Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Getting to Los Angeles, Part 1

I’ve been off the grid for the past couple of months trying to figure out how to move to Los Angeles in 2018 without breaking the bank. For two years my husband and I have been making periodic trips out to LA to check out neighborhoods, apartments, acting classes, travel distances to the studios, and the feasibility of getting to auditions by driving the grid and staying off the freeways. (As Bette Davis famously said, “Take Fountain.”) We really thought we could make it work, but the more research we did the less it seemed feasible.

Paramount Pictures where Gloria Swanson makes her entrance in Sunset Boulevard.

Single actors may join forces with a roommate or two and romanticize the Bohemian life, but husbands frown on additional bodies in the home and I’ve reached a point in life where dirt and junkies are just…well…dirt and junkies. Last August we flew out to LA to check out apartments in a few neighborhoods we’d identified as pleasant, reasonably safe, and within easy commute to the studios. The results weren’t encouraging.

First, whatever neighborhood we lived in, we'd have to consider state taxes. This is something actors often think of after the fact, but that’s a mistake. In California taxes are sky high, and although you’ll be taxed on any income earned in the state anyway, living there means getting taxed on any work you do anywhere. Overlook this at your peril!  Also consider fees and taxes on vehicles and the golden state loses some of its glitter.

Then there are the sky-high apartment rents (the purchase of a house being completely out of the question.) Outside of the areas dominated by inner city gangs (and you'd better know where they are), an 800-1200 square foot, two-bedroom apartment is going to run you $2,600-$3,600 a month and up, plus another $1,000 a month in utilities and fees, which can include add-ons for a parking space, a refrigerator, and pets.

Pets can cost you a fortune. After apartment managers dictate size, breed, kind, and number of pets, those pets they DO let in the door will cost you $300-$500 each in pet fees up front, plus $25-$50 a month tacked on to your already exorbitant rent.

Finally, even if we met all the requirements and covered all the costs, the grim reality, according to apartment reviews online, is that we could still end up with hallways that smelled of urine, homeless individuals sleeping in our doorway, the usual hazards (because of paper-thin walls) of noisy teenagers and loud domestic disputes, and a one-year lease that we couldn’t get out of should an acting gig take me away from California for an extended period of time.

(Sigh.) We were so discouraged. After two years of planning, we just didn’t see how we could make it work. Besides the cost, the lack of control over our lifestyle just rubbed us the wrong way. We didn’t want to feel “stuck” if the area or neighbors turned out to be problematic, didn’t want to pay a luxury price for a less-than-luxury place to live, and we certainly weren’t about to give away one of our three pets (two cats, one dog) in order to meet some apartment manager’s two-pet limit.

Was Los Angeles slipping away?

Game night at Dodger Stadium
On the last night of our August LA trip, my husband and I went to a Dodger baseball game. We had $60 tickets; not super expensive, but not nosebleed either. We were vacationing after all. Just to my right in the stands were three older couples wearing fashionable, expensive clothing and shoes, and flashing jewelry. Every time a food vendor came by one of the husbands would open a wallet stuffed with $50 bills and buy a round of whatever anyone wanted. Were these retired people from the film/TV industry, I wondered?  They certainly seemed to be well off.

We chatted. "Do you live here in LA?" I asked the man sitting nearest to me.  "No," he said.  "We all have apartments In Las Vegas. We just come to Los Angeles for the summer to beat the heat."

(What!!!) And an idea was born.  Read on....


  1. very informative post for me as I am always looking for new content that can help me and my knowledge grow better.

  2. Glad to hear it. I love California, but the state makes it tough to live there.