How Soon Is New?

(Smiths fans, please forgive my lame wordplay.)

larchmont-roots.jpgI was walking on Larchmont this morning with my son and I happened to meet another Mama with a son about the same age. We chatted for a few minutes and then went our separate ways, only to cross paths again fifteen minutes later. She said, “Are you new to LA?” and I said “No,” thinking she meant “new” as in “less than a year” (I have lived here for five and a half years). She told me she’s a native, too, and I didn’t seem like one. I didn’t go to the trouble of correcting her misconception, because I was busy puzzling out mine.

So my question is, how long do you have to live in LA to be not-new here? I know there’s no hard and fast rule, but what is your personal opinion?

(Symbolic photo of tree roots on Larchmont by me.)

22 thoughts on “How Soon Is New?”

  1. I’ve been here 16 years, and my view is probably biased by the fact that I first came out here for college. But it was right at the end of my college experience that I started feeling no-longer-new-to-LA. So in my book, anything after 4 years counts.

  2. I’d say until you felt completely comfortable here, but for me that happened the second I hit the pavement at LAX.

    A year? Like “newlyweds” maybe?

  3. There’s clearly a difference between “New,” and “Non-Native,” that the person you spoke to thought she could ignore.

    A year seems fair. Or until you learn where Fountain is and how/when to use it.

  4. After housing countless new-to-LA roommates and seeing them leave, hating LA, after six months to a year, I call it at three years. Sometimes it takes that long to find your people. :)

  5. For my first six months in LA, every weekend I got in the car and tried to get lost. This is the best way to learn a new city (works wonders when you are travelling, you’ll be amazed what you find)

    Once I could pick a spot and get there without GoogleMaps, I felt like a true Angelino. You must consider however that I’m from Oxnard so it was easier for me to integrate into the LA lifestyle…

    Answer – 6 mos. to a year

  6. Unless you are born here you won’t be a native. Being “new” here depends on how long you cling to where you were from and wish it were more like it here.

    Me…I arrived, shit longer than I care to admit and immediately told people quite proudly when asked where I’m from with “here”. It’s about embracing all that is LA and wanting to make it better if only in your little neighborhood.

    Call me “los angelino by choice”.

  7. That other mom was a snob. Being native is nothing more than an accident of birth (as is being from Mexico or Ireland or New York.
    During the City Council dist 13 race of 2001, a few of the people running proudly declared to be “raised in Dist 13” or “Native Angelo” (but they would also clamed to be Latino or Jewish or whatever the person they were talking to one-on -one was). I remember at one forum, after the first three canadates clamed to be “born and raised” here, Mike Woo made a statement that went something like “Unlike my opponents, I did not have the foresight to be born in Silver Lake”

  8. So then why, in the eyes of the mainstream, is being a native of NYC or Chicago a good thing and being a native of Los Angeles is not? Do they not have the right to define their hometown as natives of other cities do?

  9. I’d say once the newcomer has given up on the varied illusions of the city AND can still appreciate it for what it is, then they’re not new. The first part seems to take people forever though.

    As a native, I’ve met lots of people that are excited about their recent move to LA, but as soon as the magic wears off (or they don’t become a famous actress) then it turns into how much they hate LA, and back to Arizona they go.

  10. Ten years if you came out here after college.

    Seven years if you came out here for college.

    Five years if you came here prior to 18.

    Three years if you came here prior to jr. high.

    I say this though to go slightly off topic. You are from the city you graduated from high school in (unless you went to boarding school.)

    If you were born in Glendale, but you graduated from Hollywood High you’re from Hollywood. If you were born in Santa Monica, but graduated from El Camino High you’re from Woodland Hills.

    I think we should all take this up so we can avoid this conversation. I’ve had like five of these within the last two days.

    “I was born in blah, blah but I was raised in blah, blah…” I think we could actually preserve two years of our lives by leaving out the unnecessary back story of how your mom had you at St Johns, but really you’re from…

    It’s 3:16 am, this post is not my fault.


  11. Non-natives are no longer “new” when they quit using these non-SoCal terms:

    stoop for porch
    back east for the other coast
    pop for soda
    hispanic for latino/chicano
    and when they stop saying “I miss the seasons.”

  12. You are no longer new when:

    – You know 6 different freeway routes from the Valley to Orange County, or vice versa

    – You know 4 routes to get to Dodger Stadium

    – You can reasonably predict traffic on those routes

    – You can switch between routes on the fly when encountering a bottleneck

  13. I’m a native, non-resident right now, but down there or elsewhere, I’d still say “back east” if I meant, uh, back east. As in, “I’ll be traveling back east next week.” THAT turn of phrase dates back to when the middle states were just territories, doesn’t it? When everything west of the mississippi was “out west?”

    I think newness is in the mind of the transplant – whenever he or she decides that LA is home, then the newness starts to disappear. One year sounds like a reasonable amount of time. It usually takes me 6 months to feel more comfortable in a place and a year to really know it.

    Of course, within LA, people can get that “are you new” ‘tude between neighborhoods and districts. If you know the local lingo (both LA and ‘hood/district) enough to not make fatal errors – those being whatever is The Worst by ‘hood – then you’re fine.

    Example: calling San Pedro “San” or “Sahn” “Peydro.” True natives or settled transplants can spot a noob or intruder from a mile away with that slip.

  14. You’re no longer new

    When you accept that the Eastside means east of the LA River, not east of La Brea or Highland or Western.

    When you can get anywhere on surface and pick up dinner on the way.

    When you expect rain in January, gloom in June and going to the beach for Thanksgiving.

  15. I have a hard time answering that, because I am both a native, and new. I grew up here, moved away for a very long time, and then came back just recently.

    Really I would say it has to do with how comfortable you are with the city, not any fixed amount of time. I moved back here with my girlfriend (now wife) and a friend of ours. My friend left, because he could never get the hang of the town. My wife, on the other hand, settled right in, and is happier here than she ever was in her home town. I would say my friend was “new” the whole time he was here, and yet in the same amount of time, my wife became a “local.”

  16. “Browne: what if you lived in Echo Park or Mid-City during your youth but were bused to, say El Camino Real or Palisades for high school?” Militant Angeleno

    Bussing is the “i” before “e” except when it sounds like “a” as in neighbor and weigh.

    If you’re bussed no, because if you were bussed chances are you probably still had classes and lunch with the people that you rode on the bus two hours with.

    I never knew that bussing was set up that way, but apparently it is, which kind of seems to defeat the whole point of bussing.

    —-You know sidenote. I have a friend from Montgomery, Alabama. He is white and he was bussed to a ‘black’ school (the late 70s and early 80s) and the black kids where bussed to the ‘white’ school, this was in the 80s, he said he had to ride the bus for two hours, but since he thinks black girls are hot, it was worth it…that’s pretty wild huh, they actually did bussing for real in the south.—

    I should say you are from where you placed your head on your pilllow at least 60% while you were in high school.

    (Put that 60% in as a save for children of divorced parents who have joint custody.)


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