I have been meaning to post this for awhile now, and am finally getting around to it! I've gotten a bunch of questions about this, so I decided to put it all in one place.
We have looooooved living here, but it's not an easy thing to move to LA! When we were moving, I felt a little helpless because I didn't know anyone here, or any tips, so I hope this can help all of you!
How do you afford to live in LA?
We spent over $6,000 in our first month of living here. Even though we have lived well below our means, and have been saving up for awhile, it's still a punch in the gut to know that. It's not like we were crazily spending or anything, but rent, down payments, moving costs, and buying new furniture really adds up. We knew when we got married that we were going to be moving here, so we just saved saved saved for a year. We saved more money than we spent. I believe in occasionally treating yourself with things, and we did, but for the most part, saving was our #1 priority. We both feel like being comfortable with our finances, and not living paycheck to paycheck is more important than buying a whole new wardrobe every season. If you want to do the LA thing, it's totally possible! It's all about taking control over your "stuff" and learning to live with less. Our rent jumped from $585 a month to $1600 a month. It hurts saying that. Thankfully, we did get lucky, and $1600 is a good price for a 1 bedroom in a safe nice area. Most people out here spend about $1600+ in rent, but the thing is, you make more money living here to compensate for the cost of living. It's really about what's important to you. Would you rather be able to do what you're passionate about, or live in the place of your dreams? Or would you rather drop hunnids on stuff? It's all about what's important to you!
Why Sherman Oaks?
Someone recommended the area to us, and we are so glad we listened! We decided on living here for a couple of reasons:
1. You could get a lot more space for the same amount of money in a lot of the different areas. Most studio apartments near the Santa Monica area (where Kaden's Lionsgate internship is), or Culver City where I work go for as much (and if not more) than what we pay here.
2. We didn't care to live in the "city" aka downtown LA, so it's a perfect mix of suburb, but we live down the street from a million stores, restaurants, etc. It's the suburbs of LA, but like a safe suburb.
3. It's really central. A lot of the major studios are located near Burbank, but Lionsgate and a couple others are near the coast. We knew we'd be signing onto a year long contract, so we didn't want to live by the beach, and Kaden have to commute all the way up to Burbank if he got a job working at another studio. There's a lot of industry people around here, and I would assume a lot of them live here because of that.
How did you find housing?
We checked apartment rental listings every day, all day. We familiarized ourselves with how much apartments go for in each area, and then kept our eye on things. We came out about a week before we moved, and had set up a bunch of appointments to see while we were out here. The hardest part was a lot of the apartments won't accept you if you can't prove you've had a job in LA for 3+ months. Even though Kaden has a really good credit score, they just wanted to see you were going to be making money, and it's hard when you're telling people one of you is an intern, and one will be looking for a job once we're out here. It was honestly some of the most stressful couple of days, but it all worked out. If you're LDS, you can also contact local bishops and see if they know of anyone in their ward that are looking to rent out property to you, or anything like that.
Yep, LA traffic is as bad as you think. My daily commute to Culver City, which is about 12 miles away from us,can take as long as 50 minutes because I drive on the 405. Here's the thing, you deal with the traffic, put on a podcast, and deal with it. People used to tell me, "I could never live there with the traffic", but it's not as annoying because you expect it. Traffic is annoying when it comes out of no where and makes you late. If you know that it's going to take you x amount of time in traffic, you'll leave accordingly. Parking however, is a NIGHTMARE. You have to pay to park everywhere downtown, and a lot of streets have permit parking only (for overnight stuff). A lot of neighborhoods will require you to have a permit to park overnight (which can be as high as $50+ a month depending on what area you're in), which is a struggle. Thankfully our area doesn't have that, but there is one day a week for a couple hours you'll get ticketed for "street sweeping" if you haven't moved your car. So just pay super close attention to where you are parked at all times. I feel like the biggest luxury in the world is having 2 parking spots. We currently have 1. Do research about parking BEFORE you sign a lease, because it would suck if you didn't have a parking spot, and there weren't any streets to park on near your apartment.
What are your tips for moving to LA?
- Los Angeles is a hhhuuuuuugggee place. Which means #1 you probably want to have a car. There's public transportation here, but it's not as efficient as place like Manhattan, and everything is really spread out.
- Speaking of spread out, do some pretty thorough research about what part of LA you want to live in. The traffic will make a 10 mile commute take as long as 50 minutes, so use the app Waze, to figure out how long it'll take you to get from point A to B at different times of the day. It's also good to live in areas where there are people doing similar things as you. There's an industry term called above the line/below the line, and it's referring to what different roles people in the industry have. Above the line is like directors, producers, writers, actors, while below the line are crew members, grips, electricians, etc. There are a lot of above the line people up in the Studio City/ Burbank area, while a lot of the below the line people are towards Culver City/ West Hollywood. That's not an exact fact or anything, but it may help to figure out what you want to do, and the type of people who live around you. My point being is make sure to live in the area that is best for what YOU are doing. Don't just pick any place in LA just because it sounds cool.
- Do a ton of research about different areas to avoid. There are some really sketchy areas that are just not worth saving a couple hundred dollars to live in. Obviously do what you can, but actually go there and check it out before committing to a place. You can google crime rates and stuff as well.
- Stay positive, and know your first couple of years here are going to be really hard. There's a lot of cynical people here who aren't doing exactly what they set out to do, and sometimes try to break you down. Keep a positive attitude, and wait out the hard years! Everyone always says the first couple of years are tough in LA. Most people end up just going home because they hate it so much. LA is for sure a place to get used to, and it's not cheap, not an easy place to live in, and the industry is super hard to get into. Make sure you have a great support system that will tell you to buck up anytime times get hard :)
Overall, LA is a beautiful place to live in. While everyone is dealing with 30 degree weather, we've had sunshine and 80 degree weather everyday. There's a TON of stuff to do, and you can spend an evening watching the sunset on the beach. There are SO many opportunities, and cool things to do too! Like we go to movie premieres, free shows, and so much more!
Lunch on the Warner Bros Lot:
Life Itself Premiere:
The Nun Premiere:
The Price is Right:
Mickey's 90th Spectacular: