My First Month in LA

Picture courtesy of Joits Flickr

Picture courtesy of Joits Flickr

I’ve been living in LA for over a month now and in the few weeks that I’ve been here, I’ve learned to drive (like for real), found an apartment, and gotten to know different neighborhoods (although there’s still a ton more for me to learn). The one and only downside is that I haven’t found a job yet, which is definitely nerve-wracking (in a perfect world, nest eggs would last forever, but I live in the real one). But, I can still honestly say moving out here is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

When I first got here, I was staying in Burbank at the Marriott – free points rock, but mine only bought me a week long stay. A friend of mine graciously put me up at her house rent-free until I found a place. The catch was that she lives in Corona, which, if you know anything about the layout of Southern California, you know Corona is really far away from Los Angeles (like moving to New York City and ending up staying in Westchester County). Surprisingly, it turned out to be a good thing – driving all that distance back and forth to LA to look for places on a regular basis gave me great practice at driving and getting comfortable on the freeways.

When I moved to LA, the first couple of weeks driving here were terrifying. Every time I had to get in the car, I seriously dreaded it. As a newbie on the road, I didn’t have the natural instincts most seasoned drivers take for granted, so yes, I’ve made some minor road mistakes, gotten honked at and cursed out (“Learn how to drive bitch!” was perhaps the most memorable). But in my experience, the most important thing to be able to do as a new driver (besides drive well) is to create a “zen existence” for yourself – or less diplomatically, have an “F ‘em” mentality. Don’t worry about what the person in the next car thinks of you; worry about getting to your destination safely. Don’t let anyone bully you into driving faster. If 65 mph is too slow for the guy behind me, oh well, go around me. (Honestly I often wonder why they even bother to post a speed limit on the roads out here, cause everybody speeds). You might also want to take a refresher driving lesson to feel more confident and get better acquainted with the California road laws, which may differ from your city. I took a two-hour road lesson with All Star Driving School (my instructor, Brevla, was a tough cookie but awesome) and I was way more secure on the road after completing the lesson.

My apartment search was also equally challenging. The good thing about looking for apartments was that it helped me to get a lay of the land. If you drive around enough (which I highly suggest), you start seeing and recalling familiar places and before you know it, you know different neighborhoods. However, finding a place did take a bit longer than I’d hoped. In my last post, I talked about moving to LA without employment and whether or not it was a good idea. That’s still up for debate, but I will tell you that being unemployed can make your apartment search more difficult. Over the course of about three weeks, I scoured the alerts on West Side Rentals and Craigslist and hit the pavement, looking at roughly a dozen places. Some of them were hellholes (I could have sworn one building was the same place where Ethan Hawke almost got offed in the bathtub in “Training Day”), but some of them I absolutely loved. However, the ones I loved were the ones that wouldn’t take me because I was unemployed. Those landlords didn’t care if your cosigner was Donald Trump. No job, no dice.

I must admit, I was getting nervous. I was starting to think moving to LA was a mistake. I thought I’d never find a place to stay without a job and the clock was past ticking on the invitation to stay at my friend’s place (we’d agreed on two weeks and it was going on three). Then, after a bout of tears and self-pity, I got back out there the very next day to keep looking and that’s when I found THE ONE! I fell in love with it the minute I walked in. This was my apartment. Fearfully, I explained my situation to the Building Manager – I was new in town from New York and hadn’t landed a job yet, but I had money in the bank and a willing cosigner – would that be a problem? To my amazement she said, “No, it’s never been a problem before.” The “Hallelujah” music cued, I grabbed an application, drove directly to the rental office, faxed the necessary paperwork from my cosigner, and the place was mine. I moved in two weeks later and I’m now writing this post in my very own bedroom.

I love my place. It’s in Hollywood, near Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles and also The Church of Scientology (which is cool and creepy at the same time). I truly feel I lucked out, but as with everything about this journey, it wouldn’t have happened had I not taken a chance and most of all, kept going even when it looked like it wasn’t gonna happen. With any luck (and much persistence) I’ll have a similar story to tell in my next post, hopefully titled “My First Job in LA!”

Jamila Daniel

Jamila Daniel is an LA transplant from New York pursuing a career in writing for dramatic television. You can follow her journey on Twitter here.


  • Reply February 5, 2013


    This is an amazing post, thank you so much for sharing. I’m doing the same soon except I’m coming from London.

    I’m coming over in May for just a week to scope it out, see if I would enjoy LA before I move. It would be absolutely amazing if you would let me take you out for dinner/a drink/coffee (do people in LA “go out for coffee”)? If you’re up for the free meal, I’d love to hear from you –

    Thanks again for the encouraging post.

    • Jamila Daniel
      Reply February 6, 2013

      Jamila Daniel

      Thanks Sereena, so glad you enjoyed it. Yes, coffee’s very popular in LA lol. Will email you.

  • Reply February 5, 2013

    Kenneth Moore

    COngratulations on ur move & findinf your first place!

  • Reply February 5, 2013

    Kenneth Moore

    COngratulations on ur move & finding your first place!

  • Reply February 5, 2013


    Thanks for the article! I’m either moving out there in August or to New York in June. If I don’t land the job in New York I’ll be moving to LA for the same reason you did, except I’ll be moving from Chicago. Hope your job search goes well; can’t wait to read your next article on landing your dream career!

    • Jamila Daniel
      Reply February 6, 2013

      Jamila Daniel

      Good luck in either city! And thanks, I’ll keep the readers posted.

  • Reply February 6, 2013


    Awesome….i’ll be moving there in July.

  • Reply February 15, 2013


    Thanks Jamila! These posts have been very helpful. I’m moving out in June from the DC area for pretty much the same reason 🙂 can’t wait to hear about new job. Best of luck!!!!

  • Reply March 11, 2013


    I’m self-employed… do they still turn their noses up about not “having a job”? Just curious.

  • Reply March 13, 2013


    Jamila this was such an inspiring post! I’m taking a leap of faith Im from CT havent lived anywhere else and plan on moving to LA in June. I know only a few people, but really want to pursue my dreams in editorial and hairstyling for film. I would love to chat with you via email!!! I really found your post super helpful and inspiring.

  • Reply March 14, 2013


    So glad I came across this article. I read your previous post a while ago and it gave me a boost of courage. Now that my move date is getting closer I was getting nervous because I am in the same predicament as you mentioned in this article, wondering if it’s possible to find a decent place without proof of employment. Once again I am encouraged. I know it won’t be easy, but I know with patience and persistence things will work out. Good luck with your job search!!

  • Reply March 18, 2013


    Thank you for sharing. I am moving to LA in 2 weeks, and this post helped a lot! Hope all is well.

  • Reply July 13, 2013


    This post is really worth a read for all the people who consider moving to bigger cities. It’s like the standard ‘happy-ending’ story. Good luck!

  • Reply July 14, 2013


    Hey Jamila, great post! I’m moving from Atl in November and I’m freakin out somewhat and networking like crazy because I’m terrified at the idea of having no job prospects when I go so your post was reassuring that it can be done.

  • Reply December 2, 2013


    This was an awesome article. Thanks for letting us know about your driving experiences in L.A. I am from MI but moved to NYC when I was right out of high school so I never got my drivers license. Now that I planned to move out to L.A next year, I am back in MI learning to drive and I must admit it is scary considering the horror stories of driving and traffic in L.A. It’s nice to know someone that was in the same boat and have conquered your fears! You have given me hope and inspiration!

  • Reply May 10, 2014


    def appreciate these posts. much love jamila. peace people

  • Reply August 21, 2014


    Love this post and I’m glad you found an apartment. I am going to move to LA at the end of this year after I finish my final semester. Although I am excited about moving, I am also really nervous because that means getting a real job and finding a place to live. It’s scary enough to finish college and have to go out into the “real world”, but it’s even more scary to move. But it is something that I feel I must do and I am willing to do what it takes to get into LA and make it work.

  • Reply January 29, 2015

    Damon and Jo

    We’re two Harlemites moving to LA and we just gotta say that reading your post definitely calmed our fears! So reassuring to see other NYers make the move…and survive!

  • Reply March 2, 2015


    Hi Jamila! So good to read your post! I am actually moving to LA from NYC in April the same you you did.. I am resigning from my job – last day will be March 27th. My reasons might be different from yours in some ways.. I’ve had a really rough 2014.. little brother was really sick and he died of Cancer October 31st… effected me really really strongly. Depression and feeling stuck took over me. I’ve been wanting to move to LA for over 4 years now.. but I finally made up my mind to just do it last week. I really just need to be in a different environment and I have always loved LA so I felt like it’s finally the right time. I don’t have a job and am hoping to find an apartment the same way – money in the bank. I also have my little brother’s dog which he left for me and I can never leave. If you have any tips now that you’ve been there a while I’d love to hear it. Once again thanks for sharing your experience. It’s given me a little bit more confidence about my decision.

  • Reply October 3, 2016

    Tiki Tokyo

    Like many, I am nervous to relocate to Hollywood. for me it will only be for a month as I will be expanding my music career, and hopefully gain some exposure and connections. For me I figure, I have nothing to loose and everything to gain…

    Sincerely, a leap of faith

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