1 So, I moved to Los Angeles | Learning From Strangers

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So, I moved to Los Angeles

Hey Everybody!

If you noticed that I’ve been MIA, it’s because I’ve been overwhelmed (in a good way) with readjusting my life in Los Angeles. Guys, I AM SO THRILLED TO BE in SoCal, you can’t even imagine! This move was a long time coming and there were moments leading up to it that freaked me out, BUT I am SO grateful I did it because I’m only 2.5 weeks in to my new surroundings and I’m already loving every second. For those of you who are still with me, thanks for sticking around. I told you I’d be back and I’m excited to show you my new adventures, the people of Los Angeles, the things I’m learning as I go, and whatever the hell else I fancy writing about. You tha real MVP!

Oh yeah, and my readers know that most of my content has been tailored for the outdoor enthusiast and history buff. I’m still going to include those types of stories, but on account I know nothing about LA that isn’t already popular knowledge at this point, I’m going to fill these pages with stuff from my day-to-day until I can build an arsenal of cool, less known, stories to keep the brand “Learning From Strangers” on point.

So, you’re probably wondering why I up and moved here (if I haven’t already disclosed my reasons to you), how I prepared, what compromises I’ve had to make for this move and what Los Angeles has that Albuquerque doesn’t?

Why did I move to Los Angeles from Albuquerque?

The first reason is JOBS! I am a content creator, a videographer, photographer, writer, social media guru, multimedia specialist of sorts, a Jane of all trades in the digitalscape and let me tell you that jobs for me are hard to find in Albuquerque, let alone in the whole of New Mexico. When I moved to Albuquerque 2.5 years ago, I quickly learned that the job market wasn’t about what I knew but rather who I knew and that the market was super connected and super small. Without hesitation, I got a part time retail job for minimum wage plus $.25 “because I had a degree” and got to work volunteering for the Democratic Party of New Mexico on the side, which led me to another stint with the Kirtland Partnership Committee, and then another stint with the Kirtland Air Force Base Public Affairs Department and then the New Mexico Air National Guard, and then the Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity and finally the Air Force Research Laboratory. Most of these jobs I got because I knew someone through the pipeline who liked my work and wanted someone like me on their team, or I straight up called them, told them about what I did and worked for them for MANY MONTHS for FREE, yes, ZERO dollars, for the professional experience and the slight chance that maybe I might meet someone and get a referral. I don’t regret any second of it, all of it was a learning experience and added to my success story and professional growth, but I have to admit that although I tried to work as strategically as I could to network, land gigs and push myself to new levels of expertise, I knew that I’d have to eventually get the hell out of dodge and come to the center of the multimedia universe, LA, where opportunity is more plenty and where I had a fantastic chance of becoming the best I could be in my profession. So, that’s what I did. Luckily, my last contract ended and that was the catalyst for me moving to Los Angeles.

The job market in Los Angeles is HEALTHY folks! There are so many jobs for content creators, videographers, social media coordinators and strategists. I’m talking HUNDREDS of jobs for professionals like me. Remember, this is startup country, this is consumer-brand country, this is the empire of all the media trends you’re favoriting right now on Instagram, this is the ABSOLUTE place to be if you’re a digital media guru who is wanting to work with the biggest and best brands in the world. Right here! Right now! We’re talking Vice, Netflix, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Marvel Studios, Sony Pictures, celebrities (if you’re into that), and whatever the hell else your heart desires. Now I understand why people come here and in a way it’s inexplicable.

The second reason is access and climate. Granted, I can say that when living in Albuquerque, I felt pretty connected to Denver and Phoenix and El Paso. OK, scratch El Paso; kinda nothing going on there – lol! But you get my drift. Any 4-6 hour drive out of Albuquerque and you’ll end up at White Sands, New Mexico, Canyon De Chelly or Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona or Denver, Colorado. I loved this; I loved that you could hit the road and 30 minutes outside of ABQ, you were the only soul in site; just a complete, desolate and beautiful landscape all to yourself. Also, New Mexico’s outdoor experiences require a lifetime of adventure and exploration. I LOVE this about New Mexico, too! But, come on now, Los Angeles is central to San Fran and San Diego – two MAJOR cities, West of beautiful Death Valley with Dante’s View, home to breathtaking beaches like Santa Monica and Huntington Beach and PALM TREES. Ok, ok, tomato, tomáto. I get it, this is a personal preference kind of thing, but right now, this is my preference. AND LAX sells unequivocally cheaper international flights because it’s one of the largest international airports in the world! For a world traveler like myself, this is a BIG plus.

How did I prepare for my move to Los Angeles?

I saved. Simply that. I knew that when Andriy and I came here that I wouldn’t want to be scrambling to exist and survive. I wanted it to be as smooth a transition as possible and enjoyable, at that. I had the privilege of a smooth transition because I saved and prepared for the finances that such a move required. We sold all of our big furniture and downsized, knowing we could replace everything once we got here. Plus we have never been materialistic aside from our obsession with electronics. We road tripped over here in two small cars, a Honda Fit and Civic, packed to the brim with only our necessities.

We also knew that finding a place in Los Angeles was going to be a rat race unlike we had ever experienced, and it was. For this leg, we booked an Airbnb in advance for a duration of two weeks. This was a tremendously smart strategy because it gave us two weeks, which we used to the very last day, to find our new place. We looked at every neighborhood within our budget, we’re talking a max of $1500 a month (which many people in LA would laugh at): Santa Monica, Mid Wilshire Koreatown, Mid City, East Los Angeles, Silver Lake, Echo Park and Culver City. We eventually found a steal in a safe and convenient part of Mid Wilshire Koreatown, next to the Koreatown Galleria where we do our grocery shopping. There are great steals across the city if you give yourself enough time to hunt for them. Oh yeah, we also knew we would have to prove our financial standing signing a new lease, which we did.

A couple of things to note when apartment hunting in Los Angeles:

  • If you have a pet, it’s going to be a major price difference in rent for your furry loved ones.
  • Most places renting bachelors don’t allow couples. I honestly didn’t know what a bachelor apartment was until I started apartment hunting here. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a studio with a kitchenette and they’re significantly cheaper than a standard studio. I wasn’t willing to compromise a full kitchen for a kitchenette because I cook my meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Drive by your potential home at night. Observe what folks are doing there; are couples out walking? Are women with their children? Is there adequate street parking?
  • Is your place rent controlled? If you rent in the City of Los Angeles, your rental unit may be subject to the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), if the property was built on or before October 1, 1978. Newly constructed units that replaced demolished RSO rental units may also be covered under the RSO – this will determine whether your landlord can hike up your rent after your first lease contract.
  • What amenities are in your neighborhood? If you’re kitty-corner to a Whole Foods or Trader Joes, just know you’re going to pay for that, even if your place is a POS.

 

Yeah, pretty much  what you pay for in Los Angeles is convenience.  The closer to Downtown Los Angeles that you live – where everything is happening – the more you’re going to pay in rent. The closer to the beach and movie studios, the more you’re going to pay for cost of living. It’s that simple.

Lastly, we’ve budgeted for a return road trip to Albuquerque, which we will take at the end of March to pick up the rest of our stuff. Depending from where you are coming to Los Angeles, you may have to consider this.

Andriy and I also prepared for Los Angeles by doing an exhausting amount of research. We needed to know the city’s layout, because Los Angeles is comprised of many cities in one. We needed to know the job market, beach access, safety score, walkability, and events happening throughout the city. We needed to be sure that to take this type of calculated risk would be worth it in every aspect of our lives – both professionally and leisurely. Los Angeles was it.

So, three major takeaways to prepare for your move to Los Angeles:

  • Save that dough
  • Travel light
  • Do your research

 

Oh yeah, and Los Angeles is a place about race and color. It’s got gentrified neighborhoods, minority neighborhoods and straight up dangerous ass ghetto neighborhoods – the whole gamut. I’ll probably touch on this topic in future posts since I’ve already connected with some subject matter experts in the area  and with whom I’ll be doing a photo tour of minority neighborhoods.

What are compromises I’ve had to make?

#1 are open freeways, which New Mexico has aplenty. Los Angeles does at certain intervals of the day, but mostly it’s riddled with TRAFFIC. The traffic here is everything you have ever heard it to be, but you have to mentally prepare yourself for that. Remember why you’re in Los Angeles, what you’re doing here and that the traffic is just part of it all. In fact, a rule of thumb when going anywhere is just to leave everything you once new behind and start fresh. That is the absolute best way to integrate yourself to a new and strange place.

#2 parking access, which, again, New Mexico has aplenty, except during the Balloon Fiesta and the State Fair. Otherwise, you can easily find parking in Albuquerque, even on its busiest days. Unfortunately, parking in Los Angeles is a travesty, especially in Koreatown and especially at night. Luckily, most of the streets have visible signs that read when the city will perform street cleaning, so move your car to avoid tickets. For safety precautions, keep your windows clean so criminals can see what you have inside and not feel the need to break your windows. Get a pedal jack anti-theft device, keep the interior of your car absolutely and quantumphysically clean of anything that might entice the curiosity of criminals, and whenever you park, whether in darkness or broad daylight, check your surroundings before you exit and enter the car. This is a BIG city with muggings and crime just like any city has, but at a larger scale and with more people and you can never be too cautious or aware.

What’s next?

This is always a challenging question to answer because who in the hell knows what’s ever going to happen next, really? But I can tell you that I’ll be busy networking, making new friends, enjoying my new career adventures and becoming the best version of myself everyday. In fact, in just the two weeks I’ve been in Los Angeles, I’ve been reaching out to creatives on Instagram whose work I admire for the chance to collaborate with them. Luckily, a few have responded well to my inquiries and I’ve already hit the town with them and explored my new big and wild backyard. Peep the photos 😊

murals of dtla

This is James. He works in TV, but at one point in his career he owned and ran a toy shop in Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles. The store isn’t there now, he kind of weened off of it, or it off of him, a couple years back, but that’s okay, because he still has one hell of an arsenal of stories from his time doing it. One such story is about his vetting with the homeless Head Honcho – the “protector”- on 5th St; the strip is a haven for homeless folks, where they pitch their tents and and cook their meals on the sidewalk – a community of sorts. Anyway, whenever James received his load of new product, the van would have to enter through 5th St to access the back of the toy store where restocking could take place more discreetly. The restock would usually go all day, once a week, and the van wouldn’t pull out until late at night, when it was already dark outside. This became a bit of a struggle for James’ van crew who would have to navigate through the density of homelessness on 5th St. One week, the Head Honcho – the “protector” – caught on to James’ struggle. He approached James and told him he was the man in charge of the block and that James and his people would be taken care of by him and his crew. Sure enough, James’ deliveries became less hectic and the Head Honcho delivered his word – he kept an eye on James, his delivery crew and his community of fellow homeless folks. A few weeks passed and James became curious. He wanted to know more about the Head Honcho, so he asked him – Who are you? The Head Honcho told James that he used to be a big time corporate leader for a major firm in Los Angeles. He led that life and career for many years, but it started to get to him. The wear and tear of power changed his mind over time; he started to see that he became less human and that the rat race was consuming him. So, he snapped. One day, he walked out of his life, he gave everything up and moved to the streets where the struggle is real, but, most importantly,  where he wants to be. After learning this story from James, I couldn’t help but connect the dots. I feel like some folks have an innate calling to lead or be in charge no matter their environment. It seemed to me that although the Head Honcho left his swanky corporate life for the street life, because his power became too much to bear, that indeed he ended up finding that power again, just in a different role and in a different environment, as the Head Honcho of 5th St DTLA.

beers and photography la photo tour

 

the spirit guild dtla

This is the Beers and Camera LA crew. I found out about the group through a new contact from Instagram. The group is really neat and meets once every two weeks in a new part of the city. Usually about 20 folks show up with all sorts of cameras and bearing all sorts of levels of expertise. I explored DTLA with the crew, specifically in the Arts District, and had a blast doing so. At one point along our tour we came across The Spirit Guild that proudly boasts being the only distillery in the world who make a particular blend of vodka solely from tangerines. The little but quaint shop smelled intensely of sweet tangerines and the midcentury styled interior of the place matched the trendy vibes of the people who worked there. Just by passing through, the owner offered us a short but sweet tour of the place.

views from the griffith observatory

 

los angeles skyline

This is the Griffith Observatory. It was built and gifted to the city of Los Angeles by Colonel Griffith J Griffith – yes, that was really his name. The observatory sits in the Hollywood Hills Park, which comprises of 3,105 acres. When Colonel Griffith made his offer to Los Angeles, the population at the time was around 100 thousand. Today, LA is home to roughly 10 million people. So, why an astrological observatory, you ask? Well, Col Griffith had an obsession for the stars. His love for the science led him to meet with some of the discipline’s greatest thinkers. He decided to construct a telescope that would provide an unobstructed view of the sky and Los Angeles’ skyline in a panorama experience and one that would alter a person’s view of the world forever. A fun fact that I picked up from the observatory is that traffic in LA can cause a five hour span  for one to cross the LA basin, which is the same amount of time that it takes for the Sun’s light to travel and hit Pluto.

If you decide to hike the Hollywood Hills to the Griffith Observatory, I suggest you start your day early. If you start from the base of the hills, there is more parking options at the park parking lot, but if you decide to check out the observatory, then parking is limited and costly. Parking at the Hollywood Hills Park parking lot is free, unless otherwise stated. If you come to the observatory straight away, remember the following times during which you can park for free:
  • Monday – Friday before 12 PM. Otherwise, it’s $4/hr from 12 to 10 PM
  • Saturday & Sunday before 10 AM. Otherwise, it’s $4/hr from 10 AM to 10 PM.

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