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

moving to los angeles, personal stories

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.

There are a handful of reasons why I never should have moved to Los Angeles.

The small restaurant my father and I opened in Albany, New York, smack-dab in the middle of the recession, had finally arrived. Every weekend, we packed the inside, the patio, and the bar with customers. People drove an hour to eat there, our tiny mom-n-pop tucked so invisibly into a strip mall that even the locals got lost.

Like many fathers, mine had grand plans for his son. He was calling real estate agents. He was ready to expand.

He’d run the second, then third store. I’d stay at the first store. When he retired, he’d turn it all over to me.

It would have been a comfortable life.

There was just one small hitch: I already decided to move to LA to pursue screenwriting. Despite never having written a screenplay, not knowing anyone, and without a job lined up.

Do you see obstacles or opportunities?

You can look at most situations  in one of two ways. You can see it full of obstacles, or you can see opportunities.

At first glance, my decision to move to Los Angeles was riddled with obstacles: no job, no experience, no connections. Not to mention, the opportunity cost of walking away from the family business.

But I swear I didn’t notice any of these obstacles. They didn’t exist — because I only saw the opportunities. I only saw things working in my favor:

  • I had zero debt. I just made the last payment on my college loans  
  • I didn’t need much. I couchsurfed for 6 weeks in Argentina with only what I could carry in one  backpack, so I knew I could get by with very little
  • I could always make money. I could always wait tables to get started

Most importantly, I truly believed I could outwork most people. I didn’t know if I had the skill sets, but I always believed that hard work was the great equalizer.

Our natural blindspots

Let me show you the difference between how Angel sees her situation and how I see it.

Angel sees her situation as full of obstacles:

  • No license
  • Too much stuff
  • Not enough money

(By the way, it’s totally normal to see life this way. We all have natural blind spots when it comes to our lives. It’s the reason why your best friend dates assholes and everyone sees it except for her.)

When I look at the situation, I see it filled with nothing but opportunities. I see so many things in her favor, the scale is practically toppled over.

  • A job. You’re going in with a job! This is the hardest piece of the puzzle to solve, and you already got it locked down. That’s amazing
  • It’s a remote job. You don’t need to commute in Los Angeles — you don’t even need a car or a license. Punt that problem until you’re in LA and you need a  car
  • She already knows the area she should live in. This just saved you 20+ hours of research and looking at other neighborhoods

Everything else? They’re distractions.

Too much stuff? Kitchenware?

Angel, I’ll be brutally honest, because I care so much that you change something up in your life: Too much stuff isn’t an obstacle. Stuff is a distraction. Sell it, give it away, and get rid of it. You can buy it all again.

You’re miserable. You said it yourself. You’re miserable… and you’re holding yourself back over a driver’s license and kitchenware.

Misery is like a dull toothache. You can put off doing anything about it for a long time, until eventually you learn to live with it.

I don’t want you to “learn to live with it.” I want you to take advantage of everything working in your favor, stop “dreaming of moving to LA,” and get there.

Photo Credit: Leo Hidalgo

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