Livability: These creative people ditched Los Angeles, and this is what their lives are like now

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Los Angeles holds an almost mythical place in pop culture, a place where creative people from around the world come with stars in their eyes. (No, it’s not just the plot of “La La Land.”) The city is ground zero for the entertainment industry, as well as a hotbed for the fashion, fitness and media industries. 

Alas, life in the City of Angels has its downsides, too. The traffic is notoriously terrible, and air pollution is an ever-present health issue. And similar to New York City, housing in this city of four million people can be expensive, especially for people who want to start a family or own their own home someday. Oh, and did we mention the earthquakes? 

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Homeless tents are seen along the Venice beach boardwalk in Los Angeles in May 2019.

But the prospect of leaving L.A. can be a daunting one. Is it possible to maintain a creative career in a smaller city? Is the trade-off for cheaper rent and a 10-minute commute worth it? 

From Madison to Cedar Rapids, Nashville to New Haven, Livability talked to 10 creative people who made the decision to leave L.A. Here’s where why they left, where they went, and how they were able to keep their creative dreams alive. 

Madison, Wis.

Population: 243,122

Name, age, occupation: Rob Gard, 48, director of communications and writer

How long did you live in L.A.? 19 years

Where did you move? Madison, Wisconsin

Why did you leave L.A.? 

For all the laid-back perceptions of L.A., it takes a lot of focused, intense energy to keep up, not to mention a lot of money. I had a great career and an amazing personal and professional network, but the cost of living was a deterrent to continuing my life there. I was in the Miracle Mile, an incredible neighborhood with world-class museums, restaurants and music venues. But the average cost of a home in the area was $1.9 million, so homeownership was unlikely. There were also 60,000 people in that neighborhood, and I couldn’t keep up with that kind of intensity in my 40s as well as I did in my 30s.

But the biggest factor to leaving was feeling I’d plateaued with the kind of impact I could have on the community. I felt if I took my skills and experience to a part of the country that was on the rise, I could make a bigger difference in the lives of others. So, I returned to my home state to see what I could do there. 

What’s the difference in your rent/mortgage payment in L.A. vs. Madison?

I lived in a rent-controlled apartment for my last seven years in L.A. I paid $1,400 for a great art deco one-bedroom, plus $250 for utilities. The second I turned off the lights and turned in the keys to my landlord, the rent jumped up to $1,800. I’m now living in a one-bedroom apartment in a Prairie School home that’s on the National Register of Historic Places, paying $1,200 with all utilities included. 

How did leaving L.A. affect your career/creative life for the better? 

As I’d hoped, I’ve been able to dive quickly and deeply into a lot of community concerns that I am passionate about including education, equity, transportation and arts issues. Professionally, I found a career that beautifully combines my experience, skills and personal interests. You can see the needle move here and feel the potential for impact a lot more quickly than in L.A. 

What’s something creative you’ve been able to do in Madison that may not have happened in L.A.? 

I haven’t noticed a difference in terms of “what” I’m pursuing. But the big difference is in the impact of that pursuit. In L.A., I worked on collaborations with musicians and visual artists that reached certain “in-crowd” audiences. Here, I’m finding those types of collaborations are morphing into projects and campaigns that could impact the cultural landscape of the entire community. 

What do you miss about L.A.? 

Friends, friends and friends. Weather is a close second. And the fact that L.A. comes alive when the sun goes down and the lights come up. No matter what you’re interested in seeing, doing, eating, drinking or experiencing, it’s there for the taking 24 hours a day. 

Tell us something surprising about Madison that people may not realize. 

There is extraordinarily great food here. James Beard winners and nominees. Innovative menus. As Chef Daniel Bonanno of A Pig in a Fur Coat once told me, NYC and L.A. chefs may have more experience and more layered techniques, but Madison has excellent chefs who have access to fresher, better ingredients, so the end result is the same transcendent cuisine at half the price. Bar Corallini, which is maybe Madison’s hottest new restaurant, is a perfect example of that. Chef Giovanni Novella has a great Southern Italy cooking style that he applies to all kinds of meats and produce that is sourced locally. 

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Swimmers pass in front of Monona Terrace as the state capitol is seen in the background during the Ironman competition in 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Another thing people don’t realize about Madison is how active it is. I thought I’d be able to slack off on the workouts here compared to L.A. But you see people running and biking whether it’s 100 degrees in the summer or 10 degrees in the winter. No slacking allowed! Thankfully, there are five lakes and more than a dozen state parks that surround Madison, so it’s easy to get outdoors and burn off the calories. 

New Haven, Conn.

Population: 130,612

Name, age, occupation: Maria Teodosio, 34, owner of Neighborhood Vintage 

How long did you live in L.A.? 13 years

Where did you move? New Haven, Connecticut

 Why did you leave L.A.? 

After several years of owning my own bridal shop, I was burned out and ready for a break. The prospect of owning a home and raising a child in a major city like L.A. was becoming increasingly unfeasible as the cost of living continues to skyrocket. My husband felt the same way, and proposed that we move back to his hometown of New Haven, where property is more attainable and we could be closer to his family for support. My husband works from home, so we agreed if I could sell my business for a profit, then we would make the move.

What’s the difference in your rent/mortgage payment in L.A. vs. your new city? 

Well, we live with my in-laws while we look for a house (and save more money!), so our rent is considerably less than our $1,850 per month (rent controlled!) 800-square-foot one bedroom rent in L.A.

How did leaving L.A. affect your career/creative life? 

Leaving L.A. gave me a fresh start, which was scary at first because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. But it was good to have a break (and be able to afford not working) and figure out where I wanted to go next creatively. When I ultimate decided on my next venture, a vintage shop called Neighborhood Vintage, in Madison, Conn., the lower rents and voids in the market made it immediately attainable and successful. Basically, my experience in retail in L.A. paid off when I brought it to a smaller market. 

 What’s something creative you’ve been able to do in New Haven that may not have happened in L.A.? 

Vintage sourcing in less competitive and cheaper in Connecticut. There are so many great midcentury neighborhoods in and around New Haven to pick!

 What do you miss about L.A.? 

THE FOOD! And the people. The stereotype of Californians being laid-back and always happy is so much more obvious once you leave. I think the cold really hardens New Englanders. Also, while New Haven is diverse, outside of it, most of the smaller towns in CT are not. For the most part, Southern California its culturally diverse no matter where you go. That is something I miss. 

Tell us something surprising about New Haven that people may not realize. 

We discovered there is more to New Haven than just Yale University and the city’s iconic pizza restaurants. Its food and music scene are vibrant and on the rise. There is something for everyone! Some of my favorite restaurants in New Haven are Sherkaan, Hamilton Park, Three Sheets and Firehouse 12.

Pflugerville, Texas

Population: 53,847

Name, age, occupation: Lauren Beth Silva, 35, stay-at-home mom. Previously, I was a creative director at Fox Studios. 

How long did you live in L.A.? 10 years

Where did you move? Pflugerville, Texas

Why did you leave, and what city did you move to? 

We had thought about leaving for a while, but when I became pregnant with my daughter, Chloe, we knew our time in L.A. was coming to an end. We looked into buying a condo and what you get for under a million dollars, zoned to a decent school and less than an hour commute from work, was abysmal at best. Even though we both had great salaries, we didn’t want to leave our daughter all day long, spend hours in traffic and have little money left for savings.

My husband was able to keep his job (which he loves) and transfer to an office in Austin, Texas. We already had friends there and were pretty sure we would like it, so we went for it.

What’s the difference in your rent/mortgage payment in L.A. vs. your new city? 

Our place in Santa Monica was an old, 800-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment. Our place in Pflugerville is a brand new, 2,900-square-foot, four-bedroom house. The payments on our home are almost exactly 1/2 of what our apartment was.

How did leaving L.A. affect your career/creative life? 

I left work completely to be a stay-at-home mom. I went from being a busy creative director to trying to figuring out what I was doing caring for a baby and a new house! I thought I would take on tons of freelance work, but babies are way more demanding than I realized. I’m still hoping to jump back into graphic design when Chloe is a little more self-sufficient (she’s only 17 months old). 

What’s something creative you’ve been able to do in Pflugerville that may not have happened in L.A.? 

I never would have been able to be a stay-at-home mom in L.A. Spending all day with my daughter has taught me how kids really learn and play. I’ve been able to design a few toys and games that Chloe (and a few kids in our family) love. We’ve had a busy few months with friends and family visiting us, but when it gets quiet, I want to look into getting some sturdier prototypes made and see if there is a market for them. 

What do you miss about L.A.? 

The food! I think about it almost every day.

Tell us something surprising about Pflugerville that people may not realize. 

I was told that the Austin area was family-friendly, but I didn’t realize how much so. Kids really are welcome everywhere and nearly everyone will go out of their way to help you out with whatever you are trying to do.

Also, there’s an In-N-Out here that never has a line. Ever. That is unheard of in Los Angeles! 

Hilo, Hawaii

Population: 45,380

Name, age, occupation: Alexandra Franzen, 34, author, and editor and founder of the Tiny Press, a division of a larger publishing company called Mango Press.

How long did you live in L.A.? I was born in L.A. and lived there until I was 21 years old. Then I came back to L.A. briefly right after graduating from college, but I didn’t stay for too long. 

Where did you move? Hilo, Hawaii 

Why did you leave L.A.?

Initially, I moved to Minneapolis-Saint Paul because I got an internship at a public broadcasting company, which later unfolded into a full-time job. Several years later, I moved to Portland, Oregon, where I spent many happy years freelancing, working in coffee shops, hiking and enjoying the Pacific Northwestern vibes. 

Then came an incredibly painful breakup, a house sale (my ex-partner and I owned a place in Portland together), and many huge life changes. I decided I needed a big change of scenery — a quiet place to heal, grieve and piece myself back together. I wanted something really different. A big new chapter of my life. So, I sold almost everything I owned, packed two suitcases, and bought a one-way plane ticket to Hilo.

What’s the difference in your rent/mortgage payment in L.A. vs. Hilo?

In my early 20s, I shared a two-bedroom apartment with two other people in West Hollywood. Honestly, the place wasn’t that great. It was a 1970s building that was really outdated and not particularly attractive. Parking was always a nightmare because we had three cars and only one assigned parking spot. Almost every night when I got home, I circled around the block over and over and over, hunting for a precious spot. Our rent was $2,400 per month, utilities not included. 

Here in Hilo, I pay $1,600 per month for a really cute 1 bedroom house, furnished, with a giant backyard that’s full of tropical flowers, and my own driveway — so parking is never a problem. The rent includes all utilities: electricity, water, Wi-Fi, trash, recycling and lawncare. $1600 is actually pretty high for Hilo prices. It’s definitely possible to find places here for way less than that, depending on which area you want to be in.

How did leaving L.A. affect your career/creative life? 

Living in L.A. wasn’t the right place for me. After a long day navigating around L.A. — going to classes, going to work, being stuck on the freeway for hours — I always felt so drained, like all my creative energy was being sapped away. I remember feeling tired all the time. 

Related: Here are some surprising truths about living in Hawaii

Living in a smaller city feels so much better for my mental and physical health. My quality of life has gone way up. From my house in Hilo, I can walk to my local gym in 7 minutes, or drive to the beach in 10 minutes. I love my place so much. 

Over time, I’ve realized that I’m just not a big city person. I love that little village feeling living in a smaller place, like waving to everyone as you go by, bumping into your friends at the grocery store, and feeling part of a tightknit community. I feel happier and more productive.

What’s something creative you’ve been able to do in Hilo that may not have happened in L.A.?

When you live in a small city and your “commute” is a five-minute walk to the coffee shop instead of hours on the freeway, you wind up with waaa-aaay more free time and energy to pursue creative projects (and side-projects) that excite you. Living in Hilo has helped me to uncover some passions that have nothing to do with my primary career as a writer. 

 Since moving here, I’ve started teaching yoga and fitness classes a few times a week, which is something I never planned to do. I’ve also started painting. I painted a big piece inspired by one of my favorite beaches here in Hawaii. I started my own podcast, “So Obsessed,” and recorded the first season at a funky, cool studio right here in Hilo. And I’ve led several writing retreats here in Hawaii, which have been so rewarding.

What do you miss about L.A.? 

My mom and dad. But I try to visit as often as I can. And they love visiting me in Hawaii, of course!

Tell us something surprising about Hilo that people may not realize. 

Oh my gosh, where to begin?! Hilo has so many cool, surprising gems.

Narnia is an incredible spot that locals love — a series of waterfalls with beautiful pools in between. You can swim beneath the falls! How to get there? You can’t find it on Google maps. It’s not really on any official maps anywhere. You have to make friends with a “local” and ask them to show you the way. This is one of those spots that’s special, precious and not for tourists. Locals want to keep it peaceful and uncrowded. 

Hilo has an active First Friday scene. On the first Friday of every month, at nighttime, the whole downtown area is popping! Shops stay open later than usual. There’s music, food, and everyone gallivants around. It’s kind of like a mini street fair, every single month. 

Space and Light is a really cool spot right in downtown Hilo. By day, it’s a coffee shop featuring a menu of Hawaiian-grown coffee beans, making it a great place to grab a cappuccino and do some work on your laptop. By night, it’s a kava bar and event space. They do an open mic night, live music and more.

Hawaiian Licks is an ice cream shop selling vegan ice cream made with coconut milk. So amazing! Even if you’re normally not “into” vegan food, seriously, you will love this. People freak out over this ice cream! My favorite flavors are the chocolate peanut butter and the ube-cardamom. This business opened up fairly recently and they’re quickly exploding in popularity. I’m addicted. 

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Population: 128,829

Name, age, occupation: Ben High, 38, jewelry designer and manager of Philip’s Diamond Shop

How long did you live in L.A.? 9 years

Where did you move? Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Why did you leave L.A.?

I came to a crossroads in L.A., both personally and professionally, where I could keep toiling at some of the things I was tired of in the music industry or in commercial photography, or make the leap back to Marion/Cedar Rapids, and into jewelry design full-time. 

What’s the difference in your rent/mortgage payment in L.A. vs. Marion? 

I paid something like $1,500 to $2,000 for one- or two-bedroom apartments or houses all over the city. I just checked and a spot I paid $1,500 for 8 years ago is $3,000 now! 

In Iowa, I just moved out of a place where I paid $750 for a 1,500-square-foot spot upstairs, overlooking the city center in a historic building. I moved to a bonkers midcentury dream house on 1.4 acres on the outskirts of Cedar Rapids for a mortgage of $1,700. 

How did leaving L.A. affect your career/creative life? 

It was a big change in that I lost a lot of easy opportunities to work on fun stuff with folks (in photography, film and music projects). But at the same time, in my position here, I’ve been able to work on some high-level jewelry design and manufacturing projects with industry leaders and folks making the tools that are changing the jewelry industry. I’ve also gained the space and the time to experiment with a lot of photographic processes here that would’ve been really hard in L.A. apartments.

What’s something creative you’ve been able to pursue in Marion that may not have happened in L.A.? 

I’m back on the radio! I run the board that oversees my old college radio station at the University of Iowa, KRUI, so I get to pop on and do a show during semesters when I can take time to go play. 

Don’t miss: Why is everyone moving back to Iowa?

I’ve also been able to be involved in city government on a few different levels — something that never would’ve been possible in L.A.

What do you miss about L.A.? 

The food and the scenery. I miss the ability to go out and find just about any kind of food you might want in L.A. There’s also something really fun about L.A. in that it is on TV all the time, so you always live on the edge of this kind of weird fictional world that is happening all around you. When someone gets murdered on TV it’s often at a bar you were just drinking at or down the street in a neighborhood you frequent. Because it’s such a well-documented city there’s always some weird new corner to explore with an interesting story behind it. Being an hour or two from deserts, mountains, and beaches isn’t a bad thing either.

Tell us something surprising about Iowa that people may not realize.

It’s not the desert, but being able to go wander through the back roads in rural Iowa can be pretty fun. There’s a vibrant biking culture here so there’s always some ride happening somewhere, whether it is a culinary tour of farms (with farm-to-table feasts at each stop) or riding across the state in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (aka RAGBRAI). 

Iowa is where presidential elections start, too, so the level of access to presidential hopefuls is surprising. They’re all just knocking around the state trying to make friends. 

Austin, Texas

Population: 887,061

Name and occupation: Rachel Lily Campbell, personal trainer and owner of fitness studio Fit4MOM

How long did you live in L.A.? I grew up there. My neighbors were the likes of O.J. Simpson, Dustin Hoffman, etc.

Where did you move? Austin, Texas


Austin, Texas.

Why did you leave L.A.?

I moved to New York City after college and then to Austin in my early 20s. Growing up in L.A. was non-traditional. It was fast-paced and I think in my soul I knew that I needed more stability. 

What’s the difference in your rent/mortgage payment in L.A. vs. your new city? 

Well, my parents still live in a super-tiny two bedroom house that’s worth over $1 million in Malibu. Currently, I have a house that’s double the size and my mortgage is a little less than $1,500 per month. It’s actually a lot more pricey to live in Austin now than when I moved here over a decade ago, but it’s still very manageable, especially as a single parent/income home.

How did leaving L.A. affect your career/creative life? 

Leaving L.A. was great for my soul and my overall life. I think it was a necessary slowdown; I was able to streamline my own values, which were much more on the family front. 

Also, I got to go out to dinner wearing jeans. Expectations of keeping up with the Joneses in Los Angeles were unmanageable!

What’s something creative you’ve been able to do in Austin that may not have happened in L.A.? 

I am a business-owning single mother! I’m able to provide comfortably for my little family here. My quality of life is so fantastic, and I don’t know if I could’ve done that in Los Angeles.

What do you miss about L.A.? 

The Mexican food. Sorry, Texas. This ain’t Mexican. 

Tell us something surprising about Austin that people may not realize. 

Austin is literally the best blend of people from the big cities in this “small town.” You’ve got your super-educated artsy people, your liberal arts fanatics, and your funky creative young families, sprinkled in with a little bit of manners — that’s Austin, Texas. It’s the best town I’ve ever lived in, with the most diversity, the most amazing health/fitness/wellness scene. 

And JuiceLand. I could never live without it at this point.

Nashville, Tenn.

Population: 634,512

Name, age, occupation: Sarah Hays Coomer, 42, author, health coach, and personal trainer 

How long did you live in L.A.? I lived in L.A. for seven blissful years. 

Where did you move? Nashville, Tennessee 

Why did you leave L.A.?

I was a musician at the time. I came to Nashville to make a record and fell in love with a drummer, who eventually became my husband.

Twelve years ago, I moved to be closer to him and to have greater access to the incredible musical talent here in Nashville. But it was more than that.

The city had all the benefits of a big city (restaurants, the arts, vintage shops, etc.), and it also had the feel of a smaller town. Before I moved, I came to visit him for a weekend, and we sat on his porch swing while a big thunderstorm blew through. I remember looking at the green of the leaves on the trees and just feeling like I could rest easier here. I could do my thing and chill out at the same time.

Also read: The touring musician’s secret to finding cheap eats in any city

I had a great little apartment in L.A., but the grind of trying to build my training business and commuting all over town was wearing on me.

What’s the difference in your rent/mortgage payment in L.A. vs. your new city? 

Living in Nashville has allowed me to own a home in an awesome neighborhood that I never could have afforded in L.A. Granted, I got in before the latest real estate boom, but there are still pockets where you can get a great place with a yard for a decent price, whether renting or buying.

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Nashville, Tennessee.

How did leaving L.A. affect your career/creative life? 

I loved L.A., but moving to Nashville has been nothing but good. I came here as a musician but pretty quickly discovered that the singer/songwriters here were much better than me! My interests were shifting anyway, so I decided to pursue writing instead of music. Living in Nashville allowed me to switch gears. There is a creative spirit here. People are always exploring. I didn’t feel like I needed to be defined by my past. 

What’s something creative you’ve been able to pursue in your new city that may not have happened in L.A.? 

Moving to Nashville offered two major advantages creatively. The first is that I was able to get published by submitting to small local magazines and papers. Those first few professional credits gave me confidence and built my platform so I could start submitting successfully to national publications and land a literary agent in NYC. It also allowed me to sharpen my skills without being in the spotlight of media markets like New York and L.A.

The second advantage was space. I was able to build three different workspaces in my home. I have an office where I write my books, a gym where I train my fitness clients, and a comfy sitting area where I coach my wellness folks, both in person and online. It’s awesome to have room to breathe and spaces to help separate the different parts of my brain.

What do you miss about L.A.? 

Many of my best girlfriends are still there. I miss them the most, but I make it back to visit frequently. I also used to go hiking every day at Griffith Park which was therapeutic and, honestly, life-changing. I also miss the melting pot of cultures in East L.A. Nashville has huge immigrant and refugee communities and lots of diversity, but it’s more segregated than L.A.

Tell us something surprising about Nashville that people may not realize. 

Nashville is not all about country music. You can hear indie rock, Americana, and soul music all over the city, literally emanating from back porches in every neighborhood. But beyond that, the best thing about the city is the vibrant and supportive literary community held together by the Nashville Public Library, Parnassus Books and The Bookshop. In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to hear countless authors speak including: Roxane Gay, Melinda Gates, Gloria Steinem, Annie Leibovitz, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Cecile Richards, Daniel Pink, John Meacham, Elizabeth Gilbert, Chelsea Clinton, Jill Biden, and, of course, our hometown hero, Ann Patchett. My bookcase is a treasure trove of signed copies. This town is as much for writers as it is for musicians, and I’m so grateful to be part of that community.


Population: 2,217,706

Name: Alex, marketing communications professional

How long did you live in L.A.? Born and raised there, but then moved to go to school in New York City in 1995. I went back to L.A. in 2012 and left in 2017.

Where did you move? Houston

Why did you leave L.A.?

The job market wasn’t really working for me — I was the only social media manager in L.A. that couldn’t find a job. My wife is from Houston, so we decided to move here because it had better job prospects, and she wanted to go back home for a little bit. 

What’s the difference in your rent/mortgage payment in L.A. vs. Houston? 

Oh, it’s night and day. I used to live in a one-bedroom in Northridge (up the 405 from Westwood about 45 to 60 minutes, depending on traffic) for $1,800. Here, we live in a brand new two-bedroom townhome close to work for $1,200.

How did leaving L.A. affect your career/creative life? 

For the positive. I work in the oil/gas field, writing in one of their marketing and communication shops. It’s far from the magazine and blog circles I used to work in, but I don’t have to worry about whether or not my job will be there at the end of the day. 

What’s something creative you’ve been able to pursue in Houston that may not have happened in L.A.? 

I’ve begun writing screenplays and watching old movies again during my downtime.

What do you miss about L.A.?

I know this is strange coming from an Angeleno, but the cool weather! You could be in the Valley’s 100 degree weather, but drive down to Santa Monica and be in the upper 70s. In Houston, there’s no escaping the humidity! 

Tell us something surprising about Houston that people may not realize. 

I know this is weird to shout out, but one thing I love is the rain. And it rains a lot here. Sometimes it’s really bad, but usually, it’s just a hard rain for a day. I’m able to go out to our covered garage and just listen to the rain while having a drink — it’s a great thing.

Portland, Ore.

Population: 612,206

Name, age, occupation: Dani Turner, 38, makeup artist, event planner, producer/project coordinator at Nike, NKE, -0.05%   and mom of Maeby

Where did you move? Portland, Oregon

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Portland, Oregon.

Why did you leave L.A.?

We left in 2013 because my husband got a job at Nike. We thought we’d leave L.A. eventually, but it happened much sooner than we planned. Having grown up in L.A., I knew I wanted a more family-friendly city to have a family. I definitely got that with Portland: bars that have play areas, tons of parks, a happening kid music scene…it’s all here. 

What’s the difference in your rent/mortgage payment in L.A. vs. Portland? 

We pay over $1,000 less here. Portland is exponentially cheaper. Rent isn’t that much lower, but you get so much more for your money. While housing prices are getting higher here, it is NOTHING like the insanity of L.A.

How did leaving L.A. affect your career/creative life? 

I continued to work in TV/film up here, but it’s a much smaller scene and community up here. In Portland, it’s a much slower pace, so there is more time for my own stuff but less of a community and fewer resources. 

What do you miss about L.A.?

Good Mexican food, especially elote and the fruit in a bag with chili and lime. Legit sushi. (Nimblefish is the only sushi in Portland that is up to L.A. standards, in my opinion.) 24-hour restaurants (mostly Canters…sigh) Dusk on Fairfax Blvd. The Magic Castle. The view heading north on La Cienega. Having coffee and reading a magazine on Larchmont. Bea’s Bakery. Korean spas. 

Tell us something surprising about Portland that people may not realize.

I feel like a lot of really amazing chefs from NYC/L.A. move here and open restaurants — Han Oak is a great example. Portland has lots of great local jewelry designers too. Boet is a favorite. 


Population: 1,260,688

Name, age, occupation: Tori Weddell, 30, video editor

How long did you live in L.A.? 7 years

Where did you move? Dallas

Why did you leave L.A.? 

I had $5,000 in credit card debt with no foreseeable way out, disagreements with roommates, problems with friends and I was partying way too much. In short, I needed a break. So I moved to Dallas.

What’s the difference in your rent/mortgage payment in L.A. vs. your new city?

I paid $750 a month for the smallest bedroom in a three-bedroom house in L.A. In Dallas, I paid $900 for a studio shared with a then-boyfriend, so rent was around $450.

How did leaving L.A. affect your career/creative life? 

I went from working freelance to a salaried job. To be honest, I actually feel like I have more freedom to be creative individually because I’m not stressing about money and taking every single job because I have to. There’s so much less general collaboration with others, though. I’m definitely not part of a team or connected to a creative system in the same way, but I feel so much more able to focus on my personal goals. 

Read: All the reasons you should move to Texas

Also, I have the time, money and energy to focus on all the other things I put on the back burner: I’ve gotten in shape, learned how to cook, created a wardrobe that works for me, read a million books, traveled, etc. 



What’s something creative you’ve been able to do in Dallas that may not have happened in L.A.? 

I wouldn’t have the time or energy to work on my nonfiction essays. I’ve been able to work on my plays so much more, but have stalled out without easy access to actors to read them out loud. 

What do you miss about L.A.?

The culture. I miss being in a culture of “permission” vs “restriction.” 

Tell us something surprising about Dallas that people may not realize.

You have to try Scalini’s Italian! It’s a hole-in-the-wall, super-old place where you can bring your own bottle. The tiramisu is so delicious, I usually order two! Also, there are a surprising number of former “Bachelor”/ ”Bachelorette” contestants here. I’ve seen, like, five! I never saw anyone famous in L.A.

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