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9 biggest differences between the Midwest and the West Coast

Written by
John Hickey

About two years ago, I made the jump from the Midwest to the West Coast. I was in pursuit of a new career, comedy and warmer climates. While I don’t consider myself an expert, I do like to give the illusion that I am. Below are some of the major differences between the Left Coast and the Midwest.

1. Microclimates: Do you even microclimate, bro? In NorCal, you can go surfing and downhill skiing in the same day. You can start in Big Sur where it’s 80 outside, drive through the Bay where it’s cloudy and 60 and end your night in a cabin in Tahoe where it’s damn near freezing. Not freezing like Midwest take-off-your-helmet-in-the-middle-of-outer-space freezing, but still cold.

2. Tourists: California tourists like to wear a shirt that's very much like the "I Heart New York" shirt. The shirt says CALI FOR NIA across the front and in the middle there’s a picture of the state bear. For the first six weeks I lived here, I thought that shirt said “Cali for Nia”, and Nia was the name of the bear (who must've been dying of cancer or something). I thought maybe a forest ranger hit Nia with his truck and the whole state was rallying around Nia because somebody started a GoFundMe page. Donate $25, get a free CALI FOR NIA tee shirt.

3. Weight: The first time I went back to Chicago for the holidays, I stopped at some soulless chain restaurant with my family on our way home from my little brother’s basketball game. The type of place where they load your cocktails up with a few extra tablespoons of sugar to cover up how bad they taste. At every table there was somebody pushing two bills wearing sweatpants and a free promotional T-shirt shoveling onion rings in their mouth. I turned to my mother and asked, “Mom, has everybody in the Midwest always been so f---ing fat?” and she said, “Yeah, you just never noticed.” In California, most people opt to put down the cheeseburger and run around the block a few times.

4. Food: When I lived in Chicago, my diet consisted of pasta, pizza and chicken breasts. I think my body craved it because I needed to store fat in order to keep warm—you know, like a seal. Out on the West Coast, a salad is considered a meal and not just a way to get your stomach engine warmed up. And no, everything doesn’t have kale.

5. Water: There’s a very serious drought in California that most people east of the Rockies aren’t aware of. They don’t serve water at restaurants and give you a stink eye if you ask for it. Yes, I promise to drink the whole thing. It’s literally the sustenance of life and you’re charging me 30 bucks for a piece of fish that you pulled out of the water this morning.

6. Sports fans: Simply put, the sports fans aren’t as passionate out west as they are in the Midwest. In those smaller (fatter) cities like Indianapolis, Milwaukee and St. Louis, there’s really only one thing to do while you’re huddled under an afghan with a single flickering light bulb swinging above you for six months: watch your favorite team. It’s easy to put sports on the backburner on the West Coast because you have hiking, biking, wine tastings, surfing, skiing and legal weed to distract you. Also, that 10am kickoff time on Sundays is pretty rough.

7. Rent: I live in San Francisco, which is a booming tech mecca that thousands of young professionals are flocking to due to the amount growth and opportunity available. Not coincidentally, the four most expensive places to now rent in the country are now San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and oh yeah, Manhattan. Because the demand for jobs is so high and the area I live in is 7 square miles, landlords will charge just about whatever price they want to wide eyed dummies who move here from the Midwest.

8. Active wear: Unlike the Midwest, where most businesses still require at least a button-down shirt everyday (speaking for the males here), a lot of Californians stick to wearing active wear. Active wear consists of yoga pants or sweats with a zip up hoodie or track jacket. A tank top or T-shirt will do as well. I now find it maddeningly uncomfortable to wear jeans (my boxer briefs turn into a tangled hammock) and I don’t know the last time I wore socks.

9. Transplants: Like I said, I moved here to pursue a new career, comedy and warm weather. I also did it to escape. I knew that if I stayed in the Midwest in the cold, I would end up a fat miserable diehard sports fan who's filled with regret. So I’m now contributing to the problems out here by jacking up the rent, wearing pants from Lululemon and drinking all the water they don’t have. But hey, no regrets.

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