27+ Common Misconceptions About the West Coast
| LAST UPDATE 03/13/2022
Celebrities everywhere, green juices, and sunny beaches: a few things that come to mind when some East Coasters picture the West Coast. And while some of these are true, other stereotypes about the left coast are pretty far from reality.
Although California is known for arguably having some of the top beaches to surf on, the belief that everyone rides the waves is far from true. Not every West Coast resident takes part in the water sport.
The beaches are typically visited by surfers early in the morning. But once the waves have slowed down, the sand is filled with people looking for a good tan and a chill swim. Believe it or not, some Californians don't even know how to stand up on a surfboard!
Blonde Hair Is Mandatory
Some people believe that most West Coast residents are all rocking blonde hair. Well, we're here to finally retract that misconception. Individuals living out West have various different hair colors. Brunettes, redheads, and even fun, vibrant colors can be spotted.
Honestly, we trace this stereotype to Hollywood's portrayal of west coasters. Reality TV shows like The Hills and The Real Housewives have probably led some people out East to believe only blondes were allowed to live there. But, just take a walk on Rodeo Drive or Lombard Street, and it's clear people have other hair colors.
It's true: many famous people reside in California, more specifically in Los Angeles. It makes sense since films and TV shows are usually filmed in Hollywood, so it's convenient to live on the West Coast. But, that doesn't mean that every time a Californian walks out of the house, they spot a celeb.
In fact, movie stars and singers tend to stay out of public settings. And if they are roaming around the city, they usually try to blend in or wear a large hat to avoid too much attention. Occasionally residents of LA do run into famous people, but the belief that they are always around isn't true.
The Beaches Are Warm
The West Coast does, in fact, have an easier winter than the East Coast, but it's not always as warm and sunny as some people think, especially not the ocean water. While it may look beautiful in the movies, the Pacific Ocean isn't always as pleasant as the camera and lighting make it out.
If an East Coast local was to dip their toes into the left coast beach, they might be surprised by the temperature because it's actually very cold. Those brave residents who do somehow enter the water (when it's not summer) must do so with a wetsuit to keep warm.
It Never Snows
Well…this belief is partially false. There are California residents who have never experienced a crispy white winter. But, that doesn't necessarily mean the entire state doesn't get snowfall. People on the East Coast seem to forget that there are, in fact, mountains on the other end of the country.
In California, it snows in Big Bear, Mammoth, and Tahoe. Some people like to travel up there in the winter months to experience ski life. Also, other areas in the West Coast, like Oregon and Washington, are used to dealing with white snowflakes falling from the sky.
It's Only California
When people who live on the right side of the country think about the left coast, they typically automatically think of California. This belief leads to the misconception that the entire coastal region is made up of that one state. Now, of course, it's not actually true, and east coasters know that.
Yet still, Cali is arguably more represented in the media than the other Westside states, so this might be how the idea came to be. We are wondering how locals in the other states, Washington and Oregan, feel about sometimes being left out of the minds of East Coast tenants.
The idea that all west coasters are fit and healthy is false. Yes, many do enjoy a sweaty session at the gym or a yoga flow by the beach, but just as much as any other person in the US. There are indeed thousands of residents on the left coastline who don't work out.
Honestly, we think this misconception was formed because of social media and Hollywood. Our feeds are at times filled with fit west-side residents striking a yoga pose. But we sometimes forget that every person is different, and not all west coasters do yoga, pilates, etc.
Flip Flops Are a Must
West coasters must always be in open-toed shoes because of the weather. Not! Californians are sometimes portrayed in the media as always spending time by the beach, so of course, others assume they are always wearing flip-flops. How else would they walk in sandy areas?
Well, we're here to finally debunk the myth that only flip-flops are worn. There are plenty of West Coast locals who only wear them to the beach. If they're headed to the mall or to grab lunch, it's more likely they would be wearing a closed-toe shoe. Sometimes movies are mistaken...
Silicon Valley & Hollywood
Yes, Silicon Valley and Hollywood are arguably some of the top-known career spots. Believe it or not, west coasters don't just work in technology innovation or in the entertainment industry. There are thousands of other career opportunities on that side of America.
Doctors, teachers, uber drivers, chefs, accountants, real estate agents, the list goes on and on. Not every person in California is bringing home the big bucks working in high-tech or with our favorite stars. It's time for that stereotype to come to an end.
Health Nuts Everywhere
Some believe West Coast locals run on the beach, go on a hike, and then eat a salad or green juice every day. But the coastline is actually home to some delicious, unhealthy treats. From In and Out burgers to street tacos, not every restaurant serves up nutritious meals.
Don't get us wrong; there are, of course, numerous healthy options and several juice shops. But that doesn't mean it's all everyone is consuming. The belief that everyone who lives in the West is the epitome of health is untrue. They can also enjoy a morning bagel run or a late-night pizza date like East Coast people.
Always Raining in Seattle
While the misconception is that California is constantly sunny, the more Northern West state, Washington, is believed to always be rainy. Let's make things clear: that's not totally true. Yes, the state does have a greater amount of cloudy days than others, but not all the time.
On average, Seattle has water falling from the sky for around 152 days annually, which is less than half the days in a year. Okay, so maybe the stereotype isn't completely wrong, but still, the rainfall does stop for a few months. And in our book, that proves the belief to be inaccurate.
Everyone's Laid Back
New Yorkers are sometimes stereotyped as loud, fast-paced, and demanding. On the other side of the country, west coasters, more specifically Californians, are deemed as chill and laid back. This misconception probably stemmed from the belief that locals spend all their time by the beach.
Beaches are usually automatically associated with relaxation and calmness, so obviously, California locals are easygoing. Well... not necessarily. Firstly because residents aren't always by the water, and secondly, west coasters aren't actually always laid back.
Individuals living outside of the West Coast tend to think they always have "perfect" sunny weather. When in reality, temperatures can reach the high 100 degrees Fahrenheit and even drop into the low 30 degrees. Some days are filled with fog and others with rain.
Maybe when compared to other states, the winters may be exceptionally warmer on the left part of the US. But regardless, the stereotype of an always beautiful day is inaccurate. Especially considering there are three large states on the coastline, each with varying weather conditions.
People Say "Cali"
It seems that some east coasters believe most residents refer to their home by the short label, "Cali." It may be a faster way to say California, but the locals of this state tend to avoid using that nickname. There's no specific reason as to why not; Cali just never stuck.
We're not really sure where this misconception came from. It's possible people thought that Californians are too "laid back" to say the entire name or that it sounded cooler and more hippie-like. Either way, we're here to debunk this myth: most people don't call it Cali.
There are a few different slang words believed to be common in west coasters vocabulary, such as "hella," "duuude," "bro," and "gnarly." Any person who has ever spoken to someone born and raised on the West Coast knows they don't actually speak using those words.
We have to be honest... we totally believed this misconception. Now we know that even though West Coast people speak in slang words, it's not what we expected. And definitely not in the stereotypical or cliche way depicted in surf movies or TV shows.
Along with the idea that West Coast citizens are easygoing comes the belief that they are also soft-spoken. But that's far from the truth. In some instances, it's even the complete opposite. We wouldn't recommend debating with a left coast resident on a topic they are heartfelt about.
Because west coasters may just end up surprising east coasters. Despite the misconceptions, they stand up for what they believe in. The stereotype that they can be easily stepped on is false. The left side of the country is just as passionate as the rest of America.
The stereotype that no one walks is applied more specifically to Los Angeles. New Yorkers know how common it is to use your feet or the subway to get from place to place in their city. Because LA has a different kind of transportation, some assume that this is not a usual practice in the City of Angels.
Honestly, this is only partially true since cars are typically the main form of transportation because LA is a big city. However, there are several popular walkable areas, including Santa Monica, Downtown, Venice Beach, and, of course, the Runyan Canyon hiking trail.
The freeways on the West Coast are probably different than in other states. If someone was to get into their car and drive during rush hour, they would possibly be stuck in traffic for a while. It's best to avoid driving at around 5 or 6 o'clock when the majority of people are headed home from work.
Because of the constant car jams, west coasters have learned to survive and adapt to their surroundings. This may be why citizens on the East Coast sometimes assume that every person from the left coast is a bad driver. When in reality, it's the "best" way to drive in their hometown.
Support for the LGBTQ+ Community
A major stereotype that people hold about San Francisco is that everyone who lives there is a part of the LGBTQ+ community. There are valid reasons why this belief was started. For one, the city has been known for its inclusivity and openness to sexuality. And secondly, because of the city's history.
In the 1970s, Harvey Milk became the first openly gay politician who lived and protested for gay rights in San Fransisco. Soon enough, many members of the community moved to the California city. And while many residents do identify as LGBTQ+, there are thousands that do not, proving this stereotype wrong.
It's Only Hollywood
Residents of the East Coast seem to forget that there is more to the other side of the country than just Hollywood or Los Angeles. Yes, it may arguably be the most well-known or popular city because of the number of celebs that live there. But it's not the only city on the West Coast.
There are several other cities located in California, like San Diego, Sacramento, and Santa Barbra. Let's also not forget about Oregon and Washington, which are home to big cities like Portland and Seattle. It's time for east coasters to end this misconception.
The right coast, which has hurricanes quite often, sometimes has the idea that the West side of the country has earthquakes all the time, even though it's not true. The left coast doesn't have "earthquake season" like east coasters have "hurricane season."
Yes, occasionally, the ground may shake beneath their feet, but nothing so scary. Typically the earthquakes are mild, and honestly, they don't happen as often as some people may think. The only thing west coasters may be worried about is "The Big One," but constant earthquakes isn't something on their mind.
Always Having a Fresh Tan
The golden state has become possibly well-known for its constant sunshine. This has caused many east coasters to assume that Californians are constantly bronzed and tan. But those who actually reside on the West Coast know that this belief isn't true.
Although in the Summer months, the UV rays are higher and locals lay out more often, the opposite is true for the colder season. In the Winter, west coasters tend to stay indoors, because funnily enough, temperatures do drop, and occasionally there's rainfall. So no, Californians aren't always sun-kissed.
Everybody Lives Sustainably
The people living on the West Coast are presumed to be extra environmentally conscious and take extra steps to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Maybe this misconception was started when two coastal states, Oregon and California, banned the use of single-use plastic bags.
We can't be certain why this stereotype exists; all we know is it's not completely accurate. While it may true that many locals are eco-friendly, it doesn't mean every person on the Westside is out there doing their part by recycling and eating a plant-based diet.
Everyone Talks Like a Kardashian
The idea that visiting the West Coast means being bombarded by girls who speak like the Kardashians, also known as the "valley girl" accent, is just straight-up wrong. Yes, maybe those who were born and raised in those areas speak slower and with a high-pitched voice, but once again, this misconception doesn't apply to everyone.
The valley girl accent also refers to individuals who are specifically from the hills of Los Angeles and use the word "like" a lot. Some people living in the valley may speak in that way, but it's bold to assume every person in California, Oregon, and Washington has that voice.
The People Are All Rich
The golden state has arguably been known by some people as home to only rich individuals. Well, let's just say that's inaccurate. Like any other place in America, California and the other West Coast states have millions of residents, all varying from different socioeconomic classes.
While there are people who pay for overpriced matcha lattes or pilates classes, that doesn't mean every local is out there living a lavish lifestyle. As strange as it may seem, not everyone is a Kardashian-Jenner; there are people of all financial backgrounds living out West.
They're All Models or Actors
Countless A-list stars are living in California, so it makes sense that some people think they, too, can be famous if they live there. Each year, hundreds of new residents make their way to the West Coast. Each one with a similar dream of being a celebrity in the big city.
Obviously, not every person will end up making it big. And also, not every person has this goal in mind. Some individuals live in Los Angeles just because they like it or were born there. The stereotype that everyone is an aspiring actor, singer, or model is not accurate.
Everyone Has Botox
It's pretty common for some people to assume that nearly everyone living on the West Coast has gone under the knife or needle. It's a cliché that seems to live in the minds of numerous east coasters. A part of the belief is true: many Californians have received botox.
But it's no different than any other state. Assuming that every person who resides on the West Coast has gotten work done is faulty. Some individuals like the natural look! Either way, whether some people have gotten surgery or not, this misconception has gone on for too long!
People Are Shallow
This may come as a surprise, but not everyone in California, Washington, and Oregon are shallow and materialistic! That's just what Hollywood and the media have been portraying for years. But let's not forget that that's just a small portion of the West Coast population.
The stereotype that everyone is snobby couldn't be more wrong, and it's time to debunk this theory. Residents of the west side of the nation can be just as helpful and nice as in any other state. In fact, some individuals are very down-to-earth, easygoing folks.
Athleisure-Chic Is the Go-To
The easygoing vibe that the West Coast gives off has led numerous individuals to believe all they wear are chill, casual outfits. Believe it or not, this cliche belief is wrong. Residents on the west side of the nation do, in fact, know how to dress up when need be.
People strolling down the streets of the west side may notice people wearing various types of outfits; it's not just workout gear and beach clothes. There are men in suits, women in heels, and more. The casual aesthetic is a misconception that needs to go bye-bye.
Everyone's Obssesed With Horoscope
New York may be fast past and work-focused, but everyone on the West Coast is spiritual and follows what their horoscope says... or at least that's what east coasters think. But in reality, this is far from the truth. Even if there are residents that trust their horoscope, not everyone does.
People seem to forget that there are millions of citizens, each with different beliefs. Luckily, we're here to set the record straight. It's a bold misconception to assume that each and every local living on the West Coast follows their sun and moon charts.