"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Where to Live in LA

Every Struggling Actress needs to figure out where she wants to live in LA. I lived in Hollywood, across the street from West Hollywood when I first moved out here. I then moved to the valley in North Hollywood, then a mile over, on the Burbank border, and then to Studio City.

I liked living in Hollywood when I was 21 - the bustle! the tourist attractions nearby! the heavily chlorinated hot tub on the roof of my building! I did not like that I couldn't walk around the neighborhood by myself at night.

I grew up in a suburb of San Jose and am used to the plazas, the parks, the spread out everything, so when I moved to the valley, I felt right at home. I also love the warmer temperatures in the winter.

My aunt loves the Westside. You don't even need air conditioning on the Westside! And those in Santa Monica will never move elsewhere. Seriously, they won't: Rent control!

And as many actors and actresses graduate college, they try to figure out where they should live. Like Shelby here:

Hi Lira!
First off, thanks so much for providing a way for people to contact you and ask you what is likely the same question over and over! I'll try to keep this short and sweet so as not to waste your time. 
I'm about to graduate from Baylor with BFA (or degree in pretend, whichever) and my parents are graciously allowing me to move back in with them to focus on working. My goal is to have at least $10,000 saved up before I head out to LA. I also already have a car paid off, but might sell it to get something more full efficient.  
Ugh, the question! I've been looking at places to live, things I need to do, reading blogs, reading books, and I feel like I'm absolutely inundated with information. One thing I am wondering though, do you have any ideas where a single gal with a cat should look to live? I'd love to be on my own, but most of the places I've seen that fit my price range are in Koreatown/Mid-Wilshire. Would I be safe there? 
I'm sure this seems like an inane question, but I hope you won't mind me asking. Also I'm officially the creepiest of the creeps because I've been going through your blog the past few days and only recently noticed there's an app that shows who's looking from where. So, the person from Waco who keeps showing up is me, sorry 'bout it!
In case you can't tell, I'm the least succinct person ever. Your blog is a wonderful fount of information and I really feel like you've covered most anything else I would have asked, even if I want to ask again because I'm a worry wart and over plan. 
If you took the time to read this monstrosity, thank you! Best of luck in all that you're doing, break all the legs!
 Hi Shelby! Thanks for reading.

I need a few more things before I can answer your question to the best of my ability:

1) What is your price point for apartments? Are you willing to live with a roommate?
2) What type of job will you be working in TX to save up for your LA move?
3) Have you been to LA before?

 Thanks so much for taking the time to answer!
1. At this point, I'm not sure about the price point. I'm looking at things that are 1200 or less for 1 bed 1 bath, but I would live with a roommate if there was that option. I would rather not live with someone I don't know, and I do have friends going/that are already there that I'm going to hit up when it gets closer to my move date, I just don't want to count on it if I don't have it. 
2. I'm going to be serving, as much as possible. I've served all through college at Mexican food places, and I'm going to try to get a job at a higher end place to give me more experience. 
3. I have not been to LA before. I'm going to go for a week or two this summer to really scope everything out before I move in the fall. I'm just trying to get some sort of idea of what would be the best place to look for in terms of price, availability for auditions and such, and safety. Most of the people I know who are there have been for five years or less, so I thought I'd get the opinion of someone who's had a little more stability in that sense.

Okay Shelby, here we go! 

You should probably have more than $10,000 saved up. Heartbreaking, right? I know, I know. But when you move here (and it IS expensive to do so, but save your receipts cause it's tax deductible!) you need to have enough for at least 6 months of living expenses, including rent, groceries etc, because most likely, it will take you that long to secure a job here. Okay, it probably won't take you THAT long, but have that money in your pocket.

You also need to be in an acting class every month for your first year here. It's networking I didn't realize existed, and acting classes are expensive. Take a few months here, a few months there, and broaden your circle. You'll meet people who are happy to give you free advice because they too are living the life. 

As far as the Koreatown/Mid-Wilshire district goes, I can't really help you there cause there are very few casting facilities there and I'm not there that often. Yes, the rent is cheap, and it is a neighborhood that is building itself up again, but I'm really not someone who can tell you whether it's safe or not because I don't live there and don't travel there.

That being said, I also don't have many friends who live there. I have one. He is a guy. A single gal on her own? No, my gut is telling you no. He complains about helicopters all the time; police helicopters.

This is an older article on where to live from Backstage, but most of it still rings true.

As for living alone - I honestly do not recommend it when you first move out here. Get a roommate. You'll want someone to bounce ideas off of, to go with to that new brunch spot, to get advice on where to go on a date. It's nice to have someone to watch movies with, to possibly borrow some clothes from, to go out with for midnight cravings of Animal Fries.

Also, you could find a really nice place for $1,800/month that you can split with a roommate for only $900. Safe neighborhood with plenty of street parking, and you'd still be saving hundreds of dollars on your ideal dream rent.

Okay, now onto your job: Serving! YAY! Girl, I done did that for 10 years and one of the girls I worked with was my Lady of Awesome at my wedding. You'll make some lifelong friends working in a restaurant and that's great. But you ALSO need to figure out another way you can make money that is not waiting tables. Something creative that you can do that will also create a bit of a side income where you won't go batshit crazy waiting on sometimes seriously rude people. It will be the happy counterpoint, and maybe, just maybe, a career that you will eventually get to make so much money off of, you won't have to wait tables anymore. Do you know how to build websites? How to knit Jayne hats? How to....um, I don't know! Whatever! But you'll need something creative that you can do so that you have another creative aspect of your life that isn't acting. Because, unfortunately, you won't be acting very much. You'll act a day here, a day there, maybe a week, maybe a few months in a play, etc, so find something that makes you feel creative, allows you to express yourself, and keep you sane.

I'm SO GLAD you're coming out here to scope out the town. Good for you! You should do quite a few touristy things while you're here, or otherwise you'll probably never do them because they're major traffic jams you tend to avoid as a resident.

You sound like you got a good head on your shoulders. Save as much money as you can (seriously, there are a ton of places for rent in the wintertime, which will give you more time to save money and more options of where to live.) and come out here knowing you're going to love LA, then hate it, then love it again, then hate it once more, and then come to peace with it.

LA can be a magical town filled with wonderful people who are surprisingly generous. Just remember that like attracts like, and you'll find them, no problem.

And like you said, BREAK ALL THE LEGS!!!!

and good luck!



  1. KNIT JAYNE HATS. I don't plan on ever coming out to LA but if I was to, I'd certainly knit Jayne hats for a living...if I could knit! :)

    1. Boo Yah, my fellow Browncoat.


  2. Thanks Lira!
    And hello, even if I could knit Jayne hats I wouldn't be able to sell them!
    This is great advice, and so detailed. You're great!
    Also, my computer hates me, sorry about the weird double comment/deleted comment mess.

    1. You could sell them as Sweet Jane Orange and Red Earflap hats. You can't copyright fashion. ;)

  3. Hi, my names Mikailah. I sent you an E mail today titled "Advice?". Anyways, this has nothing to do with that. I just wanted to say thank you so much for doing this blog because it is a *huge* help to me! I am a fan of this blog, and you, of course! You are a complete inspiration! (: THANKS FOR READING!

    1. Can you resend your email? I never got it. :(

    2. I just tried to. There must be a problem, because I got an email saying my message would be delayed. Uh, do I have the right email? Lol, idk.

    3. oh. Yeah. I had something else. Let's try that again, shall we? Haha. Resending now.

    4. Okay, Miss Lira, it has been sent (: And sorry about going into detail of my life so much, just wanted you to know so maybe you could help me! (:

  4. Hey nice blog,was a good informative read. I too am in a similar situation to the girl who asked this question but didn't see any recommendations on where she should look as far as areas. What would you recommend? I keep hearing Studio City,Culver City,West Hollywood and Sherman Oaks as the best places to look

    1. Did you read the Backstage article I linked to?

      I live in the valley and LOVE it. I grew up in suburbia and that's exactly what the valley is. It's also cheaper the further north you go.

      Recently, Silverlake and Los Feliz have had a huge resurgence in popularity. You'll find a ton of early to mid 20s people there. Also, due to gentrification, Downtown LA has become pretty popular. My only caveat is that there are no casting facilities down there and you will be stuck in traffic (like everyone else!) all the time.

      The best thing to do is go to losangeles.craigslist.com and search for what type of apartments pop up within your desires and limits. You'll probably see the same towns pop up over and over again.

      Good luck!


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