So, you just moved to Los Angeles. Welcome to the Southland! The city, which is actually a whole lot of cities packed together, has a whole lot of sprawl and to some newcomers can be intimidated. If you’ve just found a Los Angeles apartment, you may be at a loss of which way to turn first.  First thing to remember: the beach is always west.

1. See You Soon

The saying is that to get from anywhere to anywhere in Los Angeles takes half an hour. There’s some truth to this. When the freeways work, they work great, and you can get from Downtown to Malibu in about a half hour. But traffic can be extremely unpredictable. If you are going somewhere during rush hour (3:30 to 7:30—OK, rush hours), look up the directions online, note the time it says it takes and double it.  The good news is that Los Angelenos take, “I was in (Insert Favorite Adjective) Traffic” as an acceptable excuse for being late.

2. Hit the Streets

There are networks of streets that have lights at every major intersection and can be a better option than taking the freeway.  For example, if you are going to Dodger Stadium, avoid the 101 and take Beverly to Temple to Alvarado to Sunset. You’ll still hit traffic coming into the stadium, but it won’t be as near as bad as the freeway, and you can make it to the game before the 2nd inning. Hit up the BBQ tent on Alvarado before you get on Sunset. The guy is a genius and that will take the sting out of the wait.

3. Where are the Movie Stars?

Frankly, they are at the grocery store. Top choices are Whole Foods in Brentwood and the Ralph’s in Studio City. But come on, stop acting like a rookie. You’re an Angeleno now—leave ’em alone, put on your shades, and help yourself to some kale.  You’re too cool for fawning.

4. Weather or Not to Worry

Los Angeles has seasons, but not like other parts of the country. The myth is that the seasons are Flood, Fire, Earthquake, and Mudslides.

  • Fires occur every summer around the Southland.  Be aware of this if you are moving to an area with a lot of brush. For the most part, fires happen in the neighboring communities of Burbank, Thousand Oaks, San Bernadino and Malibu—not in the city limits.
  • Floods happen every winter and spring, but are usually pretty tame compared to floods that happen in the Southeast.  The locals see them more as an inconvenience than a life-threating disaster. You won’t need to keep a canoe handy or anything.
  • Mudslides happen when an area that burned (see Fires) gets drenched (see Floods). So they are somewhat predictable, if you live in area that got burned. It’s not the like Hollywood Hills are going to collapse and shoot mud down Fairfax.
  • Earthquakes do not have a season. They can happen at any time. In fact, most days there a dozens of earthquakes you won’t even feel. “Major” earthquakes are unsettling, but you will get through them.

It’s a good idea to be prepared with two emergency kits, just in case you need to bolt. You’ll need one in your apartment and one in your car. If you get stuck in your car (which, to be completely honest, can happen often), you’ll be glad to have some water bottles and some snacks.  Here are some additional safety tips. No, they aren’t boring.

5. Blend In

A lot of newbies (New Yorkers and San Franciscans, I am looking at you) like to moan and complain about Los Angeles.  It’s completely pointless and could lead you miss out on a lot. So embrace the sprawl; enjoy eating outside 300 days a year; and tell the haters to stop blocking your January sunshine.