I am not sure what other people are searching for when they decide to make the journey to Los Angeles. Adventure? Opulence? Fame? No Humidity?
When I chose to move to LA, I was really just trying to get as far away from my small West Virginian town while still remaining in the United States, or just to head West. Like my great ancestors of past lives, I packed up my wagon (a Honda Civic) and my livestock (my cat) and headed into the Wild Wild West. I never looked back.
When people give others advice after you tell them your plans to regroup in the City of Angels, they usually only delve on what to do, and not what not to do. The internet and blogs are always filled with Los Angeles success stories, I mean, that is what Los Angeles usually puts out into the world– Hollywood success stories. But this past year, I gave a very good friend of mine an opportunity to move in with me and to be a firsthand witness to everything Los Angeles has to offer. He made some poor decisions, over and over again, and now I am passing this anecdotal knowledge onto some future residents of this wonderful city:
Not Save Enough Money
If I could yell one piece of advice into a megaphone to all future Californian residents, it is to SAVE MONEY before you move out here. Now, I do not usually like to give people a specific number of what to save, but my rule of thumb is to have enough of a bankroll to have three months of comfortable living without any income. This means your rent, car payment, insurance, loans, any debt you have- be able to cover it all for three months. I am not saying that you will not be working for three months when you get out here, but it is a cushy financial net in case your first job does not work out or you have to take the infamous unpaid internship in order to advance into your career. Both of those scenarios happened to me during my first three months of living in California.
Not Live Within Your Means
When you move into your first apartment in LA, you are so giddy with excitement that you can barely contain yourself. You and your Pinterest boards have been preparing for this moment, and you want to decorate your new place to show all of your new friends who you truly are. Beware of this trap. Do you need to drop a $1000 for the brand new Tempurpedic Cooling Memory Foam Mattress or $300 for the Dyson bladeless fan? Do you really need the newest model of the ever-so-wasteful Keurig? Think about all of your big purchases before you hand the salesclerk your plastic credit card. The wonderful thing about Los Angeles is that there are thousands of vintage, consignment, and thrift stores to find most of the treasures for your apartment.
Living within your means also focuses on limiting how much money you spend when you hit the town. One of LA’s biggest downfalls is that it is SO expensive to go out and enjoy a few cocktails with your friends, but the neverending entertainment of the nightlife definitely makes up for the dent into your finances. There are so many things to do and see that are $Free.99 around the Los Angeles area, that you do not need to go out every night when you are working towards stability in your new location. Check out drink specials, happy hours, different activities, etc before you head to your favorite club or bar around LA. Your wallet and your liver will thank you.
Do Not Compare Your New Life to Your Old Life
You left your hometown for a reason- remember that. You chose Los Angeles for a reason- remember that, too. When you get to a new place, you are always going to look back fondly on what you had with the nostalgia of a thousand suns.
“I had so many friends back at home,” you’re going to think,” and now I have, like, one.”
“I made so much money at my bartending job that I worked at for three years back home,” you’re self-doubting subconscious is going to say, “and now I have to be a work up the ladder and be a host again.”
Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States, so not only is there competition for everything you want, but also plenty of opportunities for friendships and new employment! Just changing locations is not going to make you happy, but truly putting yourself out there and introducing yourself to new people and experiences are the best ways to rid yourself of any personal reservations. What’s the worst that can happen?
Do Not Give Up
You have to keep reminding yourself every day why you took the leap and moved to LA. You will be homesick, lost in the city and slightly broke due to the sensory overload of the new experiences.
Do NOT throw in the figurative towel the first time you begin to miss your dog or mom. Thanks to technology, the world is a much smaller place, thus people are never truly out of reach. The homesickness will subside, and there will be that first moment when you realize that you are exactly where you should be. All of the self-doubt and personal reservations will dissolve into nothing, and you will realize that you can be anyone and do anything you want to do in Los Angeles.
That it why you moved anyways, right?
So to end my entry, when you are planning your trip to California, take a moment to think about my old friend and use him as a subconscious example of what not to do when you take the plunge.
Think about him sitting in his small country town in the same routine he so desperately wanted to leave, but only making it for one month on the west coast due to poor judgement and not taking anyone’s advice other than his own. Just remember that it is going to be hard and you are going to have to fight back self-doubt before every scary job interview or new experience, but my god, Los Angeles is SO worth it.