We’ve already established that London is the best place to be for an actor pursuing a career in the film or on stage. However, the mecca of screen acting remains in Los Angeles, while the UK capital holds the world’s strongest position for theater work and best drama school training.
But if your goal is to become a film actor and start in an established market with the most film work, moving to Lons Angeles is something you should strongly consider. However, even after aspiring actors move to Los Angeles, many get lost in the culture shock and forget to maximize their efforts to start acting, auditioning and training as soon as possible.
In this article, we’ll cover a little bit of what you need to think about after you move to Los Angeles. Ideally, you plan this out before the actual move rather than read this article after the fact.
Moving, whether it’s two neighborhoods over, next door, to a close by city, or across a country and especially to the other side of the world, is difficult. What will you need to do before you leave, and what will you need to have ready before you land in your new home? You need to start thinking about this as soon as possible.
Will everything happen on time, or will you move in to your new place without internet, without WiFi, without a fridge? For example, many apartments in London do come furnished. On the contrary, if you’re considering to start your acting career in Los Angeles, there are additional concerns to consider such as getting the most basic things like a refrigerator.
That being said, we have a checklist for all that you need to do after moving to Los Angeles — whether you’re moving from far, or perhaps more near, I recommend you follow these suggestions to make your move simpler and plan accordingly.
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12 Step Checklist for What to Do After Moving to Los Angeles
1. Update Your Address
One of the most forgotten steps in the moving process is making sure you don’t miss any mail. Before you vacate your home, cancel all deliveries, change your Amazon Prime address, update your contacts, and set up a forwarding address.
It’s also a good idea to check with your new landlord to determine what the mail situation is — can you have packages delivered to your front door? Can they be delivered easily from other countries? Are packages safe sitting on your porch, or in the doorway, in your neighborhood?
2. Recruit a Friend
If you’re flying to Los Angeles from the UK, India or somewhere else in the world, then you have no other option other than to do it by yourself (unless you have a curious wealthy friend to accompany you).
But if you’re driving to Los Angeles and have a long trek ahead of you, don’t do it alone. Instead, recruit a friend to join you, and make it a more tolerable effort. That way, you won’t fall asleep at the wheel tired, or arrive too burnt out to unpack.
Additionally, adjusting to your new hometown in La La Land can be fun — once you and your friend get your new home settled, you can explore the city together, visiting popular spots, checking potential acting classes, famous film locations and enjoying all Los Angeles has to offer to actors.
3. Hire Movers
The best course of action you can take is to hire movers, whether you’re flying or driving to Los Angeles. There are options for any type of move that will minimize the stress and help you move more efficiently, but it’ll cost you.
Not only did my parents hate helping schlep boxes down staircases when I moved cross-country quiet a while ago, but it was challenging to find boxes. Instead, scout out and hire a moving company. Some will even pack your belongings, or provide boxes for you to pack.
Or, you can choose to have your items shipped to your new address — delivery companies like FedEx can be a smart choice for those flying to Los Angeles, as they will take your packed boxes and take care of the move for you. Of course, you’ll still have to find a way to get that couch into your apartment or home, but you’ll have nothing to worry about while you travel.
Finally, if you’re flying to Los Angeles from another continent, then it’s best to sell all of your belongings and pack light. Start a fresh.
4. Save Your Cash
Unfortunately for us, not only is Los Angeles a city more expensive than most, but it’s also difficult to find a job here. With so many citizens competing for positions with LA companies, actors snatching up jobs as waitresses and bartenders within hours of them being posted, it’s going to be tough.
A significant number of aspiring performers (including yourself) trying to break into the city’s entertainment industry make the LA’s job market hard to break in, even if it’s just for a low wage day job. It may take a month or perhaps even longer to find a new job.
Make sure you have about $10,000 in savings before moving to Los Angeles. This amount will allow you to remain on your feet while you hunt for jobs, seek auditions, get your acting training started and get settled in your new home, with little urgency.
5. Get a Car and Update Your GPS
If you flew to LA with just a piece of luggage, you’ll need to have enough money to buy some vehicle as soon as possible. And if you moved here with a car – great! In preparation you should update your GPS if needed, and prepare your car for a life on the road. If your car needs a new transmission, an oil change, or even a new set of windshield wipers, get that replaced beforehand.
While harsh winter weather does damage to a car, keep in mind that the brightly shining sun in LA presents its own challenges. Consider grabbing a sun shield, or toss a beach towel in your backseat; you’ll want some shade or protection for when your leather seats bake in the intense summer sun.
5. Network Ahead of Time
One thing many actors forget is how important networking is. Before you head West, get in touch with everyone you know who currently lives in LA. A town built and based on networking, it’s crucial that you contact who you know to secure a day job, get acting auditions, start acting classes and friendships with other actors, and take advantages of the city itself.
Los Angeles connections offer more than potential career opportunities, though; the city is full of hidden, impossible-to-find gems, and there’s no better way to discover all that it holds than to learn from a local Angeleno. Through networking and connecting with new actors, you’ll be introduced to the best Korean food hiding in a strip mall, the most delicious pupusas hiding in a residential neighborhood, or even the cheapest corner market hidden in an apartment building.
Take note of all that your new connections — neighbors, waiters, your seat mate on the Metro — suggest, and you can explore the city’s best-kept secrets. Bonus: as you make these crucial connections, you’ll meet people who can show you around, and have dinner you with when you’re lonely and missing friends back home, or feel down after a failed audition.
6. Find Acting Classes
The best thing you can do before moving to Los Angeles is plan for what acting classes you will take. Research them and make a list. Once you land in LA and have spent a week or so getting yourself set up and learning the city, it’s time to get to business. After all, you moved there to become an actor.
Get in your car, or rental, and drive to see what all those acting classes are about, where they are located and how far from your home you’ll have to travel. Most acting schools and teachers in LA offer auditing of their classes, so email them or call them beforehand to schedule an audit.
Don’t waste your time and start moving your acting training and career forward the minute you’re set up in Los Angeles.
7. Study Your New Freeways
These freeways are a purely Californian, and perhaps even solely LA, concept. While the rest of the nation refers to them as highways, people in Los Angeles obstinately refuse this word — and instead they insert “the” before every one of them.
Learn which freeways you’ll need to take before moving to Los Angeles (hint: you will absolutely require the 405, the 110, and the 101), and learn where they intersect to your necessary points. This is how you’ll plan not only going to your day job, but also taking auditions (there are main locations within the city for most auditions), going to acting classes and so on.
Figure out where the freeways head and what cities they intercept. Remember, a freeway’s name doesn’t always indicate where it leads to; for example, the 405 is officially named the San Diego Freeway, yet it doesn’t take drivers anywhere near this city.
8. Slim Down Your Wardrobe
Once you toss out all of your furniture and other things you haven’t used for years, it’s time to get to clothes. Chances are, you don’t need multiple down coats in Los Angeles. Even when it gets cold, you’ll resort to sweaters and vests rather than actual coats. Leave your winter gear behind, and lighten your winter load.
Although the winter nights can grow cold in Los Angeles, your trusty down parka won’t see the light of day probably ever in the City of Angeles. Instead, leave that behind and choose to keep lighter coats, sweatshirts, and jackets.
Your body will adjust to the warmer weather, and you’ll soon find yourself forgetting about snow and shivering in 65 degrees.
9. Prepare for the DMV
For the uninitiated, DMV is what you’ll have to deal with if you want to drive in Los Angeles. It sounds silly, but visiting the DMV is a fate feared by all who live in Los Angeles — and, unfortunately, when you move you LA you have just a very short time to get to a DMV and update your records.
Set an appointment as early as possible (the waits are long and lengthy), and make sure you have all necessary documents before you go. Depending on the popularity of your closest DMV, it can be an incredible hassle to reschedule and snag another appointment.
In fact, some DMV locations book six to eight weeks out, meaning a missing piece of paper can cause significant problems over the weeks between your appointments. Nevertheless, you still need to get your documents straightened out as soon as possible and, ideally, get a CA driver’s license.
10. Pre-Pay for Easier Freeway Travel
If you know you’ll be commuting frequently, or using the 110 to visit the beach cities beyond Los Angeles often, you may want to consider purchasing a MetroLanes Express device.
This little white device allows you to hop in the Express carpool lanes even if you’re driving solo — load it with money for the required tolls, and your time on the 110 will speed by (or not).
11. Set Up Your New Utilities
It’s a simple step in moving, regardless of whether you’re moving down the street, or states, or countries away, but many often forget how important it is to set up your accounts with various utility companies. Do some quick research as to which companies you’ll need to contact in order to have your electricity, gas, water, internet, and even TV if you’re a satellite or cable user.
Typically, Southern California Edison, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and Southern California Gas handle most LA residents’ utility services, from the South Bay to Pasadena and everywhere within the county — double check to see if you also need to contact the city’s waste department as well, to ensure trash pickup once you’re in your new home.
Getting these set and turned on before you officially land in Los Angeles will make your transition easier — after all, there’s nothing worse than spending days without WiFi once you’ve moved.
12. Plan a Few Day Trips
Los Angeles is a large city. Unlike other metropolitan areas such as London, New York and Chicago, it has no true center. Instead, it’s a far-flung county full of neighborhoods and cities — and you can drive for an hour before reaching the official city’s limit.
It can seem overwhelming if you aren’t exactly sure what’s considered “LA”, so plan a couple of day trips for your first week or so in the city. Do a little online digging, and choose some cities and neighborhoods within Los Angeles to visit and explore.
For example, if you’d like to check out the beach, map out plans to visit El Segundo or Hermosa Beach; although these cities are 30 minutes away from downtown, they, too, are in Los Angeles. Want to experience the Valley? Take a day to visit Burbank, home to movie studios and quiet suburbs.
These day trips will also give you the chance to get even more familiar with the local freeways, as you’ll need them to get from city to city.