I will not deny one of the things I really love about Los Angeles is waking up each and every day to extremely bright sunshine it is an amazing feeling to get out of bed and know that the weather is going to be amazing.
I dreamed of living in LA as a kid growing up in Buffalo, New York a far cry from Los Angeles and a culture shock upon arriving.
In 1979, I talked my high school teacher’s aide named Debbie into bringing the drama class to Los Angeles for a trip. We were the first class at the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts. One great thing about Buffalo is the school system there today. Debbie had lived in LA and had moved back to Buffalo, we could not understand why she did that but if I remember correctly she had to take care of an ailing parent.
I’ve been here since 1990
I remember when I first got here, people were telling me LA was no joke, and either you succeeded quickly or you would end up returning wherever you came from. Over the years, I’ve seen that happen repeatedly. Today while many things are the same in LA as they were 30 years ago, things have also drastically changed.
One thing remains the same the lure of LA for people, especially young people to come here and make it big. It’s possible and I’ve seen it happen however there are certain things that you also have to consider besides that may or may not make you want to reconsider.
Los Angeles has always been the capital of show business but that has drastically changed over the last 10 years markets like Atlanta are exploding especially for Black talent as to where a lot of black movies black TV shows and even regular movies are being made. In addition, small towns and midsize towns have become more charming and affordable to LA people who can now do a lot of work from home thanks to technology.
While you have your eye on LA, LA has its eye on talent nationwide, including YouTube channels, podcasts, and more. You are ALWAYS in the driver’s seat when LA comes to you vs the other way around.
If you must come to Los Angeles I want to give you a few tips that are absolutely necessary to survive in this town.
Be prepared first and foremost.
LA is a beautiful place if you can get around a LOT of homeless people and traffic like you’ve never seen before those two things alone make a lot of people leave (150,000) in 2020 but if that doesn’t stop you…
LA TAKES A LOT OF MONEY: Get your inheritance from your parents and grandparents now.
LA is extremely expensive from rent to food to restaurants to gas to utilities you’re going to spend a lot of money in order to wake up to great sunshine each and every morning.
It seems that the middle class is gradually disappearing from the number 2 market and you are either homeless or willing to pay $1 million for a very basic house at this point. So make sure you come with as much money as you can.
Lack of Black Culture
For a city as big as LA the Black population is less than 10% Black it’s a majority Hispanic and White so if you come from a place where you love backyard barbecues and old-school music and black nightclubs you’re probably going to be very disappointed.
That’s not to say that these places don’t exist but you have to drive into the certain parts of town to get to them. Seem easy? Please see the next paragraph about driving in LA.
Traffic, Like You’ve NEVER Seen!!
You literally and I mean literally may have to book a hotel room if you’re driving across town at almost any given time in Los Angeles.
Your chances of getting back in a reasonable amount of time are very slim not only if you run into the rush hours but also for most of the day and even well into the night.
You have absolutely never seen traffic like traffic in Los Angeles. It makes you tired and makes you frustrated and it pisses you off so if you don’t mind sitting in traffic for extremely long periods of time welcome to LA.
I have literally known people who left LA JUST because of the traffic.
Renting an Apartment
Be prepared to provide any and everything to prove your creditworthiness to get an apartment in Los Angeles the average price for a one bedroom on the lower end it’s gonna be about $2100 on the high end can be anywhere from 5000+ per month.
There is no guarantee that $2100 is not going to come with a lot of problems. NEVER rent on the first floor, always get the highest floor possible. Landlords are seemingly very lenient on people with several kids moving into one-bedroom apartments above you and it can be a nightmare.
Note that if you like the sun … MOST apartment complexes will show you the hardest to rent places FIRST, usually dark during the day, on the first floor and undesireable there’s a good chance they may even tell you that’s all they have, be willing to leave and watch more apartments magically appear. If they don’t keep walking. Remember you have to live there for the next year.
The best deals are in the valley of LA which at one time wasn’t too far but when you consider traffic it’s actually pretty far now to get into mid-city or Hollywood and other areas.
The other great thing about The Valley is less traffic restrictions and signs. If you park anywhere in LA you are going to either pay a meter or the tow company to pick up your car. The signs are so confusing you would be better off paying for parking in a lot.
In addition, the city has been known to put signs up at night with twist ties that were not there when you parked and you may return to see that your car has been towed.
Los Angeles has become a Hub of Smaller Cities
Be prepared to spend a lot of time wherever you live because of traffic it’s a necessity if you have appointments or other things on the other side of the city or you want to go to the beach or have activities you have to plan well ahead I’m talking days maybe even weeks.
Make sure you live near grocery stores, gyms etc.
It is amazing that 150,000 left the city last year but it seems even more crowded I would surmise that comes from the fact that many people are a 3, 4 and five deep in an apartment and they all have cars instead of one person having the apartment and one car this is what’s causing the traffic problem in LA.
This really hasn’t changed much since I first got to Los Angeles 30 years ago The late Luther Vandross once told me the best way to survive in LA is a find a small group of friends and do everything with that group.
He was absolutely right if you’re in the business as in entertainment you’ll find very few friends and a lot of competition … be prepared.
Unfortunately, whenever a place is competitive people tend to shy away from friendships and more on their craft.
You may spend a lot of time alone as you get used to Los Angeles but eventually, you’ll find your place and space. I’ve known many people who come to LA as very nice people who ended up very hard. LA can change you.
Buying a Home
You will be shocked when you see what you will get for what is becoming more and more the average price of home at $1 million.
A similar house in any other market would easily be half the price or even less. $1 million is not gonna buy you a whole lot of house in Los Angeles.
If at some point you want to get out of renting and buying a home is a better idea just know LA has some of the most expensive real estate in the country.
There is absolutely no shortage of Gyms in Los Angeles there’s almost one on every corner. In a place where looking good is paramount you will certainly have enough options to join the gym. You will also see a lot of people working out in the small parks around the city and there are many classes dedicated to Fitness at various Storefronts
You are very likely to see any number of celebrities at any given time during the day especially in places like Starbucks. You will see anybody from huge rock stars to reality stars but they never stay, they get in line, get their coffee and leave.
Most people ignore them but if you freak out and make a big fuss over them you will be completely out of place and make a fool of yourself.
Say hello and move on. Most of them don’t trust many people so they are often distant.
In all honesty truly successful people in Los Angeles do not meet at Starbucks but you will see a hell of a lot of people having conversations about the scripts they have written agents they have etc.
Auditions they have been on etc. Most of the people you will run into who are spending a lot of time in Starbucks are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Successful people in LA do a better job of being below the radar than those trying to make it. It makes sense, they have nothing to prove and nobody to impress.
One of the things that you’ll see immediately when you come to LA when you meet people is they will ask you what you do? This may seem rude but they are deciding if they want to have anything to do with you. If you tell them you are new in town and trying to get on, they may shun you. As I said earlier it’s very competitive.
You can survive in LA if you remain laser-focused on your goal and make sure you use your time wisely. There will always be time to hang out with friends and drinking but honing your craft is paramount if you want to succeed. And of course, a little luck goes a long way. Be in the right place at the right time.