How to start a new life homeless in Los Angeles
August 7, 2016 9:39 PM   Subscribe

I'm a 29 Year old male who is going to be homeless in Los Angeles. How do I start over again and build a new life from scratch.

So, due to certain issues and circumstances (mainly of the addiction problem variety) I'm going to be homeless, and I've decided that Los Angeles, Venice Beach, is my best bet, but only because of the good weather factor, I've been homeless in my early 20's in cold rainy weather and it truly makes the experience 10x harder. I've previously lived in the Venice beach area for about 6 months when I was 20, so I know some of that area fairly well.

Some information.

I'm currently writing this from England where I've grown up and lived most of my life. I was or born in California to American parents and they ended up moving to England to live when I was young, and because of that I have duel American/British citizenship and can live in both countries with no issues. Over the last 11 years or so I've been battling addiction problems, during my experience with addiction, I would some times have it somewhat under control, and at other times it would completely take over my life to the point of being debilitating, you get the picture. over this last year I've been trying hard to get help from the county (equivalent to a state in the US) I live in but with little success, the state run services where I live are just really bad compared with other services in other parts of England of which I don't have access to. As of now I have a small amount of sober time under my belt and 2 and 1/2 months left on my lease. this last year of being active in my addiction has truly broken me, mentally, physically, and spiritually and I just don't have any fight left in me to get my sh*t together by the time the rent rolls around in 2 months time. so instead I've decided not to get a new job but to just stay sober and take care of myself for the next 2 1/2 months, with the money I've saved up from my job that I got fired from recently I'm going to pay for therapy to deal with the addiction problems that are for sure rooted in child hood abuse, and a plane ticket to Los Angeles for 2 and 1/2 months time from now, I'm going to use US citizenship and start over again in America. which will begin with having to sleep rough on Venice beach with not much else, and just take it from there.

So that's the plan, in 2 and 1/2 months time I'll be sleeping on Venice beach trying to build a new sober life up from scratch. I've traveled in my late teens and early 20's and Have been homeless before and have been in many a precarious, unpleasant situation as a result, so I understand this will not be easy in any way shape or form. And yes, this might not work, and might go wrong in whole multitude of ways and I've thought long and hard about this and have accepted it as a very real possibility, but at the end of the day this could work and could be the best decision I've ever made. And based on how painful and meaningless my life's been so far, I'm willing to take the chance. As Friedrich Nietzsche has said "He who has a why to live can bear almost any how".

By the way, help from family and friends here and in America is not really an option as most of my family is fractured or dysfunctional or dealing with there own difficult problems.

So my question: How can I go about starting a new life again from scratch with nothing, whilst sleeping on Venice beach? Any tips or ideas will be very appreciated. Thanks.

I will have -
About $600
Sleeping bag
Hygiene necessities
Bank Account (once I get there)
Mailing address in Santa Monica
An English accent (whether this works for or against me I do not know?)
Acceptance of external events whether good or bad

Things I do not have-
A College degree of any kind
A drivers license
A car

Things I would like to achieve-
Get a job
Get a college degree (how would I go about this whilst sleeping on the beach)
Get permanent housing of some kind
Get a drivers license
Find happiness and contentment

Here is an email if you would like to contact me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (41 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
To the best of my understanding, UK social services are much better than US. I grok that you have family you want to avoid in the UK, but if you have UK citizenship -- why not use what limited resources you have there to re-establish yourself in another district in the UK? That's the biggest part of your plan that leaves me scratching my head. Especially in Los Angeles, which has enormous rents and a big population of homeless, poor health care for the poor, etc. Can you not get England's 'jobseeker's allowance'? It is, AFAIK, more than anything you would get sleeping rough in Venice Beach. If you have US$600 you should be able to re-locate somewhere else in the UK that does have better social services?

Reddit has /r/almosthomeless, /r/homeless, /r/vagabond, which might be of use.

'dual' citizenship -- it's not literally a duel!
posted by kmennie at 9:56 PM on August 7, 2016 [29 favorites]

Dude, you do not want to be homeless in Venice. (Or anywhere else, obviously.) The social services in America are really rough going, and the homeless situation in LA is infamous. Yes, the weather in LA is warmer than many other parts of the world, but... no, you absolutely should not do this under any circumstances. If you have a fantasy of sleeping on a nice warm beach, forget it. The homeless folks are miserable out here, there is a lot of violence and the cops can be pitiless. As the weather cools down (which will happen sooner than it seems) it gets awfully cold on the street, even here in LA.

Flying to another country specifically to be homeless seems like a really poor use of resources. Use that money to get yourself some little room somewhere. The cost of a plane ticket could go really far, if you spend it right. Make having some place to sleep the #1 priority, even above therapy.

This strikes me as you behaving self-destructively, putting yourself in a much worse situation than you need to be. I don't know, maybe you're trying to punish yourself for your addiction. But you don't deserve to be homeless on the streets of LA, that is a worst-case scenario!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:06 PM on August 7, 2016 [80 favorites]

You cannot camp on the beach in Los Angeles, it is illegal. You will be competing with thousands of other homeless people for resources that they have far more experience in getting. Venice has massive drug, gang and violence issues as Ursula noted above.

Find sober living assistance where you are. Get your life together. Make some money. Find some stability in your sobriety. Los Angeles will always be here when you're able to make this your home, but in the meantime, your plan is likely a recipe for disaster.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:22 PM on August 7, 2016 [15 favorites]

As Friedrich Nietzsche has said "He who has a why to live can bear almost any how".

The word "almost" in there, do you see it? A "how" that often results in predictably bad things and definitely shortens lifespans fits in there.
posted by rhizome at 10:51 PM on August 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

You like Nietzsche? My understanding is that most of the drug treatment programs in the US are run by (or along the lines of) Alcoholics Anonymous. (Which may not matter to you at all, I think some people make what they want of the higher power aspect, just noting that.)

I don't think a change of scene is necessarily a terrible idea, at all. But your idea may be an out of the frying pan, into the fire sort of plan. People in the US won't know about any of the things you're wanting to leave or forget, but I would listen to the answerers above, you won't have the safety net you have now.

Could you move to one of the places in the UK that does offer a good treatment program?
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:53 PM on August 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Congratulations on your recent sobriety and courage for making it stick! That said, an anecdote for you: when I was in SoCal, I was friends with some social workers. Who specialised in harm reduction among homeless drug users in Venice. There are a LOT of homeless users exactly where you are looking to go who don't share your grit and will to live sober. I fear that on the streets with stretched personal resources trying to access the US gvt and non-profit scene's limited resources... is exactly the kind of environment where people relapse.

The money from your plane ticket could pay for the deposit and first month's rent in a room-share somewhere with good social services where you can build a supportive, sober community around you and start, yes, anew.
posted by athirstforsalt at 10:54 PM on August 7, 2016 [30 favorites]

I am also thinking about your pyramid of wants and needs. The Nietzsche quote leads me to believe that you are seeking purpose in addition to the really basic things that will need to come first as you make a new life-- like shelter and rent money and food. I hope you find good answers here about how to stay afloat and navigate UK social services... which I can't speak to. But.

In addition to the routine and community that comes with a treatment program of some kind--and finding a job or getting on state public assistance / welfare-- what about getting a jumpstart on your college degree? Could you audit a class at a community college if you email the instructor and explain your situation? Or set out to learn a programming language at a local library? Or give yourself some kind of "literature challenge"-- the complete works of Melville, for your American fix, also for free at a library? Anything that might give you a project and a sense of accomplishment. I don't think your "why" needs to--or should--be "staying alive and preferably sober on the streets." It could be something you are really and truly interested in, a gift to yourself and investment in your future. While your survival needs are met more simply within the UK system.
posted by athirstforsalt at 11:09 PM on August 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Venice Beach is possibly the worst place in all the universe to stay sober. It's a giant open air drug bazaar. There is a ton of crime even nowadays. It's extremely extensively patrolled by unfriendly cops. There are a lot of mentally ill and addicted homeless people and a lot of straight up shady characters. I highly, highly recommend you not move there.

Stay in the UK, move to a region with better help and get hooked up with social services there. As a non-resident of CA there will be essentially nothing available to you bar downtown church charities which are, and I mean this nicely, largely used by the profoundly mentally ill and addicted population.

You cannot acheive the goals you want to in LA. If you get stably sober and want to go to the US, there are much cheaper and more walkable places with better job markets than West LA. Trust me on this.
posted by fshgrl at 11:14 PM on August 7, 2016 [26 favorites]

I agree with others that Los Angeles County is a very difficult place to be homeless. Even if you can go to another place in California, it will help you get more attention from a system that is often overloaded by people who need help. Homelessness is one of the greatest urban struggles in Los Angeles and it is not a good place to be. Venice will be unsafe and you are not given much security. Orange County is not good; social services are a low priority because county leadership are ideologically conservative. San Diego might be a better place to go for services. Or, go to a place like Utah. They are pushing some aggressive efforts to end homelessness.

You should go to a city/area with good public transportation. That will ensure you can get a job and actually keep it (because you can get to work on time). Southern California is terrible at public transportation.

Most cities/counties have a housing authority that dispenses federal housing money, and some will do rapid rehousing for the homeless. They do, however, tend to want to help people who have lived in their city for some time and the most needy (severely mentally ill, for example) but they can also connect you to resources. Is this your first time in SoCal?

Here is a website with resources for the homeless in LA/Santa Monica area:

Will you have a phone? Get a pay-as-you-go cell phone. And if you have one now, call around and see if the places you are moving too have restrictions on what kind of people can access resources for the homeless (don't mention that you aren't living there currently). Some cities are wary of attracting homeless people from around the country (many public agencies will buy people train tickets out of town -- just to get rid of them) and will want to see proof of residency or have other restrictions.

One way to research a homeless-friendly place to live is to find the area's local newspaper online and search "homelessness" and "housing first." You can read more about what the area is currently doing and what is available, including whether they focus their efforts on providing temporary assistance and shelter/food or if they have a housing first model, which focuses on putting people in a home to create stability rather than requiring them to jump through hoops.

If you have steady or occasional access to a computer, you should check local laws that pertain to the homeless. You can do this by going on the city website and finding the city code or municipal regulations. Some cities (Los Angeles has been known for this, although they are trying to change) actively ticket the homeless for camping and seize individuals' belongings -- meaning you will need to get to a city yard or warehouse that might be far away just to pick up your stuff.

If you have a bank account, you *may* consider getting a cheap account at Planet Fitness, a budget gym. It is usually some kind of initiation fee + $10/mo and it will be a place where you can shower and clean up with some level of privacy. I have seen many homeless in Southern California do this. It's safer and perhaps more comfortable then using public bathrooms.
posted by mmmleaf at 11:24 PM on August 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

My understanding is that as more tech companies move nearby, the atmosphere for the homeless on Venice Beach has gotten increasingly hostile. As lousy as you think the social services available to you in the UK are, they will be at least twice as crappy in the U.S. Without a U.S. work history, you will not qualify for unemployment insurance. You will be eligible for food stamps for only a relatively short period. As a single man, you may not be eligible for any kind of general cash assistance. This means that for food and clothing you will be dependent on a precarious network of private assistance. As a single man, you will also be at the bottom of any list for emergency housing. You will have great difficulty accessing any health care at all, especially non-emergency--unlike in the UK, when you walk into the ER, they will want to know how you are going to pay, up front. The only addiction counseling you may easily be able to get is AA, which doesn't work for everyone. If you relapse (and it will be challenging to stay clean if you are spending most of your time around other users), you can expect to wait months for a rehab bed. And school will probably cost you a lot more.

I understand that you feel frustrated and stuck and want to start over, but this is the kind of move that could literally kill you. Please, husband those resources you have and move somewhere in the UK that has better services.
posted by praemunire at 11:30 PM on August 7, 2016 [24 favorites]

I completely get that social services in the UK are under siege and that accessing what's left is arbitrary and almost insurmountable depending on your postcode lottery results. But I need to echo what everyone else has said above: it is SO MUCH WORSE in the US. And on top of that, choosing Venice Beach is like choosing a crack den that is actively under assault from the local police force.

This will all seriously jeopardize your sobriety. You are much better off choosing a new location in the UK than trying to do this in the US with nill social welfare support at all.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:42 PM on August 7, 2016 [30 favorites]

Quickly to mmleaf: San Diego's homeless relations are bad. Like: people's belongings being torched with petrol bad, installation of jagged rock-ffilled concrete under overpasses, just Google the parade of bad news. It's really shitty and you deserve better.
posted by athirstforsalt at 12:18 AM on August 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

I traveled to San Diego a bit over 4 years ago to be homeless in Southern California, in part for the weather, in part because someone told me they feed the homeless in San Diego better than in other places. I left downtown San Diego after 6 months as services became overwhelmed and began deteriorating. I left the county entirely last year. I still keep an eye on news from the region. Homelessness is on the rise and violence against the homeless is making the news. People are starting to murder them. Happy fun times.

Don't travel halfway around the world to be homeless in LA.

If you must travel to the US to be homeless, consider going to Port Aransas, Texas. You can legally camp three nights of the month on the public beach and groceries are substantially cheaper than in LA. Corpus Christi is not far away on the mainland. It is a large enough city that it should have services. Texas is generally cheaper than California. That part of Texas is fairly temperate. It is very windy, but the winter temps are not bad. I camped there for a month from mid January to mid February on my way to California.

When I was there, you could get a (cold) shower for $1 during the day at the beach. There are bathrooms at the beach open 24/7. I was told it would be easy to get a job working the ferry that runs 24/7. I have health problems, so that was a non-starter for me. But my impression was they routinely are hard pressed to fill the ferry jobs.

While there, I signed up for a jobs notice service. I never got a single email until a few weeks ago. I am now getting emails regularly for jobs in the Port Aransas area.

You still have two months. There is time to try to arrange a job somewhere before it comes to that. Since you are willing to relocate and rough it, you could look for weird seasonal jobs that various organizations have trouble filling. Some of these would involve a place to stay and be part time.

I have to wonder if, on some level, you just want to move someplace with better weather for your health. That's absolutely the real reason I came back to California. It is totally valid. But, due to pollution, I would not live in LA. That is not a great plan for improving your health.

You say you want to go to college. Consider applying to college and arranging scholarships and the like. That's a legitimate choice that doesn't revolve around having a job.

If you want to go perma-camping in California, go someplace other than LA. Large parts of the Central Valley are also quite dry and the cost of living is lower.

If you have any means whatsoever for feeding yourself without standing in line at a soup kitchen, you will be vastly better off never standing in line at a soup kitchen. The food is sub par. The line is full of sick people who smell of cigarette smoke or marijuana and people will threaten to kick your ass for looking at them wrong. I literally decided I would rather fast for a day or two here and there than do that ever again. I have, in fact, just not eaten rather than go back to the soup kitchens.

If you know how to pan handle, plan on pan handling and buying your own food. The only reason to go someplace like LA or San Diego while homeless is for access to homeless (meal) services. If you do not need them, you are vastly better off going someplace cheaper where your resources will go further.

The homeless services aimed at addressing addiction tend to be a revolving door. We talked to people in San Diego who had been through various programs repeatedly over the years and were still addicts and still on the street.

That doesn't mean your addiction and problems cannot be solved. But if you think you just need to get into a program and voila, think again.

I am fried at the moment. You can email or memail me if you want to talk more about California colleges or being homeless in California.
posted by Michele in California at 12:22 AM on August 8, 2016 [30 favorites]

I agree that seeking more help in the UK would be your best option before deciding to move. I'm not sure from your post which resources you have tried so far, so I've made some suggestions below.

Since your immediate concern is the prospect of homelessness, I would contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau and/or Shelter for advice on your situation. If you have an ongoing struggle with addiction, and any other medical diagnoses, that might mean you have a priority need when it comes to housing and the council will be obliged to house you. You may also be entitled to housing benefit to tide you over with rent before finding a new job. In any case, it's worth looking into these options, with the help of Citizens Advice or a Shelter adviser.

I assume you have already spoken to your GP about treatment for your addiction, and the GP has referred you to the local services that have not been helpful. Could you perhaps go back to the GP and explain that you are prepared to move within the country in order to get better treatment for your addiction and ask them to recommend somewhere? It's possible that your GP will be aware of areas or centres in the country where the best treatments are available.

I know things are bad with social services at the moment, and that some councils are very underfunded, but there is still help that you are legally entitled to. Losing your job should not mean you become homeless in a couple of months, especially given that you have been struggling with an illness all year. Please do look into your legal rights first, before you take any drastic action.
posted by Aravis76 at 12:51 AM on August 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

SoCal without money sucks. A hit and run driver took out my pickup, I lost my job and apartment and ended up squatting under a bush. Being young, healthy and tough wasn't enough to recover. I finally swallowed my pride, hitch hiked back home, and leached off my family to get back on my feet.

Dig around on line and find a better place in the U. K. for your situation. This country will to eat the poor and spit out the bones.
posted by ridgerunner at 1:07 AM on August 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

Get a college degree (how would I go about this whilst sleeping on the beach)

UC undergraduates at all campuses pay the same $12,240 in systemwide tuition and fees. Nonresident undergraduates pay an additional $24,708 in nonresident supplemental tuition. The fees figure above includes the average cost of additional campus-based fees.

Santa Monica City College is substantially cheaper, at $7,800 for non-resident tuition, but I think LA is a hard town to be homeless in. Since a big chunk of homeless folk in the US wind up there.

In your situation, I would try a different part of the UK.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:15 AM on August 8, 2016

To add to what everyone else has said, with no car and no driving licence you are extra doomed in the USA, which has vast distances between each landmark and not enough public transportation, and which is not generally walkable. The idea that you could go perma-camping with no ability to drive, let alone a vehicle, sounds extra untenable to me (though I defer to Michele's expertise).
posted by tel3path at 1:19 AM on August 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

As someone originally from the US West Coast and now living in Europe, with family and friends in SoCal, San Fran, and the PacNW keeping me updated – please, please take the advice here and use what resources you have to move to a better place in the UK. Even with Brexit, even with UK social services taking a hit, things in the US are much worse.

It's great that you're taking care of yourself now. Please continue to do so. It sounds like you know places in the UK that would be better re: social services, so trust that knowledge you have. If by chance it puts you closer to abusive family, trust that you do not need to contact them.

I know what it feels like to know a place, have worked to make it home, and see it eroded so that you wonder if your other home would be better. Like I said, I'm American; I moved to Europe 20 years ago. I've seen my own (current) home country go from increasingly tolerant and level-headed, to a mindset that very much reminds me of the States twenty years ago. And since I know where the States went from there, it honestly triggers panic attacks. If it weren't for all the friends I have in the States telling me just how much worse it is there, I'd have done what you're considering too. So rest assured, your idea comes from a totally understandable place.

Hold on to the energy you do have; the energy that thought of that plan. Recognize it comes from a deep desire to rescue a good part of yourself, and hold on to it to redirect to UK resources. Take care.
posted by fraula at 1:31 AM on August 8, 2016 [8 favorites]

I'm hesitant about making this suggestion because of my ignorance about social services availability and addiction in general, and of how addiction manifests for you specifically. But for what it's worth and for the sake of more options in general: there are programs like wwoof where you offer your services (for organic farming labor, in this case) in exchange for room and board. It might be worth looking through listings to see if there's something that might make sense for you, in a location where you could also access worthwhile resources.

Another suggestion made in significant ignorance: is it possible, while Britain is still technically in the EU, to take advantage of treatment programs in other countries with better resources, like Portugal?
posted by trig at 1:43 AM on August 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

I have taken colleges classes from at least 7 different colleges, at least 4 of those were California colleges. If you can establish California residency, a two year degree through a California community college is pretty affordable. A four year degree will be painfully expensive. It takes a year or so for a US citizen to move to California and establish residency. I have no idea if a Brit can even qualify for in-state rates.

Having said that, California actually has quite a few online classes that you can potentially take from anywhere in the world and California Virtual Campus is a portal for looking at what is available statewide. You can potentially pursue a California degree from England.

When I was camped in the North County (northern part of San Diego County), I walked 4-6 hours a day to get around. I am currently in the Central Valley. I currently walk 2 or more hours a day. Public transit where I currently am is generally better than it was in San Diego County and also costs less. I use public transit here more. I have more money and I needed at least $5 to go somewhere and come back using public transit in downtown San Diego. That was a bit steep for my budget, so it rarely made sense to use public transit at that time.

California has relatively good public transit for the US. I don't want to own a car. It is part of why I am in California. But, no, public transit here is not like in Europe. You need to either have serious stamina or plan to develop it if you want to live without a car here.

A bicycle can potentially help with that, but they aren't that cheap these days. A bicycle can be an asset on the street. It can also be a liability. Where do you secure it at night? If you are camped in some patch of woods, how do you get your bike in and out? What if you can't because it is too rocky or steep? What if you get a flat tire? Do you want to choose between repairing it or eating? Etc.
posted by Michele in California at 1:53 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Santa Monica City College is substantially cheaper, at $7,800 for non-resident tuition

In addition to the hurdles of establishing residency valid for the purposes of tuition at a US state school, it is worth looking at the total costs involved. In the UK, you can go to uni in England for a maximum of £9,000; NI for £3,805; less in Scotland, and it is a three year degree rather than four years of tuition as in the US. There are actual bursaries for students in poverty and the repayment scheme for student loans is also less punitive than the US private loan system.

If you are planning to go to uni, you are literally a fool to choose to pay tuition in the US instead of the UK.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:01 AM on August 8, 2016 [17 favorites]

athirstforsalt: My bad. Probably as bad as Orange County then.

Also, I didn't mean to suggest in my first post that you should move to the US either, although I should have stated it more clearly. I just wanted to suggest some resources if you had to. It's really not worth it. It is really a patchwork of services. Right now dealing with the homeless has been unloaded onto police agencies rather than public health and social services agencies, and in general they are more likely to ticket, harass and uproot you to another area than they are to help you find housing. That is changing, but slowly.

People from other states and cities buy the homeless bus tickets to California, thinking the warm weather will make for a kinder environment. But the government here has not shown much initiative on homelessness.
posted by mmmleaf at 2:04 AM on August 8, 2016

The picture for college in the US is even bleaker than DarlingBri suggests because most American students do not manage to finish a four year degree in a mere four years. Many take six years.
posted by Michele in California at 2:57 AM on August 8, 2016

Plus, in the UK there is the Open University which is not exactly chopped liver.
posted by tel3path at 3:04 AM on August 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

Never been to the UK, and I had a home in the US, and parts of this information are probably obviously simplistic, but... it sounds like you could just qualify (age, ticket price) for a working visa to Australia. Want to change your life and get healthy/sober? Sunshine? Money?

You have 10 weeks to make a move. You are probably eligible for a 12 month working visa (age under 30) and folk in the sunshine states would love to employ you. Become a jackaroo, a prawn trawler deckie or cook, a country pub bar tender, a hostel manager, a fruit picker, a cotton chipper, an anything. Just break out.

It sounds like you are at the bottom. So why limit yourself to a harsh country like the US? Think about a health/work sabbatical in OZ. All things considered, it is a better place to be homeless.
posted by Thella at 3:17 AM on August 8, 2016 [24 favorites]

I really second the idea of wwoofing or the like, if that's something you feel phsyically capable of doing. You will have a roof over your head, and at least one meal a day. Plus, working with your hands will fill your days, and that may help give you a sense of purpose that could keep you sober. (I'm not entirely sure how insurance would work in that case, though, so that's something to think about...)

You could combine that with an online college course or a self-directed "learning challenge", and with exploring the country you'll be in. Because you won't have many things, (and because with both a US and a UK passport you shouldn't have any visa issues), it would be relatively easy for you to travel to another country and see new sights when the contract with the farm runs out, should you choose to do so....

Good luck-- We are all rooting for you here!!
posted by sunshine100 at 3:24 AM on August 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

All the best, mate. If it suits you, wherever you go, find a 12-step meeting that can not only support your sobriety but also offer a community.
posted by lometogo at 3:50 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think there's a good chance this entire plan has been concocted by your addiction. You're newly sober, part of your brain is still naturally freaked out about that, and it has convinced the more reasonable part of your brain that this is a good plan for rebuilding your life. But the real plan is to land at Venice Beach, realize you've depleted your savings to get there, soak up the extra sense of hopelessness you've created, and within a few days use your remaining savings to reacquire your drug of choice (which you probably remember as plentiful and easily accessible during the 6 months you were there when you were 20, a year or so into your addiction?).

Don't buy the plane tickets yet. Follow through on finding the addiction counselor first. Ask them what they think of this plan and they'll probably tell you it's classic newly-sober addict brain decision making.
posted by nobody at 4:18 AM on August 8, 2016 [44 favorites]

U.K. University and health options much cheaper and more accessible. You can start over, do not move to the US as you are much better off where you are, hard as it may seem to believe.
posted by bquarters at 4:19 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Forgive me if I am overstepping, as someone who doesn't know your background or the challenges of substance abuse; but your question actually reads as though you are CHOOSING to be homeless in two and a half months?

You just lost your job but it was lucrative enough to make savings from; you currently have a lease which is ending. You are a bright person and you have options which, perhaps, depression or addiction is hiding from you.

If you must move, move strategically in the UK to access better services. Get a new job, get counselling via your GP, and get into a shared house.

As everyone has said, being in recovery sucks but it sucks less in the UK.
posted by citands at 5:45 AM on August 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

I couldn't agree more with nobody's comment. Things will look different in a few months-- if you use them to care for yourself and get some rest, not ramping up to move somewhere else that's very high-pressure. Use the cash you have for housing for another couple of months, finesse paying for a therapist for now, and instead go to AA/NA which is free. Read up on post-acute withdrawal syndrome and get treated for whatever applies; you probably have a lot of depression and anxiety right now which is rebound from the addiction.
posted by BibiRose at 6:04 AM on August 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Obviously I hope you find a different solution, but if you're going to do this, don't go to Venice, for all the reasons listed above. Come to Santa Monica, it's much safer here. (I assume SMPD is nudging more aggressive people to Venice.)

The police are well-trained and don't harrass homeless people, and the city takes the problem seriously. I, a woman, am not uncomfortable* waiting at a bus stop in the am or pm darkness around homeless people but I would not say the same for Venice. I see this was linked above: Homeless Services and Resource Guide for the City of Santa Monica. Palisades Park has tourists milling around until 2am and the runners come out around 5:30, which helps mitigate the safety issue a little bit.

Good luck, memail me if you have specific questions about Santa Monica.

*Acknowledging that not all people will have my comfort level.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:36 AM on August 8, 2016

Just to add to the chorus - planning to "start over again in America" as you describe it, sounds beguiling, but the adage "wherever you go, there you are" holds very true here. All your problems will be there to meet you when you get off the plane.

Believing in clean slates is so, so tempting when all around you has gone to shit in a shopping trolley, but the reality is that digging yourself out of mental health holes is a long, slow process, and a change of scenery is not necessarily a short cut through that.
posted by penguin pie at 7:06 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Most Southern California beaches have a curfew. Many of the curfews are sunset to sunrise while others are midnight to 5 a.m. There are no beaches in Southern California open to camping without a permit and most of those, you cannot tent camp, you need an RV.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:15 AM on August 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

I can't think of a worse place to get sober than Venice Beach. It's a pretty good place to get super high and have someone beat the everloving shit out of you though.

Seconding nobody: this sounds like a handy bit of self-sabotage.

For god's sake, I know the UK is struggling but everything you're seeing there now? That's where the US was *thirty years ago*. And only getting *worse* since. The US is goddamn Mad Max for poor people, dude. If you wanna come here to bring your life to a screeching halt, nobody here is gonna stop you, but be honest with yourself, that's what you're doing.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:09 AM on August 8, 2016 [12 favorites]

I think there's a good chance this entire plan has been concocted by your addiction.

Thirding this. I've been in recovery from addiction for years now, and I still need to remind myself that whenever I am in a stressful situation, my thoughts and plans and actions often end up being counterproductive and self-destructive. My addictive thinking thrives, absolutely THRIVES, when I am overwhelmed by spiraling fear and anxiety. If my rowboat springs a leak, I don't patch the leak or bail the water, I panic and jump overboard -- or maybe I grab my axe and make it worse, because I'm tired of dealing with this fucking piece of shit rowboat and don't you see it's all fucked anyway.

I don't know if you've ever been to 12-step meetings, or what you've heard about them, or what your opinions of them might be. I'll only say that what I found when I walked into one was not what I'd assumed I would find.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 8:10 AM on August 8, 2016 [13 favorites]

(And I'll politely counter what somebody said upthread: being in recovery most assuredly does not suck. *Early sobriety* was unpleasant, but being in recovery gave me hope and resolve for the first time in a long long time.)
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 8:12 AM on August 8, 2016 [8 favorites]

I'm just going to throw this out here, with the caveat that I have very little knowledge or experience in this area, but what about trying to get a job with one of the fishing boats in Alaska? My understanding is that you make great money, it's shitty/dangerous conditions but you're all in it together, and that even if you want to relapse, it will be very challenging because you'll be in the middle of the ocean and there will literally be no way to get your hands on anything. Plus, it includes a place to live while you're on the boat.

This page appears to link to a number of positions there.

Best of luck and I hope your recovery goes well.
posted by valoius at 9:49 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

You will have great difficulty accessing any health care at all, especially non-emergency

Not true- you can get Medicaid which covers both emergency and non-emergency healthcare and is free of cost.

however, I definitely agree with others that the move is a bad idea in general.
posted by bearette at 7:50 PM on August 9, 2016

It was a mistake for me to bring up community college tuition, btw. Go somewhere with a social safety net, like elsewhere in the uk.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:30 PM on August 9, 2016

Why don't you move to continental Europe ? Take the Netherlands... After You register with the city and pay 100 euros for health insurance you can easily see a gp. There are lots of programmes for addiction. Everyone speaks English. I've met people in your situation, and i would investigate the system ;in smaller towns should be able to get social housing. Tuition fees are a couple thousand euros a year. As an EU citizen you will be looked after.
posted by zia at 11:35 PM on September 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

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