Ten Traits That Define the California Attitude

Michael Beausoleil

Every part of the United States has its own unique culture. Different areas are defined by their major industries, lifestyles, and climate. California is no exception, despite the fact it has the largest population in all of the nation. Once you get to the state, you will begin to identify the features that make its citizens unique.

As someone who moved to the state later in life, the differences in attitude made the transition interesting. Coming from the East Coast, I did find some parallels. More often I would find the California attitude to be different. Usually this was a refreshing change, but there were times when it challenged my ways of living.

From my perspective, these are the things that define the California attitude. When you get here, expect to see the culture of California reflected in its people. You’ll find some good aspects, some bad, but they all add to the charm of being in California.

1. People Are Very Relaxed

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This may be the biggest stereotype of California, but there’s a lot of truth to it. People in California like to stop and smell the roses… or enjoy the sunset. If you’re looking for busy city life, you won’t find it in most parts of California. There are certainly pockets in areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco, but this is really easy to avoid if you’d like to. Instead, you’ll find people hoping to enjoy the sights and stop for an occasional happy hour. Don’t expect to get places too fast, so try to slow down and enjoy the little things.

2. The People Look and Feel Casual

The warmer climate in most of California allows people to dress for their favorite activities, even when they’re not partaking in them. Athleisure may be the most common attire in California, but there are other styles to be seen across the state. Flip flops and swimwear are acceptable off the beach, and you might be sharing the sidewalk with a surfboard. People make their hobbies a priority, and this will be obvious as soon as you start interacting with others.

3. People Are Ecofriendly

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A lot of people are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, but it’s a way of life in California. You’ll see a lot of people carrying reusable grocery bags and commuting places without a car. Nobody is going to shame you for holding onto trash so you can recycle it, in fact it’ll probably earn you a few new buddies.

4. People Love New Tech

It seems a lot of start ups are headquartered in California. This means people will embrace innovations before the rest of the country. In 2018, everyone was cruising on electric scooters and bikes. Californians were GrubHubbing long before the pandemic, and the streets are filled with Teslas. It often seems the rest of the country falls behind California when it comes to tech, so if you’re going to be here you need to learn to embrace it.

5. People Embrace Different Lifestyles

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You don’t need to be a vegan to have a favorite dish at the vegan restaurant. Then you might work off your meal by taking a Brazilian kickboxing class. California has a lot of people, and this means you can find groups of people who live similarly to you. Even if you’re not dedicated to these lifestyles, you’re welcome to try their offerings so long as you go in with an open and respectful mind. It’s part of the joy of being in such a big community.

6. Everything Happens Outside

It seems there isn’t an activity that can’t be done outside. California has such nice weather, but such high real estate prices. This means your yoga class might take place outdoors, or your date night dinner will be on a patio. For the most part, people enjoy this. Just be prepared to handle the sun and have an alternative plan by the off chance there’s a breeze.

7. Season? More Like Locations

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If you’re looking for summer all year, there are parts of California that enjoy warmer temperatures 365. While there’s no guarantee you’ll have pure sunshine all January, San Diego gets a few beach days during the winter months. Meanwhile, you can head to Big Bear or Tahoe if you want to see the snow. If you head north of the Bay Area you’ll find a lot of green life and foliage to view. Living in California doesn’t provide you with a four-season experience, but it does give you options if you’re willing to drive a bit.

8. People Want to Feel Like Individuals

While California embraces all types of lifestyles, people tend to take pride in their uniqueness. People will try to stand out from the crowds in subtle ways. This can be demonstrated by voicing their opinions or wearing offbeat fashion. In California, this is just a way of life. No one will shame you for being a little different: in fact people will find you more interesting.

9. People Are Materialistic

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Despite all of the opportunities to embrace your core values, you’re still in a part of the country heavily influenced by business and Hollywood. People will spend a lot of money for designer brands and the latest tech. It’s not uncommon to see people flashing logos and spending money just to show off. This can be an expensive trap to fall into, but there are a lot of people influencing you to spend. It may take more self control than you anticipate when you see extent of people’s bragging.

10. People Love Their Home

There seems to be a narrative of people leaving California and resenting the state. Of course, people will be frustrated at times, but there’s a very positive vibe in California most of the time. Those who relocated to the state moved here for a reason, and they know how much worse they could have it. The natives might take their home for granted at times, but they’d be shocked by the differences if they moved somewhere else.

The California Attitude

To truly understand life in California, you need to experience it. There is a lot to enjoy in the state, and the people here are reflections of the lifestyle. Everyone experiences life a little differently, but they all feel the impact of some similar influences.

Of course, there are many different communities in the state. Different pockets have developed different attitudes. This should be expected in such a large and populous state. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. It’s the reason the state is so much fun, and it’s a great reason to get out and explore more!

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Writer, educator, and a few other things.

San Diego, CA
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