From the Del Rey to the Delray: Florida, You’re No California

img_1454I’m on the Southeast coast of Florida, that well-known stretch between Miami and Palm Beach.  Therefore, it’s time for another installment of East Coast vs. West Coast.  This area of the East Coast was my second choice of home location after the West Side and South Bay beach towns near Los Angeles.  So while I’m here visiting the runner-up location, I want to see if I made the right decision.  Here’s how I evaluate it:


1.  Weather
Both places are warm and sunny.  Both have beautiful sea breezes and palm trees.  South Florida’s Atlantic Ocean is typically warmer and cleaner than the Santa Monica Bay.  But South Florida air temperatures are brutal throughout a very long summer (yes, I know Los Angeles just had record April heat, but it’s unusual, that’s why it’s a record), and Florida’s humidity will curl your hair.
Winner: Los Angeles

2.  Cost of Living
Do I really need to explain this one?  And Florida has no state income tax to boot.
Winner: Florida

3.  Natural Disasters
Los Angeles has earthquakes.  They can be deadly, but the big ones are, thankfully, rare.  Florida gets hurricanes.  While these are often less traumatic than big earthquakes, sometimes they’re just as bad.  And the hurricanes hit every year, often more than once.
Winner: Tie

4.  Lack of Rednecks
Southern California must have rednecks someplace, maybe East of Los Angeles, but I never run into them.  And we obviously have our share of closed-minded people, as evidenced by the passage of Prop 8.  But there’s nothing quite like a redneck to cause one worry about the future of this country.  In Florida, the rednecks tend to be in more Northern locations, but plenty can be found in the Southeast part of the state, near Interstate 95 and its predecessor, Route 1.  Telltale signs: mullets, tattoos (and not the hip and ironic ones found on Angelenos, more like hearts with daggers through them, 80s hair metal bands, and the names of girlfriends long since gone),  wife-beater t-shirts (duh, that’s how they got the name), parachute pants, Mustangs with pine tree air fresheners, and pickup trucks with gun racks and confederate license plates.
Winner: Los Angeles

5.  Culture and the Arts
Southeast Florida has its centers of culture.  Miami has a thriving arts community, including the popular Art Basel event. West Palm Beach has the Kravis Center for performing arts, which generally caters to a bit older crowd, as well as museums and theaters.  But the Los Angeles area has so many places to experience the arts of all kinds, from Disney to avant garde,  that my head spins.  Just take a look at a few days’ worth of Los Angeles Metblogs posts for some current examples.
Winner: Los Angeles

6.  Jobs and Economy
This really depends on one’s professional field.  As we know, California and the Los Angeles area are experiencing high unemployment.  Southeast Florida is the home of many corporations.  Banking and real estate businesses are prevalent, and many professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and money managers make their living here.  If you’re a plastic surgeon, you’ll thrive here just as much as in Beverly Hills. However, if one works in the media, then outside the Hispanic media center of Miami, there is much less employment for you in Florida.  And both locations have had a drop in home values.
Winner: Tie

7.  Creative, Interesting People
This category may be the most subjective, and, to some, perhaps the most important.  One might not even buy the premise that having such people (who are sometimes derisively called “hipsters” but who also include cool geeky creative techie types) around is a good thing.  However, I suspect that many bloggers and blog readers agree that it is a good thing.  If so, then in my experience, there is no contest.  This is the flip side of the “Rednecks” category.  Florida is just not a progressive or hip place.  Los Angeles is.  Much cultural stuff gets thought up, created, and acted upon in L.A., and hits Florida years later, if at all.  I certainly find it more stimulating to be in the former rather than the latter.
Winner: Los Angeles

8. Lack of Crazy Tabloid Gun-Toting Behavior
Despite L.A.’s portrayal in Raymond Chandler novels and countless movies and television shows as a gun-shooting, crack-dealing, gang-signing kind of town, the crime rate is actually lower here than in many other major cities.  For example, according to this chart, the violent crime rate in Los Angeles is half of what it is in Miami.  More importantly, how can one measure the plethora, on a per capita basis, of bizarre tabloidy crimes committed in Florida, the type that get featured on CNN every couple of weeks?  I’m talking about Caylee Anthony.  I’m talking about the NASA astronaut diaper lady.  I’m talking about variations on the headline “Mother _____s Children by _______ing them in ____, Florida.”  I’m talking about living in a place that is often a cruel national cable television joke.
Winner: Los Angeles

Final Score: Los Angeles 5, Florida 1, 2 Tie

I’m sure I left some categories out, and can probably be accused of bias in some of the categories above, but I’m comfortable in knowing that I made the right choice.  What about you?

(Photo of Delray Beach, Florida — it doesn’t suck — by Matt Mason)

11 Replies to “From the Del Rey to the Delray: Florida, You’re No California”

  1. The only time I ever visited Florida it was to go camping on the panhandle, and it was lovely. I doubt I’d care for the rest of the state, but then I never thought I’d care for LA and it was love at first sight.

  2. Comparing an entire, Republican-infested state to Liberal Hollyweird?

    On that note, you could have had a Scary Republicans category. Florida has Rush, that Coulter gal, a Bush-spawned former governor, Katharine Harris, Mark Foley– the list goes on and on. Also there is a movement in full stride there to ban gays from adopting.

    California has– I have to stop now; I’m getting depressed because the first name I thought of was Miss California.

  3. Don’t mean to sound like a dick here, but your #4 statement really makes you look like a transplant that doesn’t cross Lincoln.

    While Florida is a haven for rednecks, you don’t have to actually leave Los Angeles to find our local versions.

  4. @Chal, I agree!

    @nunboi, no, you don’t sound like a dick. I do get past Lincoln, sometimes even as far as Pie ‘N Burger in Pasadena, but I haven’t met those Los Angeles rednecks. Please tell me where I can meet them. Maybe the Saddleback Ranch?

    @Verdell, definitely, as reflected in item 1 and in the photo.

  5. First I was thinking you need a terrain type of category. Because Florida is F-L-A-T. Flat! No vistas. No Mulholland drive looking over the lovely valley lights, no view from the observatory… But then I thought heck, let’s just go for a “variety of ecosystems” category. LA wins.

    And as for rednecks–well, there’s rednecks and there’s rednecks. I’ll take LA’s version over Florida’s any day. I’ve seen Deliverance one two many times. The south sort of scares me.

  6. This is spot on. However, since I lived for two years too long in the NORTHeastern portion of the state, #5 and 7 were really magnified. I’m sure a comparison of religious extremism and racism could be made from that area as well. #8 would be up there too. Working in one of the area’s largest hospitals/trauma centers, I encountered some stories that could have easily been tabloid fodder.

    Great post. Reminds me that I don’t miss Florida one bit and that I need to call my mother.

  7. I forgot to add the “Hollywood” category. Southeast Florida has one too. It’s famous for dog racing. But hey, I don’t need any more convincing.

  8. If Florida is so full of redneck Republicans, then why did it go to Obama?

    There are many reasons to pick California over Florida but politics is probably the least of them.

  9. @UA, I don’t think anyone said that “redneck Republicans” make up a majority of people in Florida. I think the election results (and Obama only won the state by 2.5%) were more a testament to the appeal and effectiveness of the two candidates and their campaigns. Likewise, Obama also won Indiana and other states that more often go for Republican presidential candidates. Florida’s governor is Republican. Florida’s Senate is Republican by an almost 2 to 1 majority (26 to 14). Florida’s House of Representatives is also overwhelmingly Republican, approximately 77 to 42. However, I don’t think party affiliation per se was a factor for me in deciding where to live, although I can see from the comments that it may be an important factor for others. I think it’s cool that this became part of the discussion, so thanks.

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