If someone told me that, I was going to move to Los Angeles with two weeks notice, I would have said “never.”
When I accepted my job offer, I knew that I was embarking on a career new journey, but I didn’t account for the emotional piece of a major cross-country move. Three months into living in Los Angeles, I sat inside a room at work, and ugly cried as I looked out at the Hollywood sign.
I was what felt like a million miles from everyone I loved. I had a long commute into Hollywood from the Valley via public transit, and I spent every weekend at home watching Frasier because paying $20 for a Lyft one-way to anywhere just seemed excessive.
My final thought as I sobbed on the phone to my sister was, “I hate LA.”
Nearly a year later, I sat in front of my childhood home in Atlanta, and I told tearfully told my dad, “I just can’t go back.” He looked at me and said, “You can’t give up on your dreams now.” He was right. I packed my suitcase and got on my returning flight to Los Angeles with a new challenge.
I had to do three activities each week: A happy hour, a class, and an event on a $264 monthly entertainment budget which is 10 percent of my income ($66 per week).
I gave my new home a shot and here’s how it went. Let it motivate you to get to know your new city a little better too (before you decide you hate it for good).
First up was a “Grooves” class at Playground LA with my co-workers, with a quick stop at Love Baked Wings. Four boneless Parm and Rosemary strips later, I was ready to dance! I danced my worries and also got a little cramp from the wings. Nancy (my co-worker) said she’d never seen me smile so much.
Wings:$8 including tip
Tip: Say yes to invitations, even if they’re on a work day
I was invited to go see a band I didn’t know with my team after work and said yes. I had a dilemma. A Lyft home to the Valley would be $35 (one way), but luckily my friend Nadia offered to give me a ride home. We hung out at The Moroccan Lounge, listened to great music, and I even had an amazing grilled cheese.
Grilled Cheese with Waffle Fries:$9
Concert Ticket:$15 (Purchased three weeks before)Total:$9
Tip:If you’re in a new city and carless, don’t be afraid to ask for a ride. Even if you can’t get all the way home, you can Lyft to or from a friend’s place to save a few dollars and save the environment (carpooling).
The Getty hosted a talk with iconic supermodels like Beverly Johnson, to go alongside their fashion photography exhibition “Icons of Style,” and it was free. After an hour and thirty-minute bus ride coupled with 15 minute drive, I made it and got to see one of my idols.
Lyft from Westwood to the Getty:$9.37
Lyft from the Getty to Van Nuys:$13.73Total:$23.10
Tip:Look for free events at museums. Museums and art institutions offer a great backdrop to learn something new and might just peak your creativity.
I only had $8.15 left to spend, but, I couldn’t pass up a dinner invite with my roommate. Thanks to Yelp I found a place called Little Ocha of the Valley. Two full plates of crab fried rice and orange chicken later, my roommate Morgyn and I had spent two hours talking about everything from our career aspirations to what we were binge-watching on Netflix. It was a conversation I didn’t know I needed, and now we have a weekly family dinner (Well, we try).
Crab Fried Rice, Orange Chicken, and Thai Iced Tea:$17.44
Tip:If you have roommates, hang with them! Not all roommate relationships end in life-long friendship, but you also never know.
I was exhausted from my week of social activity, and over budget. So, it was back to my favorite Friday ritual—a fifty-eight-minute train to the bus ride home, a box of Trader Joe’s Mac & Cheese, a bottle of red wine, and my favorite show, Frasier.
Tip:Establish a weekly self-care ritual you enjoy. You don’t always have to go out to make a new city feel like home.
How did I go?
I went over my entertainment budget for the week, but I was left with two insightful takeaways. I realized that the more I intentionally set out to open myself up to getting to know my new city, the more LA felt like home. Secondly, I have to allow myself to enjoy life.
As a full-time freelancer, I do have to be mindful of how I spend and save my money, but I don’t have to isolate myself to do that. When you’re adjusting to a new city, it is important to find community, and my week help me see that I have a new group of people around me that are becoming my tribe.
I can’t say for sure that I love LA, but for the first time in a year, it finally feels like home.
Total Spent For The Week:$73.54