IT’S A BIG STATE, so it makes sense that Northern and Southern California have their differences. It’s dangerous to claim that one half is better than the others, but everyone has their opinion. I’ll keep mine to myself (I have lived in both) and instead give some differences I’ve noticed, so you can decide on your own.
1. Reaction to weather.
I’ve had friends come to visit me California in December and they’ve packed only shorts and tee-shirts. This seems like a great idea, until they realize that the July weather in San Francisco is totally different than the weather in Los Angeles. And even if the number on the thermometer is the same, the reaction to weather is MUCH different. 60 degrees in San Francisco means everyone runs out in tee-shirts to Dolores Park. 60 degrees in San Diego means people wear sweatpants, a fleece, a beanie, and stay inside to avoid the cold
2. The slang.
The language in NorCal is “hella” cool, and bumping into anyone on the street in SoCal can be fixed with a “sorry, bro.” Because there are a lot of people that move from north to south, and vice versa, you’ll find this slang statewide, but some words are still more common where they started.
3. The level of “chill.”
When I originally moved to California, I assumed everyone was calm. That’s true, but the vibe of SoCal is definitely more chill than up North. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the yoga, but San Diegans and Los Angeles residents are more down with “whatever brah” than their Northern brethren. Perhaps it’s because their fellow CA residents in NorCal always seem to be working on their startups. However, if you go ever FURTHER north, you’ll hit Humboldt county. That’s where it’s really chill… thanks to being the hub of growth for a certain medicinal plant.
4. Burrito Service.
Some of the best burritos in NorCal are served at holes in the wall. People line up at all hours to get a foil-wrapped meal, but the line is especially long after the bars close. But in SoCal, the best burritos and tacos come on four wheels. The omnipresent taco trucks wait outside bars and concert venues for late night meals, and can also be found during the day outside office buildings for lunch and dinner. SoCal is also home to the California burrito, which stuffs French fries inside the already overflowing tortilla. Which Cali hemisphere has the best burritos? That’s a fight I’m not willing to take on.
5. How the beach is used.
A wetsuit is a must for NorCal beaches. While the north has a large surfing community, other NorCal beach activities mostly include playing with Frisbees, running with dogs, sitting and looking at the water. Sometimes people even sit on the cold, cold sand and watch the sunset. In Southern California people ACTUALLY go swimming, SCUBA diving, and tan… without a wetsuit line.
6. Careers in Tech vs. Television.
People come to Southern California with dreams of making it famous in film. Locals run into movie stars at the supermarket. People come to Northern California with dreams of making it big in tech. You probably won’t recognize the people who created Google or Uber at the supermarket, but you might run into Mark Zuckerburg walking around Palo Alto. One-half of the state finds success on the big screen, the other half seeks success behind the computer screen.
7. The booze scene.
Northern California has always been known for Sonoma and Napa. And despite the up and coming wine scenes in Temecula and Santa Barbara, NorCal still reigns supreme. Not to be outdone in the booze world, Southern California’s San Diego has the stronghold on the beer scene. Yes, there are great breweries throughout the state, but do you really want to compete with a town that has Ballast Point, Stone, Pizza Port, Green Flash, Belching Beaver, and more than 100 others? Didn’t think so.