Chicago is My Kind Of Town, but I Love LA (We Love It!)
January 14, 2009 11:46 AM   Subscribe

I transferred to Los Angeles last Spring. I hate the job, but I love LA. There has always been a standing offer to return to my old Chicago office. How do you evaluate the balance between being in a place you love, versus being in a job that's satisfying?

Reasons I left Chicago:
- Felt stagnant in my life
- Minor personal issues
- Pay
- Weather

Reasons I hate my job in LA:
- Top heavy (i.e., 2:1 PM:Engineer ratio)
- I talk to my boss once a month, and don't work with him on projects
- Much smaller office, much, much less social

Reasons I love LA:
- Weather
- Ocean
- Girlfriend
- Friends
- Mountains
- Proximity to everything I could need in the world

Reasons I love Chicago:
- Dense city infrastructure
- Friends
- Family
- Known working conditions

My relationship is pretty new, and won't survive a move. There's a lot of promise in it, but it's not like I'd be leaving the love of my life.

The working conditions in Chicago aren't perfect, but I consider my co-workers as friends, which is something that hasn't happened in LA. And the Chicago managers actually know what my job entails, so I get to be an engineer and they get to be managers.

I'm leaving this office, there's no question about that. But, do I find another job in LA, which could be just as bad (or worse), or go back to what I know and like? The wild card is that I get the results of my professional licensing tests next week. I'm already a Professional Engineer in Illinois, but not yet in California. If I fail, Chicago looks better, and vice-versa.
posted by hwyengr to Work & Money (11 answers total)
Job is not for fun. Job is for work. Work is for money, for meaning in your life, and for the prospects of advancement. If your workplace environment is so miserable for you that you can't do your work, that's one thing. But it doesn't sound that way.

There are other things in life which you need. Don't go looking to your job to fulfill them.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:54 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I moved from Chicago to L.A. going on 9 years ago, and I feel your pain in terms of missing Chicago (despite the shitty weather and shitty pay). I love L.A. and am unlikely to leave, but I will say that it took several years to feel really acclimatize and fully feel at home here and to have a real network of friends (unlike Chi, where I felt at home and had a social network within a few months). Everyone I know who moved here as an adult reports the same thing, regardless of their industry, workplace, etc.

Because L.A. is such a geographically decentralized city, it's also a socially/culturally decentralized city in a lot of ways, too. It takes more effort to find a network and a niche; work just can't be relied upon to provide it, the way it might be easier to do in another city, where you and your coworkers may all live and socialize in the same neighborhoods.
posted by scody at 12:04 PM on January 14, 2009

find a new job in LA.
i felt similar when I left a good job and good co-workers and friends and family in NY. My first job in Cali sucked -- real bad. But after a few months I found a job that was even more rewarding than my NYC one.
posted by ChloeMills at 12:20 PM on January 14, 2009

It's going to be -35 windchill tomorrow here in Chicago if that helps at all.
posted by Bunglegirl at 12:34 PM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'm in a similar situation. I moved from LA to NYC six months ago and I love it here. The city's fantastic and I've made some quality friends. That's all fine and good, but my job is horrible and I'm miserable because of it. I toy with the idea of moving back to LA and escaping the misery that is my professional life, but I think I would be cheating myself in some way if I followed through with it. I don't know how I would feel if I left this city knowing that I may never get another chance to live here and knowing that I never really gave it a fair shot. I'm thinking of this as a test of character, and I know I'm growing as a person in spite of how unhappy I am at work. I'm going to do everything I can to find another position when my contract expires this summer, but for now I'm trapped. My suggestion would be to not give up, look for another job, enjoy what LA has to offer, eat an enchilada with mole sauce at the best Oaxacan restaurant you'll ever find, and reevaluate your situation in another six months or a year.

Chin up, hwyengr. It's 80 degrees warmer in LA than it is in Chicago today. You can't beat that with a stick!
posted by HotPatatta at 12:47 PM on January 14, 2009

Three options:
-- find a new job in LA,
-- go back to the old job but find a new life in Chicago,
-- or find a job in a third city.
How about a third city, then? (okay, okay. Relatively close to girlfriend, I saw that)

A job may be for work may be for money, but life is for fun (or too short, or whatever). Work ought to be for meaning in your life and, hopefully money, not the other way round. in short: work is for funded fun.
posted by Namlit at 12:50 PM on January 14, 2009

Job is not for fun. Job is for work.

I don't know about you, but I spend many more hours with the people at work than I do with my friends and family. I wouldn't put up with an unfriendly work environment.
posted by HotPatatta at 12:52 PM on January 14, 2009

"If your work isn't what you love, then something isn't right." - Found A Job, The Talking Heads

However, LA is the best city in the world for some people. Sounds like you are one of them. Maybe try personal changes to make your job work better for you?
posted by Damn That Television at 12:58 PM on January 14, 2009

I have lived in L.A. and have lived (and live currently) in Chicago. To me, these cities are as unalike as two major American cities can be and my preference for Chicago over L.A. was so pronounced as to be almost painful. Looking through the smog at ubiquitous Jetsons-inspired cinderblock buildings on yet another room-temperature day, I missed so much Chicago's grand architecture, the change of seasons, the friendly and unpretentious people, the ethnic food, not having to own a car, etc... If you, on the other hand, clearly love L.A. then I think you should stay there. There are always other jobs, but living in a city that you adore is worth more, imo. Also, why subject yourself to this brutal, merciless winter when you have proven that you can love another city more than Chicago?
posted by applemeat at 1:05 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you like it here in LA for reasons other than your job, than look for a new job here before you do anything more drastic. There are plenty of work opportunities, for engineers and also for people who possess the critical thinking and problem solving skills that you almost certainly have if you're currently a decent engineering type.
posted by adamk at 1:08 PM on January 14, 2009

If the Chicago offer is standing, and will continue to stand for awhile, how's about looking for another LA job before you go back to Chicago? At least wait it out through the worst of winter!
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:33 PM on January 14, 2009

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