permit … and why the heck are there still parking meters that don’t take cards? Who has change anymore?


23. Chelsea, 34

My dating life has never been worse! A lot of people are starving artists with a lot of ambition, so the ones I meet are focused on several things at once. Dating doesn’t seem like a priority to them – they treat it like an afterthought or a way to kill time. I almost feel like I need to move back to the Midwest when I hit a certain age if I ever want to meet someone who wants to settle down.


24. Anne, 45

As a lifelong LA native, clearly the number-one complaint is traffic. In my last job, I had a five-hour, round-trip daily commute to Orange County from Pasadena. Add in expensive tolls on the privately owned toll roads, the highest gas prices in the nation, and wear-and-tear on my vehicle, and it was simply a nightmare.

Public transportation is getting better – some people who live in the farthest reaches can take a Metrolink train and then perhaps a bus or light rail to work. However, these options don’t really reach the majority of people who would like to use them.

Another downside is that housing prices are astronomical! Thankfully, I purchased my home 20 years ago – I would not be able to buy today or afford to live in a relatively nice apartment in a desirable neighbourhood.


25. Josie, 23

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I don’t like how many people have the wrong idea about LA – they think LA is horrible and filled with snotty people. Some think LA is only Beverly Hills and they forget about the culture, cool neighbourhoods, and really nice people. I love it here!

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