Moving to a city of 3.8 million from a small farm town has been an experience I will value for the rest of my life. The feeling of not knowing anyone, building a life from the foundation up and seizing an opportunity to reinvent myself, has been both rewarding and a challenge. The following is a list of tips based on my first two months here in LA.
Learn to love being in your car. Whether you are commuting to work, meeting a friend, or running an errand, you will soon begin to notice how much time you spend in the car. Because Los Angeles is built for driving, and not public transit, make your car as comfortable as possible. I recommend Spotify or Pandora, to keep up on your music discovery while you wait!
Prepare to pay for parking. Before LA I had never paid for parking in a city I lived in. Most of LA (At least the cool places) charge for parking… Make sure to read the signs to avoid a parking citation, or potentially being towed. I just received my first parking ticket thanks to street sweeping day…. $75 later…
Know what part if the city you are living, and what to expect. I got lucky getting an internship in Santa Monica, because this allows me to live in the West part of the city. If you are new to the idea of living in a big city, being west of the 405 near Santa Monica is a great start. Obviously goal #1 is to be as close to where you work as possible, but being close to the beach has cooler weather, way less smog, the beach, and great culture.
Ask your future roommates tough questions. A wise friend once told me: “finding a roommate who isn’t 420 friendly, is like finding a cat in the ocean.” When looking for somewhere to live, know what your requirements are and ask the hard questions. Whether you need cleanliness, or a quiet place to return after work, make sure where you choose is livable. From experience it’s easier to ask them upfront, than wait and announce you are moving a month after you move in. Moving sucks anyways, so do it right the first time!
Don’t attempt to compete. Being jealous of what other people have is something you can’t fall prey to when living in LA. I have had to come to terms that I won’t be driving a Range Rover, looking perfect on the beach, working my dream job, or living in a beach house in Malibu, for now anyway. You will be surrounded by rich, successful, and beautiful people, and being able to value a person rather than material possessions or appearance, is far more valuable. I have made friends on all ends of the spectrum over the last couple months, and being jealous of what someone else has is the WORST foundation for a friendship. This will help spare your credit score as well….
Find a way to escape. Taking care of your mindset is critical to keeping up in Los Angeles. Each week my goal is three Crossfit workouts, at least one day on the beach, and seeing the ocean any chance I get. Working in Santa Monica helps make this possible, but knowing what refreshes you, will keep you competitive, energized and constantly ready to take over the city.
Join groups to meet people. Making friends in a new place isn’t always easy which is why I joined several groups on meetup.com, a website that basically connects people around any activity. For example I joined several groups for new people to the city, specific sports I like, and specific activities I like to do. I even joined a group titled “Just graduated college and moved to LA,” can’t get more specific than that.I have found this to be perfect for building community in such a big city. Joining a church is another great way to meet quality people, who may have similar interests.
Bonus tip: Network, network, network. After a week in Los Angeles I had to order business cards because there were so many people I wanted to connect with. LA is full of interesting, successful, and powerful people. In my experience most are approachable and willing to share their knowledge or journey with someone who is genuinely interested. You aren’t asking for a job, but getting expert advice from someone who has mastered a journey you might be interested in. This week I am meeting with a CEO of one of my favorite brands for the sole purpose of hearing how they went about building their brand in a heavily saturated market.