There have been dozens of articles written comparing life in New York to life in LA. Spurred in part in the last few years by an uptick in New Yorkers relocating to LA (sometimes called the “LA Exodus”), these articles are all basically pro/con lists – if pro/con lists made people angrier and more wounded than a competitive dad coaching his kid’s losing little league team. Having read at least five of these “New York vs. LA” pieces myself, I can’t help but see them as a little two-dimensional; there have to be more choices than just New York or LA. So as I watch friends, colleagues and bloggers tear each other apart in the great two-city debate, I’m compelled to throw my own, third geographical option into the mix: Bicoastal with a pied à terre in Paris.
Now, let me get ahead of the five-ton armored vehicle of vitriol I know is headed my way by saying this: I know my life choices might not be for everyone. This is just what makes sense for me. For my life, having beautiful properties in two American cities and one European city just works. My aim in writing about my bicoastal, international life is not to force others to subscribe to it (although I honestly think I’m happier than anyone I know and I believe my lifestyle is responsible for a lot of that happiness), it’s simply to make an argument for an alternative that I think a lot of people are ignoring: New York and LA. And Paris, France.
I have been living in my three houses in New York, LA and Paris for ten years, ever since my wealthy Grandma Louise finally died and, honestly, I can say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. To me, nothing beats the excitement of gazing down at the frenetic streets of New York City from my 18th floor balcony and knowing that I’m one quick plane ride from my 5,000 square foot beach house in Malibu or my “little” atelier in the Marais. That’s one of the most amazing things about New York – anything can happen here! Another amazing thing about NYC is its equidistance from both Paris and LA, so that when you’re being driven to JFK you can literally flip a coin to decide where to go. Honestly, there is something so punk rock about that.
When people make the argument for LA, they often point out that the weather is unbelievable: 70 degrees, dry, sunny, with cool, breezy nights. Honestly, it’s really hard to make a cogent argument against that. And honestly, you wouldn’t want to, since, honestly, Los Angelinos are like Nazis when it comes to weather: question the great California Sun Fuhrer and you will be destroyed. But, honestly, though it may not be as “perfect,” to me, there’s nothing like January through March in LA followed by spring in New York watching the cherry blossoms, followed by June in Paris. I love to jet back to LA for 8 weeks of dry summer heat and then back to Paris for early fall, which is amazing there. New York in October is magical when the leaves change but Paris in the third week of November is the Beaujolais festival. I’m a weirdo so LA for the rest of November and through December is kinda my jam, until the 24th when I like a perfect, glittering Christmas under the Eiffel Tower. For my money, which is a lot, no other city in the world beats those three cities at those specific times of year.
Cost of Living and Quality of Life
I’ve heard a lot of people lately say that New York has gotten way too expensive and your money goes a lot farther in LA. Personally, I haven’t really run into this “too expensive” issue, though I do trust it has been some people’s experience. Honestly, what I’ve found is that the more I spend, the better my experience of a city is!
I think most of my friends would say I live a pretty great life. Well guess what? That’s not an accident. I live an exciting, fulfilling life because I make it a priority. Any time I feel like, “Uh-oh, this couch is getting old,” I get a new couch. Even if my couch isn’t really old. If it feels like it could one day verge on old…I get a new one. Because why not? I just don’t see the downside to living your life that way. I approach living in New York and LA and Paris the same way. Sure, you could spend 90 thousand dollars a year and live an okay life in one of these cities. But what if you spent 7.8 million dollars a year and lived a great life in all three? I know that sounds unorthodox to some, but, honestly, to me, it sounds incredible. I guess I am just a societal reject that way.
Okay. I guess you could say I’m a bit of a foodie. (Read: I. LOVE. FOOD. Nom-nom-nom-nom!) So when it comes to where I’m going to live, those places have to deliver on a great culinary experience. Now, New Yorkers love to talk about how you can’t get good pizza outside of the 212. And Parisians will tell you that the crunchy, warm, light baguettes their city is known for just can’t be recreated in any city that doesn’t have Napoleon’s dead body in a coffin. Okay, okay, I didn’t forget about you, LA! Honestly, I will say it and hope I don’t wind up in a gastronomical civil suit (even though that sounds like a very delicious day in court): LA has some of the best Mexican food around.
That said (cue wild rage-eyes from everyone reading this!) I am personally a sucker for a good old fashioned bicoastal+Paris lunch. This bad boy is loaded with a carnitas taco, a slice of hot, fresh NY pizza, foie gras, profiteroles and a glass of Champagne. Yeah, you gotta do a little finagling and flying to get one but man is it worth it. Every time I’m in all three cities in one day, I have José whip up one of these for me. José is my private plane chef. He is like, the only guy on the face of the planet who gets my quirky food tastes and he always knows my order. Because it’s his job to know it.
Honestly, I’ve always found it pretty hard to make plans on the fly with people in LA – the city’s sprawl is not really conducive to that unless you have a helicopter that you take to the private charter hangar of LAX and fly to New York and have Jose pick up bagels from Esse while you sleep and the captain refuels and then head to Charles de Gaulle so you can eat bagels on a bench in Jardins Luxembourg and then fly back to LA to spend the morning winding your way through Topanga. I dunno, that’s just sort of my hack for LA life. But then again, I have some wacky tastes.
Here are some people I know who live in New York or LA or Paris for one reason or another:
These people are all either very close friends or people I have met one time. They are all awesome but, for various reasons, none of them have houses in all three cities that I do.
Katie – Doesn’t have as much money as I do so just stays in New York.
Guillaume – Is a French baker.
Sarah – She goes to middle school in Santa Monica.
Damien – He used to live in New York and then moved to LA and for a brief period while his leases overlapped, he was technically bicoastal. But he never had a place in Paris. (He also uses the money excuse.)
Françoise – Lives in Paris doing a French job.
Elena – One of my best friends. Moved to New York five years ago, or so her LinkedIn profile would lead one to believe.
Josh – A dog in Paris.
These people all love the cities they live in for totally valid reasons. They tell me that “being bicoastal with a pied à terre in Paris sounds really unrealistic for anyone who’s not a millionaire,” and I respect that. But you know what else that tells me? None of these people are making the choice to be a millionaire by inheriting money from their Grandma Louise. It honestly just seems so worth to me to question that decision. We all have to make our own choices and do what makes us happy. Honestly, though, when I catch up with most of these people, their lives don’t seem as fulfilling as mine. That’s not a judgment, it’s just an observation.
Being able to live life in three gorgeous homes in three different cities spanning 6,000 miles may seem silly to some people, but to me, it’s a pretty fucking great way to live life. I might be wrong about that, but the end of the day, if I’m being honest, it really makes me happy. It might be hard for some people to wrap their minds around the pleasure associated with the limitless choices of extreme wealth, but, then again, I’ve always been a little bit of an outsider.