Monday, August 22, 2016

What to Expect When You're Expecting to Live in Los Angeles. Part 1.

Since the husband and I have one year of living in Los Angeles under our belt, I thought it would be nice to compose a post - or actually a few posts - about what it's like living here for us, so far. This is specific to us and what we've taken from this city, but I think it might be of some use to someone out there. Since this will be a series, it will be ever-changing and updated. As long as I am here and writing, you'll get the lowdown on living in Los Angeles. The pressure is on.

Before our move, I did a ton research, A TON. I knew we would be moving here, so I thought it would be a good idea to have some sort of an idea on what to expect. There are a fair amount of blogs out there that address moving to this great city, which I think is kind of funny, but I greatly appreciated them. I realize that we aren't the only people who made this move, and if you aren't from a big city, I can see how this all can be overwhelming. I sometimes forget that a lot of people make this move. That some kid out in Middle America is dreaming of the day that they can pack up their shit and move to the West Coast. After all dreams are made here.

Well, welcome. 

I am enjoying Los Angeles immensely. It has so much to offer and so much for you to take advantage of. You should understand that this city will give back to you what you put in. If you put in the hustle, I think this city can be rewarding.

We moved here from Austin, Texas. Austin is a growing city, but at the end of the day it still felt like a small town with small-town prices. Up until the end of our residence in Austin, it was an inexpensive city to live in. Beer was cheap. Eating out was cheap. Going out was cheap. I know that things are slowly changing for Austin - something that I could write a whole post about - but since I am already a year removed I don't think it would be fair to Austin. Regardless, Austin prices are nothing like Los Angeles prices.

That brings me to the first thing on my list of "What to Expect When You're Expecting to Live in Los Angeles."

It's expensive. 
Well, duh! It is like the second-largest city in the U.S. So yes, it is expensive. We knew that coming out here but didn't really realize that until we started going out in LA. Beer is expensive. Eating out is expensive. Living is expensive. Apartments are expensive.  I've definitely had some sticker shock moments, but after you get past the fact that you aren't in Middle America anymore, your mindset begins to change. 

Learning to really budget helps. We did come out here with a sizable savings, and we pretty much burned through that in one year. It didn't help that we took an impromptu road trip before settling down, and we did take a bunch of weekend holidays in our first six months of living here. I wouldn't trade in those moments ever. I am a big advocate for travel, and I'm not afraid to charge that experience. Again, I digress. We were used to living a certain way, and we really didn't change our spending when we first moved out here. We have bills, oh so many bills. Student loans, credit cards, car loans, and then the typical living bills of cell phones, internet, electricity, and rent. Now we need to rebuild our savings, so we have something to fall back on because we have a ton of debt and the husband is working in an unreliable industry. But again, that is what we expected with his job. 

My suggestion would be to have a bunch of money saved up before you move out here. If you already have a job lined up, that is another story. But I would still have some money squirreled away. Again, we came out here with a ton of money saved up. I just didn't want to be one of those people who had to return back to Austin with our tail between our legs within one year of our move because we ran out of money - and that happens A LOT with people from Austin, they leave for the big city because they are a big fish in a small pond and they can't make a go of it in the "real world" and they return within six months. Nobody can make anything happen in six months or even twelve. I truly believe you need at least five years to get something out of this city. We plan to give it at least ten. 

So save. 

If you do come out here without a job lined up, it will take awhile. Of course their are lucky people out there who find work right away, I actually did. The job I found wasn't what I wanted to do. I was looking to change career paths, but I thought I should just get a job in my old profession first to have some money coming in, and then I could look for other work. Here I am a year later, still working that job. I had no luck finding another job. I spent months sending out resumes, and I've heard nothing back from anyone - actually I did get a response from a scam job, lucky me. I work with one person who it took them six months to find their job after they moved to LA. Another person I worked with had to quit and move back home because they didn't find their job soon enough and they ran out of money. 

So save. Have I mentioned that yet? Having money in savings never hurt anyone. 

Holy fuck, that was a lot. 

Be prepared, apartment hunting sucks.
I think I kind of knew this when were moved here, but I didn't really realize how much is sucked until we got here - I also think we had a few factors that hindered our apartment search.

Prior to moving, my research suggested that it's almost best to move here with nothing lined up and to just stay in an AirBnB until we find something. So that is what we did. And actually, I believe that is the best advice. If you have a friend or family member who is willing to put up with you for a few weeks while you find a place to live, that's even better. Basically, you can't find anything until you are out here - that is if you are renting. They don't really have apartment search firms - that's what we had to deal with in Austin. You are on your own.

Finding an apartment is all about the hustle. Something we just didn't have when we first moved here. We were tired. Overwhelmed. Not quite sure what we had gotten ourselves into so we shut down emotionally, just a bit. We paid the stupid fee to access the Westside Rentals listings, but because I was half out of it I accidentally paid for the six month package instead of the three month package - one of our first of many money mistakes when we first got out here.

Would I use the Westside Rentals again? I'm not sure. Right now I would say that it would be a worst-case scenario. Friends of ours use Craigslist, you just have to be careful - like always when you use Craigslist. Personally, I am not a Craigslist fan. I just cannot sit and sift through all the postings. But some people can, and if you are one of those people, give it a try. 

If we were to do it all over again, I would just figure out what neighborhood I wanted be in and just drive around taking numbers of apartment buildings and calling. But that takes time. It all takes so much time.

We got our current place off of Westside Rentals. It was a desperate decision at the time, it was the only place we really looked at - we saw one other place and the building manager of that other place was really weird, and he was doing this whole applicant discrimination thing even thought I don't think he realized that he was discriminating. We, however, just wanted something locked down. We needed a place to stay.  Our place is okay enough that we did renew our least for another year. Mainly because we don't want to find another place right now. We just can't afford to move. So we are stuck in the world's smallest apartment. But it works for us right now.

We can't forget, it's expensive renting in Los Angeles, and it's all about the neighborhood. Hell, we live adjacent to the desired Los Feliz neighborhood, and we still pay a fortune for our apartment. But we like the area. It's fairly centrally located and close to the Metro Subway - centrally located for "industry" jobs for the husband and taking the subway for me. We only have one car, gasp! That is what we are paying for. If we wanted to save money, we would be in The Valley somewhere or out in Pasadena. We didn't want that. The best bet is to figure out what you are will to put up with when moving out to LA. Do you want to be centrally located (and even that's all relative because are you Westside or Eastside)? Or do you want to have to drive in from far away? You also have to remember traffic kind of sucks in LA.       

Holy cow. That is a lot, again. 

*All this information is specific to us and what we want/need from Los Angeles. Some people come out here and fall right into the perfect job and perfect place to live, but I'm thinking that is far and few between. The husband and I came out here with prior work in the service industry. We did not have desk jobs so our job search is different from someone who is a professional. It's all relative.* 

I hope this helps whoever is out there and is ready for the big move to Los Angeles. Good luck.

Monday, August 8, 2016

It is official. One year down.

So, we made it. One year down.

Actually, it has been just over a year, if we are nitpicking. I don't count our lost month as living in Los Angeles. I just count that as a glorious month of living my absolute dream. At the time I was freaking the fuck out. How could I not? We had no plans for our return to Los Angeles, and we were dipping into our savings that should have been used to help us stay afloat in LA. But I digress. Oh, how I wish I could go back to that road trip and relive it and enjoy it for what it was; the dream, our dream. More on that to come, if I ever get around to it. I promise, I totally will.

In all actuality, I cannot believe we made it a year. 

Prior to moving to Los Angeles, I knew we could do it. Our last year in Austin was all about California dreaming. It was all about saving, saving, and some more saving complemented by selling, selling, and some more selling of our shit. During this time I was talking myself into believing that this move to Los Angeles was going to be as easy as pie. We were just going to slip into this large-ass city quietly. We were going to find an apartment with ease. We were going to find jobs with no problem. We are two able-bodied adults from the Midwest, and it's easy for Midwesterners to find jobs anywhere. Ugh, I fall for that old line every time. So naive, I am. 

I did the same thing when we moved to Austin - this thinking that it will be so easy adjusting to a new city and finding work with ease. Usually, when a family member hears of our plans to move they always reassure us that it will be so easy for us to find work because we are from the Midwest and who doesn't want to hire someone from the Midwest? NO ONE CARES THAT WE ARE FROM THE MIDWEST!

However, the husband and I have been quite lucky. We did find work fairly early on. When I look back, I realize that I found my job within a month and a half of settling in. And the husband was able to use a friend of a friend to find work soon after. A lot of people we meet who are new to this city seem to have a harder time finding work. We had some luck on our side. 

At the time, last year, it felt like we were never going to find jobs. The month and a half that I wasn't working was actually longer because we were also dealing with our lost month of July. It did feel like forever to the two of us. It felt strange not to be working, especially since I've always worked - like the rest of human population - and I kind of liked not working. Except for the part of not having money coming in. We did have savings, but this city isn't cheap. We aren't dealing with Austin prices anymore. 

Here we are. One year later. 

We are both back at the beginning, overeducated and underemployed. Starting out at the bottom again. But that's par for the course with Gen X-ers - or whatever the fuck we are, because I can never figure that out and all I know is that we are in that sweet spot where none of this really matters - with our degrees in English.

I am back in a kitchen, which isn't my dream, but it pays the bills and that's all that matters right now because we suck at budgeting. And the husband is doing odd PA jobs around town. Again, it isn't the dream, but it pays the bills. And that is where we are at right now. 

I am proud to say that we haven't had to pack up and mosey on back to Austin, which had been a fear of mine. As great of a town as Austin is, it's a town that is really hard to get anything done - again, just for us. Many of people have accomplished plenty in that great city of Austin, but we just could not. I have heard of Austin being compared to Never-Never Land before, and I agree totally. It's easy to live a life of underemployment comfortably there. So, we left and the struggle is now real. But isn't the struggle supposed to help with the creativity? 

Isn't there that saying, what doesn't kill us will only make us stronger? At this point, I hope so. Otherwise why the fuck are we doing this? 

We have pretty much run out of savings. So that is freaking me out. But hopefully we can pull in some more money with promotions or just better jobs in general. Always on the lookout for something better, A.K.A. something that pays more. With the minimum wage going up in this city, things should pan out for better paying jobs. We'll see. We really need to become better hustlers. Everyone here who is doing something is hustling, and we need to tap into that mindset. I still think our Midwestern way of thinking that things will come to us because we are hard workers is getting in the way. We need to make our own way. We need to hustle.   

One year. Holy fuck, one year. 

I don't feel like a Californian, yet. I do absolutely love this state and cannot wait until I feel like I totally belong.