Moving to a new city can be a really exciting way to bring some change into your life. However, moving to Los Angeles is intimidating...if you don’t know where to start. Here’s some advice we have for readers looking to relocate to the City of Angels.
Do LOTS and LOTS of Research
The first step is going to be how are you planning on getting here? Are you going to hire a moving truck? Are you going to pack up a uHaul and drive cross country? Or are you going to hop on a plane and get your things shipped at a later day? Next, you’ll need to figure out where you want to live. Los Angeles is a huge city made up of smaller cities. Countless neighborhoods, each with their own character and each with their own tropes and triumphs, waiting to be explored. I highly suggest doing some research and narrowing your home or apartment search down to 2-3 neighborhoods you’d like to live in. This will take some stress off of you. Here's a guide to LA neighborhoods by Thrillist.
Reach Out to Friends and Family
It’s much easier to look for an apartment when you know you have some friends to help and somewhere to sleep while you search. If you don’t know anybody in the area, consider websites like Airbnb. It may not be as convenient and it may take a toll on your bank account, but it will certainly encourage you to find a place as soon as possible.
Get Ready to be Aggressive When Apartment Shopping
Apartment listings come and go like the wind. You'll need to be able to commit to a place as soon as possible. Landlords want their units to be filled as soon as possible when a vacancy opens up. With that being said, don’t rush into anything you don’t feel comfortable with. In LA, taking advantage of all resources is necessary. Check out apps and websites like Zumper, Westside Rentals, and good ol' Craigslist. Westside Rentals requires you to purchase a membership plan to see all their available rentals, but I think it is well worth it. Many listings appear exclusively on their website. It helps if you have a friend with a membership already.
Consider Your Transportation Options
Most people assume they need a car to live here, but that certainly isn’t the case. Lots of Angelenos get around painlessly with just their bike, the metro, and occasionally ride-share services. If you prefer to stick to one, great! Cars are convenient at times, but alternative methods are less stressful, less expensive, and less harmful to our atmosphere and ecosystems. Metro Bike Share Passes allow you to rent a bike whenever! Here's a map containing the region's bike stations, which are mostly in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA).
Have a Plan
Before you book your ticket, make sure you know where you’re going to stay, and how long you can stay there until you find a permanent place and a job. Poorly planned moves result in extra stress and frustration that is easily avoided. Money is another really important factor in your planning. You need to make sure you have enough money to support yourself for the weeks and months you'll spend getting on your feet. That period of time is different for everyone. Don't forget to include smaller expenses like cellular, DMV fees, or anything that applies to you, when budgeting.
...and a Backup Plan
Oops, stuff happens. The friend you were staying with got the dates wrong and you now have nowhere to stay, or your identity is stolen and your account frozen leaving you unable to pay for your Airbnb. Things like this happen sometimes, which is why it’s essential to have a backup plan.
Make Use of LA Related Apps
Chances are you already have Apps like Lyft and Postmates on your phone, but did you know there are apps specifically designed for Los Angeles residents? Here are some that will make adjusting to life in Los Angeles a lot easier.
- Modern Hiker - Rated from beginner to strenuous, this app lets you find the best hiking trails and plan a day or overnight trip.
- Our Malibu Beaches - There is an ongoing feud going between Malibu homeowners versus the general public, with the residents claiming the beach in front of their property is private. This app will tell you which stretches of sand are accessible and give you directions based on GPS location.
- G. Spotting - The offshoot of Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle blog, Goop gives you all the advice you need when heading to a new city, from little-known places, must see locations and everything in between.
- OfferUp - Buy. Sell. Simple. - Need to furnish your apartment on a budget? Need to make some extra cash? Here you can sell or search for items based on your GPS location.
- California Farmers' Market Finder - LA is all about healthy eating. This app tells you where and when all the local farmers’ markets are.
- MyLA 311 - This app links you with the information and services in your community. You can submit a service request; report issues like noise complaints and graffiti removal, and keep up to date with the cities latest news.
- NightOwl - Find your perfect drinking spot based on your location, tastes and what your friends recommend. Search tags like “clean bathroom”, “NFL Sunday” and “drink selection” to find the perfect place to party.
- The Infatuation - Locate the ideal restaurant based current location and search for restaurants based on “date night”, “girls night out” and “dinner with parents.”
- Park Me - Parking in LA can be hard, this app makes it easier. Enter your destination, the date and time and Park Me will show you where the closest lot is and the cost. Pay in advance so that when you arrive your spot is reserved for you.
- Discover Los Angeles - There’s so much to do and see in LA and this app has it all. The Discover app is like a guide that gives you ideas on places to stay, what to do and what to see (museums, restaurants, parks and shops.) It also has features a currency exchange; the local weather and you can even participate in a scavenger hunt!
- Carla: Rent a car - This car rental app compares prices from companies like Alamo, Enterprise, Hertz and many more so you’ll know you’re getting the best deal. When you’re done searching, reserve your rental through the app. Use the promo code "GIRLINLA" to get up to 10% off when booking at participating branches.
- Go Metro - Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in LA has a car. This app features the schedule and prices of LA’s transportation system. If needing to plan a route that involves taking the bus or subway this app will be your best friend.
Network and Get Involved
When you’re moving to a new city it's always good to meet new and interesting people that have similar interests as you. Los Angeles has so many different things to offer and one of my favorite ways of finding fun things to do is signing up for classes on Course Horse. They offer classes in things like cooking, drink making, food tours, photography, art, beauty, fashion, music, acting, film and fitness.
Another good idea is having business cards made with your name, email and phone number. Today with everyone relying on smartphones and being used to texting you their number, you’ll sure stand out when you hand out a colorful business card, which can be great when meeting a new potential business acquaintance. For affordable and nicely made business cards, look to Vista Print. Their cards usually start at around $8 and they offer promo codes. A little bit of a pricier option is MOO, which are trendy and colorful. And then you can’t go wrong with the always the classic Smythson of Bond Street business cards.
Update Your Resume
When you first move out here you’re probably not going to land your dream job. Most likely, it will be the opposite of that; taking any job that will pay your bills. Before coming out here submit your resume on websites like Indeed, Monster and Linkedin. When companies reply, let them know the date you’ll be moving and when you can start; and ask if you can do a phone interview.
Another great way to find a job goes back to networking. Sometimes it’s really who you know that is going to help you land the ideal job because “everybody knows someone.” Once you move out here network with just about everyone you come in contact with. Be bold, professional and persistent. You never know whom you’re going to meet.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Advice
Los Angeles has a reputation as a city full of narcissistic people that only care about themselves... that can’t be further from the truth. Sure there are those kinds of people here, but they exist everywhere. With that being said, the best kind of advice you’re going to get is from people that actually live here. When you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask the man sitting at a coffee shop, or the girl shopping at Whole Foods. Most people are friendly and willing to share their experiences.
A lot of people move to Los Angeles thinking they'll become "famous" or to live the good life. If you're moving to run away from your problems or just for the sunshine and beaches, I can guarantee you won’t last long here. LA is a huge city and it’s a wonderful city at that, but it’s easy to get lost (figuratively and metaphorically speaking). Instead, have real goals, a real plan, and awesome work ethic.
Transportation / Traffic
LA is a huge and spread out city, and it lacks the transportation services that other cities like New York and Boston have. If you get a job or go to a school in downtown Los Angeles and chose to live in Venice or Santa Monica to be near the beach, you’ll be cursing every morning on your way to work.
Traffic can be dreadful, especially during rush hour, which is on weekdays from 5am-10am and 3pm-7pm. Of course if there’s an accident or police pursuit (which there often is) the freeways get backed up even more. Where I grew up, driving 13 miles meant it’s going to take around 22 minutes. Here, driving 13 miles can mean it’s going to take an hour and a half depending on the time you’re traveling.
Cost of Living
The cost of living is one the highest in the United States. A one-bedroom apartment (in a decent area) averages around $2,011 a month. Don't forget to factor in your other living expenses, as well. The website Expantistan.com has made up a comprehensive list on how much it costs to survive in Los Angeles.
Moving here from a small town can be a huge culture shock, or even moving from the East Coast. It’s true that Los Angeles is a laidback city, but there’s so much going on around you. You may miss the fall foliage or the snow. If you were used to falling asleep to the sound of crickets, that will be replaced by car alarms, sirens, helicopters and people yelling, so be sure to invest in a good pair of ear plugs. Of course that’s more prevalent in certain areas like Downtown, Hollywood and West Hollywood.
Get Excited and Stay Positive
Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step on relocating to the City of Angels, or maybe you’re considering it. Either way, it’s an exciting time in your life and it’s time to move forward and spread some positive vibes.
When writing this article we took into consideration our own experiences and did our research by asking our friends and family what they wish they had known before making the move. However, there isn’t an article in the world long enough to prepare you for everything that may come your way. Think of this as a handy collection of advice to adjusting to life in Los Angeles. You can bookmark it and refer back whenever you have a question.
What advice do you have about moving to LA, or what would you like to know? Comment below.