17 Things the East Coast Doesn’t Understand About the West Coast

Whether they’ve been here or not, East Coasters tend to have pretty strong opinions about what it’s like “out west.” And, sure, a lot of the cliches are true; we’re bad dressers, flakiness is kind of our thing, we consume an ungodly amount of avocado, and when we insist In-N-Out is better than Five Guys and Shake Shack, it’s because it is. Still, there are some things people “back east” (looking at you, Northeast) just don’t seem to understand about what it’s like to live here, especially the fact that the West Coast is unquestionably the Best Coast.

1. The “West Coast” is not just California

Los Angeles may be the biggest city on the West Coast with 3.8 million people, and everyone knows San Francisco has impossibly great weather year-round, but there are actually a plethora of other cities worth visiting outside of CA: Portland, Seattle, hell, even Tacoma. Have you seen the behemoth that is Mount Rainier?  

2. Not everyone is blonde

Despite what The Real Housewives of Orange County would like to have you believe, not everyone on the West Coast has a year supply of Sun-In in their bathroom cabinet. And as far as natural blondes go? You’re way more likely to find a higher concentration of those in Minneapolis or North Dakota.

Flickr/Nathan Rupert

3. We don’t all surf

We do have some of the best surf spots in the US, but that doesn’t doesn’t mean we all skip out of work at noon to hit the waves for a midday sesh. Some of us enjoy activities more suited to terra firma, like hiking, rollerblading, or just laying there pondering our many nuances the East Coast just doesn’t seem to understand.


4. Not everyone in San Francisco is gay

Okay, so SF has the highest percentage of adults who identify as LGBT in the top 50 metropolitan areas. And, fine, Portland has the second highest. But still, in SF that is only 6.2% and in Portland 5.4%. New York is inhabited by 4.6% millionaires and no one’s running around claiming all New Yorkers are loaded, right?

Flickr/Tony Webster

5. We don’t all smoke pot

East Coasters think that instead of being born with silver spoons, we’re born with glass bongs. As it actually turns out, Alaska smokes the most weed out of all the US states, followed by stoners in Vermont, Colorado, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and THEN Oregon. (Although Oregon just legalized marijuana, so if all goes well, that number will quickly rise.) Still, California is 10th on the list with a little less than 13% of the population taking a rip before demolishing their burrito.

Sugar Bowl Resort

6. It actually snows here

So much so that lucky school kids in Northern California get a week-long vacation called “Ski Week” every year. Also -- current drought aside -- our mountains are way better than any on the East Coast. Sorry, not sorry Vermont.

7. That means we don’t spend all of our time at the beach

Despite what The Beach Boys and Gidget make it seem like, we don’t spend all of our leisure time down by the beach. In fact, while the waves are good (actually, BECAUSE the waves are good), we don’t even go in the ocean most of the time because the water is freeeeezing.

8. We don’t all wear flip-flops

Seattle’s average high during December and January is 46 degrees. Portland’s is about the same. In fact, even Malibu, the most cliché of beach towns, only hits around 64˚ during that same time. So, no. We don’t wear flip-flops year-round. Sometimes we also wear UGGs.

Flickr/Samantha Marx

9. We aren’t all bleeding-heart liberals

We’re well aware people call it the “Left Coast.” And sure, that’s great. But once you get away from the coastal areas, there’s no shortage of staunch Republicans. Hell, in 2012, there were more Mitt Romney voters in California than in Texas and let’s not forget (though we’d like to) that we once elected Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor.

10. We’re not all crazy health nuts

Yes, California has the highest percentage of residents who meet the daily recommended intake for both fruits and vegetables, but California, Oregon, and Washington all failed to make the “Top 10 Healthiest States” list in 2014, whereas Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut all earned top spots.

Flickr/Jamie McCaffrey

11. Rent in San Francisco actually is more expensive than New York

For some inexplicable reason, New Yorkers get acutely annoyed when San Franciscans state that it’s more expensive to live in SF than Manhattan. This makes little to no sense, as that fact is not meant to be a point of pride, but rather a huge sore spot. Still, facts are facts, and SF takes the top spot with NYC coming in second. But it doesn’t stop there for the West Coast; San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, Portland, and Long Beach all make the top 20. Again: THIS IS NOT SOMETHING WE LIKE, just something that’s true.

12. We don’t all work in tech or entertainment

But when our rent is due, we really, really wish we did. (See above.)

13. Earthquakes aren’t that scary

Okay, okay. They’re a little scary. They strike without warning, literally shake the ground beneath our feet, and yes, we’re constantly being told up and down the coast to prepare for The Big One which freaks us out a little, but people on the East Coast choose to live in a place where there’s an entire season dedicated to a natural disaster that has repeatedly been responsible for innumerable human deaths and millions of dollars of damage. Looking at you, hurricanes.

Flickr/Ron Almberg

14. It doesn’t rain constantly in Portland and Seattle

Seattle ranks 44th amongst major US cities for average annual rainfall (though it is sixth for most rainy days), and Portland only gets about 40in a year -- which is 20 fewer than New Orleans. 

15. And it’s not sunny every day in California

SFO is the worst weather-delayed airport in the United States despite the fact that we don’t really get much rain or snow. That’s because of one thing, and one thing only: dense, heavy, party-fouling fog.

Flickr/Storm Crypt

16. We’re not lazy

The East Coast loves to accuse West Coasters of being lazy because we don’t always work excessive or conventional hours and we’re all about having fun. (What’s the point of living near so many rivers, lakes, and mountains if we’re not playing in/on them all of the time?) But lazy? Try again. Sure, an Oregon mailman just stopped delivering mail because he couldn’t be bothered, but despite the fact that people think of Portland as the place young people go to retire, it’s actually attracting a lot of entrepreneurs. And California tops other states in job growth, has more IPOs than any other state, and posted record agriculture revenues even in the midst of a drought. So, no, we’re not lazy, just crazy efficient.

17. We never call it “Cali”

While we’re on the subject, there’s no “cane” in Spokane and no “gone” in Oregon. We do say the “tee” in Yosemite, but don’t even think about saying “San Fran.”

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Daisy Barringer is an SF-based freelance writer who, thanks to more than a decade on the East Coast, knows for a fact that the West Coast is the Best Coast. Follow her on Twitter: @daisy.