So you want to move to LA?
4 years ago today, I set out to to follow my heart and dreams in sunny Los Angeles! I'll never forget the first time I came to LA with my family in 1996. My Grandmother's sisters and brothers had migrated here from the midwest back in the 1950's and we came out here to visit some extended family for a reunion. We did a whole California tour, visiting family and friends up and down the California coast for 3 weeks. I was 8 years old and I told my parents during that trip, that one day I would move to Los Angeles. They cracked up and said "oh okay" - probably partially admiring me for my dreaming nature at such a young age and also probably actually laughing at me because I had no clue about the cost of living or how to really make a way in the world at that age.
FAST FOWARD to the age of 24, after graduating college and returning home, I decided it was time. I had been managing a vintage store in DC and working on relaunching my own vintage line that I had dreams to expand. It was time. As I approached 25, something in me was brewing and I was eager to live in a place that spoke to my weather woes and creative spirit.. LA was just that.
I left DC on a gloomy Saturday morning and nearly had a panic attack (in real life) saying goodbye to my parents and boyfriend at the time as I went to board my plane. When I first arrived, I stayed with a friend of mine and his roommate. I crashed on their couch for about 4 months until I was able to find a job and get my new life together. I came to LA with 2 suitcases and nothing to my name... no job, no house to call my own, no car, little funds and barely any friends, but somehow I felt happier here than I ever did at home. This showed me how much weight we put on material things and money that can never really complete our happiness.
Now at 29, I feel so proud to still be living and thriving in LA. I have learned SO FREAKING MUCH about myself and life. I have found my dream job and my purpose, I have launched a brand, I have been pulled, stretched, lost love, gained love, been at rock bottom, inspired people, been fearless, proven people wrong, met amazing people, gained lifetime friendships and been molded into the amazing woman I've become today. Sometimes things happen to us that we don't understand and creates chaos that later makes us better people. I've learned that sometimes you have to shake up your life to create your own happiness and fulfill your soul in unimaginable ways. This journey hasn't been easy, but I never expected it to be. But has it been worth it? HELL YES.
Los Angeles is an interesting city, much different than any place I've ever been before. I definitely don't think it's for everyone, but I do think that if it's somewhere you aspire to move... DO IT. Make the commitment and make it happen, because what's the worst that can happen? I'm sharing a few tips below that I've learned from my journey to and through this beautiful city. If you ever have specific questions, feel free to reach out to me and ask away... because if you don't know, you won't grow! Enjoy, beautiful people.
- Buy the one-way flight and work backwards - picking an exact date and buying the ticket are the first steps to commitment! Once you've picked your date, you can get everything else aligned by making a solid plan and working backwards from there
- LA is HUGE. No matter what type of person you are, there is an area to live that fits you.
- Love water and the beach? Live in Santa Monica or Venice.
- Want more of a neighborhood, suburban feel? Check out Long Beach or the Valley or Culver City
- Looking for the hustle and bustle? Downtown LA is your jam. Want the hustle and bustle without those prices.. Koreatown is awesome (my old stomping grounds!)
- Want to see more people of color? Inglewood is DOPE and is nothing like what TV portrays. Check out Ladera Heights (where I live now), Baldwin Hills or View Park
- For the gay-friendly and more open minded areas, West Hollywood is beautiful and fabulous!
- Unless you work for a company you can transfer with, it can be REALLY hard to find a job before you get here. Try using a local LA address on your resume when applying for jobs so that it looks like you already live here
- Always say you have a car, even if you don't - for some reason people don't take you as serious if you don't have a car in LA
- Speaking of the above, having a car makes life so much more convenient here, the city is huge and Uber gets expensive! But if you absolutely can't have a car, use Uber pool or live in a neighborhood where you can bike :)
- The cost of living is high here! Coming from the DC area, I didn't really flinch at the cost of living because its comparable but if you are coming from a city or town that's not coastal you may be in for a shock. Gas is almost $4 a gallon, the average drink is $15 and you have to valet park at most places in this city. But, you get the most beautiful views in the entire country and you can't beat the weather so, hopefully your salary will also follow suit with the cost of living!
- If you're creative (film, fashion, music, tech) there are endless opportunities for you but also endless competition. It's amazing to be constantly inspired by people who are better than you all the time. If you aren't in any of these industries, you have a little step up because most people aren't moving to LA to be an accountant :)
- Get used to the different types of people. No matter where you go, you will see some strange people in this city. There are a lot of homeless people, people on drugs and people who take art to the next level. Be open minded and embrace it!
- A good group of friends can go FAR here. I know people who moved here and hated it for their first year because you really don't get settled until about a year or 2 in. Reach out to your networks before you move. College alum groups, sororities, old co-workers, friends of friends... whoever! Start with a few friends and build from there. After a while of being here, you'll figure out exactly where you're supposed to be!
- Last but not least: EVERYONE IN LOS ANGELES IS NOT FAKE! Before I moved here, so many people had me scared, thinking I would never make it in this city because of whatever they had heard or seen on tv. Just like the way of the world, LA will give you what you put into it. If you come out here as a "superficial" person looking for those type of friendships, you will get them. But if you are down to earth and genuine and take everything at face value, you will learn very quickly who is there for you and what opportunities are real.
Cheers, DREAMCHASERS <3