MOVING TO LOS ANGELES
If you're reading this, there is a chance you are interested in moving to CA. I made the move in May 2015 only a week after I graduated college. I rarely do anything spontaneous when it comes to money so I wish I had known a few things when I moved out here. So I want to share those things with you.
I'm going to break down what it took for me to travel to CA from NC post graduation. This is just my advice and opinion, it is not meant to be taken as the only option or even the right choice.
Keep in mind prices fluctuate so it wont be exactly the same for you.
My hope is that by the end of this you will not be discouraged, rather, prepared and excited.
PACKING UP YOUR LIFE
Get rid of what you can and only take what you absolutely can't part with. If you can eliminate the cost of a U-haul you will save thousands of dollars.
It took me about a week to pack the entire 2 bedroom house. More boxes than I can count. (My roommate worked at Eddie Bauer so he was able to get boxes before they threw them out. I have gotten boxes from Walmart as well. Craigslist posts boxes under the FREE tab. Try not to spend money on boxes if you don't need to.
Packing tape (with dispenser)
paper plates (to cushion between plates)
packing paper (brown, $10 from FedEx)
PLASTIC WRAP (saved my life when packing)
towels/blankets- to cushion furniture and stuffing
(for easy access to things you may pack and then need, label your boxes.)
PREPARE YOUR VEHICLES
Check the tire pressure
Make sure you are up to date with your oil change
Make sure you have a spare tire and your fluids are full
It doesn't hurt to have a car emergency kit in your trunk.
Get a padlock for the U-haul for the night.
If you use your phone as a GPS ( cause why not?) THIS was really helpful.
Get some cash for potential tolls
Pack snacks! (save $)
If you are feeling crazy, call your insurance company and see what kind of roadside assistance you have. If you have it, jot the number down so if anything happens, that's one less thing you have to do.
Sometimes you have TripleA and you don't even know it! That means that if you breakdown or get a flat, someone will come and help you and it's already covered in your monthly insurance cost.
If you are in a caravan with more than one other person, get a set of walkie talkies. Not only is it fun, it's much safer if the driver has to contact you. Instead of calling on the cell, they press the button on the walkie. Go ahead and give yourself code names. Mine was Red Viper.
TRAVELING ACROSS THE COUNTRY
My travel companions were my Dad, Step mom, Brother & Roommate in the U-haul and a Prius caravan. (which was nice to take a break from driving at times).
Wed May 27, 2015
Winston Salem, NC to King's Mountain, NC- filled up
King's Mountain, NC to Newnan, GA-filled up
Newnan, GA to Bay Minette, AL- filled up
Bay Minette, AL to Slidell, LA- Stayed in a hotel
Thurs May 28th, 2015
Slidell, LA to Breaux Bridge, LA- filled up
Breaux Bridge, LA to Katy TX- filled up
Katy, TX to San Antonio,TX - stayed at my brothers for 2 nights
Sat May 30th, 2015
San Antonio, TX - filled up
San Antonio, TX to Van Horn, TX- filled up
Van Horn, TX to McCamey, TX- filled up
McCamey, TX to Lordsburg, NM- filled up
Lordsburg, NM to Tucson, AZ- stayed the night
Sun May 31st, 2015
Tucson, AZ to Dateland, AZ- filled up
Dateland, AZ to Salton City, CA- filled up
Salton City, CA- arrived.
I made a spreadsheet of the gas cost. *(I never went below a 1/4 tank on either car)
[The layout may be a little confusing but I broke down what my roommate and I each spent at each stop. The top is the cost of the U-haul and the bottom total is the total cost of everything.]
LOOKING FOR APARTMENTS
As we traveled across the country I would look at daily postings of apartments in the areas I was interested in living. Choosing a neighborhood is difficult when you don't know your way around LA. SO I reached out to a few friends who lived here to get their advice on the different neighborhoods.
I didn't have a job yet but I knew that I would be working in the film industry which stretches all over LA (For me mainly from Santa Monica to Burbank).
Traffic is what everyone says it is. There really is no way around it. (Unless you literally go around it) Even then you run the risk of everyone having the same idea.
Regardless, you want to live where:
A. You can afford.
B. You feel safe.
C. You like it (somewhat)
D. It's convenient for your line of work.
My first mistake while apartment hunting was using Craigslist. You waste a ton of time investing in apartments that end up being scams. The way they scam you is to engage in a conversation via email once you've shown interest then they give you a bogus story about needing a small deposit for even looking at the apartment for whatever sob story they give you. At that point, walk away. Don't waste your time even getting mad. It will happen again.
Since I didn't have a job I did not limit myself to any one neighborhood. However, I looked for a place with a 6 month lease. Because I knew that no matter where I lived there was a strong chance I may need to move once I got more settled.
*LA apartments don't have refrigerators. Chances are you will need to rent or buy one. I am currently renting one because let's face it, I could barely afford moving here.
*LA apartments usually don't have central air. Just wall units and more than one if you are lucky.
*Most apartments don't provide a parking space which means you will need to find street parking (beware of the street cleaning days, ticket fee for parking violation on street cleaning day is $60)
****(I did all of this with my dog in tow which made certain things a little more difficult, contact me if you want those details).
APPLYING FOR APARTMENTS
One cost some may forget about is the apartment application fee. If you are rooming with someone, you are both required to apply (separately) and both pay the application fees which ranged from $30-$50 PER APARTMENT. This is a very necessary cost you need to account for because it you skimp out on these applications the apartment will get scooped up right under you. And the application process does not necessarily happen in a day. It took me about 2 1/2 days to get approved for my apartment.
Things you will need:
A. Your driver's license.
B. Proof of steady California based income (existing money in your account will not suffice).
C. A quick access co-signer (if you do not have proof of income)
D. Quick access to your bank to get a cashier's check for the application fee. (some took a personal check.)
If you even kind of like it, apply for it, because you are not necessarily guaranteed the place anyways so increase your odds.
The apartment will need to process your application and do a background check, and their bank needs to approve you (Some banks are located on the East Coast, which means you need to try to get this done by 2:00pm Pacific time.)
If you don't already have Renter's Insurance, you need to get it. It costs as little as $15 a month. And there are apartments that require it once you are approved. Safe yourself the stress of quickly getting it and give yourself the peace of mind that you are protected in the chance of theft.
Side note: as you are compiling your list of apartments to tour, try to plan it so you travel conveniently. If you bounce back and forth across LA you might miss some appointments while you are stuck in traffic.
MOVING INTO APARTMENT
Once I was approved, before I signed the lease, I needed to:
Get renter's insurance
turn on the electricity
turn on the gas
turn on the water
get a cashiers check for (the security deposit and first month's rent)
Once I was in the apartment the last thing I wanted to do was unload the U-haul. I hired some really nice guys to do it for me. 2 guys, 2 hours $120.
Strong Arm Movers- (323)762-6315
Save that cost if you can, I was just too drained and exhausted.
*Now that you have your address, Go to usps and permanently forward your mail to your new address ASAP for only $1
CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE NOW A CALIFORNIA RESIDENT!
What does that mean? Technically you have 10 days to get a CA Driver's license. ( I say technically because no one will know you haven't done this unless you get ANY kind of a ticket.) So take your time, but get it done.
You also have to register your car. But before you do that, you have to get a smog check. "The normal price range of the average smog test is between $29.95 and $69.95 depending on the county you live in, the type of vehicle you own... car, truck, van, SUV, or motorhome, and the type of smog inspection your vehicle requires."
Again, these things will eventually need to get done. But you just moved here, so relax and soak up the sun for a little cause the hard parts over! (Some will argue).
Only if you're interested: I moved to a 2 bedroom apartment in Montebello, CA. (For MANY reasons) But I also signed a 6 month lease in case this place was too far for me.
If this helps (because I know this would have helped me): My first 2 months worth of bills for the apartment were: (minus the refrigerator rental which cost $45/month for 6 months)
IN A NUTSHELL
IF AND ONLY IF you happen to have a similar story to me, it may cost you (and whoever you are traveling with) $7,290.11 to get here and get settled. (I had the U-haul for 8 days)*
Eliminate as much of the cost as you can, if possible, and get here!
Call up old friends that live across the US and ask to stay a night there.
Pack a tent and pay as little as $10 to stay in a camp ground for the night.
Pack sandwich supplies and make sandwiches as you drive across the country.
Consider getting a Prius, it will save your life while in LA.
Sell the bulk of your stuff and eliminate the need for a U-haul.
Room with someone already living in CA and eliminate the cost of apartment applications and deposits.
Don't rush getting a CA Driver's License or registering your car, but know you will need to.
Unload your U-haul by yourselves (or call a friend to help).
DO NOT BE TOO PROUD TO CREATE A GOFUNDME ACCOUNT. People may make fun of you, but you will be the last one laughing from your fabulous LA Apartment.
I didn't make one, and I wish I had because I have incredible people in my life that I know would have helped me if I needed it. Don't be scared to ask for help. It will save you while you're in LA.
Check out this guy who wanted to raise $10 to make potato salad, but ended up raising $55,000.
to make potato salad.
Go forth and save $!