THERE’S NO OTHER CITY QUITE LIKE LA. We get 360 days of sunshine, are home to the film industry, and are uniquely situated an hour’s distance from the beach, mountains, and desert. The movies make our city seem glamorous and at times superficial, and we pride ourselves on our high residential turnaround rate. Not everyone is cut out for LA. If you think you might be, there are some things to consider before relocating to the City of Angels. Such as:
What kind of LA experience do you want?
Los Angeles is a sprawl, and people get unintentionally boxed into their neighborhoods, rarely willing to venture across freeways. Each neighborhood has its own distinctive personality, and if it clashes with yours, it could leave you with a bad impression of the city. If you’re looking for something fast-paced and cinematic, Hollywood is your best bet. If you want to mimic the Manhattan experience and avoid driving, set your sights on Downtown LA. The valley is affordable and lowkey, the perfect place for a family to settle down. Northeast LA neighborhoods like Highland Park and Eagle Rock cater to the artsy hipster crowd. If you’ve got big bucks and want a blend of hipster, industry, and relaxation, splurge for a spot in Santa Monica or Venice Beach.
Can you deal with the traffic?
There are ways to avoid LA traffic, but for most of us, it’s a way of life. I once had a regular commute from North Hollywood to Santa Monica, and it nearly broke me. Now I’m older and wiser and armed with podcasts. Sometimes I even use that idle time to meditate and visualize my day. There are other ways I’d rather be spending my time, but I’ve managed to turn frustration into a mostly zen experience. If you can’t find a way to be at peace with traffic, LA might not be for you.
Will you miss having seasons?
You laugh now, but it can be hard to get into the holiday spirit when you wake up on Christmas morning and see not a single cloud in the sky. My family has bar-be-qued on Christmas before. If you look forward to turning leaves and chilly evenings curled up with Pumpkin Spice Lattes, you may be disappointed by our fall season. Seasonal drinks are still available, but you’ll be sipping them in your air conditioned office instead. However, if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and resent your social life’s winter hibernation, Los Angeles could be a great change of pace.
Can you afford it?
I like to tell the story of my first LA apartment. It was 2007, I was living in Silverlake, and my spacious studio apartment overlooked the (at that time still full) Silverlake Reservoir. It was $1,000 per month with utilities included. Including electricity. My friends’ eyes well up when I recall these details, as all of those luxuries are now a thing of the past, and it’s not uncommon for landlords to make you pay for all utilities, including trash.
My point is, if you read that story and thought that $1,000 for a studio apartment still sounded expensive, Los Angeles might not be for you. Unless you’re willing to settle deep in one of the valleys (ranked in order of relevance: San Fernando, San Gabriel, and Santa Clarita) or head east towards the Inland Empire, you’re going to pay for location.
How strong is your “network?”
While it’s true that not everyone comes to LA for the film industry, it’s still important to have a reliable circle of friends, preferably some who work within your industry.
There’s always something to do in LA, whether it’s a pop-up concert, industry mixer, or after work Happy Hour, but without friends who can add you as their plus one you’ll find yourself clueless and alone.
You should know at least a couple of long-term Angelenos before making your move, or be ready and willing to venture out solo.
Are you ready for big city living?
Do you enjoy a starry night sky? What about falling asleep to the gentle babbling of a nearby brook? Are you from a place where drizzling rain doesn’t cause locals to forget their entire driver’s education? Think about whether you’re willing to sacrifice these things for LA, and be prepared to watch in astonishment when we lose our collective minds over even the faintest hint of precipitation.
Los Angeles is smelly, gritty, snobby, laidback, and unlike anywhere else on earth. It takes years to untangle this web of a city and learn all of its nooks and crannies.There are certain aspects that take some getting used to, like traffic, the Santa Ana winds, and our dismal dating scene, but we make up for it with vibrant art and culture, year-round sunshine, and occasional celebrity sightings.
Our city lights may obscure the Milky Way, but just wait until you see how the smog turns ours sunsets into oversaturated Lisa Frank drawings. #Nofilter.