When I tell people that I moved to Los Angeles from Philadelphia I often get asked two questions:
1. Why Los Angeles?
2. Was it scary moving with no job lined up?
The "why?" is always easy to answer. I have wanted to work in the film industry since high school when I realized that was an option for a career. Then I realized I wanted to pursue that dream in Los Angeles my sophomore year of college when I visited this amazing city for the first time. I have family that lives out here, and I visited them twice that year, once with my parents, and once to go to the AFI Film Festival with my cousin. I instantly fell in love with the city and its appreciation of the arts and film. I could already picture myself living here. Through the rest of college whenever anyone asked me what my plans were after graduation, my answer was always to move to Los Angeles. The "why" was always easy, the "how" was the hard part.
Once I graduated I had to begin facing the small realities that I never considered when I talked about wanting to move across the country. For example, Los Angeles does not really have a great public transportation system like in Philadelphia, so I'd have to figure out what to do about getting a car. Another factor was that my boyfriend and I (who had been dating for 8 years at the time), were trying to figure out our next moves as a couple. Jesse has always been supportive of my dream to move here, but he had to finish taking a series of business tests in Pennsylvania that would take him at least two more years. So we would definitely have to do long distance until he finished his testing, which I was not looking forward to.
I was also finding while applying to jobs, that not many companies were willing to hire a recent graduate who also had to move across the country and find a place to live before they could start working. This was when I realized that I would most likely have to take the leap and move without a job so companies could tell I was serious. This presented me with a whole new set of problems and questions.
The biggest question of course was, what if I don't get a job in the first month or so of being out there? I only had so much money saved up, and living in Los Angeles is expensive. The second was if I'm not sure where I will be working, how do I know where to look for an apartment? Los Angeles is a huge city, with a ton of traffic during the morning and evening commute times, what if I got a place that was an hour away from where I ended up getting a job? Now, of course, I don't have a magic answer for how any of this worked out, and there were many factors that led to me being able to make this leap.
A major factor that helped me through this process was my family's overwhelming support. My parents helped me in any way that they could in finding a car, an apartment, and doing research. My cousin, aunt, and uncle all were great in giving me advice on the area, and my job search. I also had the support of my lovely roommate Mackenzie, my friend from college who made the same move only a few months before me. And Jesse was amazing in supporting and encouraging me every step of the way and talking me down from my anxiety. I could not have made this move without them. With help from my amazing support team, and with a lot of research, I was able to solve a lot of my technical problems, and so I now just had to make the move.
Honestly, the biggest thing I needed to do was to get over my anxiety and fear of not having an exact plan. It may sound cheesy but, I needed to gain confidence in myself that I would be able to get a job, and handle moving away from my family. I have pretty extreme anxiety, it is something I have dealt with since high school, and so this move was a huge challenge to myself to prove that I could do whatever I put my mind to and that my anxiety shouldn't hold me back. So, I gave my self a timeline, picked a date to move, and booked my one-way ticket. This way whether I had a job or not, I had somewhat of a plan and knowing I had a date I was leaving made me want to work harder in my job search.
I applied to about 75 places, and I hoped I would hear from one before I moved. I did hear back from quite a few, but all of them were looking for someone to start right away, and couldn't wait until I moved. But then, as luck would have it, the day before my flight, I got an email back from my current company asking me to come in for an interview. The interview took place a few days later, and I've been with them ever since.
The New Routine
So I had done it, I made the move, found a great apartment with my friend/roommate, and had a job. But honestly, that turned out to be the easy part. What no one tells you about moving to a completely new place, is how you have to completely re-adapt once you are there. The first month I was a ball of nerves. There were nights where I would lay in my bed and just think, what did I do? I had to figure out a whole new area, a new work environment, and a new daily routine. After I got over the nerves, my homesickness kicked in. I missed my family, and Jesse and I had never been apart for more than a few weeks at a time. It took us some time to adjust to making sure we still gave each other as much time and consideration as we would in person, which was made more difficult with the added time change.
The first few weeks were especially hard because Mackenzie and I had no furniture. We both had an air mattress, and our clothes and that was pretty much all that was in our apartment. It is something you don't normally think about, but coming home every day to a completely empty apartment makes it very hard for it to feel like home. But, we would keep each other company every night by watching Gilmore Girls on my IPad, while talking about all the things we were excited about experiencing in this new city. Little by little, we furnished the apartment, making it our own, and now it is one of my favorite places in the world.
It definitely helped that I had Mackenzie for support, as she was going through the exact same emotions and doubts. But together, we helped each other tackle small problems we encountered such as having to find cheap ways to furnish our apartment. And eventually, the fear went away, and my new routine just became my routine. Jesse and I now have a solid routine of when we FaceTime, and we text constantly. We have also made it a point to switch off visiting each other every few months, which gives us something to look forward to. It is still not always easy, but it all does truly get better with time.
So if you are reading this post hoping for some tips on picking up and moving without a plan here is my best advice. Research and find out as much as you can about where you are moving to, and then just do it. There will never be the absolute perfect time, and if you are waiting for everything to fall into place before you move, it most likely won't happen that way. There is no secret formula or tips, everyone's journey will be different. But I hope that this post can help you see that as long as you do some research, and plan for everything you possibly can, the rest usually has a way of working its self out. And even after you make the move, there will still be hurdles. But, if you just give yourself time, that fear of being in a new place will turn into a feeling of being home. And I can say for sure that I have no regrets looking back on this amazing experience I have had so far in L.A., but I know I would have regretted never giving it a shot.
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