Coming out here, I assumed things would be more expensive. Actually though, most things - movies, groceries, gas - are priced quite similarly to Chicago. In what should be a surprise to no one, I have yet to really hit the bar and club scene, so I have no working knowledge of those costs... However, there have been a couple pricey differences that I've taken note of.
1) Rent. Now, granted my place is larger and nicer than my Lincoln Square studio, I was paying absurdly low rent for that place, AND I wanted parking off the street here, but when I first came out here to look, I couldn't find a studio for less than $900-$1000 - and those were the ones in not-so-desirable areas, that had walls that were made of wafer board or that sported a courtyard swimming pool straight out of The Karate Kid. It's bad when I think I'm probably paying the same to rent a studio apartment as my sister is paying for her mortgage on her huge and beautiful condo. I hear rumors that for those sensible folk who work regular jobs, wages are supposed to be higher to at least somewhat compensate for the higher rent. However, I'm not quite looking for a regular job just yet, as they tend to frown upon leaving during the day for auditions, etc. That being the case, I think I will soon find out if waiters are also paid more to compensate...
2) Car Insurance. I thought, "Hey, I come from Chicago, a big city where there is snow and ice, slippery travel, terrible drivers and a lot of traffic, my insurance should stay about the same." And I thought wrong. In fact, my Geico insurance premiums just about doubled. Ouch. But, while the insurance is higher and there is more traffic, drivers in general are more courteous, which is good or else no doubt they would make us all buy road rage insurance, too.
The fires out here are crazy and have affected many, though thankfully this area is fine. I appreciate those of you who have e-mailed and called. I guess earthquakes and fires are California's answer to tornadoes and blizzards. Seeing what nature can do (with or without man's help, as I see they are looking into arson as the initial cause of the fires) in this case with the winds spreading the fire like a ferocious blowtorch, is once again very humbling.