I’m wary of perpetuating stereotypes about the East Coast vs. West Coast, but here are some personal observations:
– NYC is very fast-paced while LA has a more relaxed, laid-back feel. People on the streets and in the subways move so quickly that you risk facing their wrath if you stop. There is a general disregard for traffic rules, especially on the part of pedestrians.
– NYC is densely-packed whereas LA is more sprawling. Public transport in NYC is much more developed and accessible versus in LA where cars dominate.
– New Yorkers seem to relish being outdoors and being around people more than Los Angelenos, as seen in park events, street festivals and fairs, outdoor concerts and movie screenings.
– The coffee culture in both places is very strong, but I’d say New York beats LA. There seems to be a perpetual line at every Starbucks in Midtown Manhattan and, interestingly, at Dunkin’ Donuts as well (didn’t know it offered coffee). There are lots of gourmet coffee places like Dean & Deluca. I always see people clutching cups of coffee on the subway, even on weekends. New Yorkers sure love their coffee.
– Living expenses in NYC (housing and food) is generally more expensive than in LA. I’ve noticed that the produce at Farmers’ Markets here is slightly pricier (sadly). Paying rent is such a huge financial burden.
– In terms of vegan-friendliness, NYC and LA are on par. Restaurants in both places often have vegan or vegetarian options clearly labelled on their menu, and there are stalls specializing in vegan foods or baked goods at markets. And there’s always Whole Foods.
– Many people in both NY and LA seem fitness-conscious, but NY outshines in terms of the availability of public parks for running and sports.