It's been almost exactly 3 years since I did the dumbest thing someone could do in their late 20's. I packed up my car with as much stuff as I could fit in it and drove cross country from Atlanta, GA to Los Angeles, CA. I know what you're thinking. How is that the dumbest thing you can do when people do it all the time? Well, I did it on a whim with no job offer, no place to live, and very little money saved. It's not easy, but it IS possible.
I've always dreamed of living in Los Angeles ever since I was in high school and I watched the show Laguna Beach and then the spinoff, The Hills. They made it look so glamorous and I thought that all of Los Angeles was like that as well. Although it didn't turn out to be quite as glamorous as they made it seem, I still absolutely love this city and I never want to leave. It wasn't an easy journey but now I have a full-time job working in my field and my own studio apartment. I'm going share with you my advice on moving to Los Angeles by yourself even if you don't have a job offer lined up or a place to live.
1. Have a Car
This list is geared more towards people who plan to drive to Los Angeles. I think it would be difficult to survive here without a car but not impossible. And although Los Angeles has a really great public transit system that you can still always use, having your own car can help you in a bind if you need to sleep in it for a night or two until you can find a place. There are currently no laws against sleeping in your car overnight in the city of Los Angeles but it may be illegal in other cities such as Newport Beach. Make sure to look up the law for the city you want to stay in before you try it. However, there may be times when you can't find a place the first few days, which brings me to Tip #2.
2. Join CouchSurfing
CouchSurfing is an excellent service that allows you to sleep on someone's couch for few nights for free. It even says this on their website on the Los Angeles page...
CouchSurfing is literally made for people like you and me. A risk-taker and dreamer. If you're a female, I would be a little cautious when choosing male hosts. Although safety is their top priority according to their infographic, you can never be too safe. However, I have male friends who are hosts and they are some of the nicest guys around so it could be a great resource to try. They also have meetup and hangout events around town so that you can meet new people. Speaking of meeting new people, Tip #3 really helped me.
3. Join Meetup.com
Meetup is another really great website that I can't recommend enough. You can go to different events around Los Angeles that are related to your interests. For instance, if you like going on hikes but don't want to go alone, you can join a hiking meetup and have other people to go hiking with. It's a great way to meet new people and it's personally how I met most of my friends within my first two weeks of moving here. Most people who go to the meetup events will most likely be strangers to everyone but since you're all there for a common interest, it's really easy to enjoy yourself and make meaningful relationships in the process. I went to my first StreetMeetLA photo walk meetup after a week of moving here and it's still an event I attend and look forward to even after 3 years.
4. Sign up with a Creative Staffing Agency
If you want to work in the creative industry then I highly recommend signing up with a creative staffing agency. The two that I used were Creative Circle and 24Seven Talent. There are other agencies you can find but these were ones that I signed up with. Creative Circle provided me with several freelance jobs with really well known companies. It allowed me to experience different types of workplaces and build my resume. 24Seven Talent is the agency that connected me with my current full-time job. It doesn't cost anything to sign up and it's a great way to gain experience and network with other professionals.
5. Sign up to Drive for Gig Apps
There are several gig apps you can work for in Los Angeles such as Uber, Postmates, Doordash etc. This is another reason why it's really good to have a car here. It's a great way to make money and you can even do it full-time and make a living off of it. If you sign up for Postmates, you can use my referral code FL-h9mm6 for an incentive bonus after 65 deliveries.
6. Find Housing on Facebook Groups or Westside Rentals
I'm sure there's plenty of places online to find housing but I personally had great success using these two. There are a few Los Angeles housing Facebook groups where people post sublets, or looking for roommates, or even renting out entire apartments. There's even one that's just for females only. I found a room to rent in a house through one of those groups which I lived in for a little over two years. Because I was just renting a room, I was able to save up and eventually found my current apartment on Westside Rentals. The reason why I'm mentioning them specifically is because I found a place I was interested in the first day I signed up. I went to look at it the next day and applied the day after that and got approved. It's a paid monthly subscription service but I felt it was worth it even though I ended up only needing it for 1 day since they only list verified apartments for rent.
7. Location, Location, Location
Traffic in Los Angeles sucks. That's the truth. You can probably get around faster by taking local roads rather than the interstates, but it's best to try and live close to your job to have a short commute. With that being said, sometimes you don't really have a choice on where you live because some neighborhoods are cheaper than others. Los Angeles has an extremely wide range of housing costs and rent prices. On one end you have places where celebrities live like Beverly Hills and Bel Air. And on the other end there are more affordable places like Koreatown and South Central.
Just be careful around some of the cheaper neighborhoods as safety could be an issue. The room I was renting was in East LA in Boyle Heights and although the rent was very affordable, some guys attempted to break in the house one day and broke a window. Luckily for me, I was already planning to move out when that happened and left later that week.
8. Affordable Income Housing
Some people might not be aware that some of the more expensive apartment complexes in Los Angeles have a few units in every building that are reserved for affordable income housing applicants. It's a government program that's simpler than Section-8. You need to be making less than a certain amount a year and you can apply directly to the apartment. Just ask the apartment that offers it to be added to the waiting list. That's the only downside to this is that the waiting list can be very long and can take upwards of a year or more to reach your name. But if you are lucky enough to get picked and qualify, you can be renting a $3,000 apartment for only around $900. I feel like it's still worth it to join the waiting list because that would be a great opportunity for you.
9. Spend Less for Name Brand
I only recently discovered the 99 Cents Only Store but it's seriously my new favorite place. It's like other dollar stores but I find so many name brand food here that I would normally spend $3-5 at a regular grocery store. Almost everything in there is only .99 cents but the only catch is that some items may be close to the expiration date within a few weeks. But there are a lot of items that still have a really long shelf life and it's great to stock up. My freezer is currently piled high with frozen dinners that I would have bought anyway for $3/each at Ralph's. That's just extra money in your pocket for Tip #10.
10. Have Fun and Take it All In
My last and final advice for you is after all of that to just relax, take it all in, and have fun! You're finally living your dream and living in Los Angeles! There are so many great food options throughout the city and plenty of things to do. Before moving here, I had never been to Disneyland. After I was working for awhile and saved up, I bought an annual pass and I went AT LEAST twice a week during that year. I was literally a kid again whenever I went. I also made a ton of friends by regulary attending a Disneyland meetup. So what I'm saying is to first work hard, network, and HUSTLE. You'll be successful in no time and be a true local Angelean. (I don't think people actually say that here.)
I hope these 10 tips on how to move to Los Angeles with no money or job inspired you and I wish you the very best of luck on your own journey. Let me know in the comments if you know of any additional tips or if you plan on taking the leap and move here yourself. Thank you for reading!