July 15, 2015

Moving From New York City to Los Angeles (Part 1)

This blog post is for all of the East Coast actors and models who are thinking about making the big move to sunny California. Los Angeles, specifically.

I moved from NYC to LA in January 2013, and while there were a couple of stressful points, it was, for the most part, very easy! I'm going to tell you all exactly what I did and detail any lessons that I learned along the way. Enjoy!

Why I Decided To Move

The decision was motivated by several factors, but the big deciding force was the sheer lack of work available to me during that time. In the last couple of years, major strides have been made in order to bring productions to NYC, but back in 2011-2012, there just wasn't a huge amount. Print and commercials were great, but I needed more film and TV opportunities. And when you look at Los Angeles comparatively, I couldn't resist the allure of doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling the number of opportunities that I would have as an actor.

Other motivators were the weather and lifestyle. After living in NYC for 8 years, I was completely exhausted by the relentless daily grind. And the awful weather on top made my last couple of years even more frustrating and depressing. I needed a change of pace and my husband was just as gung-ho as I about relocating. I would say we made the final decision to make the move around October 2012.

Getting The Ball Rolling

I made the goal to be in LA for the start of pilot season. If you don't have representation, going to LA for pilot season is generally pointless. However, I had bi-coastal representation and a handful of decent credits. I was in a great position and didn't want to miss out on any of those great auditions. I set a date for January 22nd as my official move date. There was no rhyme or reason to it, I just liked the date.

My husband was going to stay back in NYC for a couple of weeks to clear the apartment and tie up any loose ends while it was my job to get us set up in LA. He joined me in February.

Money 

Once I set the date, the next immediate goal was to save as much money as possible. I'd given us about 3 months of lead-time in order to save, which really wasn't a lot of time at all. At the time, I was just working part-time as a hostess and mostly letting residual checks roll in. I decided to pick up a serving job and from November to early January.

Most weeks, I worked anywhere from 5 to 7 days and I essentially hoarded everything that I made, which was really great money. I basically HAD. NO. LIFE. My husband is the breadwinner and pays pretty much all of the bills, so establishing our moving fund was mostly on my shoulders. In that short time period, I think we saved up about $6k-$7k.


Moving Representation With Me

A few months prior to the move, I'd met with my now LA agent when she came to visit the NYC office. I'd expressed interest in moving to the West. She was already on board to represent me once I moved and told me to touch base with her when I made the final decision. Naturally, I reached out to her and let her know that I would be moving in January.

I did the same thing for my commercial agent and print agent. I was repped by Buchwald for commercials in NYC, but Buchwald doesn't have a commercial department in LA. My agent over at Buchwald referred me to my current agents at AKA. I was also referred to the LA office at CESD by my old print agent at their NYC office.

Finding An Apartment

This was actually pretty easy. I found our apartment on Craigslist. I was a bit apprehensive about nailing down an apartment from 3000 miles away, but I just had this blind belief that everything that I was doing would just work out.

Anyway, the hardest part about finding an apartment was choosing the city we would live in. Contrary to popular belief, Los Angeles isn't really a city. It's a county that's comprised of several small cities all in close proximity to one another. It's helpful to think of LA in the same way that you think of NYC since NYC is one giant city made up of 5 boroughs.

Anyway, I kept looking at maps of Los Angeles and read threads on Backstage.com to get a decent idea of where most auditions take place. Then I just kind of said fuck it. As long as we get a place, we can always move. I found an apartment that was listed in Sherman Oaks. The photos were pretty and when I google mapped the address to look at the street view, the neighborhood was also pretty and very clean. It was also located right next to a junction between two major highways, the 101 and the 405. From that location, I could hop on the 101 to get to Hollywood or Burbank, and if I needed to get to Santa Monica, or any other cities on the West, I could just take the 405. It seemed perfect!

I called one of the property managers and I was probably on the phone with her for close to an hour. She answered my questions, and told me all about Sherman Oaks, which I learned is in The Valley.

Mostly, I was so taken by her kindness and generosity with her time. She wasn't turned off by the fact that I'm an actor and didn't seem at all phased that we would essentially be applying for the apartment from across the country. Apparently, it's a pretty common thing in LA.

My husband and I decided that day to just go for it, and we had her send us all of the paperwork and applications that we would need to fill out. It took about 3 days to get everything together. Because we were coming from the other coast, we had to get everything notarized, which added a bit more time to that. The only thing that gave me anxiety was sending the deposit. You hear so many horror stories about people getting scammed, but once again, I just had this strong belief that everything was going to work out.

We got approved for the apartment, but would not be able to move in till Feb. Luckily, I had a very generous friend that let me crash with her until I could move into my new apartment.

NOTE: Make sure that the apartment you want comes with a refrigerator. I'm so serious, lol. A lot of apartments do NOT come with a fridge so you need to budget for that. You can get a good used fridge on Craigslist for under $300, including delivery. You just have to search around. There are entire businesses dedicated to selling and delivering used fridges on Craigslist.

Nailing Down Transportation

Initially, I had planned to purchase a car. I got a great auto loan from my bank and called the nearest Volkswagen dealer to where my apartment would be. When I called and explained my situation, they were, just like the building manager, undeterred by the fact that this entire transaction would be done via phone and email. But after asking me a series of questions about my lifestyle and budget, the dealer asked me if I had considered leasing a car instead. I hadn't, but when we explained to me the benefits of a lease, I was sold.

After I told him I wanted a Jetta, he ran my credit, told me how much my payments would be, and asked me to choose my color. When I wasn't sure which color I wanted, he actually texted me photos of a few different cars on his lot so I could choose the color I wanted. Once I got to LA, I would come in to sign the paperwork and drive off with my car.

When I lost my Texas License a couple years prior, I had gone and gotten a NYC driver's license so I didn't have to worry about being able to legally drive when I got to California.

Packing and Purging

This is the part that sucked. Ugh.



Having lived in NYC for 8 years, we had accumulated a great deal of things. Our last apartment in NYC was a huge 2 bedroom and so dealing with the furniture and personal items was a drag. We decided very quickly that we weren't going to keep anything large. We were going to take clothes, shoes, books, and anything that we just couldn't part with. Everything else was posted for sale on Craigslist, given away, or thrown away. We would start fresh with furniture in LA.

In order to save on shipping costs, I had to purge a lot of my clothes and shoes. I donated almost all of my winter stuff to a friend's church, and took everything else to Goodwill. I went through every article of clothing and gave away what I felt I would no longer wear. From what was left, whatever wouldn't fit in a suitcase, was packed into boxes and shipped. My makeup alone was like 3 boxes worth, haha.

I think, in total, I probably had 10 boxes of just MY stuff. I can't remember how much my husband had, but he's not sentimental and it's easy for him to just get rid of things. In fact, after I had moved and he was finishing up the NYC apartment, he threw away a wedding item that was very precious to me. I still get mad when I think about it. Anyway. Altogether, we spent at between $500-$700 on shipping, but I can't remember the exact number.

I'm Here! | My First Few Days

Let me just note that the morning I moved, it was 18˚ in New York. When I landed at LAX, it was 81˚.

Just sayin'.



So anyway. Before flying out, I'd arranged for a taxi to pick me up from the airport. I went straight to the Volkswagen dealership (with all of my luggage) to get my car. After filling out all of the paperwork, and paying my deposit, I finally had my car! The entire process took close to 2 hours.

Once I was in my car, I sat there for about 15 minutes before I worked up the courage to drive off the lot. I hadn't driven a car in about 4 years and I was really nervous! My first stop was to see our apartment in person so I could sign the lease. The apartment was just as nice as the photos and so was the neighborhood. I took some photos to send to my husband and then headed to my friend's apartment.

She wasn't there, but had left me keys so I could get in. After dropping my stuff, I met her and her best friend at an adorable little cafe. We ate, caught up and they gave me a little LA crash course. Then I went back to her place and crashed. I was utterly exhausted.

The next few days were filled with meetings. I signed my contracts at Clear Talent Group, CESD, and met with AKA. Then went back a couple days later to sign.

A day or two after arriving, I had my first audition, which was for Rizzoli & Isles. It wasn't the role that I ended up booking, but I did go to producers for my first LA audition!


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This concludes Part 1. In Part 2, I'll touch on the random things that I've learned these last couple of years. The post goes live on the 18th so keep an eye out for it!



4 comments:

  1. Just want to say a huge THANK YOU for this post! I'm not a model/actress but work in the TV industry on the east coast and am planning a move to the west (giving myself a year to save :-\). & this blog post has already been SO helpful for me. Many thanks and I look forward to Part 2. Thanks again for sharing.

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  2. Lots of people move to LA because of career opportunities. You story is amazing! Thank you for sharing it! You inspired me! Thank you! Greetings!

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