So you want to move to LA? Congrats! Most of us natives are very welcoming to new transplants and love the diversity of this city. Now on to the details, what do you need to know and what do you need to do to make that happen? Here’s a handy list of 10 things you should know before moving to Los Angeles.
1. It’s really tough to get a job here unless you’re here
I know you’re worried about your livelihood. There are some industries that are willing to do phone interviews and video interviews until you make arrangements to fly out, but that is very rare. It’s very competitive here in LA, especially in entertainment, so it’s best that you make plans to move here before you start job hunting. The process can take a few months or more, so make sure you have enough savings to afford your living expenses or try to stay with family or friends if you can.
A good way to get around this before moving to Los Angeles is to apply for an internship in LA while you’re enrolled in college. If you know that you want to move here for sure, getting an internship here gets you ahead of the competition if you make a good impression. This will give you a great opportunity to learn the culture, explore the city and possibly get hired by the company that you work for.
2. Finding an apartment can be just as challenging
I’m not trying to discourage you! But apartments here go very fast and can be rented within the day. Make sure you know which general area you want to live and you may even want to wait until you get a job to avoid a long daily commute. The amount of driving that you’ll be doing every day will affect your happiness and stress levels a lot more than you think, so make sure you don’t commit to a lease until you’re sure you can handle the every day drive.
3. The struggle of traffic is real
With almost 4 million people living in the city of LA (that’s just the city, not including other surrounding counties who come in and out of LA on a daily basis), you bet there’s always cars on the roads. Now imagine all the 9-5ers going to work in the morning and home afterwards, that doesn’t even account for all the people who work irregular hours and there’s a lot of those in LA. That’s why I highly suggest living somewhere close to work if you can, imagine walking 10-15 minutes to work and avoiding it all.
It’s not like LA residents of LA haven’t learned to live with it. I know of people who have a 2-hour commute one way because they bought a house in the suburbs. They use that time to listen to (a lot) of podcasts. Some people go to the gym really early before work or immediately after work to wait for the traffic to die down. Drivers rely on apps like Waze that updates with real-time traffic information to avoid accidents, traffic jams, and often times takes you on surface streets through neighborhoods.
4. The city is really big
LA is not like any of the other big cities. It’s very spread out and the public transportation system is not a very good one. It’s not impossible to get around by using it, but you’ll soon realize that driving is a must here – even if it means driving to the train station. Getting from Downtown LA to Santa Monica beach can take 20 minutes on a good day and up to an hour and a half another time. Some people who live in the Silverlake area never date people or see their friends on the Westside or Southbay and consider that long-distance, because though it’s not far away, it sure feels like it.
On the flip side, that means there’s so much more for you to explore! Some cities I’ve visited only takes a few hours to get to know. There are some people in LA that have been here for 7 years and haven’t been to the Getty. It will take several years to get to know the city and that’s a good thing! There will be a lot to do for many years to come.
5. Use the cross walk or else
You can’t just walk around wherever and whenever you want here. You’re going to have to use the cross walk and wait until you see the green sign. If you see the red hand, don’t even think about it. Jaywalking tickets are common and given freely here in LA, and it will cost you (anywhere up to $200). So before you want to zigzag your way across Sunset Blvd., you might want to think of all the other things you can buy with that $200.
6. You can be outdoorsy here
LA is surrounded by mountain ranges so don’t let your LA friends fool you into thinking Runyon Canyon is the only place to go for a hike. If you’re into nature and the outdoors, there are thousands of hiking trails in the Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel Mountains and San Bernardino Mountains. There are high elevation peaks within an hour or two drive to the city if you’re looking for more challenging hikes. There’s a lot of outdoor adventurers here so if you’re into rock climbing, cycling, camping, and backpacking – there’s a lot for you to do and people to do it with!
In addition to the outdoors scene in the LA area, you’ll have a huge list for weekend getaways within a 4-6 hours drive. Whether you want to head to Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Sequoia, Big Sur, the Sierras, or even the Grand Canyon, there’s a plethora of adventures waiting for you here.
7. Dogs are welcome
If you’re moving here with your dog, you’re both in for a treat! LA is a very dog-friendly city with lots of welcoming restaurants with outdoor patios, shopping centers (The Grove and Third Street Promenade), daycare and boarding facilities, dog parks, and even hotels. Dogs are not allowed on the beach unless it’s a designated dog beach (Rosie’s Dog Beach, Huntington Beach, or Leo Carrillo State Beach) but they’re allowed on the beach boardwalks and on Santa Monica Pier.
If you are looking for a furry friend when you move, there’s a lot of rescues to adopt from. Check out Wags and Walks, where I adopted my Pomeranian, Pucci, from. It’s also where Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen adopted their last puppy from, just saying.
8. Parking is a science
With the freeways congested, what did you expect with the parking meters and lots? Make sure you read the signs, don’t just skim through and don’t just pay attention to the bottom or the top. Street cleaning is a real thing and you will get a ticket if you park your car during the designated times. Permit parking is real and if you don’t have the right permit, get out of there! Some permit parking streets allow you to park for a certain number or hours or only during certain hours a day, so make sure you are paying attention.
If you’re looking for the good news on parking, there is one trick I’ll share with you. You are allowed to park on the yellow loading zone after 6pm until 6am -not the white or the green zone, just the yellow. This is only valid in the city of LA so make sure you’re not doing this in the wrong place or you will get ticketed.
9. There’s more to LA than the entertainment industry
Though a lot of us work in “the” industry, there are a lot of people who don’t. There’s a big tech startup community in Los Angeles as well as a lot of opportunities in other industries. A lot of people here don’t just have their day job, but run creative businesses on the side. I know lots of people who moved here for a job and are now doing their own thing. Basically LA is a place full of creative energy and anything can happen.
10. Amazing people live here
Don’t let people discourage you when they say people in LA are obnoxious and crazy. This is true some of the time, but there are also nice, amazing people here. I’ve made some great friendships here and also met my fiance in LA (even though he’s a transplant), so there is hope! If you move here and don’t know a single soul, don’t worry! A lot of people go to events through Meetup or Facebook events. There are so many events going on all the time, don’t be afraid to venture out alone and meet new people.
So hopefully the good things I’ve written about outweigh the challenges and you’re still moving to LA. It’s a great place to be and like every city has its ups and downs. I’m a big believer in “you are where you’re supposed to be,” so if you find yourself wanting to move here, then I wish you luck and hope to see you around!