This article will provide you with some first hand experience and actionable steps if you’re considering moving to Los Angeles.
Context: I’m 20 years old, from a small town in Southern, Vermont, and I am a singer, songwriter, musician, and producer, and I’ve lived in LA for almost two years.
Few cities in the country are considered central hubs in the music industry and Los Angeles is one of them. I attribute my thriving success in LA to a few consistent and reliable variables.
1. VISIT LA!
Eight months before I moved to Los Angeles I took a one week trip to explore the city. If you want to move here, have the time, and you can afford it financially, there is no reason not to visit Los Angeles.
I don’t mean take a vacation with your family and stay at a nice hotel in Beverly Hills. Ideally this visit will be alone with your sole purpose being to create a test environment for yourself. So shortly after I turned 18, I flew across the country, got an airbnb in West Hollywood for a week, and “tested the waters”. It was the single greatest experience of my life. I did grocery shopping, explored as much as possible, went horseback riding, got shin splints because I wasn’t used to walking on concrete, experienced some of the strongest rainstorms southern California had seen in 7 years, etc. The point is; I went for it. That gave me all the confidence and context I needed to make the official move eight months later.
2. EMBRACE THE CITY!
LA is a diverse, beautiful, and sometimes ugly place. I fully embraced everything from the beginning. The good, bad, and ugly. I believe it was the well balanced trifecta of optimism, pessimism, and realism that helped me stay the course and handle the uncertainty. I knew I wanted to be in this great, complex city and I was going to take on every challenge with enthusiasm to learn.
The first 6 months, contrary to most, were the greatest for me. I rode every high and it felt like every day I woke up eager to fully breathe in the smoggy day. Which by the way, isn’t really quite as bad as people say…anymore at least. Just like any city, LA has great characteristics and not so great characteristics — embrace them both and you will be just fine.
3. YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING…BUT YOU MUST TRY TO KNOW EVERYTHING!
I decided to move to LA long before I even knew where Los Angeles was. I used to think Los Angeles and Hollywood were two separate cities somewhere within California. I thought Santa Monica Blvd. was walking distance to the beach. Obviously, not realizing at the time, it runs East to West and runs just over 14 miles. To put it simple…I was clueless.
I knew if I was going to move to LA and survive in LA I needed to do some serious research. I needed to study as if life depended on it. Which, in some ways it did. I woke up every morning for almost a year and studied maps, read articles (much like this one), reached out to people on Facebook and Instagram, watched YouTube videos, etc. I was going to do as much recon as possible before I even came close to packing my bags.
However, with all the knowledge I could obtain from a distance, I also knew that everything I learned would need to be tested by trial and error. Thus I adopted the mindset of learning everything I possibly could but also being okay with the fact that it could all be dead wrong.
4. IMMEDIATELY PLUG IN!
One of the greatest reasons my move was such a success is because I immediately plugged in. The first place I lived was an artist community. I was living in a house with a handful of creatives just like me — not a healthy long term setup.
However, for the first 5 months, it was incredible. I was able to make friends and collaborate easily which is essential. It can be hard to get involved socially if you don’t take initiative and jump at every opportunity. You will likely find, if you start meaningful (and sometimes uncomfortable) conversations, that there’s a lot in common between you and other Angelenos. LA is a giant “culture-soup” and is the perfect example that with everyone’s individual differences — we are all not so different.
5. GO ON THE OFFENSE!
I moved to LA ready to take action. I was the person who would get to know every Uber driver, Starbucks employee, neighbor, etc. You will FAIL if you are only playing defense. You need to be on the attack. And that doesn’t mean being invasive, violent or otherwise annoying and overbearing. You just need to be proactive in your approach. No one is going to show up at your door inviting you to be their friend, give you a better contract, or help you out in any way — and if they do; be carefully because they are probably trying to take advantage of you. Trust your gut.
In my opinion there is nothing better and more exciting than moving to Los Angeles. It is fun and challenging — you learn so much about yourself! You must be self aware — study yourself before and after you move. LA affects everyone differently and when people say “LA can change you…” it really can and you need to be careful to steer that change to be positive growth and not decline. Your patience will be tested by the traffic, the people, and your experiences when you see behind the curtain of this mysterious city. You must be able to evolve over time and adapt.
7. TRIAL AND ERROR
I believe trial and error is part of what went so right for me during my move. Take whatever you have read here and apply it as necessary but also understand you need to learn for yourself. Short term failures are a part of the process so don’t let them intimidate you. Be ready to take risks, rise to the occasion, test things out for yourself and above all: give every moment your all.