How to Handle LA Visitors: A guide to your friends and family coming to visit you in your new city


Before we get started, please allow me to offer you my congratulations…

Hooray! You did it!!! You have successfully acquired a place to eat, sleep and collect junk mail in the city of Los Angeles, California. There are plenty of hurdles still to leap over, but for now take pride in the fact that your Angelino rat race has begun and you were able to get off the starting blocks in a commendable fashion. A lot of people say they want to live in LA, but guess what? You do.

You. F*cking. Do.

Now, to address that bold-faced title which attracted you to this article in the first place. Since you have successfully managed to pay rent for at least a few months (Hopefully the result of some form of legal gainful employment) you are now able to house the people from back home you promised could come visit once you got settled. And like sharks smelling blood in the water, family and friends will inevitably start calling you to cash in on that promise.

But my place is a tiny studio and I’m broke!

If you live in a studio apartment, then you are very aware that space is like a baby panda… Precious and rare. Your apartment is your sanctuary and you maximize every square inch of it. Chairs double as night stands and your couch and bed are one in the same. You could have nicer things if you got a place with someone, but you are willing to spend the extra 200 bucks a month to keep your independence and not share a bathroom with craigslist Joe. So, what do you do when the loved ones from home want to crash in your cozy little casa?  Well, if you have more than one family member coming (i.e. your parents) then the most practical option is to suggest a hotel that is close and hope they go for it. I know, you wish you had a huge house to yourself and plenty of extra bedrooms for the whole family to sleep in, but guess what? You don’t. Deal with it.

Your parents understand that you are just barely paying rent and **NEWSFLASH** they actually enjoy sleeping in spacious hotels rather than tiny studio apartments. They really don’t want to bunk up on your twin sized pullout couch while you lay on the floor counting the threads on your throw pillow and the money you could have made had you not given up last night’s shift just to pick them up from LAX. Think of it this way, if your parents can afford to buy roundtrip airfare and pay a mortgage then they can afford a hotel room for a week. Also, you really can’t afford to miss work just to play tour guide around LA and they wouldn’t want you to. You are trying to make it in a new city and they need to be on your schedule. Asking them to get a hotel is not cold and it’s not ungrateful. It’s just reality.

If your friends are coming to visit you, then things are a little easier. Isn’t it always with friends? Your place is still small and you still don’t have room to accommodate more than one person, but your friends aren’t your parents so different rules apply. Buy a cheap air mattress, make room, and have yourself a week-long slumber party. They are probably on a budget just like you and are happy to sleep on the floor for free rather than having to drop a hundred or so dollars a night on a hotel. Yes, they are in LA to see you, but remember they are also in LA to see LA!

The same television that warped your fragile little mind into thinking that the West Coast is “the land of milk and honey” is the same one that still tells them that Kim Kardashian is important. Take them to Hollywood, do the cheesy tours and have some fun drunken nights. And if you have to work, then go to work. Leave them a key and let them explore the streets like you did when you first moved here. Remember, these are your friends from home. They aren’t here to judge you. Don’t be embarrassed that you aren’t sleeping in a mansion or driving around in a Rolls. Just be excited that you can offer the people that are important to you a place to stay in one of the coolest cities on earth.

I live in a shared house/apartment.

So you bypassed the whole studio thing and decided to split expenses with roommates. Good call, but when it comes to visitors things can get a little tricky. First thing’s first, don’t just spring visitors on the people you live with and expect them to be cool with it. Give them a proper heads up (one month in advance is fine) and gauge their reaction.  If they are cool with the visit then they are good peeps and you should be thankful for having such awesome roommates. Buy them donuts one day to show your appreciation. If they are less than pleased about your friends/family coming to stay, or perhaps throw a passive aggressive vibe your way, then you might want to chip in a little more on the rent that month or even give them the good parking spot to smooth it over. Make sure your roommates are happy. After all, they won’t be going anywhere once the visit is over.

Again, if you can make it so that your parents get a hotel room then by all means do it. Yes, a three bedroom apartment with a living room offers more space than a studio apartment, but remember that most of that space is communal. Family time is great, but saving yourself from the horror of your mom quietly knocking on the bathroom door in her nighty while your roommate is taking a dump is worth the awkwardness of asking the people that conceived you to go kick it at the Holiday Inn for the week.  As far as friends go, you should have no problem letting the living room couch serve as their temporary home. Again, the living room is a communal space and your roommates will want to have their customary TV time, so you might want to put a time limit on the visit. A good rule of thumb is a maximum of 4 nights and 5 days.

I have a one bedroom to myself and a little bit of extra money to spend.

Look at you with your nice job and decent apartment! You are gainfully employed, living comfortably, and even have more than one set of clean sheets. Needless to say, you can show off a little bit when you have family and friends come to visit. You can offer up your place without shame and what’s even better is the suggestion of the hotel is no longer a representation of your own lack of desirable accommodations, but an acknowledgement of the comfortable living to which you have accustomed yourself. Let their decision on housing be guilt-free for you. Spend a little money, take your mom to the shops and your pops to a Dodgers game. Also, let them sleep in your bed. You take the couch. They might fight you on it, but insist on the couch. We all know it’s the right thing to do.

As far as friends go, you can exercise any option. If they are staying at your place though, make sure they sleep on the couch. After all, you pay the rent ’round here, damn it!

Enough with the room and board breakdown, they are here!

The best piece of advice I can give to you when it comes to people coming out to visit has nothing to do with housing accommodations, budgetary restrictions or attractions to see. It is simply to just BE HONEST. Be honest if you can’t afford to do something. Be honest if you have to work. Be honest and tell them that 10 days is WAAAAYYYY too long for a visit. Don’t sacrifice your own well-being for the comfort of others. You are still a new person in a new city. Do what you can to make their visit special, but don’t put yourself in a bind in order to do so.

The honesty rule will also help you with a few conversations that will inevitably take place when your visitors come.  Someone will undoubtedly make a remark about how they have a three bedroom house in your hometown that costs $300 less a month than what you pay for your studio apartment. This is the perfect opportunity to take the high road. Don’t fight back with an insult to the city they live in, just show them the benefits that come with location-based price gouging. Let LA be honest for you. Go to the beach, see some celebs and shop at a high priced store they have never even heard of. Sure, they will have a few snide remarks about the amount of money you shell out each month just to be on the West Coast, but don’t stress over it. They live where again? Exactly.

If your parents have lived in the same town for 60 years and worked for the same company for 30 of them, then explaining that you have three jobs and are not quite sure what you want to do in life will be damn near impossible. The best thing to do is to just be honest and lay out the facts. All you have to say is, “I pay my own rent and I pay my own bills.” That’s your trump card. You are all grown up and fully independent so you have nothing to explain anyway. Now if you’re parents still help you with your finances, well then tread lightly on this one my friend.

The best part about being honest is that it will ultimately lead to a happier trip for everyone involved. If you are honest with yourself about what you have, then you won’t need to put your old town down in order to show how much better LA is or exaggerate your struggles to show how hard you have worked to overcome adversity. The people that have come to visit know you better than anyone else on the planet, and can see well enough the reality of the situation without you romanticizing or embellishing it. Be honest with them. They aren’t here for the hyperbolized Facebook status version of your life. Just you. A person they know and care very much about.

Where should we go?

Your friends and family will have a few landmarks picked out that they will really want to see (i.e. the Hollywood sign and Walk of Fame), but other than that it will be up to you to play tour guide. The best part about that is they have no idea what is what out here so you can really take them anywhere! I have provided some cool free, and not so free places to check out and their locations below.


Your Local Neighborhood Farmer’s Market
Hollywood Sign (Hollywood)
Griffith Park/Griffith Observatory (Hollywood)
Santa Monica Pier (Santa Monica)
Venice Beach (Venice)
Getty Museum (Westwood)($15 for parking)
Walk of Fame (Hollywood)
LA Live (Downtown LA)
Hike Runyon Canyon (Hollywood)
Fashion District (Downtown LA)
Barnsdall Park (Los Feliz)
Paddy’s Pub Facade from Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Downtown LA)
Window shopping Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills)


Show at the Greek Theatre (Los Feliz)
Show at Pantages Theatre (Hollywood)
Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia)
TMZ Tour (Hollywood)
Lakers Game (Downtown LA)
Dodgers Game (Echo Park)
Galaxy Game (Carson)
Movie at the Vista Theatre (Los Feliz)
Movie at the ArcLight Theatre (Hollywood)
Movie at Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Hollywood)
Malibu Wine Tasting (Malibu)
TV/Movie Studio Lot Tour (Paramount, Fox, WB, etc.)
Actual shopping in Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills)

Enjoy your friends and family and enjoy LA!

Brian Randles

Brian Randles is a writer and actor originally from Louisville, Kentucky and has lived in Los Angeles since 2011.

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