Seeking guidance on reestablishing oneself on West Coast - on finding work, friends, community
March 3, 2012 3:24 PM   Subscribe

How difficult is it to move from East coast to West coast and find comparable work in Federal Government? Is it hard to start fresh in the LA area knowing noone? What are the biggest challenges to consider and how to overcome?

Just returned from a trip to LA, specifically Manhatten Beach area and I'd really like to move to that area - have never left my hometown area of the DC area. Am a single, mid 30's woman with a good job in Federal Government - working in Homeland security. How difficult is it to find comparable work out in the LA area? Is cost of living so different over there that I would be making a huge lifestyle changes? What's the singles scene like in LA area if you are not in the entertainment industry (and filthy rich?). Is it difficult to make friends, establish a new network? I'm into biking, dancing, running, hiking, yoga, etc. I'm assuming there's plenty of meetup groups and clubs that are open to new people. Finally, are there specific areas/neighborhoods in the LA area where single 30 somethings in particular live (kind of like in the DC area a lot live in North Arlington)? any job search advice and guidance on how to make this transition would be helpful.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would try to make the move jobwise in-house. Talk to your HR department about opportunities and possible assistance.
posted by Ardiril at 3:26 PM on March 3, 2012

I've lived in southern California and in DC - both within the last 2 years. There is nothing like the federal government infrastructure in LA. Here in DC, there are so many federal jobs.

It is *possible* that there is some position like yours in SoCal, but you'll need to setup a USAJobs alert for it. So try a search and see what you find, but I'm not terribly optimistic. (Also you are probably aware of how difficult it is to meet a cert on USAJobs.)

As far as cost of living, SoCal is more expensive than within the district in DC but not by much. We pay less in DC for a little less space.

Groceries were more expensive in SoCal, although you can get year-round produce, so that's nice.

Public transit isn't as good in SoCal. You may need to have a car.
posted by k8t at 4:00 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Definitely talk to your supervisor or HR person. I don't know how common it is but I went to grad school with someone who got a good federal job right after graduating. A couple of years later, her husband got a great job on the west coast. She was able to keep her job via telecommuting plus 3-4 trips back to DC to meet with her team. Again no idea how unusual this is, but even she didn't think that it was a possibility until it sorted itself out. Initially it was supposed to be a temporary stop-gap thing both for her and them, but it worked out and she's been working under this arrangement for the last 4 years or so.
posted by kaybdc at 4:48 PM on March 3, 2012

You'll probably have better luck in San Diego. The naval presence there spins off a lot of government contract work. If what you do for Uncle Sam at all translates to the needs of GovCons, it might be very possible.
posted by COD at 5:20 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

This DC native escaped to LA in 1987, when I was 33. First I was in Pasadena but the gods of fortune smiled upon me, and I was living in Hermosa Beach (next door to your Manhattan) by the end of that year.

How? Well, I've never worked for the government directly, instead I'm a government contractor (for NASA, for most of my IT career). Since I wanted to be in California, I kept bugging 'the powers that be' about a transfer, and eventually something came through (with paid relocation, to boot).

So, how to do? Work hard at you job, but let personnel/HR and your supervisors know what you want, in writing. (I always mentioned this as my long-term goal during performance evaluations.) Also, NASA issues these periodic nationwide 'employment opportunity' announcements -- maybe DHS does the same thing? Look into it, get ahold of that list, and apply for those West Coast positions. Perhaps you'll need to get on a waiting list -- I ended up waiting several years.

Good Luck!
posted by Rash at 8:55 AM on March 4, 2012

For the rest of your question -- yes, social aspects can be difficult for some, after moving here. Native Californians may not be very welcoming to transplants -- in fact, some can be downright hostile -- everything was great, but now it's too crowded because of people like us. But ignore them -- I've found there's huge numbers of transplants here, and we're actually the fun bunch. Come, join us!
posted by Rash at 9:04 AM on March 4, 2012

I'm from Orange County and moved up to LA... I found it incredibly easy to make friends... Some of my best memories were living in Santa Monica... I got in with a lovely crowd of 30 somethings and we were always going hiking, listening to jazz at lacma, having picnics, BBQ's, doing yoga... I never experienced the hositility that Rash mentioned (or as a californian felt that way) but the group I socialized with were from all over the country/world and maybe that's what made them so welcoming.
posted by misspony at 9:51 AM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

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