Best Guide for Moving to Los Angeles – Part 8: First Month in Los Angeles

moving to los angeles
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So far in this Best Guide to Moving to Los Angeles, I’ve covered:

  1. How Much Should I Save?
  2. Minimization
  3. Getting to LA
  4. Road Trip
  5. Finding Your First Apartment
  6. Transportation
  7. Getting Your California License

It’s been really awesome to write this Guide.

I set out to create something that included all the tools and resources you’d ever need on the topic of moving to LA. There were so many things I didn’t know, and over the last three years, I had my share of moments where I was just ready to give up. A little insight would have gone a long way.

Yet for all the people that move to Los Angeles, why weren’t there tons of resources detailing people’s experiences?

Why wasn’t there even just one definitive guide?

So I set out to write it.

It was a lofty goal, and I hope I came close to realizing it. Thanks for reading.

Best, Chris 

First Month in Los Angeles – Case Study

This case study is my own, when I first landed in LA, more than three years ago. Note: I’m glad I’m a note-taking fiend, or I’d have a hard time believing the numbers below:

We looked at five apartments: in Venice, Los Feliz, Echo Park, and Long Beach. Ultimately, we settled on Culver City. There were three guys living in a 2-bedroom apartment…

Here are the costs of furnishing the new pad:

  • Three sofas (two for the inside, one for outside on the balcony): $25
  • Carpet: $2
  • Dining Room Table: $10
  • Dining Room Chairs (4): $15
  • Bar Stools (2): $45
  • Entertainment center: free
  • Television: free

Save for the bar stools – everything was purchased or picked up for free on Craigslist.

Transport turned out to be the challenge I was driving a sedan, and it wasn’t big enough to move sofas, tables, etc.

The ideal solution would be owning a pick-up truck.

Second best would be borrowing a friend’s.

The last resort: you do a one-day U-Haul rental, camp out on Craigslist, and hope to pick up everything needed in 24-hours. This isn’t a great plan, but here are ideas to make it work anyway:

  1. Do it on Saturday or Sunday – more people have day offs, more likely to post on Craigslist, and more likely to be home.
  2. Reserve the U-Haul a few days in advance. Get an all-day rental, which allows you to drop it back off the following day. As long as you drop-off before the store officially opens, there should be no extra charge. If you’re not sure, ask.
  3. Camp Craigslist the night before. Try setting up definite appointments for the next day, but remember, most free stuff is first come, first serve.
  4. Bring bungee cables and rope.
  5. Know exactly what you need, and prioritize: what’s the most important item? Have a plan, in case you must make a choice.
  6. Start early. Camp Craigslist first thing in the morning, and stay on it all day.
  7. Have cash on hand the night before. You don’t want to waste time at a bank.
  8. Know how much you’re willing to spend on any piece of furniture. With only one day to acquire everything, you’re not in a strong position to negotiate.
  9. Use a GPS – you’re going to be driving all over town.

Do you have to get lucky to get everything on one shot?

Yes.

But… better lucky than good.

Renting the U-Haul and buying gas, split three ways, cost $37 each.

before

after

More Furnishing Costs

This time for my bedroom. I led a bohemian lifestyle at first, but eventually decided I didn’t want to sit on the floor all year.

  • Desk: $50
  • Chair: $50
  • Mattress: $50
  • Bed Springs: Free
  • Lamp: Free
  • Bookshelf: Free

Individual cost to furnish the apartment, including U-haul costs: ~$200

before

before

after

Miscellaneous Tips On Moving to Los Angeles

Over these last eight weeks, I’ve managed to cover everything I know about the whole process of moving to Los Angeles. If you think this guide could help anyone, please share this guide with them.

Here are some remaining tips about Los Angeles, assorted and varied but just as worthy of mentioning:

  1. If this is your year to “explore Los Angeles,” or if you’re on a budget, don’t drop money on brand new furniture. Craigslist what you can. It’s amazing what you can find for free (or close to it.)
  2. The UTA Jobs List (Google it) can be great for finding unpaid entertainment internships. It’s not so great for finding that “great job” – because everyone can access it, it’s value is low. Those great opportunities are typically picked off by someone-who-knows-someone days before it hits the list. This is true for most jobs posted on tracking boards.
  3. Do the free internships. Everyone starts somewhere. Do it before the restrictions are so tight you can’t get any experience anywhere.
  4. If you’re starting an entertainment career, early on everyone will tell you to try getting into “an agency.” Shortly after, many will admit they never worked at an agency either.
  5. Don’t be afraid to get a non-entertainment job. If it pays the bills and you still have time to pursue what you love, it’s not a bad option.
  6. Same with bartending and waiting tables and working at coffee shops. People might look down upon you for doing it, but condescending friends aren’t real friends, anyway.
  7. Read the signs when you’re street parking. All of them. Twice.
  8. When you’re closed on an apartment, don’t forget to call the Gas company to turn on the gas.
  9. As with any place, not all of Los Angeles and its people will be “for you.” That’s fine – dive in anyway, don’t snub your nose at it. Fake it. Meet as many people as possible. Be optimistic. Have fun.

Conclusion

This has been a ton of fun.

I hope it was as good for you as it was for me.

If so, please share.

Otherwise, if you have any more questions feel free to email me at [chris]@[christopherming][dot][com].

Enjoy your stay in LA!

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Photo Credit: Sergey Sus

10 comments… add one

  • Los Angeles is quite a desirable place to live and I love it here. Good advice and well thought out. I bet you can write a definitive guide on moving to LA!

    Cheers,
    Sergey Sus

    • Chris Ming

      Hi Sergey, thanks man! Really appreciate that — I love it here too.

  • Kiarra T

    I plan on moving to Los Angeles in September. My situation is a little different, but this entire guide was incredibly helpful. Even though I’d love to be in the entertainment industry, thats not really the plan moving down there. I actually plan to be a nanny! Thats what I’m working as now, so hopefully the transition isn’t too hard. I’m gonna keep checking on this site throughout these next few months,so I’m excited to read some more articles!

    • Chris Ming

      Hi Kiarra, keep me posted on how it goes! Don’t know much about the nanny business but I’m curious to hear about your experiences when you get out here. Thanks for writing. – Chris

      • Kiarra T

        I definitely will! Yeah not a lot of people do lol, its a whole different monster! I’ll definitely keep you updated!

  • fernando

    Thank you so much Chris. i truly appreciate the work you put into this its helped get me even more hyped for my move next year. you should Write a book man i would buy it lol great work : )

    • Chris Ming

      Hi Fernando, thx so much man. Really appreciate that. Keep me posted on how your move goes. If you ever have more specific questions feel free to shoot me an email. (Where you moving from?)

  • Key crum

    Thank you so much Chris,

    I’m moving to LA next year with a friend and this article really helps. We are going for our first visit together to scout neighborhoods and just get a feel for LA next month. This was exactly what I needed to settle my mind and give me some insight on a genuine experience.

    Best,
    Key

    • Chris Ming

      Glad you found it helpful Key! Have an awesome time scouting neighborhoods!

  • Belle Guillory

    Hi Chris! I read all of the move to LA series and I just want to thank you for taking the time to write it. I’m planning on moving to LA soon and it seems as if everyone around me has something to say. Thank you for this bundle of articles, it really eased my mind.

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