It’s been almost a year since I moved to Los Angeles. My decision to relocate was primarily motivated by a dwindling faith in New York’s bright and shining sparkle and a desire to live a little “less”. I was only seeing the dirt, and hearing the noise. I needed a change. But let me tell you something: not only was this the craziest thing I have ever done in my life; it has also been the toughest transition I ever had to make. Anyone who follows my SoCal dealings on Instagram would contest the severity of my self-inflicted debacle because my days look so rosy and sunny. But after living in New York for almost two decades and being accustomed to a rigid routine of curse words and things sort of just falling into my lap, this new journey was no a walk in the park. It was damn near incendiary.
Until now. It’s almost as if the outcome of the election caused a massive energy shift. For better and for worse. We’ve all been so stuck and stressed this past year. The uncertainty and ugliness kept us chained to our televisions. But I realize now why I moved, and that the struggle was not in vain. California is probably the most liberal of all the United States. It’s green; it’s tolerant; it’s soft; it’s never taken itself seriously. Granted, the people are borderline bonkers, but they’re not angry.
Maybe that’s because California ranks as the 6th largest economy in the world? It went from a 26 billion deficit to such a grand surplus that Governor Jerry Brown doesn’t know what to do with all the leftover money. True story. Or maybe it’s because California just legalized recreational weed? I don’t smoke but that’s progressive, right? Or maybe it’s because it’s the first state to ban plastic bags? Bravo!! I don’t know, but for the first time since January I feel like I’m not on the verge of throwing in the towel and that the Golden State can be my new home. I still call myself a New Yorker – I will kick Cali butt any time of the day – but my nervous system has moved on to gayer places.
Now, if you’re thinking of crossing the country I have a few dos and don’ts to share. First about the actual packing, shipping and shlepping. Secondly about your expectations.
Before you move:
- Have a plan! Don’t just up and go. Secure a job. Secure a boyfriend. Take your family. Have a purpose. Move with a real plan, rather than an abstract goal.
- Pack up your household before you call the movers. If you decide to use a moving company, make sure you’ve boxed up all your stuff. Then make the call, with all the boxes in sight. Count them. The movers will only be able to give you an accurate quote if you know exactly how many boxes you have. Guessing is a big no no. You’ll always underestimate the amount of stuff you own. My bill came out to double of what they had quoted. And I found out when the truck was loaded and about to take off, so I had no choice but to cash out. I may have cried. I did.
- If your landlord lets you, keep your old apartment until you’re absolutely sure you made the right decision. Even though it’s lame to keep one foot in the door, it’s probably smart. A lot of people change their minds.
- While the truck drives cross country – this takes about 5 days – fly to Los Angeles and rent an Airbnb. Try out different neighborhoods to see which one you prefer. The moving company will store your belongings in their warehouse for free for up to one month I believe. So you have time to find a nice place to live. This is key!
- If you’re a New Yorker, make sure to check the walkability of your new place. You don’t want to have to drive to get a coffee. We’re so used to easy access and being surrounded by people and stores. Don’t isolate yourself. Find a pedestrian street.
Myths and Expectations:
- It’s definitely La La Land over here. Most of the cliches are spot on. Los Angeles is the land of smoke and mirrors. Nothing and no one is what they seem. You’ll meet a guy at a bar who sounds great on paper, but turns out the beard is fake; the car is fake; the house is fake. He might be driving an awesome vintage Porsche but he’s dead broke and lives with his parents. Prepare yourself for some interesting surprises.
- While they may be irrevocably cuckoo, people here are way friendlier than in New York. That should not worry, nor astonish you. It’s actually comical to watch myself transform into a nicer, softer, kinder and more patient person. Who knew…
- Buy yourself a good car, because you will have to DRIVE. It’s inevitable. People here hate it, and discuss traffic and routes like it’s a religion. But I love driving. I never complain. And if you can’t drive, don’t despair: Uber is dirt cheap!
- Be prepared to experience a heart-wrenching, annihilating, utterly debilitating existential crisis. Whether it’s six months in or three years or a decade, everyone who’s not a native falls victim. You don’t know who you are anymore, why you are on this earth, what your purpose is and if you’ve just committed professional suicide. I was warned and it happened. And it’s the scariest feeling on earth. But that too shall pass and it’s worth using that destabilizing time to self-reflect and find new answers to those frightening questions…
- There’s just more space here. My Pilates studio for example has 20 reformers in one room and a group class costs $30. All the fashion offices I have visited are sprawling and gloriously beautiful. Compared to the crummy, window-less cubicles I have seen in New York, it’s kind of like going to work in a spa…
- Beware of the enthusiasm trap! James Corden said it best in his Rolling Stone interview: “I would have meetings where people would tell me how much they would like to work with me and then nothing happened. The first times I came to Los Angeles, I would just drive around dying from encouragement.”
- While I strongly encourage that you find a real job, I’ve noticed that I don’t know a single person with a 9-to-5 job. None of my friends go to an office. The West Coast is not condusive to work. Most creative Angelenos have multiples titles, which can become extremely funny sometimes: There is the “Model/Chef” or “Personal Trainer/DJ” or “Dancer/Photographer” or “Director/Comedian” or “Stylist/Writer”. Oh wait, that’s me! LOL.
In a nutshell: If you want to move to Los Angeles, prepare yourself for some massive adjustments. Whether you succeed here or not depends on how many beatings you can take, and how much you appreciate the new life style. I love having lunch on my balcony in the sun, going for a run by the ocean at sunset, singing out loud in my car, hanging with my girlfriends in Venice and hiking in the canyon at dawn. I feel safe and at ease. Admittedly, it’s not as “exciting” as New York, but I think I’ve had enough excitement in my life. I partied my ass off in New York, met everyone, learned a lot and I’m utterly grateful for that been-there-done-that part of my existence. 2016 sucked for a lot of people, but I’m confident 2017 is going to be very interesting…. And I’m staying.