Cross Country Move - Scared!

I have been a dope lurker for about four years. I guess I haven’t really had anything important to say or ask before. I feel like I personally know many dopers but it is kind of weird actually talking to them.

Okay, so Mr. California and I have decided to pack up our bags and move to Los Angeles. This is a really big move for both of us, but me especially. He has lived in LA before. I have lived within ten miles of the Atlantic Ocean my entire life.

The move is mostly career oriented for him, but in his business he can’t line up anything until he is actually living there (unions and such). I am flying out for a short visit next week to see what I can do about getting a job. It would make the move much less stressful if one of us actually had a job before we got there.

I want to live in LA, but the idea of actually moving scares the bejesus out of me. How do you move a house full of stuff, two cars and a cat 3,000 miles?

I have a ton of questions about LA and Southern California in general. Is the traffic really that bad? How hard is it to find your way around once you get use to the area? I am easily lost - I still get lost in the small city I have lived in for eight years. I am not that great at reading a map either.

Why is housing so expensive? We currently live in a 2,200 square foot home with large shop out back. We can’t find anything on the Internet that even comes close with out paying four times the rent we do now. I can’t even figure out how it is possible to line up housing when you are so far away.

Does it really never rain? I live in the land of daily afternoon thunderstorms and can’t imagine living without rain. How do the plants live? Doesn’t everything outside get really dirty?

Most importantly, what do people on the west coast think about people from the east coast? I live in the south, but I don’t have any accent so it isn’t obvious. Do people have negative feelings about Southerners?

I will probably be getting a job in the financial district. Most of the places I am looking at are on Wilshire Blvd near Beverly Hills. Of course we are not going to able to afford to live anywhere near there. Any ideas on where a good area to live would be? (Keep in mind that I get lost!)

Any suggestions, tips or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

You don’t say how much you’re willing to pay in rent, but if you’re going to work near Beverly Hills you might consider areas like Culver City or Palms, which are less expensive areas of the west side. In general, the farther north you go in West L.A. or Santa Monica, the more expensive apartments are. If you can swing it financially the area where we live is great, near Santa Monica Boulevard between the 405 and Bundy. If you ever watched Curb Your Enthusiasm, the neighborhood is frequently featured in that show. There are tons of places you can walk to, with grocery stores next to restaurants next to cafes next to a deli or two, etc. It’s supremely walkable, and you could take the bus to Beverly Hills and reduce your car and/or parking expenses.

It can be at times, but probably not as much as you’d think. To give you some perspective, I live in West L.A. and work 10 miles down the 405 in El Segundo. Mornings are a snap; it’s 70 mph all the way down and it takes about 10 minutes. Coming back in the afternoon the freeway is usually jammed, so I use surface streets–and even that still takes me only about 35 minutes. It could be a lot worse.

I’ve lived here all my life, so I’m probably not the best person to answer, but I found that once I started driving I quickly learned where things were.

Big city, what do you expect. If you think it’s expensive here, look at NYC and San Francisco.

It certainly seems like it never rains. We had 9 inches and change of rain for this last year (they measure it from July 1st to July 1st), and we should have had about 14.5. inches. It’s definitely dry here, and untended plants do turn brown, unless they’re drought tolerant. I think I’ve seen about three thunderstorms here in my entire life, and I’m 46.

Most people in L.A. are from somewhere else, anyway. Native borns like myself are the exception. You shouldn’t get any flack for it.

Subjectively speaking, I’ve not had an issue at all in Oregon and I was born and raised in Tennessee. You might get some incest or bestiality jokes here and there but if your hometown is anything like mine, you got those to begin with.

If your accent isn’t thick, it shouldn’t be a problem anyway. Mine is pretty slight and not really distinguishable as Southern from what I’ve been told and since not one person has asked me where I’m from in the three months I’ve lived here, I tend to believe it.

Hello and welcome! I am another native here , ready to answer your questions. There is a lot of traffic, but not too dissimilar from what I’ve seen in other large cities. Maybe it feels worse here because there are so many people, and you really do need to have a car to get around easily. You won’t have to worry about getting lost if you get yourself the most important book for our area - The Thomas Guide! It’s our street by street map guide and you can buy them at any drug or book store for about $30. Parts of the city are on a grid, but lots aren’t, especially older areas or areas in the hills.

Housing here has more than doubled in the last 4 years, although it is still cheaper than some places. I think it’s mostly because huge numbers of people continue to migrate here and there is not much room left in the city (not the county) to build new housing. You will find cheaper housing in the valleys and eastern communities, but the commute time is longer.

Okay, our weather…you are going to hear all kinds of kooky stuff about it. First, it is not a desert, it is a mediterranean type climate and you will see that those plants native to that climate will flourish here. Second, there is no such thing as “earthquake weather” - of course most of our earthquakes occur on warm days because it’s usually pretty temperate. Third, yes it does rain, but not a lot. Also, our weather patterns are not really annual, but follow a longer (I think about 7 year cycle from what my old brain can remember from school) drought and flood type of cycle. We will have periodic droughts, which will be followed by horrible flooding in some mountain areas (especially if there have been fires recently) and the much maligned LA River will practically burst from its seams. The news people will make a huge production out of this every time, and lots of car accidents will occur. Stuff outside does get dirty, so yeah, you gotta wash it yourself if you want it to look clean.

Honestly, I wouldn’t worry at all about negative feelings. People here are mostly from elsewhere, but also they are very open minded (for the most part). If anything, they gripe too much about Los Angeles and are constantly comparing it to distorted visions of their past. You should get used to being put down for being from here when you travel because everybody for some reason that happens a lot.

Here is a brief list of good stuff: Trader Joe’s (market), LA Recycler (classifieds with good deals, especially rentals), oodles of amazing and inexpensive ethnic foods and restaurants, good museums, wonderful mountains especially the Angeles National Forest (hardly anyone uses them, and there’s waterfalls, sometimes snow in winter, and tall peaks), tons of shows and late night happenings, and access to great weekend getaway spots. Good luck.

I’ll second a vote for the Thomas Brothers Guide and Trader Joe’s.

I was born and raised in California (moved away a few years ago, sadly), but hey, it’ll always be my home.

The freeways can get bad, depending on which ones you take, and what time of day you go. I lived up in the Glendale/Sunland/Burbank area, where the rush hour traffic wasn’t so bad. I rarely had to worry about getting stuck in bad traffic, at any time of day. Eh…well, sometimes it could get bad down in Glendale, but then I just took surface streets and it was smooth sailing.

I always thought that things were clean in California. Okay, maybe a little dusty, but not grubby and depressing and slushy and yucky. At least it didn’t seem that way to me. And it rains enough. I guess it seems normal to me to not have it rain and rain all the time. It may take you time to get used to this, but really, it’s nice. The plants aren’t as green and lush as in other areas, so get used to that, but the plants are great in their own way—a lot of them are very aromatic. I love the smells of the plants in Southern California.

I don’t anticipate that you’ll have any problems because you’re from the South. I think that most people will find your accent (however much of one you have) as charming. We’re used to diversity in California, as Spectre of Pithecanthropus said, most people are not natives. I swear, I got so used to assuming that people were not natives (I’m one, just like Spectre and lost hiker) so it was trippy to find someone else who was a native. Just letting you know—natives are not the norm. I was always asking people, “Where are you from originally?” Because they usually were from somewhere else.

There are a lot of beautiful and exciting things to see in California. You can stay in the state and yet see such a variety: alpine-like mountains, desert, beach, rolling hills, farmland, and up north it’s very lovely, with the redwoods and the vineyards and stuff. Man, it is a beautiful state.

Just remember to always be paranoid about always locking your car and your house, don’t trust strangers, don’t be too trusting in general, (that’s the kind of advice that would apply to any large town), yadda yadda yadda.

I grew up in Northridge, up the 405 from where you’re thinking of moving. I go back and visit every few years, but I notice more and more that the people I grew up with have left, for various reasons.

I miss the weather the most, however I think that now that I’ve been in Florida for so many years, I would find the winters there cold.

The thing that keeps me in Florida is the cost of living. You are about to find out that to maintain the quality of life that you are accustomed to, you’ll need to substantially increase your annual income. I can nearly double my income by moving there, but I’d need to triple it to maintain the standard of living we enjoy now.

It is a beautiful city with lots to do in and nearby the metropolis. LA’s a place you either love or hate. I love it, just can’t see packing up and starting over there. If I did move there, I’d look in Ventura County. It reminds me of the way LA used to be.

Btw, were going back in a few weeks. We’re going camping on Santa Cruz Island for some great snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking. We’re also planning to visit Big Bear, near where my grandfather built and operated the first ski lift in Southern California, and a few days in hot Lake Havasu. Plus some time with the family in Northridge and Oxnard. Can’t wait!

About 3 years ago my wife and I relocated to Seattle from Vermont. I have some very important advice to you about the cat (we came with 2). It would be a very good idea to start taking the cat on increasingly long drives right now to get her/him used to being in a moving car. I did not think to do this and the drive was miserable as a result. 3000 miles with a yowling unhappy cat is not something that I will ever do again.

I am not sure what your finances are like, but if you have the means I might suggest a U-haul type rental and towing the car (preferably on one of those trailers where the whole car is up on it). 3000 miles is a lot to put on a car all at once.

Other than that, enjoy the new adventure. Remember that it can take the better part of a year to truly settle in. You will have to find out where to shop, buy gas, get your hair cut and so forth. If you treat this like a game or an adventure, it can be a little fun though.

I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in '99 after living in Ohio my whole life, then we subsequently moved down to LA. I’ll try to answer your questions based on my experiences.

I used a “pack-it-yourself” mover and regretted it before they even closed the door on the trailer. They held my shipment hostage until I paid them double the estimate, then beat the crap out of my stuff in transit. You’ll be much better off renting a van or hiring a professional mover if you can afford it. We moved our cats in cat carriers - they whined the first couple of hours, but then got used to it and actually seemed to enjoy it. They just slept, which is what they usually do anyway. You can get kitty tranquilizers from your vet if you think you’re going to need them. I let my brother-in-law use my second car for a road trip, so I got it moved for free. You can pay someone to drive it, pay someone to put it on a trailer, or sell it. Selling it is probably not a bad option, actually.

The traffic is truly awful, but you get used to it, kind of like you might get used to a broken leg after a while. Traffic moves at either 10 or 80 miles an hour; nothing in between. Plus, there are no traffic cops. You can get used to the area as easily as anywhere else. Landmarks and all.

Nobody knows why it’s so expensive, but the reason doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s more affordable the farther you get from the ocean. Unless you must be in LA itself for some reason, it’s a lot cheaper in the “Inland Empire”, i.e. Riverside and San Bernardino counties. It’s also a lot hotter and dustier out there.

I did it over the internet and phone. It worked out fine. I would advise you to stay in a motel the first couple of days while you unpack. My wife and I showed up to our new apartment with nothing but cats and sleeping bags. Kind of sucked.

It doesn’t rain from about early June to Christmas. Other times it rains a more or less normal amount. The kinds of plants you are accustomed to do not live very well. You need a special breed of grass, and sprinklers, or your lawn will never survive. Stuff does get dirty and dusty here in the dry season - it’s something that has always bothered me. They do run street cleaners though, so you can hose everything down your driveway and it’ll get swept up.

There are all kinds of people here from all over the country and world. I doubt you’ll get any negative treatment from anyone. On the other hand, recognize that you are moving to a very large city. So if you have a problem with “Type A” or obnoxiously eccentric people (I sometimes do), you may need to build up your tolerance a little.

Try somewhere in the West Valley like Canoga Park or Van Nuys.
Wilshire is drivable from there and it is relatively affordable. But you’re still going to have sticker shock.

Good Luck!

I moved from Maryland to Northern California. I don’t have any Southern California-specific hints, but some California hints in general:

The hardest thing for me to get used to was the difference in the weather. I lived in College Park, Maryland, and, much more often than not, the weather there was about the same as that in Washington DC or Baltimore, and in most cases not that different from the weather in New York City. This is not the case in California. Where I lived, in Santa Cruz, I would look at the weather forecasts for San Jose, and they usually wouldn’t even be close to right for Santa Cruz.

As a general weather guide, closer to the coast means cooler, rainier, and (in Northern California at least) foggier. Farther from the coast, in places like Walnut Creek (my current home) or Van Nuys, you can get temperatures over 100. It’s a dry heat, though- the humid places are near the coast. Then there are the mountains, which are another microclimate to themselves.

I didn’t believe it at first that it never rains in the summer here, either. But now I’m used to it, and I love it! I could plan an outdoor event for next July 26, and be 95% sure that the weather in Walnut Creek would be hot and sunny with no rain. I miss that certainty when I travel outside of California. I also love the fact that we don’t get ice or snow here (they do up in the mountains, but I think anywhere that is a reasonable commute to LA isn’t going to get snow or ice).

People plant different types of plants here, or else water them more often. Roses do really well in the inland valleys if they’re watered often. Fortunately for me, they don’t tend to plant the same type of lawn grass as people back East do- I’m allergic to it. They do generally have grass on their lawns, though, but I think it’s a different type.

Stuff does get dirty outside, especially cars (I call summer the dirty-car season). You either wash them or live with it. Please don’t ask me when the last time I washed my car was :o

I haven’t noticed any strong opinions about East Coast people or Southerners here. Some people claim that I have an East Coast accent, but I’ve never encountered any sort of negative attitude toward East Coast people, Southerners, or non-Californians in general.

Oh, and expect to probably pay a lot more and possibly pay more often for car registration. We have to renew our registration every year, unlike at least some eastern states where you only have to do it every two years. The fees are also steeper- it’s a percentage of the car’s value. I can’t find the exact percentage, but I had to pay of order $60 last year in vehicle license fees on my 1998 Pontiac Sunfire. A more expensive vehicle will have higher fees. Your car insurance might go up, too. And if you don’t have coverage for being hit by uninsured motorists, you should get it- something like 22% of drivers in California are uninsured.

I moved from New Jersey to Northern California about 4 years ago.

We packed a U-haul and towed my car behind it. It was by far the cheapest method, but it was a bit of a struggle (we had one of my sons and a dog with us.)

I can’t give you any advice on SoCal, the 2 regions are pretty different, though it doesn’t rain up here in the summer, and if it does, everyone is running to the windows to ooh and ahh. :wink:

I don’t know what SoCal folks think of East Coasters, though I do know in NorCal, the frame of mind is “Our doors our closed, no more admittance.” Seems many up here don’t want it to turn into L.A. or SoCal-like. Ironically, many people I’ve met since being here are from the East Coast.

It’s been my experience up here, that the cost of housing is so high simply because of the huge demand and the lack of supply, same goes for traffic and roads, all based on the “Our doors our closed” motto. If you don’t build it, they won’t come.

Ridiculous if you ask me.

It’s a gorgeous state, and I love it, but sometimes it feels like I’m living in an entirely different country.

I’ll have to second this. I drove from Phoenix to Portland with a cat, and the first few hours I was wondering if cats could die from shock. She yowled, she wouldnt eat, and she started panting like a dog (something that I didnt know cats could do, until then). I got the cat tranquilizers for her, but she wouldnt eat them, not even before she was in the truck. Eventually she just sat down near the passenger side footspace, and wouldnt move at all. I kept worrying she was going to try to hide underneath the break pedal and botch up my driving. I tried letting her out on a leash near rest stops to see if she had to piss, and she would try to dart underneath the truck, up near where the axles are. I was SO happy to have the leash.

Once we got in the hotels, things worked out a bit better. She mellowed out, was happy to eat, and used her litter box.

Cars may be a little less traumatic for them - more space to run around in, not fighting for space with 2 passengers. Either way, I would definetely reccommend a few drives with them in the car, starting soon, to get them used to moving vehicles.

Thank you everyone for your help and tips. I am in Los Angeles right now and have two job interviews to go to today. My husband came with me for the first day I was here but he just left to fly home today. I will be here for the rest of the week.

I have now successfully driven on both the 405 and the 101. I say successfully only because I am not dead. My husband said that if I am driving on the 405 and not passing someone then I need to speed up! That seems to work out.

People here are not afraid to honk their car horns at you. I took about two seconds too long at a green light and once hesitated a brief moment before making a left hand turn. Both times not only was I honked at repeatedly but the driver looked really pissed. Hell, I am just trying to figure out where to go. I didn’t do anything really bad or dangerous, just paused a moment to figure out what to do. At home if someone honks at you it is either because you know them or you did something so stupid you almost killed them.

What is up with the six signs be every parking space telling you what time, days and how long you can park there? I feel like I am solving a word problem every time I try to park the car.

About the cat - I know that she is going to freak out in the car. When I take her to the vet she uses the bathroom on herself and loses what looks like half her hair. The vet is only five miles down the road. I am hoping that kitty tranqs work. She isn’t bad about taking pills.

So far, other then the honking drivers, everyone seems nice. I am just hoping I get a job offer.

They do that. I think it’s more of a big-city thing than a California thing, though- one definition I have heard of a nanosecond is the time between the light turning green and the New York driver behind you blowing his horn.

I’ve gotten honked at while I was waiting for traffic to clear to make a right on red. I don’t let it bother me- I just curse them (I don’t flip them the finger, because they might be armed, but I say something nasty about them in the privacy of my car). Childish, I know, but at least as effective as anything else.

Parking is a huge deal in large cities in California. The San Francisco Bay area has signs like that too. IIRC, someone calculated that, at any given time, there are more cars in San Francisco than there are available parking spaces. Some parts of LA are similar.

Speaking of parking, have you seen any parking vultures yet? They will sit in their cars a few feet away from your car when you’re getting ready to pull out of a parking space. They don’t dare back up farther, because then someone else might get the space.

Ah, yes, the parking vultures! And sometimes, they’ll even honk at you if you aren’t fast enough getting out of your parking spacce. I always find that ever so charming. :wink:

The honking really does bother me, but if that is the worse thing I have to get use to I suppose I can live. I can’t even be mad they are parking, I just feel bad like I did something wrong.

I haven’t had any trouble with the parking vultures yet. The places I am interviewing all are in large buildings with parking decks. The couple of times I have had to park on the street there were plenty of spaces. Of course that may be because I wasn’t suppose to be parking there or else because the signs were so complicated no one could figure it out.

I am back home now.

My trip to LA went pretty well. I have one job offer in hand and hope to get two more today. One of the call backs today is my dream job! I really hope they call to make an offer. Either way though, California Here We Come!!

I am still not sure where we will be living. I do know one thing. I do not want to live anywhere which requires me to drive on the 405. I can deal with fast traffic. I can’t deal with traffic that isn’t moving at all. It is easy to merge when traffic is stopped, but really hard to get anywhere after the merging has been accomplished.

I need to learn to parallel park. I never had to do it before so I never realized I couldn’t. Around here they don’t even make you parallel park to get your driver’s license.