Everyone has a different take on the sprawling suburban metropolis that is Los Angeles--from singles to families, students to entertainment industry folks. Arguably, few have as an innate an understanding of this city as locals who grew up here. Totally different flavors for different neighborhoods notwithstanding, there are some common threads between all of our experiences that deserve to be shared with those considering a move. So, I amassed these important LA moving tips from local natives in hopes that prospective Angelinos could learn a valuable thing or two from some of the best and most varied resources in town.
I would caution people against paying more for a house because it's in a "good school district". Schools change quickly and you can always permit or lottery somewhere great. Or, you can save your money, buy a house a block away and send your kids to private school.
Jessica Gottlieb, mother/blogger
First and foremost: buy or rent a car. This is more important than even finding housing. How will you find a place to live when you can't even get around the city to house hunt?
Know your neighborhood. Before committing to a lease or mortgage, canvas the area for your basic necessities. Do you have to drive for 20 minutes to find a grocery store? Where is the nearest dry cleaners? How expensive is gas in your neighborhood?
Diversify your party area. Too often, locals get comfortable in their local neighborhood for their social needs. Manhattan Beach residents spend time in Manhattan Beach. West LA sticks with West LA. But Los Angeles has so much to offer, so it's important to go outside your comfort zone. Downtown LA, Santa Monica and the Valley all have something going on almost everyday. Don't miss out because you don't want to make the drive!
Ashley Dos Santos, public relations account supervisor
Don't feel like you have to fulfill the LA stereotype: the idea of a self-absorbed, wannabe actor, bimbo club girl/guy being the typical one perpetuated by the media. But, know what? Most of those people are actually transplants, themselves. To immerse yourself in the real LA, check out somewhere--anywhere--other than the Sunset Strip on a Saturday night. But if you do insist on doing the Hollywood scene, one stereotype's true: you've got to look like you belong, or be sleeping with someone who actually does.
Jeff Miller, website editor
You absolutely must have a car in Los Angeles. There is a rapid transit system of sorts, but, really? Not so much. I advise that when you move here you have a basic, easy to repair, solid working vehicle with windows, doors and a trunk that locks. Be prepared to start thinking of your car as an extension of your house. [Have ] a change of clothes, snacks, spare make up, even office supplies [in your car]. I have a gift wrap kit in my car for impromptu birthdays and hostess gifts.
LA is a city you have to discover. Being a collection of villages that have grown together, it's not laid out in an obvious way. And it's peopled by every culture on Earth, a lot of whom have their little cultural centers. So even though I've lived here all my life I always try to leave a little time to take an alternate route because I never know what I'm going to find: a spectacular view, a new coffee house, an amazing garden.
Karyn Wagner, costume designer
You need to do two things: pick the exact neighborhood you want to live in (and do your homework), and learn patience. Traffic is part of the everyday life of an Angelino, and your car is your best friend. I average over 20,000 miles of driving a year. I'm a suburban kid, so from Conejo Valley, to the San Fernando Valley, all I know are the valleys, and I love them. It's important to know all the things you need, and make sure they're within a couple miles of where you live. Raising a family? pick the right neighborhoods with schools. Single and ready? Hollywood, West Hollywood, Santa Monica are great spots. Artsy? Silver Lake, Eagle Rock..
Brian S. Gross, publicist
Depending on where you are in the city, people can be completely different. As a native who grew up in the Pasadena area--which has developed much differently than many other suburbs in the area and has a sort of, almost Midwestern feel to it--West Siders remind me almost of New Yorkers. When I go to that side of town, I feel like I’m in another city. People who live in the San Fernando Valley, or by the beach, or by Orange County or East Los Angeles each have their own way of interacting with each other that can make you feel like you are in completely different cities (not just the LA metropolitan area). My recommendation to transplants, then? Visit a couple of different areas around town to see what’s right for you.
Brian Sheridan, development/communications director
Cultivate an obsessive understanding of where the city streets begin and end, and learn to call the non-freeways "surface streets." Your status as an Angelino depends on it. Yes, you'll have to face the fact that National Boulevard actually crosses National Boulevard and San Vicente is two different streets miles apart, but once you do, your life will become effortless. You can get your directions off the internet, but when something goes wrong, you're going to want a Thomas Guide in your glove box.
The transit system here actually works. If you don't mind sitting on a bus, you can get almost anywhere.
Love your local airport. Sometimes the $50 difference in a ticket between Burbank and LAX pays for itself by saving you time and heartache.
Mark Palmer, writer
LA seasons aren't winter, summer, spring and fall. They are earthquake, fire, mudslide and parched. So If you are thinking about buying a house have a geological done. I didn't realize I live in retrofitted swampland so when it rains we flood. On top of homeowners insurance, I needed flood insurance.
Kerri Zane, lifestyle expert