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My First Month in LA: Amy

Things You Should Know

My First Month in LA: Amy

Picture courtesy of Rebekah Hughes Flickr

My First Month in LA: Amy

LA has something for everyone: blue water and silky sand for beach-lovers; constant warm rays for sun-worshipers; the sparkle of Hollywood and opulent shops for “glamazons;” and majestic mountains laden with bike trails, hiking paths, and ski-worthy peaks for adventure-seekers.

The decision to move here isn’t a tough one for most. Once the excitement settles though, and your whimsical daydreams of life as an Angelino are slowly replaced by a tsunami of, “How do I…” thoughts, the once exhilarating move can become a stressful one. But, have no fear! As a recent Texas transplant, I’ve learned a few tricks about being a baby Angelino that may help ease you into a new fabulous city. Here are the lessons I’ve learned within my first month of moving to LA:



Warm showers and hot meals: Two things I’ve always taken for granted and two very important things I didn’t have my first week in LA. Why, you ask? Because natural gas is what makes both possible and appointments to have it turned on aren’t made until one week from the date you call; no matter how hard you try for faster service.

After five calls, some egregious begging (on my part), and one unsuccessful bribe later, I found my procrastinating self bathing in icy water and ordering take-out for every meal during my first five days in town.

Lesson: If warm amenities are remotely important to you, plan ahead and call the gas company (there’s only one for all of LA) at least one week prior to your move-in date to ensure the gas will be on when you get to your new home.

Read the signs. All signs. All of the time

Parking tickets are a business in LA. An honest mistake can leave you with an outrageously priced piece of paper on your windshield. Don’t be one of many who have received a parking ticket within their first few days of moving to LA. Read the signs– every word in every size and color, every time; even if five signs are coming off of one pole. Green font is just as bad as red, small font probably more important than large. And just because other cars are there, doesn’t mean it’s a safe bet.

Tips: If the signs next to each other contradict one another, don’t park there; it’s not worth the risk. If you’re headed to a restaurant or shop, call ahead and ask if they have a lot or garage nearby (many do). If you park at a meter that says “Expired” and there’s a flashing red or yellow light, pay; if it says “Expired” and there’s no flashing light, it’s free. And lastly, if there’s a valet service, ask how much (don’t feel weird about asking) and use it if it’s less than $8…they’re cheaper than paying to park on the street and stress-free.

Carry Cash

I’ve lived in New York City and all over Texas, and not once have I needed cash as frequently as I do in LA. I still haven’t figured out why, but there have been many times this last month where I’ve found myself stuck in a popular restaurant or without a place to park because I didn’t have cash. (Thank goodness for friends!) ATMs are hard to find when you need them most, and it’s a hassle to search around.  Twenty to forty dollars should provide a good cash-cushion.



Ugh, traffic.

LA is known for its traffic. And when you first move here, everyone will remind you of it as they offer their take on patterns and propose directions to make your commute easier. The fact though is that there is no pattern to LA traffic. It’s bad. On all roads. At different, undeterminable times that vary day-to-day, hour-to-hour.

The best way to get around the traffic is to do your homework. Download Google Maps onto your smartphone and use it to find more accurate travel times for different routes. (The times are usually accurate, but it uses major roads that tend to get very crowded). Many of my LA-native friends swear by Waze, an application that allows you to choose alternate routes (on non-major roads) based on satellite-updated travel times, and user-reported obstacles (hidden police, accidents, lane closures, etc.). These apps, coupled with the knowledge of your neighbors and co-workers will make you one powerful traffic-fighting machine.



You don’t have to do it all at once: During my first two weeks in LA, I spent every free minute (and every penny) I had immersing myself in all that LA had to offer. You don’t have to see the Hollywood sign, Santa Monica Pier, and Griffith Park all in one day…or even all in the first month. Not only will you run yourself ragged, you will also quickly find yourself low on funds. Settle on one or two attractions a week and it’ll be much more affordable and enjoyable!

Amy Shekarchi

Amy Shekarchi is a Texas native who's passionate about writing, and moved to Los Angeles to start a residency in Pediatrics.

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