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LA Newbies: The 5 Stages of Accepting Your LA Commute


LA Newbies: The 5 Stages of Accepting Your LA Commute

Picture Courtesy of Raymond Shobe

LA Newbies: The 5 Stages of Accepting Your LA Commute

If you’re a Los Angeles newbie, you’re probably wondering why LA looks so different and is so much bigger than it seems in the movies…

If you’re a Los Angeles newbie, you’re probably wondering why LA looks so different and is so much bigger than it seems in the movies. Before moving here, you might have had fantasies of living near the beach, in your own affordable studio apartment, mere minutes away from cool cafes, cultural hubs, and, of course, your place of work. You also might have thought that you could measure minutes in miles in terms of your commute.

Cut to months later. You’re working in Santa Monica, but there’s no way that you can afford Venice. You’ve been living deep within the San Fernando Valley, a place you only knew prior as the home of that creepy clown gas station that Cher got mugged at in Clueless. Your Google Search says that your apartment, which you share with two Craigslisters, is only 24 miles away from where you work. What you think will be a 30-minute drive leads to an hour and a half of pure, sweet LA traffic.

You might be feeling some things. Okay, a lot of things. But stay rest-assured LA newbies, there are 5 stages that will lead you to not only accepting your commute but almost kind of loving it (kind of).

Stage 1: Denial


In the first stage to acceptance, you will feel a heavy dose of denial. In bumper to bumper traffic, you’ll probably experience such thoughts as “I only have to do this commute for six more months and then I can afford to live near work…Or find another job entirely….Or the city will finally learn of this egregious traffic and build a monorail that will jet through the sky faster than a speeding bullet until…wait the car ahead of me just moved half an inch. Victory!”

Get past this stage and you’ll be better for it. Maybe you can find a job that matches your living situation but try to live life one freeway exit at a time.

Stage 2: Anger

Road rage

Anger is the stage that most people struggle to get past. You could be living in LA for twenty years and still see rear-ending the snail-paced Kia in front of you as a more feasible option than changing lanes.

Stage 3: Bargaining

send money

“Mom, if you just send me $800 a month, I can afford to live near work and use my gas savings to buy you Christmas presents!”

Newbies, you’ve worked hard to get where you are. Don’t ask your parents for help unless it’s a Christmas gas card.

Stage 4: Depression

sad face

In Stage 4, you might feel ready to give up. Maybe living in LA is just too hard and what’s the point of going anywhere when accident statistics are this high. I’m not going to lie to you LA newbies, depression can be a real part of adjusting to any new place especially when you have so much time to reflect by yourself; sandwiched between two gas spewing freight trucks.

But don’t despair, with reflection comes answers and with answers you’re that much closer to…

Stage 5: Acceptance!!!!


Congratulations, your right blinker is on and you’ve managed to merge to the final stage. You finally found which news stations you like and which music stations you like more. You’ve downloaded some sweet comedy podcasts and have the book version of Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) on tape. You’re prepared. You’re the master of traffic. You have a bag of trail mix in your cupholder to keep you from hitting that snail-paced Kia in a frenzy of anger and slow blood sugar.

You’ve reached acceptance because no amount of denial, anger, or bargaining will make your car move any faster or make LA an easier city to navigate. What changed is you because you’ve finally accessed your inner GPS and are on the way to finding yourself as well as some interesting neighborhoods to stop at. With a few deep breaths, tears, and screams, you’re finally ready for the adventure ahead. After all, that’s why you moved to LA in the first place 🙂

Caitlin Fein

Caitlin Fein is a Los Angeles native who has a passion for writing, comedy, and variations of the two. Follow her blog Millenial Nonsense at

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