I drove all over this city this weekend and found myself in awe, again. It is vast and interesting. Remembering how I had wanted to give a little advice to my fellow writers about this town, here are a few things to know if you are planning on moving here, are new to the city, or even if you’re just planning a visit:
1) It’s expensive to live here. Seriously. Housing, gas prices, state tax, the added recycling fee on all your beverages, movie tickets, and depending on where you live there are toll roads, just to name a few. It’s odd that after some time the novelty of this wears off and just becomes part of your daily life. $2,000 for an apartment just doesn’t sound that crazy anymore…that’s the crazy part.
2) The weather really is fantastic all year round. It’s Nov. 11 and it was 70 degrees.
3) The traffic is truly awful. When you hear people complain about it, they are not just idly and without merit shooting off. Most people plan there whole day around what roads and freeways they’ll have to take. GPS has never been more effective in helping us poor sods find alternate routes to make a 15 mile journey less than an hour and half anywhere after 3pm. FYI, if you live or are just going over the hill (Van Nuys, Encino, Studio City area) there are really only two or three streets you can take. And everyone else is taking them too. Side note, the 405 freeway is always under construction. Beware.
4) Parking fees. You will quickly learn there is very little free parking. I recently had to pay $4 to park at the hospital when I was only there 30 mins. Really. There are meters everywhere and those prices vary depending on which city you’re in. Also, there are usually 3-4 parking permissible signs on every post that are designed to confuse you; you can’t park on Tuesdays between 10-12, 1-hr parking only until 4, and permit parking only after 6…this is a bad example, but you get the gist. Also, remember to ask anytime you go anywhere if the company/restaurant/theater “validates”. Memorize this. It’s extremely important and beneficial.
5) Parking tickets. Without fail, you will receive at least 2-3 within the first six months. There is this thing called “street sweeping” that evidently happens every week, one side one day, the other side the next, and you must be aware of this anywhere and everywhere you go. If you don’t move your car within the first few seconds after the appointed time, you’re probably getting a ticket. If you park on a hill and do not turn your wheels, if it’s specified, you’re getting a ticket. Use your bluetooth or you’re getting a ticket.
6) You MUST know how to parallel park. If you’re not any good at it, get good! It’s shocking how often you will have to parallel here. I suggest buying a small car.
7) Disneyland. It’s only a short drive away.
8) Try to find a job before moving here. The job market is rough. One trick, find a job where you currently live that has a location or office in LA and try to transfer.
9) Try not to move alone. The buddy system is important here; someone you can call in a jam and share that astronomical rent with. This town is big and can leave you lonely. Besides, everyone’s trying to be an actor or something related to the entertainment industry and we’re notoriously flakey. It’s good to have back-up and someone who will be flakey with you.
10) A short drive can take you somewhere new for a quick getaway; Malibu, Santa Barbara, Ojai, San Diego, Palm Springs, and Big Bear are all just a little ways away.
Despite the negatives, Los Angeles is an interesting and opportunistic town to take advantage of. If you enjoy celebrity sightings, you’re never far from one anywhere you go. If you love the beach, there are miles of it. The town is extremely pet friendly. Your fur kids are allowed at most restaurants (with patios) and most stores. I’ve taken my babies into Bloomys and Saks. Some of the outdoor malls, like the one in Century City, have water bowls outside most of their stores, offer treats, and have small play/rest areas. There is plenty to do; restaurants, museums, shows, outdoor concerts, outdoor movies, events in the Hollywood Cemetery, art walks, farmers markets, landmarks (movie & historical), hiking, sightseeing…There’s something for everyone. And for writers, this is where the proverbial “opportunity knocks”.
My big advice for a hopeful transplant is Be Prepared! Do your research and have a savings account. This is just off the top of my head, so if you ever have a question, feel free to send me a message.
Have a great week!