My Love-Hate Relationship with California and New York

Mao and Then California vs. New York


No one is surprised by the media bombardment which tells us what brand of car we need, what fashion we must buy. We are subconsciously convinced that certain brands and styles are better.

This subconscious programming even extends to where we think we need to live.

Now, think of all the movies, TV shows and other media that are set in large cities like LA and New York. Chances are that you, like the rest of the world, are convinced through the media that these cities are where people go to make it. 



Mao and Then, Luguna Beach
I could really get used to this view everyday. The Rooftop Lounge at Laguna Beach, CA. Nice photo bomb buddy!



California or New York are the place to be!

As someone who was born and raised in Asia, the only pictures I had in my head of America were of New York, LA, and Las Vegas. Those are the places to be! When I first moved from China to Ohio, all of my friends back home asked, “What? Why would you ever live there?”

Well, honestlyI was there because my sister went to medical school there so my mom wanted to put us together. If I had had my choice, there was no way I would choose the Midwest. I wanted to be where the real America was! After I graduated, all I wanted to do was to get out of Ohio and eventually make my way to New York or California.

It wasn’t until after I have visited both places numerous times, and a few years of work experience under my belt did I realize how ignorant and brainwashed I had been.


Mao and Then, fashion week in New York
Did you know during fashion week in New York it is typical to wait in long line just to get in the bar?



Not being in California or New York actually worked out pretty well for me

Don’t get me wrong. LA and New York are great places. I could really get used to the lifestyle of 80-degree weather, ocean breeze and palm trees, and all the night life in NYC can be amazing.

However, it took me quite a few years to figure out one of the golden rules of life: depending on what you want, the place that makes you happy is the best place for you.

Right now, my top goal is to eventually escape my 9 to 5 so I can pursue my passion of traveling, blogging, and making videos. Over the past couple years, while living in the Midwest and Texas, I have been able to get jobs that pay me well while cutting my expenses down. To the point where I have a financial cushion built up that would allow me to fear less about quitting my job and living out my dreams.

I know that I would not have been able to achieve the same results if I were in LA or New York. For example, these major cities boast more job competition, extremely high costs of living (specifically housing), and low salaries in comparison to costs of living. In the midwest and Texas, I had insanely low costs of living, great salaries, and as an added plus Texas has no state income taxes. That’s like a 10% raise in salary.

On the personal side of thing, I have made a lot of close friends over the years no matter where I live. America is such a diverse place, and there are so many amazing, interesting, and caring people all over the country. Friends make a city home, no matter where it is.




Not being limited in California or New York lets me expand my exposure

Again, please don’t get me wrong –  I love visiting California or New York often. But as I focus more and more on culture and experiential side of traveling, I am happy that I didn’t box myself in only California or New York in the first place. I believe it’s good to set a baseline in the true heart of a country and expand your experiences from there.

As a matter of fact, one of my best experiences of all time was the fishing trip my girlfriend’s brother Chris took me to in the middle of nowhere Kentucky. Chris took me trekking through freezing water by the bottom of a dam. From there, into an oasis where there was no one in sight. I caught my first fish ever and we had a bonfire that night. Now, that’s an experience you can’t get in NYC.




Before I moved to the US, I thought living in LA or New York were the only options when it came to being a true American. It took me quite a few years to figure out that I didn’t have to live in a big city to “make it”.

As a matter of fact, not being in a high cost city has accelerated my path to achieve my goals. In addition,  it helps me to learn more about this country culturally, explore the many hidden treasures each city has to offer, and appreciate America in general.


Did you ever see LA or New York as a big “brand” or the only place to be? Or is it just me? Comment below!



Mao and Then Pinterest


    1. Post

      Thanks Agness. My favorite time to go the NYC is probably September. The fall season is beautiful and the weather is awesome. I especially enjoy going to rooftop bars in Manhattan. There’s always tons of stuff to do in NYC. The only time I don’t enjoy NYC is probably February when it’s freezing cold and the snow makes the road really dirty.

  1. Maya Maceka

    I have never been to California so I can’t say for sure which place I prefer, but NYC is quite nice. If I had to choose, I probably wouldn’t live in either city to save on rent costs – because I’m frugal like that! 🙂 And girl, I am SO excited to keep up with your adventures and count down the days until you can quit that 9-to-5 grind!

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