California is well known for a lot of things. We've got beautiful beaches, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, our incredible national parks, and of course, the wine country.
But for every legitimate California characteristic, there seems to be a handful of myths about the state that circulate and never quite get dispelled.
We're going to take care of that right now. Here are 5 myths about California that simply aren't true.
1. Beware the "Big One"
It's true that the San Andreas Fault runs down California's length and we've had some crazy earthquakes here. The earth's tectonic plates are subject to occasional shifts that cause rattling and rumbling under the surface on a more or less regular basis.
But an unreasonable number of people keep predicting "The Big One" will hit and destroy our entire state. The truth is there are occasional earthquakes, some of them severe, almost every place on earth.
While tremors occur relatively often in California, Alaska, and Hawaii, a single mid-continent quake in 1811 caused many deaths in Missouri. It was unexpected and devastating at the time.
There are also regular earthquakes in Oklahoma and even in the Southeastern states.
And we're safer now than we used to be. New construction is subject to stringent earthquake-resistant building standards, and many older buildings have been retrofit to improve their ability to withstand a fair shake. Also, earthquake detection and warning systems have greatly improved over the last century.
No area is 100% safe and fear of the "big one" taking out California is probably unfounded, at least according to experts.
2. "Left Coast" Residents are Crazy Liberals
Politically, California currently leans left, but progressive political activists should be considered no less sane or concerned about policy than their opponents.
The past has also shown us that conservative Republicans have played a big part in California history, and will likely continue to influence the state.
The truth is that California residents are more than just democrat or republican. Throughout the state, residents subscribe to views across the full spectrum of political philosophy and action. That's the essence of democracy.
3. Traffic in Southern California is Impossible
Yes, there can be a lot of traffic in and around Los Angeles. And, at times, there are massive traffic snarls on the freeways. It can be frustrating. Remember, though, that you have a choice of where to live in California, and Los Angeles is only a small part of the entire state.
Weigh the commute against other lifestyle options and advantages if you choose to make your home in or near one of the larger California cities. Just know that there are traffic tie-ups everywhere in the country!
4. You Have to Be Rich to Live in California
There's no doubt that California's cost of living can be higher than in some other locales, particularly for housing, but there are some balancing factors, as well. Fresh produce is readily available, the generally mild climate means lower utility bills, and a casual lifestyle can reduce clothing costs.
Job opportunities and wages are often in line with costs.
Once you get away from the major cities, there are plenty of reasonably-priced communities where you can settle in and enjoy life on a moderate salary.
Just as in any other state, you must be willing to weigh the pros and cons of a job and the housing location, considering the commute, the schools, the shopping, and the leisure-time activities you prefer. Once you do that, spend the needed time and energy to find a community that suits you. It's easier than you might think!
5. LA Is Filled with Smog, and San Francisco Is Always Foggy
While atmospheric conditions and prevailing winds contribute to some less than desirable air quality days around Los Angeles, there are many days when the air is fresh. And easy access to the beach, mountains, or desert when the mood strikes may make up for those days when you would prefer to breathe only indoor air.
The same is true of the mist and fog and the chilly days around the Bay area. Do the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown and Fisherman's Pier, the Museum of Modern Art, or a drive to Half Moon Bay, Napa, or Sonoma appeal to you? They can all be great rainy day activities with the bonus of photo ops and enriching time spent both outside and indoors.
California has its plusses and minuses, but in our opinion, these myths have gotten blown out of proportion. Now that you know the truth, you can decide for yourself whether the Golden State is the place for you.