Last month I moved temporarily, to look for a job, and didn’t realize that there are things to consider besides a central location, frequency/infrequency of muggings and most importantly, nearby Chipotles. Here are a few key items that I unhappily learned:
- Think about proximity to a fire station. Not for safety purposes but for the ability to sleep through the night. Especially if you move to a place that is prone to fires. With global warming, that might be most of the world soon but for right now it is California. My apartment is two blocks away from the LAFD (one of many I am sure) and that fire station has been put to good use lately. Those guys deserve every penny based on the number of sirens I hear EVERY night. Granted, I may be hearing ambulances as well so you should probably consider nearby hospitals. Think about police precincts too. You would think that by now I could differentiate the different sirens but all I can ascertain is LOUD.
- Do some sort of test to see how noisy the roads around you are. Somehow figure out if motorcycles scream past like they are out on the open road without a care in the world, no stop lights to slow them down. Except that there are stop lights. Lots of them. I am not sure how this fun game of theirs works when you have to stop frequently for red lights. And let’s not forget to mention the souped up cars with no mufflers. I feel like LA is teeming with hot rods that only get taken out when most normal people are sleeping. “Yes, it is 11pm, time for a joyride! If only I didn’t have to deal with all the stop lights.”
- Find out if the house next to your building has a gate that has needed oil since 1952. This is a tougher one to do prior research on. I am not sure if it is a low-tech burglar alarm/deterrent or just laziness. What I have figured out is that this person must have the longest shift in the world. They leave the house before I want to get up and come home hours after I have finally gone into REM sleep. I am also not sure why they have the gate. The house is pretty decrepit and the car looks like it is on its last legs. I am not sure what they are protecting. Unless it is all a ruse and inside it is like Trump Tower – gold plated toilets, gilt mirrors, chandeliers that light up the few hours they are home…
- This is another hard one to check into… Does the upstairs neighbor walk like he is part of STOMP? I was going to say Lord of the Dance but there is definitely less finesse than that and way more clomping. Does he, like the person in the house next door, have a strange schedule except that he never leaves the apartment? Hopefully he also has a dog who skitters on the laminate flooring. It reminds me of fake nails on a keyboard but louder. Tonight it sounds like he has his cell phone on the floor and is getting text messages every second. At least he hears from the outside world, even if he doesn’t venture past his front door.
- Ratio of dog shit to grass. You know it is bad when someone has spray painted reminders on the sidewalks. If someone isn’t picking up after their dog, a spray painted sign isn’t going to help. Maybe a pole with baggies would be a better idea. Although, if you venture north to Sunset you might not be able to differentiate between canine and human fecal matter so the bags aren’t much use.
- And on that note… I have a very strong sense of smell so this next one might not be an issue for everyone. There is a weird smell that I thought was weed but now I am not entirely sure what it is. I thought my neighbors either upstairs or downstairs might be stoners but I was walking past some foliage and it smelled the same. Maybe because it is California, everything smells like weed. I can’t imagine that there are skunks. Maybe lack of rain makes the vegetation start to smell rank. However, the smell doesn’t permeate all the time. It shows up right before I go to sleep or it wakes me up in the middle of the night. I may just be crazy. Let’s go with that. Easier explanation.
- Check for door and window screens. I know that with the fires there has been more soot than usual and screens won’t block everything out but something is better than nothing. I didn’t expect to dust every day. I didn’t expect to dust every other day. If you have OCD like I do and are a total neat freak, screens are a necessity. And they keep out the bugs. Fortunately I didn’t see any cockroaches. Spiders, yes. Moths, yes. Lots of flies (see item 5).
- If you are moving to LA, get rid of all white soled shoes. Just do it! Don’t question me. And if you aren’t willing to take my advice, have a stockpile of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. But honestly, don’t even bother trying to clean them. Relegate those shoes to the “can’t be salvaged, only for walking in cities” pile. Coming from Seattle where the rain cleans away everything but the dark patches of your soul, I would sadly look at my sullied shoes and try not to think about what they were probably bringing into my apartment (see Item 5 again). I am not good at throwing things away so I haven’t decided what their fate will be. One pair did meets it end but that was also due to being worn past the expiration date. It was time. As for the others, they will probably be banished to the back of the closet until I have to do yard work or go to New York City…
All negativity aside, LA has a neighborhood for everyone. It isn’t all bad and now that I have explored a bit more I can see myself living in a few areas that are still central but just removed enough that I won’t have to contend with a plethora of tourists or vagrants when I want to go…anywhere. Now I just have to find a job so I can minimize my hatred of commuting.