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At a Glance: The Bay Area, Southern California, and District of Columbia in comparison.

GENERALLY speaking…

The Bay Area (particularly East Bay):

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  • Weather: Cool, non-humid, cloudy, and a winter/spring semi-rainy season. Only gets hot during Cal Day and 4/20, basically the days which it’s supposed to be hot (>75 degrees).
  • People: Chill, friendly, and easy to start small talk. Open-minded and unafraid to reveal a bit of their personas.
  • Food: A variety of everything. Ethnic foods are plentiful.
  • Pace: Chill. Slow paced. People take their time without a sense of rush.
  • Environment: Green-aware. Alternative energy aware. Recycling everywhere.
  • Politics: Socially liberal. Politically active. People voice their opinions. Most are democrats.
  • Living Cost: High. Amongst the highest in California due to the weather and high population.
  • Transportation: Car not necessary and often adds more stress. Bus and metro are easily accessible and affordable, but takes a lot longer to reach target destination; however, the difficulty of finding parking makes driving take almost identical times.
  • Culture: Hipster, open-minded, care-free. Sunbathing in the park, strolling around the city, smoking a joint.

Southern California (Orange County, Los Angeles County):

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  • Weather: on average, 10 degrees warmer than the Bay Area. Dry heat in the summers, but not humid. Rains <10 days a year.
  • People: More superficial talk, not so much on worldly subjects or domestic politics. Friendly, but from more of an egoist perspective. Embraces material goods. Pet ownership is big, especially with cats and dogs in the suburbs.
  • Food: Very good, especially ethnic foods. Better Mexican food and Korean food than the Bay Area.
  • Pace: Chill. Slow paced.
  • Environment: A bit more air pollution in Los Angeles. Regular air in Orange County. Beach air feels great. Less recycling aware, but a lot of solar panels (wealthy people) as an alternative.
  • Politics: Los Angeles is a bit to the left, and it really shows in Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Orange County is generally conservative with a lot of wealthy Whites and Asians.
  • Living Cost: Not as high in the Bay Area, but there are extremely rich areas in each city. All beach cities are wealthy – and there are many, many beach cities.
  • Transportation: Cars are necessary unless you like to stay within 2 square miles.
  • Culture: Brand name cars and clothes, barbecues and bonfires, beach runs, raising families, sunbathing.

District of Columbia (including surrounding Maryland and Virginia):

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  • Weather: Swamp. Humid. Hot. Sweaty. Rains for one hour, then scorching heat in the other. The rain evaporates within an hour, yet a hurricane, tornado, or flash flood warning is set for the next hour.
  • People: Fast paced, but surprisingly very friendly. Young crowd, young professionals and students. Everyone is generally well educated, and older crowds are very likely to be in the political, legal, non-profit, or private sectors.
  • Food: On par or more expensive than Bay Area food, which is not cheap. Eating out is delicious with a great variety, but produce is lackluster – imported from around the country.
  • Pace: Fast. People walk fast. Cabs honk at slow pedestrians. Cars are unaware; I’ve been hit once already.
  • Environment: Buildings are no more than 12 stories high, maybe 130 feet tall – this is the law. Lots of open parks and roundabout, which are called Squares and Circles. The Potomac River runs through the city. Very lush green outside of the urban area.
  • Politics: Very aware. Excluding political appointees, there is a sense of leftism. Most conversations will discuss frontline news and latest political gossip.
  • Living Cost: As high as East Bay, but gets cheaper with developing neighborhoods or living in Virginia or Maryland.
  • Transportation: Metro and bus are easily accessible and even better than BART, although the latter serves three entire counties.
  • Culture: Dress to impress at work. Dress to impress after work. Unless you’re badass. And Unless it’s Friday. Then it’s “Casual Friday” and you try to look the nicest in the simplest way possible.
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