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UX Designer making the move to the west coast, but where?

over 3 years ago from , Sr. UX Designer

I've been living on the east coast all my life. After college I bounced around cities like DC, Fort Lauderdale, Baltimore, NYC, and currently living in Wilmington Delaware.

I have always wanted to move out to San Fransisco, you know... because of the whole 'Tech' scene. But... I'm not just looking at SF because I'm looking for a place to settle down for good.

My short list (in no particular order): - San Fransisco - Silicon Valley - Los Angeles - San Diego

I'm planning my move, without a job lined up because I want to really pick a place, not just a job.

If you live in California, and are a designer... - How would you rate the place you live? - Where you would have moved to if you could up and move at the drop of a hat? - What the opportunities are like?

Looking forward to my pilgrimage...

25 comments

  • Julian LloydJulian Lloyd, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Rey (the north western beach front of Los Angeles), or West LA and Culver City (a little more inland) are the happening spots… and fracking awesome: food, nightlife, beaches, street fairs, gyms, hiking, etc. (If you visit LA, go to PlanCheck on Sawtelle Blvd. and order the Southern Fry. Trust me.)

    They are still expensive, but compared to San Francisco? LOL don’t even start. Plus—I’m going to say it—SF and Silicon Valley are astonishingly pretentious, over-priced and stamping out the many years of culture the area is famous for.

    Plus, the weather is not nearly as nice.

    For something a little cheaper and slower than Los Angeles, San Diego is a great alternative. It’s proven a great place to visit, but too "small town"for my taste.

    Remember, the flight is about $59 each way and an hour if you ever want to attend an event in northern California—but the remainder of time you spend working and you know, actually living, Los Angeles will be way more dynamic.

    Source: Born and raised in Oakland/SF and lived in Los Angeles for 8 years.

    11 points
    • Alex CampAlex Camp, over 3 years ago

      I've lived in the LA (areas mentioned above) for 4.5 years. Great area, and jobs in design/ux are abundant. Only thing that sucks is the traffic really.

      0 points
      • Julian LloydJulian Lloyd, over 3 years ago

        Traffic is a nightmare, you’re right.

        I managed a 2 mile radius of office, gym and grocery store, with a few days working from home for 2 sweet years. Prior to that, I freelanced. The key is to just avoid the freeways entirely in your daily routine.

        While freelancing, I had a client that required commuting 2-3 days a week, for an hour each way. I will never do that again. Ever.

        2 points
    • Calvin WilsonCalvin Wilson, over 3 years ago

      Haha, J! I can vouch for both LA and the PlanCheck Southern Fry!

      1 point
    • Irving TorresIrving Torres, over 3 years ago

      "... a little cheaper and slower than Los Angeles, San Diego is a great alternative."

      I wouldn't say it's cheaper but definitely slower. I currently live in San Diego and trust me that it is NOT cheaper than Los Angeles in my opinion. I've been wanting to make the move to Los Angeles for a while but the biggest downside would be the traffic (not a big downside if you work from home).

      0 points
      • Julian LloydJulian Lloyd, over 3 years ago

        Depends on where you live, and how big of a place you get—but I believe San Diego rent is 5–15% cheaper than Los Angeles, and 15–30% cheaper if you buy.

        If you’re talking about renting a 1-bedroom in a happening area, you’re right, it’s probably the same ¯_(ツ)_/¯

        1 point
      • Oscar Waczynski, over 3 years ago

        What makes you want to move to LA?

        0 points
        • Irving TorresIrving Torres, over 3 years ago

          Los Angeles just seems like the place to be for art, culture, and meeting creative people. Those are the biggest reasons in all honesty. The atmosphere. Why do you ask? Are you in LA?

          0 points
    • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, over 3 years ago

      SF and Silicon Valley are astonishingly pretentious, over-priced and stamping out the many years of culture the area is famous for.

      I got this vibe too. As much as I love all the opportunities present in the Bay Area, I don't want to move there and be part of the problem.

      1 point
      • Jesse HaffJesse Haff, over 3 years ago

        Speaking of LA, I'm surprised nobody has mentioned downtown LA (or DTLA for locals). My company NationBuilder has a gorgeous headquarters in the historic Biltmore Hotel right off Pershing Square. Delicious food everywhere, Whole Foods and multiple metro stops within walking distance. On most days I completely avoid LA traffic by commuting from Silver Lake (less than 15 minutes away), and many people live in DTLA and walk to work.

        1 point
  • CJ CiprianoCJ Cipriano, over 3 years ago

    Born and raised on the east coast myself. Ft. Lauderdale, DC, etc. I lived in SF during an internship this passed summer, and spent another 2 weeks with the company in Seattle this month. I don't know what kind of company you are looking to work for, but Seattle sure was an amazing place to be. 10x the quality of living for less than half the prices of anywhere in SF. Everything is brand new, clean, modern. I didn't see you mention Seattle anywhere but I highly suggest taking a look, well worth your time.

    5 points
  • Peter DeltondoPeter Deltondo, over 3 years ago

    If you can afford it, I agree take a trip and explore.

    Orange County is fantastic, although more expensive than I'd like, but family has us anchored here. We'd live in Oregon in a heart beat if our daughter didn't have so many Grandparents within 15 mins of us.

    Work wise, OC, LA, SD, SF are going to be your hotspots, but beyond that it's really a preference of lifestyle that might pull you to another part of California.

    Best of luck to you!

    1 point
  • n keylen keyle, over 3 years ago

    I admire you for picking a place for lifestyle. Haven't lived in any of those. I'd say catch a plane, spend 3 days in each, see what feels right - for you! Good luck!

    1 point
  • Account deleted over 3 years ago

    I moved from Boston and worked in SF and then LA for a few years... back in Boston now.

    Random thoughts about SF: Fantastic public transportation system. Coming from the east coast, the weather won't bum you out... it's basically like a continual spring/fall vibe... with September and October generally being spectacular. The rainy months are a bit meh, but beats blizzards. I really loved the feel there. The vibe there is very different than SoCal... people are a bit more open and outward appearances don't mean as much. Job market there is solid, but competitive. Very, very $$$ to live in the nice areas, but if you can swing it - it's worth downsizing to do it.

    Random thoughts about LA: Traffic sucks complete balls and will affect your job search. You may look at a map and say "Redondo Beach is only like 16 miles to Santa Monica!", but you'll quickly learn that means an 60-90 minutes EASILY during commuting hours. I worked both downtown and in Santa Monica. I would highly recommend the Santa Monica/Venice/Marina (or Playa) areas. A lot is happening. A lot of great companies in Santa Monica/Venice now. I almost moved back a coupe years ago and was looking pretty much exclusively to buy in Santa Monica. If you don't have a car... you'll need one to do just about anything. The weather is much better down there if you like sunshine, but unlike the movies... the beach cities (Malibu down through Redondo) will regularly get hit with the marine layer... which is basically fog. I lived in Hermosa Beach and family would always be surprised how where we lived it would be sometimes 65-70 and overcast... but 1-2 miles inland it would be 90+ and scorching.

    Overall, no matter what any of us says I think you need to take a flight out and spend a couple days in each place. Truly gauge what housing is available at your price-point and feel each place out. For instance, you may be an avid hiker or snowboarder and appreciate the easier access to that kind of stuff in SF. Maybe you're a beach person... then LA or SD is clearly where you want to be.

    I've always been intrigued about Portland, OR to be honest.

    0 points
  • heraa ansari, over 3 years ago

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    0 points
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    0 points
  • Mitch Malone, over 3 years ago

    Also born and raised on the East Coast (Baltimore, MD). Lived in Orange County for 3 years then moved to SF for a year with my wife. We did not like it. Surprisingly hard to get around, unsurprisingly very expensive, smells like urine most days. I probably would have liked it if I lived there in my early 20s. We're definitely in the minority though; most of our friends who moved to SF love it.

    We just moved back to Orange County. We love it here. It's very peaceful and clean and beautiful here. There are some big companies (Google, Blizzard, Western Digital) and a burgeoning startup scene (Payoff, Acorns). There are also some good design agency shops.

    0 points
  • Luca Candela, over 3 years ago

    The Bay Area was devastated by the last tech boom, it's a horrible place to live (I live in the Peninsula and started hating the place).

    I would look into Los Angeles or San Diego, the quality of life will be significantly higher there.

    0 points
  • Adam RasheedAdam Rasheed, over 3 years ago

    I live in OC and have been noticing some growth in the tech scene.

    0 points
  • Alfonse SurigaoAlfonse Surigao, over 3 years ago

    I've lived in the Bay Area most of my life and currently work in San Francisco. It definitely has it's perks working for a tech company out here in SF, but it's very, VERY expensive living here especially if you're not familiar with the area. San Jose/south bay /Silicon Valley can be nice, though again it can be very expensive living there.

    I've lived down near San Diego for about 5 years and loved it there. The weather is amazing all year round and has a much more relaxed atmosphere(compared to the hustle and bustle of the SF) and it's definitely much more affordable living there compared to the Bay Area. If I were you, I would choose somewhere close to San Diego, or somewhere south of Los Angeles like Newport, Irvine, or Laguna. Don't live in LA though, it's horrible there, especially the traffic (the traffic is horrendous!).

    0 points
  • Daniel ArcherDaniel Archer, over 3 years ago

    Los Angeles. It's extremely diverse in industries, and there's amazing, strong companies here. Also the rent is much cheaper than in SF (for now).

    0 points
  • Malik KhanMalik Khan, over 3 years ago

    I was born in Anaheim, lived 18 years in San Diego, moved to Irvine, then to Newport Beach, dated a couple girls in Los Angeles, currently live in SF and my soon to be fiancee is in Oakland.

    It's said that southern California people are vain and northern California people are judgmental.

    Out of all the places I've lived, I have enjoyed my experience in SF and Oakland the most. Newport Beach was second.

    It really depends on your personality. San Diego is definitely the most laid back location but, if you're affected by your environment, then you may end up becoming complacent. Orange County is nice but I feel like it's constantly overshadowed by Los Angeles. LA is fun but traffic sucks and the air quality is bad. San Francisco has been my favorite blend of culture, food, people, and ease of transportation.

    0 points
  • David P, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    I've lived in all of the above and can safely say San Diego is my preference.

    However, everyone has different taste and different reasons for those preferences. I'd personally try each for a month. Get an AirBnB, live like a local and then decide.

    Any shorter than a month and it's hard to know an area well enough to live like a local and find that specific area of the city you'd like to live. For example, North Park is very different to La Jolla or Pacific Beach in San Diego. Both in cost of living and vibe.

    0 points
  • Lissa Aguilar, over 3 years ago

    I actually made a similar move from the East Coast recently (worked in NYC for 12 yrs, originally from Boston). I now live in LA and I'm really enjoying it. Mind you, I originally looked into Seattle, San Francisco, Cupertino, San Diego and Irvine, before LA, sending out resumes and talking to recruiters daily. Why I chose LA? I figured out what I wanted and NEEDED for my UX career and personal growth. There are a bunch of startups here and quite a few companies that know a UX designer's value but not too sure how to use us, so there are positions that are a team of one. For me its been invaluable, for others it maybe too much and not what is desired. Also be familiar with salary/pay rate. There is a difference between San Francisco and LA and NYC rates (for now). Then again cost of living is different to. If you're not in love with driving Uber/Lyft is great, but if you can try to live close to the train. Overall my 3 months here in LA has been amazing, really cool friendly folk, the team I work with is incredibly creative and CRAZY smart. Hope this helped and good luck on your pilgrimage!! Cheers!!

    0 points
  • Johnny JuiceJohnny Juice, over 3 years ago

    Marina Del Rey aka Silicon Beach

    0 points