Should I get some work experience before moving to LA?

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Lauren asks,

I got an AMAZING job in December in my current city. It’s in the entertainment business and we do a lot of corporate parties and weddings. I am sure there is a good market for this out in LA, so I was concerned about moving before I had 2-3 years of experience. Do you think this wise?

I obviously want to move ASAP (I’m 23, this is my first non-cocktail waitressing job out of college) but I’m eager to move young because my connections out there encourage me to take classes at UCB (also possible with a day job like I have now). I currently love the job I have and it’s good for helping me save.

While I’m just ITCHING to get out there, my savings are minimal as I had to get a LOT of work on my car. Won’t have to buy a new one at all to drive out there. But, along with wanting at least two years experience in the entertainment/ special event field, I’m not sure how much I’ll need to save .

Maybe 25 isn’t such a bad age to move.

Do you have a recommendation on how much to save, or a goal for roughly two years? I make a decent living but need to cut back and save more. I’m also slightly worried two years experience won’t be enough to help me get a job.

You’re in an awesome position. Great work.

On one hand, you have the allure of security:

  • Good job and now you’re adding money to the bank
  • Car situation handled. Unlike other fear mongers, I don’t think having a car is a deal breaker in LA, BUT there’s no arguing it’ll come in handy
  • Finally, you can learn a lot from your first job, even if you know you’ll eventually leave

On the flip side, you can’t wait to get started:

  • If you take the safe route (work for 2 years, save up that cash money, etc.) you’re worried you may never move
  • If you don’t do it now, how soon until you get another chance?
  • Finally, do you need the jumpstart? That’s two years working in LA, taking classes at UCB, etc. It adds up

I’m not going to tell you what to do, but I’ll recommend three things to think about:

  • Savings
  • Speed / momentum
  • Comfort level

Let’s look at each of them in order.

Savings

Since you don’t have much money saved up, that’s your first goal. Seriously consider working first and then moving. Here’s the link to a calculator that’ll tell you how much to save.

Personal savings is just that — personal. That means no one can tell you to save $3,000 or $20,000. The move can be done with either. The question is, what do you need?

That’s why I recommend you use the calculator. You can see the numbers in black and white: rent, the cost of living, how much risk you’re willing to take, etc.

Comfort Level

Savings are important, but ultimately it’s about comfort level.

You don’t need a ton of money. But how comfortable are you with risk?

  • What if you only started with $600 in the bank?
  • If your account dropped to it’s last $1000, how would you feel?  
  • Would you work at Starbucks to make ends meet?

Speed

Speed is powerful. Momentum is fickle, so you want to capitalize on it when you can.

Let’s be real: In two year’s time, you may not feel how you feel right now. (Imagine yourself two years ago — did you have all the exact same wants and desires? No, you were a different person then.)

It’s possible you learn to love your job, and you’re inspired to stick with the company, just for an extra year. Then you swipe right because they had nice eyes, you meet up, hook up, and fall in love. Except they wouldn’t dream of leaving their city, and you decide to see where this takes you, because you’re in love.

A decade pasts, a fulfilling decade, with raucous laughter and tragedy and perhaps, a twinge of regret that you never moved to LA.

Or perhaps there’s no regret at all.

No, 25 isn’t too late to start. Neither is 30, or 40. Age isn’t important.

What’s important is setting a clear timeline, then executing on it. For example, if you say you’re going to move when you save X amount of dollars, and then you hit it… how fast can you get your butt to LA?

When you do, do me a favor and send me an email, letting me know you made it. I love hearing your stories.

Photo Credit: BKL

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