I’ve had the opportunity to visit Florida and California recently and I thought it would be interesting to log my thoughts on each location while the memories are still fresh.
To be clear, I haven’t lived in either location but I’ve been in each for about a week.
In Florida I’ve been around the Miami area and in California I was in the LA & San Diego area.
The comparisons are going to be broad in scope because making too many observations about the people themselves without actually living there or having an extended stay, (a month or more?) and actually being involved in the community in some way would be grasping at straws.
The Weather & Physical Environment
LA and Miami are considered to be the prime beach vacation spots in the USA. Aside from Hawaii, I suppose.
While they are in the same category, the feel of the beaches & surrounding environment is drastically different.
Florida has the traditional beach feel, the type you would imagine hearing tropical style reggae music at. The water is aqua blue and the ocean has a generously shallow sandbar so in most places that you can walk fairly far out into the water, (watch out for sharks though!).
Wildlife in the water is everywhere. While kayaking I was able to see dolphins and manatees swim near me even though I was near a populated area.
The air is humid, suffocatingly muggy, and this was in the spring. I’ve heard that in the summer the air becomes intolerably thick with humidity.
Florida is a swamp type feel. The type of environment that is home to Alligators and will make you want to walk around all day with your shirt off while sipping on a Corona.
California is a much different feel. The ocean’s prescience is more grandiose. The waves often crash to shore in a dramatic manner and feel powerful even when standing on the beach watching them.
There are beautiful rock formations all over the beach that are jagged and cannot be walked across without shoes on.
Some light climbing over these rocks will allow you to observe small pockets of life within the rocks where a multitude of colorful plants and small ocean creatures are living.
The water gets deep fast and the waves can easily pick you up. Even when just a little out into the water to ride the waves on a body board you get tossed around like a rag doll and feel the raw power of the ocean.
It’s cold water. You’ll need to endure a moment of shock from the temperature before your body acclimates.
After being hazed by the ocean you can then enjoy trying to ride the powerful waves back to shore or challenge the ocean by throwing your body into them.
I haven’t tried surfing yet but you often see groups of surfers out in the ocean and they’re always wearing wet suits due to the temperature of the water.
If you do surf there are easier spots to try it out but I can imagine the more experienced, adrenaline seeking surfers will go in areas where there’s a percentage chance that the water could throw them against various rock formations.
The air in California is dry, almost like a desert.
This creates an effect I find fascinating where you can wear a light jacket and pants on a warm day without dripping in sweat but if desired you can still take off your shirt and enjoy the warmth of the sun without feeling cold.
To me this effect is surreal, I just said that but the feeling is worth rehashing a second time.
As far as the vegetation in California, wow.
There seems to be colorful plants everywhere but what I’ll mention specifically is some of the specialty plants that grow naturally on the west coast.
I know the small succulent plants have been a trend throughout the country for a few years and while I’ve never owned one I do think they’re cool looking. I never really questioned where they came from but I’ve come to understand that in California those grow naturally.
I’ve also heard in the past that prior to Avocados being shipped nationwide it was a special part of taking a trip out to California & a sort of regional secret.
The last thing I’ll mention about the physical beauty of California is that you can see mountain ranges from the beach. A friend of mine told me that it takes about 2-3 hours to get to fairly high quality skiing from San Diego/LA at the right time of year.
Much like the strange effect of the air in California the architecture seems to be straddling two different styles simultaneously.
There are flashes of the tropical beach feel throughout houses in the neighborhoods but at the same time the buildings have a cozy feel that’s largely absent in Florida.
In Florida most places you go are have all tile floors, something that a person like me from the middle of the country isn’t accustomed to.
I really like the feel that carpet adds to a space. It adds warmth you don’t get with tile floors.
In California, while you defiantly get a dose of the tropical aesthetic in the buildings, the design of properties have stylistic aspects that retain the warmth and coziness found in areas with long winters.
A good place to see this is in the famous Los Angeles Canals neighborhood. The homes are far from a boring boxy postmodern look. Instead, many of them have an intricate and creative style to their design. This also holds true in luxury neighborhoods I walked through in the Laguna Beach area.
In contrast, The architecture in Florida is either grand and sterile or like colorful paper machete/clay.
There are rows of buildings containing luxury condos on the coast that have flashy modern designs which I imagine are inhabited by people that shop solely at Express or Michael Kors and smell strongly of cologne.
The more colorful buildings I mentioned look like they belong in the videogame Super Mario Sunshine.
If you spend time browsing the internet you’ve surely come across a video of someone ranting about the LA homeless problem. I was very curious myself to see if all the hype online was true.
The first thing I noticed while driving to see Hollywood Boulevard was that while on the main highway, each time there was a road going over the highway there would be at least one homeless person camped in the grass banks on the sides.
Often there was a cluster of three tents sometimes as many as seven.
While I never saw a street where there were tents lining both sides as people online talk about, I do believe that scene exists in multiple spots in LA.
I’d say that the problem isn’t quite as bad as the online hype makes it out to be, however, I think if the momentum doesn’t shift in a few years the amount of pain and suffering in the city will reach dystopian levels.
Honorable mentions I saw regarding the homeless problem in LA were
- A sign with a phone number to call for drug addiction help with a tent directly up against the other side of the fence.
- A homeless man sleeping in the doorway of a mattress store in downtown LA.
- While on the walk of stars in Hollywood I saw three policemen confronting a homeless man that was screaming loudly at them
- I was sitting on the patio at a nice restaurant eating dinner and a homeless man walked down the line of tables and asked our table as well as five other tables for money while he leaned over the planters directly next to the table.
Things such as these should bother people more & it blows my mind people can become numb to seeing this type of homelessness in their city.
In Florida there is a significantly lower population of homeless people from what I saw.
I did see a few homeless begging along the streets but don’t remember seeing any tents along the highways or side of the roads.
At the beach boardwalk there were a few homeless people sitting around on ledges next to the sand as tourists walked past them but less than in LA.
One moment that does stick with me from Florida was when I arrived at the beach early in the morning, (around 7am) and was on walkway from the sidewalk to the start of the sand.
Halfway down the walkway there was a kink in the path and when I turned to go around it there was a homeless man lying flat on the ground making it completely impossible to walk through the path without literally stepping on him.
He seemed to hear us coming and was in the process of getting up when I turned around the corner so we were able to walk through the path. But nonetheless, this story shows there are signs of an unhealthy society in Florida as well even if the problem is significantly less visible than in LA.
This section will be brief but there’s a comparison between the two places that I really want to focus on for a moment.
Obviously, Hollywood is in LA so there are a multitude of TV shows and movies being shot. While I’m sure this is also the case in Miami, it isn’t on the same level.
In LA you can’t get away from seeing various TV & Movie related things.
This could be huge pictures of actors on billboards, famous locations from movies, pictures of the cast of a TV show on the side of a city bus, the Hollywood walk of stars, or even walking past a set of some sort of TV show while downtown.
In Florida there isn’t the presence of a huge media empire feel wherever you go.
I think the absence of this is a good thing for a person’s mental health as being surrounded by constant celebrity faces, premiere dates of new shows, etc. etc. would be annoying to me and may be a distraction or cause a person to become jaded.
It is cool in a way, to be near the place where media that is getting broadcasted worldwide originates. However, I think getting lost in that would be easy & there’s multiple routes to that happening.
All in all, in my personal opinion, California is the more physically stunning area. However, visiting both places was incredible and for all California’s physical beauty there are some glaring downsides when comparing it to Florida.
Both these places are great vacation destinations but living in either location will cost large sums of money compared to many other areas in the USA.
Even if you are in a position to pay these large sums of money you’re going to lose square footage, privacy, and proximity to truly secluded nature areas.
For example, while walking through the Canals neighborhood in LA it’s easy to want to live in one of the homes but the reality is you’re going to have a constant flow of tourists walking past your front yard and peering through your windows all day, something that I wouldn’t be able to stand.
Going to each place, you feel as if you are entering the major leagues of financial and career success just by being there, especially being from where I am.
The cars are nicer, the food costs more, the rent and homes are exorbitant amounts of money, and the people that live there are playing on a different level of success in their careers.
For me I had flashes of feeling like a tadpole swimming around whales.
This feeling was most extreme when I first got to Florida and was exhausted/delirious from the plane while driving past the grand coastal apartment buildings described earlier.
What I try to remind myself is that God wants you to hold the inside of your mind and heart to that grand standard.
He doesn’t care where you live, what car you drive, or where you go eat at.
You want to remain grounded in your own mind and let the pieces fall where they may with career success, (as long as your putting in 10/10 effort). Chasing that mansion or luxury car as a route to inner fulfillment will just lead becoming delirious, spiritually out of touch and insane.