A "should I/should I not" question about moving (Caution: Ranty)

As my profile will tell you I currently live in Indianapolis. It’s a fine town and all, but the reasons for me moving down here are two fold, one half running away from the girl who broke my heart and one half trying to find a job (Indy being a bigger town than my hometown). Both of the reasons have, in their own way, backfired on me. The girl has since moved on (effing Chicago…) but the fact that I am here just reminds me of her (since she’s half the reason you know). The job aspect REALLY backfired on me and I am currently a Bachelor’s degree holding graduate working crappy hourly at Target. I have been doing this/living here for a year and a half now and I am not happy…well miserable. All of my job leads I have had in recent months have all either dried up, or I was already told no; and my final hope, going back to school, isn’t looking good either. Indianapolis is all fine and good during the warmer months, at the very least it helps brighten my mood, but at this rate of my life I just don’t know if I can take another winter here, and I really don’t know what to do…

If you asked me “T-Cups…what do you really want to do” I would say I want to move across the country to LA or Arizona. I always said I want to live in Phoenix, cuz it’s warm and just beautiful but there’s a strong part of me that thinks “If I’m going that far I might as well go to LA since it’s bigger/sounds more fun”. (LA also seems appealing because the 5 year old in me would like to try to be an actor/writer since I did both in high school and, selfishly, think I’m decent).

The fantasy aspect is fun and all…but I also am a very logical thinker and to me the cons of it just make it impossible. I am so so so very poor (bout $3000 to my name…2500 savings 500 or so checking) and I just don’t think I can save much more money between now and…say…September or so when I would like to actually move. Between bills/car payment/insurance payment I don’t think I can save more than an extra…$400 or so in my checking. I am good with my money…I just have so little of it. Like most of life…money is the main problem holding me back.

Not just money…but I have soooo many other questions that build up. I have a bed/couch etc. but how am I gonna get it there? How can I actually look for a place to live while in Indy? Most of the stuff I have is technically my parents’ so it’s not like I can sell everything and use that money to help. I don’t want to go by myself but I don’t have anyone who would come with me (I don’t think…). My entire family is here in the midwest, and I’ve never lived more than 100 miles from any of them…and this would be SO much distance.

I weigh all of those negatives with a few positives. My parents are GREAT at understanding things. There is a chance that they could understand where I am coming from and help…either financially or just with the other logistics of it. When it comes to a job I figure I am already working retail…the worst that can happen is that I work the same basic job, which would be a lateral move. Hell you never know I could even get a (gasp) real job. There’s also the hidden factor of…deep down it’s what I want to do.

So here is where I turn to you, my internet friends. I would love any and all thoughts anyone has about me doing this. Stories if successes, failures, advice, questions, concerns…you name it I want it. I have a couple months before I make a decision on what I want/am going to do. I’ve tried to weigh positives and negatives…but the negatives are just SO daunting that it hurts me to think of em and really affects my decision…but I need help. Anything you can say is appreciated.

Making a move like that when you’re young and relatively unencumbered is a good idea. I’d give the big stuff back to your parents; you can probably rent a furnished apartment when you get where you’re going.

You’re right about your job - you should be able to work retail jobs wherever you go. Is there a place in Arizona or LA that hires people in your field? You could try researching that and applying for jobs where you want to move between now and September.

Go. If you like it there, you’ll be glad you did. If you find after a year or three that the glamor has worn off, you can come back to the midwest more comfortable/happy being here.

Or you can stay in a job you don’t like, and twenty years later still wonder “what if…?”

You could broaden your sights, and look around at more than LA and Phoenix. Must be hundreds of cities at least as big as Indianapolis, in warm states.

First let me tell you that I do love Los Angeles and I am not telling you not to move out here. It’s a neat city and there is tons to do. If you want to be an actor or a writer…there are worse places in the world to give that a shot. Just be aware that roughly 1 out of every 5 people you meet is going to be trying to do the same thing and don’t let that be the only reason you are coming out this way, or you will get depressed quickly.

You should also know that LA is not an easy town to live in, and it seems to be particularly hard on transplants. There is a reason why so many people claim to hate Los Angeles. Firstly, its ungodly expensive but the jobs available don’t really compensate for the extra expense. To give you an example, my wife and I pay over $1800 a month in rent for a 1500 square foot 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment in a semi decent area. It’s not the nice part of town, but it’s nice enough that before the housing market collapsed (and the rental market with it) our apartment was going for more than $2200 a month. You can get studio apartments for less than $1000 a month, but they are generally sort of shit holes. You will have a hard time finding a one bedroom for less that $1400 a month that isn’t a little bit scary. This isn’t as bad as NYC or San Francisco, but it might come as a bit of a shock to someone moving here for the first time.

Secondly, it’s huge. Really really big. Bigger than you think it will be. What that means is that it is a hard city to get to know and if you don’t have someone to show you around things will be tough for the first couple of years. Lots and lots of people move to LA for a couple of years and then decide that they don’t like it, can’t make it, and move away.

With all that in mind, for everyone who comes to LA and leaves, there are 2 who come to LA and stick around. If you are up for exploring the city and doing a lot of driving, there is a ton of fun stuff to do and a huge amount of variety and diversity. Moreover, if you are in a place in your life where you think you want to just pick up and go somewhere else, and you can…you should. It almost doesn’t matter where. Take the chance and just go. If you don’t you will only ever regret what might have been.

Another vote for go now while you can, from a SoCal to midwest transplantee. Later, when you are married and stuck with a mortgage or some other dumb adult reason, you will always regret you didn’t. Don’t wait until you have a ton of money. Check Craigslist for rooms for rent or roommates to share (although that can be scary, sight unseen). Just go, and if it doesn’t work out, go home.

Leave behind whatever doesn’t fit in your car. In SoCal, I owned very little and didn’t mind the tiny crappy apartment because with the mostly nice weather, you tend to spend little time outdoors. A mattress on the floor, one set of bedding, a couple towels, clothes, odds & ends you can’t live without. Maybe look at something on the coast near LA - Ventura is nice and a relatively easy drive in to town. Much more pleasant place to live. Hang out on the beach, work wherever, write your screenplay, act, enjoy.

Finding an apartment in Phoenix is easy. The vast majority of places are in large apartment complexes that are easy to find online. Of course, the rents are negotiable. A lot of the older complexes are offering move-in incentives.

Jobs aren’t easy to find, but as long as you’re not in construction, can be found with a lot of work.

One consideration. Low wages and or minimum wage is pretty much the same across the USA. However, cost of living varies significantly from area to area. In particular rent. So, perhaps warmer climes with low costs of living are where you should look.

Go now. It will never be easier.

But don’t go to LA. I like Phoenix. You can’t afford to live in LA, and California is going out of business.

One more chiming in with, “It’ll only get harder to do it when you’re older.” Much MUCH easier to take a stab at something in life when you don’t have financial obligations like a mortgage, kids to feed, a wife’s feelings to consider. You’re young and free, so go for it.

Another reason to go for it now: you will NEVER feel like you have “enough” money to make the move. I promise. So bite the bullet and do it with what you’ve got. Worse case scenario, no matter how bad the move is or how unglamorous it feels to be sleeping on the floor: with a few decade’s worth of nostalgia you’ll look back on your bohemian self with fondness, being young and free in Arizona. Or LA. Or wherever… You’ll have crazy stories to tell your friends.

One other possibility to help you decide, and this is one where you’ll have to listen to your heart very closely, because only you can make this decision:

Imagine yourself as an old man. Like, eighty or so. You’re sitting in your old-man chair, maybe with an afghan over your lap. You’re looking out the window at the birdfeeder and thinking back on your life.

What do you think would hurt more: “I did it, and I regret doing it” or “I didn’t do it, and I regret never doing it.”

Meditate on that for a while. Get in touch with that old man in your imagination. See what he has to say, for he has lived a long life (yours!) and he is quite wise.

Maybe this is a silly idea, but if you work at Target now then can you transfer to a Target at one of your destinations that is hiring? I mean, I know that’s not exactly where you want to be working, but it’s something to get you started and put money in your wallet. You can always quit when something better comes along.

My parents live in Phoenix, and obviously you want to listen to people who live there but my impression is what dalej42 said, rents are cheap and apartments are plentiful. And I just peeked on craigslist, there’s lots of people renting out rooms in houses for $400 and under. So if you pick that destination then I would assume that finding housing will be one of the easier parts of your move.

I did something similar, when I was 23 (although in the opposite direction). It was tough, but ultimately a good decision. I needed a change of scenery.

I recommend Phoenix, though, just because it’s so much cheaper than LA. If you don’t have a job lined up, you don’t want to live someplace really expensive. In Phoenix, you could at least find another retail gig to pay the bills until you find something else, whereas in LA you might have trouble.

So by the looks of it the general consensus so far is a “do it”…but probably lean towards the original goal of Phoenix? OK, neat…I am really enjoying the responses and thank everyone so far. If you’re just lurking on this one and have a comment please write!!

Please please please don’t go to LA. I went to USC for my first two years of college, and have many friends who graduated from the film program, in critical studies, production, screenwriting, the whole run of it. They struggle to patch together employment in the industry, even though a couple of them were the darlings of their professors and worked with some big, big names while in school (they all graduated in 2008). If they can’t get jobs, don’t take this the wrong way, but you can’t. And the frank thing is, you probably don’t have talent. My friends not only have talent (5% of people are accepted into the production program of the undergrad film department of USC, to give you an idea) but they have connections and the invaluable skills they learned in the classroom from people working directly in the industry. That’s a huge leg up they have on you; they’re gonna get the call way before you do. Forget about someone reading your script. The most successful friend I have has literally worked with Tarantino, and his hasn’t been read yet. Just trying to give you a dose of perspective.

That said, go to Phoenix, or Santa Fe - do some research on Santa Fe, I love it even more. Even better for artists, and it has a budding film industry, so it’ll be easier to break into the scene and get recognized there, if you’re serious. Climate couldn’t be better. Good luck!

Do it. Don’t worry about furniture, just pack up what will fit in your car, and go. You really don’t need anything but yourself, your car, and your clothes. If you want to make sure you have a job waiting, apply for a transfer to a Target where you’re headed.

Go to Arizona, not California. CA is too expensive. Check around for the local film industry in AZ. You’ll have a much better chance of getting your foot in the door.

Another person who says do it, but to Phoenix. Not that I know much about LA except that it’s expensive. Once you get settled with a family it will be much much harder.


ETA: I wish I had.

Lindsaybluth is right about the film industry being hard. I think she is wrong that it’s impossible, but then I work with a lot of people who have been very successful at breaking into the film industry. So we have slightly different perspectives.

My advice on that front would be, don’t move anywhere because “you think you might maybe want to try your hand at working in the movies”. If you are thinking “might” and “maybe” instead of “I have to, I can’t do *anything *else” then you aren’t going to make it. So if you have a burning desire to work in Hollywood, and you are willing to work for *years *to make that dream a reality then do it. It is possible, and you might actually be talented. Even if you aren’t, hard work is actually more important than talent. But I am not kidding even a little bit about it needing to be your only focus.

I know a lot of very successful writers in Hollywood because of my job. Most of them work in TV, and almost all of them didn’t start getting genuinely successful until they were in their late 30’s or early 40s and every single one of them had been working at it since they were in their late teens/early 20s. That’s nearly 20 years worth of effort for most of them before they “made it.” If you are willing to put in that sort of effort then you should absolutely do it.

There are a lot of other good reasons to move to California though. And honestly, Phoenix? It gets to be like 115F there on a regular basis. Don’t let anyone fool you by telling you it’s a dry heat. That’s hot.

I did it. I will never regret it.

I put a map on a wall, threw a dart - and it landed in Denver, CO. Packed up all the stuff that would fit in my Toyota Corolla and drove 1600 miles without a job or knowing really anybody who lived there.

Consider finding a roommate situation to start - someplace like roommates.com. Often they will have a furnished room to rent on a month-to-month basis - which will give you a chance to get to know the area. Don’t sign any long-term leases - this is just a place you can rent while you are finding a job/getting to know the area.

The minute you land in Phoenix (I agree - I would shy away from LA) - sign up with all the temp agencies (Officeteam, Randstad, Adecco, Aerotek, etc.) Call them daily until they find you a job. And then keep looking for a long-term one as well.

Good luck!!

Another one chiming with “go”. But then, I’ve never regretted going to a new place… even when they place sucked, I always end up learning important things.

Go! Phoenix is good. The suggestion of Sante Fe was a good one too. Maybe even consider someplace like Austin which has a great music and arts scene and even some advertising agencies (GSD&M is based there. I know that’s what you’re looking for based on our PM conversations) and some other big companies stationed in the area.

Shreveport, LA is turning into a big film town too if you’re really interested in trying to bust into that industry. Don’t know anything about what it’s like to live down there though.

I am intrigued…if the dart had landed in Twin Falls, Idaho, would you have moved there?

Or was it like, I’m going to pick the city I like best in the general region of the dart?