personal stories

Should I get my driver’s license before moving to Los Angeles?

Angel writes:

So I am currently living in NYC but it has always been my dream to move to LA. At this point in my life I am so miserable here and I feel like it’s Groundhog’s’  day, I feel like if I stay here my life will be the same and never change. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that I will move to LA and things will be perfect but I just feel like staying here I know how things will be.

My job told me that I can transfer to LA (I would work from home) which I think is great but here is what’s stopping me: I have been trying to get to LA since 2013 and yet here I am in NYC, it all boils down to money. Every time I think I have enough something goes wrong and I don’t know if it’s a sign telling me to stay where I am or a sign telling me to fight for where I want to be.

My current dilemma is I don’t have a driver’s license or a car and if I moved I think I would have to get my own place since I currently have a studio apartment with a bunch of stuff ( I’m attempting to sell some things but I still have a lot of stuff and kitchenware). I recently got hit with another money issue and now when the time comes for me to move to LA I will probably have a little over $9,000 saved. Also I would have to live in Hollywood (I saw some decently priced apartments for like $945, $1025, $1100) or somewhere near West Hollywood because work events typically take place in that neighborhood.

Would it be wise for me to get my license before I move out there? Should I stay in NYC for another year and try to save more money? I just feel so miserable here like I’m wasting my life.

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Why they never break in

That first decision to move to Los Angeles is thrilling.

You dream. Gorgeous weather. Warm sand stretching on the shore from Malibu to Redondo, curling between your toes. Finally the right environment to grow and find people like you.

Then you look at the practical details to actualize this dream…

  • How much to save
  • Your skill level at your chosen craft
  • A network to build your career

It can be hard to believe you can actually do it.

Every day can feel like you’re pushing a boulder uphill. The dollars never add up. Your skills don’t stack up to the professionals and despite sending dozens of emails, you still haven’t connected with anyone who can help you.

To the untrained eye, it looks like you haven’t done much at all.

But here’s what I see:

  • Steady progress towards reaching a savings goal that you’re inching towards everyday
  • Someone improving their craft each minute they work
  • Every email sent building a relationship — whether you get a response or not

It takes time.

People don’t make it not because they weren’t good enough.

They just didn’t work for long enough. [click to continue…]

Here’s What It Takes To Make it in LA

“What are you going to do when you get to Los Angeles?”

“Probably wait tables to start.”

This irritated my dad. You can tell by the way he pursed his lips and stared more intently at the television. If my dad was your typical parent, he’d have snapped back with:

  • “You didn’t go to college so you could wait tables”
  • “You don’t need to move to Los Angeles to serve food”
  • “They need waiters here, too. Why not save money first, then move?”

He wanted to say all of these things. Any of them. Instead, he did something totally against his nature: He stayed silent.

I’ve seen my dad tell managers at restaurants he’d make such a scene they’d wish he never stepped into their building. I’ve watched him shout back at other parents at soccer games, and fire new hires five hours after they started because they had a bad attitude.

My dad doesn’t stay quiet often.

But this time, he bit his tongue.

Because about 10 years ago, he was looking to break back into the restaurant business. Except he couldn’t find a job right away. So…

Yup. He went back to waiting tables.

He knew getting back into the game was a months long process — and he had a family to support. So one afternoon, he went out and bought a waiter’s apron. By the time he came home that night, he had a part-time job waiting tables at Real Seafood Company.

More than a decade later, he owns three restaurants.

Yet it’s in this moment that I’m most proud of him. The moment he had to make a choice:

“I could wait for the right position to open up. I am too good to wait on other people and bring them their refills of Diet Coke and apologize for the lack of shrimp in their shrimp scampi.”

OR

“I could take whatever I’m offered today. I just need to start: If that means mopping floors and fetching booster chairs, fine. This is just the start. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

Which would you choose?

Get These 3 Things in Los Angeles At All Costs

Recently, I received this email from a reader looking for advice on moving to Los Angeles:

“I’m planning on making this move myself.  I’m in no rush if it means making this move the wrong way, but I also don’t want to waste any time.  I don’t know a single soul out there and I don’t want a roommate. I have trust issues with sharing responsibility.”

I admire her determination.

But I’m wary of here last sentences: “I don’t want a roommate.”

When you’re planning your move to Los Angeles, your world should be consumed by three objectives:

Nothing else matters until you’ve satisfied a minimum 2 out of these 3 things.

Ignore everything else: Finding a car, furniture, making friends, exploring Los Angeles.

Just get started on these three things, no matter how awful the start may seem in the moment. Discomfort is temporary, not forever. It’s just the first step. You’re building the foundation.

After the foundation is set:

  • You’ll have money to spend on $13 cocktails at Perch
  • You’ll have your own apartment again, roommate free, where you can binge watch Gilmore Girls or Pretty Little Liars to your heart’s delight
  • You’ll land your dream job, and laugh about those days you slung frappuccinos at Starbucks or stocked shelves at Target

But you gotta be tough.

What would you sacrifice for your fresh start in Los Angeles?

(I wrote a guest post on I’m Moving to Los Angeles about how to find a roommate in Los Angeles. A must read before you move. My buddy Justin runs the site and I know he’d appreciate it if you checked it out and left a comment. Thanks!)

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Photo Credit: Geoff

Did You Expect to be Great?

I ask everyone who emails me for advice on moving to LA the same question:

“What do you want to do in Los Angeles?”

Last time, I told you I only get a reply 30% of the time.

Of that 30%, here’s what 99% say:

  • “Acting. Just a little bit. Nothing big”
  • “I’m a musician. But mostly for the change of scenery. Hopefully some new work”
  • “Something in entertainment. Hopefully writing TV or film”

…which is really interesting. Because it means one of two things:

  1. These guys are the most unambitious, unimaginative people ever (hint: I don’t think it’s #1)
  2. They feel weird admitting what they really want

I think we’re getting warmer.

Because it’s not #1. Don’t kid yourself. If you’re looking to move to Los Angeles — with little money, no definitive job prospects, and no housing — you don’t fall into the category of unambitious or unimaginative.

Which leaves #2, and this next question:

What are you embarrassed to admit?

Here’s my guess:

You’re embarrassed to admit you expect greatness.

What is greatness?

Greatness can look like any number of things:

  • For actors. Broadway, film, TV, collecting residuals from that AT&T spot
  • For musicians. Selling out a standing room only venue. Or a platinum record
  • For writers. NYT Bestseller, that Emmy, seeing your play come to life

For most of us, greatness is why we move to LA: We believe we’re destined to be great. Not just good, not “also-ran.” Great.

Yet saying this aloud seems arrogant. So we keep it to ourselves.

How do I know this?

I’m guilty myself.

Another assistant would ask: “What are you looking to do? Do you want to be a screenwriter?”

I’d answer: “You know, maybe…  I’m still just learning about this business and figuring out where I fit.”

Meanwhile, every morning that week at 5:30 a.m. I’m up typing into Final Draft before spending the next 10 hours answering someone else’s phone.*

There’s an audacity to expecting greatness. For example, if you say you expect to be a great screenwriter, you’re also saying you’re better than the millions who “never makes it,” whether it’s because they don’t have the connections or (more likely) didn’t write well enough.

It’s difficult to admit this to someone…

But it’s even harder to admit this to yourself.

Once you admit you expect greatness, you admit that you’re trying. You’re writing everyday, taking classes, you’re joining writing groups. You’re working on the craft while everyone tells you to “be normal” and “don’t be so hard on yourself.”

The downside is you could fail.

For example, the first screenplays I poured hours into were — objectively speaking — shit.

It’s terrifying to realize your expectation of greatness could be nothing but a mirage you’re stumbled towards.

So when someone asks, “What do you want to do in LA?” you’re better off giving a vanilla answer (“Oh, I don’t know… maybe I’ll take up acting.”) It’s not normal to open yourself up to an emotional, devastating beat down. 

But on the flip side, by definition, there is nothing normal about greatness.

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*This is not to say you should pour out your heart and dreams to your Starbucks barista and her mother. If it’s a first date or your current boss, they don’t need to know everything right away.

Photo Credit: Topher76

I am not famous, I am me

Cameron Diaz has words of wisdom for you.

(If you know who Cameron Diaz is, jump ahead to 00:29.)

 

Here’s the part I want to highlight for you:

“When people say, ‘I want to be like you, I want to be an actor, I want to look like you,’ the question I always ask is ‘why?’”

I ask all my readers: “What are your biggest struggles to move to Los Angeles?”

They’ll tell me it’s money, or they don’t know where to live, or if they’ll find a job. All solvable problems.

Then I’ll ask, “Why are you moving to LA?”

I get an answer 30% of the time. The rest, I never hear from again.

“Why?” is a difficult question.

  • It can be hard to articulate (“I feel I could do great things if I move”)
  • It can be embarrassing to admit (“I always wanted to be an actor and no one else knows”)
  • It can extremely personal (“I’m stuck in a corporate job and I finally left my asshole boyfriend”)

But there’s always an answer. Figure out your “why” before doing anything else.

Making money, finding the right place to live, getting started on your career… we can get there together. That’s what we’re doing here.

But “why?”

That’s up to you to figure out.

Bonus: I also love this part:

“Being famous is my job. When I’m with my friends and family, I am not famous. I am me. I am Cameron. Fame doesn’t define me. If you’re looking for fame to define you, then you will never be happy.”