When I tell people I’m moving to LA, these are the common reactions:

Why — what’s in LA?

Did you join a cult?

Are you gonna start putting avocado on everything?

The short answer for why I’m packing up and moving across the country: I can live near the beach and walk to work.

It’s that simple. My life in NYC was stagnating. My life in LA was blooming.
A few months ago I had a realization. What I want out of a city is changing. New York doesn’t work for me anymore. LA does.

There are 3 big misconceptions about LA:

1. You’re always stuck in traffic

2. Everyone there is shallow and vapid

3. There’s no good pizza


Yes, traffic is a problem in LA. But you can avoid it. And owning a car has become optional. Seriously!

Uber has been a game changer in LA. You can hop in a car and go anywhere you want. Even car owners use Uber when they go out at night. It’s convenient and cheap ($15 gets you from Venice to West Hollywood).

Public transportation is improving. There’s now a light rail line connecting Downtown LA with Santa Monica. Even LAX will be connected to public transportation within a few years.

The city is building 15 new rapid transit lines and digging tunnels for Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. An expanding transit network will let people enjoy the 2028 Olympics without having to drive.

It’s never been easier to get around LA. Don’t let the traffic scare you.


My new apartment lies in the heart of Santa Monica, 3 blocks from the ocean. A short walk from the 3rd Street Promenade and Santa Monica Pier.

My bedroom has views of palm trees and mountains. It’s 80% bigger than my New York pad — and the rent is $900 cheaper.

I may get a car at some point. But I won’t need one. It’s fun to get around the area by foot, bicycle, or Uber.


LA is not just for people in “the industry.” Yes, there are lots of Hollywood types. Fame is the town’s chief currency. Throw a rock on Sunset and you’ll hit at least one aspiring actor fresh off the bus from Iowa.

Then there’s the other LA. Spend time in Westwood, Silver Lake, Downtown LA. You’ll meet designers, scientists, entrepreneurs. People who are ambitious and intent on changing the world.

Here are a few of the things my LA friends are doing:

· Building a personal sexual health app called SAFE to help people get tested for STDs and verify the health status of prospective partners

· Developing Greenfly, a tech platform that helps sports leagues, teams, and media companies produce and distribute video content and interact with fans

· Creating the online dollar store Hollar, named by the WSJ the “Number 1 Tech Company to Watch for 2017”

There’s a real startup ecosystem developing in LA. Snapchat’s success has attracted a wave of technology and engineering talent. Upfront Ventures recently closed a $400 million fund focused on LA-area consumer startups. The halls of WeWork Santa Monica overflow with young entrepreneurs creating new products. It’s an exciting place to be.


My friends know I take pizza seriously (New Haven kid). LA pizza used to be a joke. New Yorkers looked at LA pizza the way LeBron James might size up a hapless rookie.

I’m here to tell you this: You can get some amazing pizza in LA. Anyone who’s been to Gjelina knows it. There’s a Joe’s Pizza by the Santa Monica Pier serving up a good replica of the New York original.

LA is undergoing a food renaissance. It’s easy to see why. Produce is fresher. Leases are cheaper. It’s easier to try new restaurant concepts.

Chefs today are calling LA “the best food city in America.”

People never used to venture into Downtown LA. Now some of the best chefs in the world are opening restaurants there.

Health and Fitness

I was hiking in Griffith Park when a friend told me: “In New York, people meet for a drink. In LA, people meet for a hike.”

Outdoor activities are just easier in LA. Nature is all around you.

Going for a run by the beach in Palisades Park is a lovely way to begin your day. So is biking along the ocean from Manhattan Beach to Malibu. Any morning you can hike, surf, do beach yoga or beach volleyball.

For me, my environment plays a major role in my lifestyle. When I’m in LA, I drink less. I exercise more and eat better.

Mental Health

You don’t need a medical degree to see how beach life can be good for a stressed-out city dweller. I call it “sunshine therapy.”
It occurred to me one day walking along Montana Ave: I’m ok being alone here.

I walk down Santa Monica’s quiet streets lined with palm trees, feeling the ocean breeze. People meet your gaze with a nod and a smile.

I feel inspired waking up in Santa Monica. I’m ready to attack the day, go for a run along the ocean, workout at Muscle Beach. Surfing. A sunrise hike in Los Liones Canyon.

Life is simpler by the beach. It’s a good place for self-reflection and meditation.

Arts & Culture

In New York, the city’s pleasures are obvious at a quick glance. Every street you walk down, there’s a new discovery. Hundreds of activities to choose from each night. You don’t need a plan — just walk around and let your senses guide the way.

LA is different. The city can seem like a sprawling tangle of freeways and strip malls. It can be hard to get to know people. It takes time to get oriented and discover the city’s treasures.

I’m getting there. Magic Castle, The Pacific Seas at Clifton’s, Smorgasburg DTLA, Busby’s East, Malibu Little Beach House, Guerilla Tacos — there’s a long list of places I’m excited to check out.

As a friend told me, it’s easy to simplify LA into its negative stereotypes. Once you’re open to exploring, it can be a magical place to live.

I was lucky. I had no job tying me to New York. I can work remotely. I have an office in walking distance from my new place.

I used to be scared about making friends in LA. So I made an effort to meet people during my visits the past few years. I went to my friends’ events and met their friends. I went to meetups. I befriended my Airbnb hosts. Other friends relocated to LA from New York, Boston and SF. I’ve managed to build a great community out west.

I’ve found that LA is a city of newcomers, outsiders. People in LA are more open minded (this may explain why cults form so easily there). There’s a sense that anyone you meet could be a future collaborator on a film, art project or startup. Rather than ask where you work (Goldman Sachs? Skadden?) people in LA are more likely to ask: What are you working on?

Since telling people I’m moving to LA, it seems everyone has a person to connect me with. I have a growing list of people to meet: Hollywood agents, tech investors, startup founders. There’s a strong social glue binding LA and New York.

I’m still a little unsure what my social life will look like out west. But I’ve already started to create a community in LA. It’s the biggest thing that convinced me to move.

For me, New York was like a long-term relationship I’d stayed in too long. It was comfortable, familiar. I knew every inch of it. There was always something fun going on. I was addicted to the city’s energy.

Yet it wasn’t fulfilling me. The crowded streets and honking taxis that once seemed enchanting now felt like an assault on the senses. I wasn’t doing enough deep work. Nights out seemed repetitive, predictable. The sense of wonder I’d felt as a newcomer was gone. 
My New York friends saw how happy I was when I’d return from an LA trip. One of them said: It seems like you are your best self when you’re out there. Why not be your best self all the time?

Originally published at medium.com


  • Daniel Zahler

    Healthcare and Technology Entrepreneur

    Daniel Zahler is an entrepreneur and executive who has built innovative businesses in technology, media and healthcare. He has founded or co-founded industry-leading companies including AppNet (e-commerce analytics, acquired by CommerceOne), RA Capital (healthcare investment firm, $1B+ in AUM) and NestEgg Wealth (FinTech, acquired by AdvisorEngine). He has led projects for Google (cloud computing & consumer finance), Facebook (AR/VR), Johnson & Johnson (digital health & medtech innovation), and GM (electric cars / autonomous vehicles). Previously he worked as a venture capital investor at Goldman Sachs, a consultant at McKinsey, and a biotech investor at RA Capital. He serves as a Council Member at GLG where he advises global business leaders on healthcare innovation. Daniel received an AB from Harvard College in Chemistry & Chemical Biology, a JD from Harvard Law School and did a research fellowship at Yale Medical School.