I live in SoCal, not Cali

Welcome to California
Photo by Kristina Sohappy via Flickr (Creative Commons)

People are generally excited to come to Southern California.

It’s a very cool place for our family to get to live! It is somewhere we never aspired to live but are completely enjoying.

But I have to admit that I cringe a little when I see folks I follow on Twitter or friends on Facebook say, “I’m going to Cali.

See, most people who live here don’t refer to where they live as “Cali.

We aren’t offended by it. It just automatically self-identifies you as a visitor.

Understand that California is a big state. VERY BIG. Venti. And extremely diverse geographically, regionally, in population, and culturally. On a perfect day it’d take you 13 hours to drive from Imperial Beach to Yreka along Interstate 5. (aka “the 5”) Just in San Diego County alone there are a bunch of different climates. Ocean beaches, mountain tops, arid desserts… palm trees and citrus trees to apple and peach trees; surfer to rancher.

To smash the whole state into a phrase like, “I’m going to Cali” just doesn’t feel right to us.

So what do I say?

To generalize it, you can say you are going to NorCal or SoCal even though there is no official dividing line. When we lived in Northern California there was always conversations that the North should separate from the South… that’s how different they are!

It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I’m going to Southern California.” So don’t feel like you have to shorten it. But if you want to, it’s SoCal.

Better yet, you can regionalize it by saying you are going to San Diego, LA, the Central Valley, Tahoe, or the Bay Area. Headed somewhere a bit more rural? Some people describe their travels by saying what county they are headed to.

But few of our 37 million residents will post on their Facebook page, “I’m headed back to Cali tomorrow.” Just like you wouldn’t see someone say, “I’m headed back to Ala tomorrow.” Or, “Can’t wait to fly how to Wisc.

At the same time. If you are coming as a tourist you can call us whatever you’d like as long as you leave some of your money here.

Because primarily– you can call us capitalists.


11 responses to “I live in SoCal, not Cali”

  1. Brock Avatar


    As someone from Southern CA, I can appreciate your superior complex… =) However, I must disagree just a little. Even though true Southern Californians may not say “Cali,” there is a song reference that makes it OK, IF you are quoting it.
    I’m going back to Cali, Cali, Cali
    I’m going back to Cali.. hmm, I don’t think so
    I’m going back to Cali, Cali, Cali…

    So there is one exception – you must be quoting our friend LL Cool J. And by the way, quoting LL is a must once in a while.

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      For reference, here’s that video:

      Indeed, we have a superiority complex. It goes with living somewhere with such awesomeness.

  2. Cheryl Smith Avatar

    Fun read.

    Reminds me of the saying, “You can call me anything, as long as you call me for dinner.” 🙂

  3. Jason Avatar

    Confession: Due to the overwhelming nature of people having a superior complex about all things Cali (heh heh), I have pretty much always rooted against any California sports teams. ESPECIALLY the Lakers. (which begs another question… I’ve been to LA and I don’t recall any lakes. The Pacifics sounds much more appropriate.)

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      I’ve widened that. Not only do I not like the Lakers, I hate the NBA. Haven’t watched a game in years.

      1. Jason Avatar

        Yeah, I’m with ya on that. Haven’t been into basketball since the days of the Bad Boys… Back when basketball players actually… LOVED BASKETBALL.

  4. Matt C. Avatar
    Matt C.

    Central Valley, or Yosemite foothills is one I often use when heading up north. I like using Valley in reference to California specifically because it’s NOT Silicon Valley. The San Joaquin Valley is one of the most fruitful farm lands in America, as well as one of the largest valley’s in America (next to Death Valley). My grandparents were raised as farmers in California and they always prided their state by saying that California is the only state that could be totally self-sustaining as an economy and infrastructure.

    Have, and always will LOVE California — all of it! Thanks for the reminder, Adam!

  5. Jen Avatar

    Yes! As a former resident, I totally agree! Partly because I don’t usually dig shortened names – SoCal is aesthetically acceptable to me, but just barely. But mostly because I always try to blend in with the locals, no matter where I am. (including the high school where I teach – ha ha)

    And, just to add, it’s “San Francisco” or “the city” – never ever “Frisco”.

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      Well, let’s face it… all that fog just makes people in “the city” special.

  6. Johnny Carson Avatar
    Johnny Carson

    Yes and did you realize that you revealed your SoCal-ness by saying “the 5”? Ever notice how the northerners say “I haven’t decided if I am going to take 101 or 5 down to Los Angeles.”? It’s so annoying.

  7. Nate Avatar

    SoCal sounds too much like “low cal” – and low calorie stuff is usually disgusting. That’s why I am sticking with Cali. That and I’m a huge LL Cool J fan!

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