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How to Survive Los Angeles


L.A: the place I’ve lived for the past 4 years, is still a foreign world to me. As a small town upstate N.Y native, the pungent smell of dusty urine and skunk weed that greeted me when I arrived was terrifying as was the constant noise, now it’s what I associate with home. It took me nearly a year to somewhat assimilate to this strange land. It was difficult. Most transplants moved to L.A with a partner/friend, to join existing family that lived here, or attend school among peers in the exact same boat as them. I didn’t have that. While I did have a few friends already in L.A, I was basically alone and experiencing this all on my own.

I subleased a room in a quiet Burbank suburb for $800/month from an older married couple. They were former flower children who escaped a cult in the 70’s and didn’t leave their house after dark. I interned at a production company for free and was so fast at coverage I pretty much just watched South Park for 6 hours/day. I also worked and got fired from Target.

All of this was only in my first 9 months. I was completely unprepared for Los Angeles. And while I wouldn’t change my decision to move out here for anything, I do wish I knew a bit more of what I was getting myself into! That’s where this article comes in. I’ve compiled a list to help any newbies settle into their new SoCal lives!

  1. Where you live is a HUGE part of your identity. It’s one of the first things anyone will ask about you and most first impressions are based off of your answer.
  2. Los Angeles is huge! It’s not just a city but an entire county made up of nearly 5,000 sq miles.
  3. Friendships are tough. Many people out here are trying to make it in “the biz” (probably including you!) They’re career oriented and in a very competitive field. This can sometimes lead to flakiness and inauthenticity. Prepare yourself and remember that there are some amazing people out here. You just have to look for them.
  4. The more someone talks about working in the movies, the less likely they really do.
  5. Everyone is obsessed with looks. Whether you realize it or not you’ll find yourself starting to judge people a bit more than you used to. Keep yourself in check and remember that beauty is only skin deep.
  6. You’re probably gonna join a gym, go vegetarian/vegan, and say things like “can I get that with almond milk?”
  7. You will discuss traffic at least 3x/day. It is the go-to topic.
  8. When it rains everyone FREAKS OUT!
  9. When it gets below 60F everyone FREAKS OUT!
  10. You’ll see a celebrity at some point, shrug your shoulders, and go about your day. Angelenos sort of have an unspoken rule not to bother them.
  11. You will begin saying “the” before a highway number. ex) The 101, the 405.
  12. LA is LOUD so get yourself a white noise machine or a fan.
  13. It is so beautifully diverse. You can explore Little Ethiopia, Little Armenia, Korea Town etc all without leaving L.A!
  14. There are billboards everywhere. Don’t get distracted staring at them and {ahem} almost bump into the car ahead of you.
  15. LA natives are a very proud people. Watch what you say.
  16. Watch for bicyclists when driving. I’ve seen too many white sheets on the side of the road with mangled bicycles next to them. L.A has one of the highest cyclist mortality rates in the country.
  17. There is always something going on: plays, concerts, museums, movies…this is a cultural paradise. Don’t waste it!
  18. There are nearly half a million homeless people. The day you become desensitized to their presence is a sad day indeed.
  19. Up your reading comprehension skills. You’re gonna need it with the nightmarish parking signs out here.
  20. Parking validation is a very real very serious business and can be the difference between $6 and $18.

There you have it. I hope this has helped and if any of you have questions about L.A life or need a cheerleader to boost you up once you’re out here leave a comment below! I’ll try and get back to you!

Jaz Moore

About Jaz Moore

Jaz Moore is a writer/director living in Los Angeles with her best friend Cheeseburger the tortoise. She loves horror films, fears the sun, and wears her “Saved by the Bell” nightgown more than is socially acceptable. Follow her on twitter @JazMoore