Seeking advice on crazy 2-person cross-country move... Indiana to California.
June 10, 2010 8:25 AM   Subscribe

My fiance and I just graduated from Purdue and we're preparing for moving to California... him to San Francisco (job at Dreamworks) and me to Los Angeles (grad school at UCLA). Pre-dreamworks-job-offer, we thought we would both be in LA, so all the problems/considerations for the move pretty much just doubled. Not to mention that when it is all said and done, we're going to be doing the long-distance thing for at least a year. I know that we're capable people and can get through this just fine together, but I'm kind of overwhelmed at the moment and could use some advice.

Our general concerns are 1) money. I'm on a grad school stipend and he's in an entry level position, even if it is dreamworks. his relocation package HELPS, but we still have to move both of us, furnish TWO apartments, etc. Through our slim savings, credit cards, and family if we get desperate, we will manage somehow, but we need to be as thrifty as possible. 2) logistics of the move, and later on, visiting each other enough to not go crazy 3) settling in to our new cities! we know NO ONE in California!

Oh, and I should probably mention... I start grad school in September, but he starts work JUNE 21ST. Our current plan looks like this:

1. Next week: pack everything we can in his car, drive to San Francisco
2. He works while I fly back to Indiana to wrap up my USDA research position and finish cleaning out our apartment.
3. I visit my family for two weeks in July.
4. I join fiance in San Francisco at the end of July and live with him enjoying our last month together until I move down to LA in late july/early september.

Specific questions on my mind at the moment are:

1. cheaply furnishing two new apartments, as the only "furniture" we're bringing is plastic milk crates I've been using for bookshelves since high school. I have the obvious things down... searching craigslist, dumpster diving around college campuses... but if there are any other sources that I should know about for this, please let me know.

2. finding me a cheap place in LA. Has to be close enough to campus for me to commute via walking/biking/bus. I don't mind having roommates, but I really should have my own room so that my fiance's visits aren't super awkward. I have a lot of time still to find this, but if you have suggestions on the best way to go about it, please share.

3. this is silly... but what in the hell am I going to do all day in San Francisco in August while he is at work? I can't spend much (if any) money because I won't be making any and I'll be broke enough already. I run and bike, but there is only so much of that I can do in a day.

But those are just the things at the top of my mind at the moment. Any tips, or hell, even just reassurance that I'll survive the next few months, would me much appreciated.
posted by keelyellenmarie to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Woh, woh... Deep breaths... You both will be fine. This is new and exciting and scary, but perfectly manageable.

1. You can find places that are furnished, within CL look for subleases, or other arrangements. UCLA may have some sort of organized dump and run where older students dump their old furniture and newer students, and there's probably a Habitat Re-Store / consignment store for other stuff... Barring ALL of those ... IKEA.

2. I'll leave to LA residents, Westwood is expensive, but I remember other UCLA students talking about living in Koreatown for cheap rents. You'll probably have to have roommates, just plug away on the CL, tip you can setup an RSS feed from searches within CL so new listings pop up into your Google Reader (after you make a search go down to the RSS link at the bottom of the search page)... you may be forced to stay on the bus routes given that you have no car... contact your department for orientation info...

3. Its a major U.S. city. Art museums, galleries, parks, people-watching, free shows, sightseeing, coffee shops, and public libraries (they have movies and dvds / tv shows if you want to stay inside), start with the local papers...

There's so much that you CAN'T do in a month. Go to the public library and get a travel book on California or S.F. right now; a month is no time.

You'll survive, and thrive, and I assure you these little things will fly out the window once school starts.
posted by stratastar at 8:46 AM on June 10, 2010

Best answer: 1. Another resource for furniture is the freecycle yahoo group. Folks I know who are on that listserv have access to thousands of free things sitting in a folder in their email account.

I know there are several bike collectives in L.A. and S.F.. You might be able to get or build a bike more cheaply through of those if you aren't bringing your bike with you.

3. If you want to make a day or overnight trip of exploring Davis (West of Sacramento, and easy train ride from the bay), I know countless fun things to do around here, and would be down to show you around. Otherwise (I know the train isn't free), you might try making some temporary S.F. friends through .coms couchsurfing or OKCupid (which isn't limited to dating and is in fact useful for meeting new friends in new places).

4. You'll be ok. Stratastar is right; take a deep breath. It'll all work out.
posted by aniola at 10:01 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A friend who was at UCLA lived in Culver City. There was a school shuttle stop nearby. Skimming through craigslist, I see - for instance - a room in a 2br place in Culver City for $600. Have you talked to the folks in your grad school program about where to live? Do that.

For San Francisco: If you'll have your student ID at that point, you'll get discounts on things like museum fees. Otherwise, walk through/hang out in Golden Gate Park. On nice days, hang out at Ocean Beach or Crissy Field. There's a farmers market at Civic Center on Wednesdays. The library is free. Go to North Beach and hang out at City Lights bookstore. Go to the Mission and spend $5-7 on a burrito (at least two meals right there). Stop by Precita Eyes on 24th St and talk to them about local murals. The tours cost money, but just wandering around and looking at them - like the ones in Balmy Alley right next to Precita Eyes - is free. Take the ferry to Sausalito - you get a cool boat ride across the bay and some free wandering around Sausalito for about $15. If you walk back across the GG bridge, the one-way fare is $7 and change.

Take a deep breath.
posted by rtha at 10:09 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For what to do in San Francisco for a month: find someplace that needs volunteers. A soup kitchen, nursing home, day care center, parks and rec, national wildlife center - whatever you are interested in. Someone would love to have a few hours a day for month.
posted by CathyG at 11:11 AM on June 10, 2010

Response by poster: I know I need to breathe, I'm just freaking out because this all got thrown at us very quickly. 2 weeks ago, my fiance hadn't even spoken with dreamworks.... he just signed the contract Tuesday. Everything will be fine, I'm just still reeling from the whole thing and obsessing about the details is kind of how I handle this kind of thing.
posted by keelyellenmarie at 11:22 AM on June 10, 2010

If it's anything like the Glendale campus, PDI/Dreamworks has family events (free current movies, usually-- nothing more than a month or two old) that your SO will be able to bring you to. You'll get to meet his coworkers and their families, which should help a little. Some of my old coworkers are at PDI and they are the nicest people ever, a trait I assume carries throughout the facility.

PDI should have pretty damn good relocation specialists to get your SO settled; they may also have advice for you, since the other Dreamworks is down here in Glendale. They're not the fifth or sixth best company to work for in the US for nothing, so make them work for you.

In Los Angeles, the Big Blue Bus goes from lots of places in Santa Monica/ Palms to UCLA. Westwood is probably closest for you, but you could reasonably consider Palms, Mar Vista, and most of West LA. Santa Monica may be too expensive for you, but perhaps you could find a roommate setup on Craigslist. (Torrance, BTW, is not near UCLA-- it's near UCLA's Harbor Medical Center, and an appallingly long way from UCLA Westwood. Keep that in mind when you're looking.)

Down here, there's an IKEA in Carson (down near Torrance!) and one in Burbank. There's an IKEA in Emeryville back up north, near Pixar.

You're gonna be OK. Dreamworks has unbelievable perks and benefits for employees; that will roll downhill and confer more stability on you as a result.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:33 AM on June 10, 2010

Best answer: Hi there. I live in Los Angeles and used to live up North. You're all good:

1. You have a few options with this one. First, there are ton of Thrift Stores in Los Angeles. The ones that I would recommend are:

Also, check out:


The place for rentals in Los Angeles is I am afraid:

It is a pay site that most landlords/rental companies and some roommate type situations. Those are normally people who have rented houses and want to discriminate a little more than a craigslist ad.

Craigslist is ok in Los Angeles, but can be a bit sketchy. If you have any questions regarding areas or pricing, feel free to memail me.


Steinhart Aquarium has a free day for residents of San Francisco that your fiance should be able to get you a pass to.

All the museums have cheap student pricing. Take advantage and check it out.

Go to Chinatown and eat amazing Dim Sum for super cheap.

Also, get the Southwest Airlines Deal Notifier for your browser or phone. They are constantly running specials up to San Francisco for super cheap.


Hope all this helps. Check in with the L.A. Mefites at meetups when you get to Los Angeles. They are a pretty rad bunch.
posted by skewedoracle at 11:47 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I did something very similar to this myself a few years ago: I moved to California on an impulse and spent a month in San Francisco crashing with friends while building my nest in L.A.

During the week, I cycled around SF, took the subway to various neighborhoods, and just putzed around enjoying the place. I didn't have to spend much money at all doing this, and I got to explore a gorgeous city while living rent-free for a few weeks. And even though the biking in SF looks intimidating (hills!), it's actually a breeze and LOTS of fun. (Just keep your tires out of the BART tracks, for the love of god.)

I'd gotten the names of a few neighborhoods in L.A. that met my criteria, so I bought a map of L.A. and went down on the weekends to scout for jobs and apartments. I sincerely believe the best way to find apartments in L.A. is on foot. There are tons of "For Rent" signs everywhere, posted by people who can't be bothered with Craigslist (or who don't want to deal with the flakes). I simply wrote down phone numbers or made calls while I was in the neighborhood. I found my dream apartment after a few weekends this way.

Also: Freecycling in L.A. is insane. I furnished my entire place off street corners and Craigslist Free. I got an entire set of IKEA housewares (dresser, desk, bookshelf, etc.) this way. If you don't mind living like a college student for a few months until the income stream picks up, you'll be fine.

And yes, having an instant community to turn to was probably the best thing that could've happened to me. In my case, it was the Burning Man community - I met literally my entire circle of close friends here at a single backyard party. But you have a great resource here - the L.A. MeFite crowd is super-friendly and helpful and very much a community unto itself. I think you'd be welcomed with open arms.
posted by mykescipark at 1:36 PM on June 10, 2010

Best answer: 3. SF is great for just walking around in (in addition to lots of museums/galleries/etc.). Lots of cool buildings, cafes, parks, buffalo, and what have you. That's generally what I do when I need to do something but don't need to spend any money.

As for visiting, Southwest, Jet Blue, and Virgin America all fly between SF and LA. It's cheap, and there are flights every day all the time.
posted by grapesaresour at 1:41 PM on June 10, 2010

Best answer: You already have a pre-built community. Call an SF meetup in late July when you get here, then an LA meetup when school starts. We can help you find cheap furniture and free things to do.

I work in the building right next to PDI Dreamworks, so memail me if there's anything you and your fiance want to know about the 'hood. (It's actually ~25 miles south of SF, in Redwood City, unless they have an extra office I don't know about.)
posted by tangerine at 2:51 PM on June 10, 2010

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