The 8 Stages of Living in NOLA

The life cycle of a twenty-something New Orleans transplant, chronicled in eight all too relatable stages of highs and undeniable lows of life in the Big Easy. 


1. The Newbie

Where you live: Shotgun in the Bywater. So hip.

Where you go out: Bourbon, The Quarter, the Boot, F&Ms.

Your motto: “Can’t stop, won’t stop.”

Everything is sunshine, brunch, Saints, festivals, day drinking and FUN! This place is MAGICAL, why didn’t you come sooner? The shotgun you just moved into with your three roommates is SO cute and SO Nola. Who needs privacy anyways when you’re all having so much fun? And O-M-G, you can drink…OUTSIDE!?

You go to every show at Tip’s, every festival, every Mardi Gras parade, everything you can get your thirsty newbie hands on and everything is blowing your little Nola newbie mind. (Your parents are also really worried about you. You should call them.)


2. The Wannabe

Where you live: Shotgun in the Garden District. So local.

Where you go out:  ANYWHERE but Bourbon St. 

Your motto:“Ew, Bourbon Street is SO touristy, I never go there.” (LIAR)

If you’ve come from the North you’re perplexed by the actuality of Southern charm. You try to blend in, but you can’t understand the accents of literally anyone from the West Bank. You don’t really get that our four seasons are categorized by crawfish, football, Mardi Gras and sweaty hot summer and that here, football IS religion. You’re spending the majority of this time trying to convince people you’re a local, and if “Y’all” wasn’t already an accepted part of your dialect, you’re training your brain as quickly as possible to use it.

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Mardi Gras Vibes 💜💚💛 #TuesdaysinNOLA

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3. “What is this Place?” 

Where you live: Another dang shotgun.

Where you go out:  Anywhere you don’t have to drive to.

Your motto: “Seriously, where are my tax dollars going.”

After replacing your 8th tire for the year you actually begin to wonder how this place exists. How does it operate? EVERYONE IS DRUNK! You stare at the pothole that just blew out said 8th tire and you ask in a moment of hungover confusion, “Is this Uganda?” Why aren’t ANY of these things getting fixed!? Then you remember that EVERYONE IS DRUNK, so you answer your own question. Even the road signs don’t make any sense and some city planner can’t even spell “Louisiana” right


4. The Local

Where you live: Non-shotgun house in the Garden District. 

Where you go out:  You graduated to Tchoup Yard, the F&M’s for “adults” with jobs.

Your motto: “Only in NOLA!”

You’ve reached legit-local stage. You’re still going out, but mainly hitting happy hours and living la vida Nola on the weekends (So like, Thursday-Sunday). You’re complaining about everything, but you’ve accepted that it is what it is. “Ha-ha, pot holes? Part of its charm.” “Termites? No worries.”  

You and your pals finally found a legit NON-shotgun house with a sweet porch and you’re finally settling into that easy going, laid-back lifestyle that Nola boasts. You complain about all the hipsters moving here turning Nola into Portlandia, and you’re still pissed off at the pothole that’s been sitting on your street for a year, but it’s FINE. You’re so free…you are a New Orleanian and your friends working 60-hour weeks in NYC are living in stupid, corporate hell.

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❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ #lovelovelove #Louisiana

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5. The New Orleanian Quarter-life Crisis

Where you live: Some mildly affordable place in Mid-City where you feel safe after getting mugged in the LGD.

Where you go out: Anywhere with a happy hour, you budget betch, you!

Your motto: “Help me, I’m poor.” 

Rental prices have sky-rocketed, you’re broke from hitting happy hour 3 times a week and Don’s Auto Shop can’t even save your car from the annihilation of New Orleans streets.

Chances are you’ve gotten robbed or car jacked at some point during your tenure and have become a sad Nola statistic. You bought a taser or keep a baseball bat in your closet because you know it’ll take the NOPD five days to show up in the probable chance that something does go down. You are legitimately TERRIFIED of Bourbon Street — and instead of playing tour guide and going with your out of town friends down there, you drive them to the edge of the Quarter and unleash them into the wild with a blessing and Neosporin.

You also know way too much about combatting termites and can’t buy groceries for the week because you spent all your money on festival tickets. Sigh. #WorthIt. Party, work, spiral, repeat. 


6. “I’m Done.” 

Where you live: Some crappy apartment with drafty windows. 

Where you go out: Anywhere your exes aren’t.

Your motto: “I heard Detroit is nice this time of year…”

You’re dipping into dating pools circa 2011, put 10 pounds of festival weight on and you gotta GO. You gotta get healthy, man, you gotta get your life back on track and you’ve got to leave your beloved New Orleans to do it. Nola has been good to you, but in a really twisted way. She’s been amazing, but she’s a terrible influence and it’s time to see other cities. Where to go? ANYWHERE. Detroit? Hell yeah!


7. “Why Did I Leave?!”

Where you live: Some shiny new apartment in X new city.

Where you go out: Everywhere on your new city bucket list.

Your motto: “I’m an idiot.”

Woahhh, you really left. You beat the urge to stay in Nola and made your way to whatever city that’s hot right now! Maybe you’re at a bar halfway into your newly put together “X City Bucket List” when the  Spring-time Instagram pics from your friends start rolling in. They’re at the Fly eating crawfish with Abita Strawberry’s, jammin’ at Jazzfest and pigging out at Hogs for the Cause…and then crippling FOMO hits you where it hurts.

You attempt to leave the bar with your beer but the bartender grabs you by the shirt and says in a horrible Yankee accent, “Can’t leave with that.” And you’re like, “What? My beer? Oh — sorry, I’m from New Orleans.” And the bartender doesn’t get it, or care, but those few words speak volumes because it hits you — You’re an idiot! You left the best city in the country.


8. “Baby I’m Back!” 

Where you live: A pretty decent condo you scooped from a friend who hit Stage 6 and moved to Detroit. Don’t worry, she’ll be back.

Where you go out: Everywhere you missed while you were gone.

Your motto: “A beignet a day keeps the doctor away.”

That didn’t last long. You came crawling back to your city begging for forgiveness, and Nola welcomed you back with open arms and 20 cocktails. Other than the 65+ new restaurants that opened, you find she hasn’t changed much, and you breathe a sigh of relief. And yes, that pothole is still sitting there. 

big freida

You’re that slow-talkin’ local sipping an Abita on your awesome rickety front porch. All the neighbors know you and you’re a regular at the corner dive bar. Everything rolls right off your shoulders because you know the grass ain’t greener on the other side. The only question you have now is, why aren’t all cities like New Orleans? Anyone who complains just doesn’t get it yet.

You understand the passion here, the resiliency, the debauchery and the meaning of “before Katrina” and “after Katrina.” You understand the soul of New Orleans and you know what it’s like to miss New Orleans. You get that this place isn’t for everyone — but it’s the only place for you. It’s a place with a story to tell, and best approached with a cold beer in hand.

Sin, Repent, Repeat.

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Alyssa, Contributor

A 6th generation Texan turned New Orleanian, PR gal, brunch enthusiast, travel addict and occasional artist with a nack for any activity involving cocktails. A Mayan fortune teller once told her she treats life as one big game, so she decided to just roll with that. Check out her latest adventure on instagram @alyssa.braden

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