From London to LA
August 28, 2007 3:18 AM   Subscribe

Need some help moving from London to LA for a year to study film at LAfilm… please help

I work as a pretty successful freelance flash programmer in London, but I’ve decided to pursue my dream of film directing so will be moving LA in January to attend Lafilm a 1 year film programme in west Hollywood. I’ve saved up a good amount of money for fees, rent and a car. I have few question :

1. Where’s the best place to live or should I just stay really close to west Hollywood? I’ve read a few other treads about traffic in LA and that’s got me concerned. Also what freeways should I avoid?
2. How much should I budgets for rent, at the moment I think around $1,300 should be fine, is that realistic? The budget can go up to $1,500 but I hate paying rent would rather buy a place but I doubt I’ll be allowed to do that with the visa I’ll be getting.
3. The car situation. I think it’s between the BMW 5 Series or a Mercedes C-Class 2008. I have about $35,000 saved for a car with the assuming that at the end of the year I’ll be able to sell the car and get a good amount of my money back. Any idea which car I can drive and enjoy driving and will retain a good amount of it value after a year? My thinking now is if I buy the new shape Mercedes it’ll probably be easier to sell at the end of the year or when I decide to leave.

Any other advice would be greatly appreciated, I’m so looking forward to moving, I’ll be going to La in about 3 weeks to look around at apartments and check out various arrears.

Peace!
B
posted by TheAfroangel to Travel & Transportation around London, England (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Traffic in LA is a bitch, but you just have to deal with it. Get a car with satellite radio and the time will pass much more quickly. You'll probably be using the 10, 101, and 405 freeways a lot, which are pretty bad during rush hour (the 405 is the worst), but that's to be expected on just about every freeway. Rush hour is basically 6:30-9am and 3:30-7:30pm. Traffic on the West Side is especially bad--even when it's not rush hour the traffic can be heavy. When you have to commute, check SigAlert.com or go to Google Maps and click on the "traffic" button in the upper right-hand corner.

WeHo has some really nice places to live, and if you're gay or into the club scene, you'll be in heaven. It's very trendy and expensive. $1300/month seems low for that area, but I'm not a renter so I can't be sure. I'd pay a little more for a nice place to live rather than a brand new car, but that's just me. LA is a car culture, so having a really great car will be fun.
posted by HotPatatta at 6:20 AM on August 28, 2007


the car/rent thing is true, but I always feel like rent is pretty much just giving away money. I know I have to live there and from what you're saying the closer to west Hollywood the better. The other thing is when I leave I'll be able to sell the car so I want as much of that money back as possible.

B
posted by TheAfroangel at 6:31 AM on August 28, 2007


Two resources for finding apartments: Westside Rentals and Craigslist Los Angeles. There's also Oakwood corporate housing which caters to people who need to extended stays in furnished apartments.
posted by sharkfu at 7:58 AM on August 28, 2007


1) Yes - live in or close to West Hollywood. If you must live further away, think of the freeways as boundaries: you generally don't want to live on the other side of them from where you're working because at rush hour the main arteries to the other side of the freeways are congested with traffic trying to get on the freeways. I also agree that West Hollywood is a great place to live, whether you're gay or not.
2) Check out apartments using the guest search on Westside Rentals - membership is $60 for 60 days
3) No car will retain good value - in the US or the UK - if you buy it new. There are plenty of excellent used cars to be found at carmax - and they'll buy you're car back from you for an excellent price too. For the price range you're looking at, you'll probably get a better resale value on a Lexus or an Infiniti.
posted by forallmankind at 8:00 AM on August 28, 2007


Are you SURE you'll need a car?

Why not live near school and rent a car if you need one? There are plenty of cheap day rentals.
posted by k8t at 8:18 AM on August 28, 2007


Where’s the best place to live or should I just stay really close to west Hollywood? I’ve read a few other treads about traffic in LA and that’s got me concerned. Also what freeways should I avoid?

It depends. I've known people attending UCLA who've lived downtown. They had a great place with amazing downtown views, and it was far cheaper than living in Westwood. It's a bit of a drive though!

Another option open to you is to live the other side of the hills. I've known people who've done this too, and it's not that bad. You've got Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Studio City, etc. The rentals over there are cheaper and bigger and you get a totally different atmosphere (more suburban). This question is kinda parallel to.. I'm moving to London, do I have to live in the borough of Westminster? No, not really.

I have about $35,000 saved for a car with the assuming that at the end of the year I’ll be able to sell the car and get a good amount of my money back.

No, no, no! People always have this idea, but it rarely works with cars. The depreciation on new cars is CRAZY. Buy something cheaper and used that's only a few years old and you'll get a better time of it. Or.. just lease something new. If you're only there a year and the times are well defined, you could probably get a good deal on a lease.
posted by wackybrit at 8:20 AM on August 28, 2007


"The car situation. I think it’s between the BMW 5 Series or a Mercedes C-Class 2008."

You're gonna feel right at home here. If you want to make most of your money back, though, buy used.

"How much should I budgets for rent, at the moment I think around $1,300 should be fine, is that realistic?"

Depends what part of town you live in. You can probably find something in Hollywood for that much, but it might take some looking. If you're willing to commute farther, you can manage $1,300 for a 1-bedroom pretty easily.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:34 AM on August 28, 2007


Oh, and if you're reasonably loose on the car spec, I'd say skip the new C-class (and I'm a die hard Mercedes fan & driver, but it looks so generic!) and get a used SLK instead. A convertible pays dividends in SoCal and you'll be mighty envious of people who have them on those hot summery days.
posted by wackybrit at 8:39 AM on August 28, 2007


"How much should I budgets for rent, at the moment I think around $1,300 should be fine, is that realistic?"

Depends what part of town you live in. You can probably find something in Hollywood for that much, but it might take some looking. If you're willing to commute farther, you can manage $1,300 for a 1-bedroom pretty easily.


That may be true. But be advised the "cool/trendy" tag mainly applies to West Hollywood. Your results in Hollywood may vary.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 9:25 AM on August 28, 2007


Here's something they're going to teach you at film school:

Buy a used honda civic and keep that 35k for your film(s).
posted by milinar at 9:35 AM on August 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


On the car, might be a good idea to get something cheaper and with better MPG. Gas has gone down recently (at least where I am, which is outside LA County, so LA may be different), but the long term trend is still up. A friend of mine recently traded in his old car for something slightly newer with a far better economy. Incredulously told me how much he saved on a tank, and gleefully calculated the amount he could save over a year.

You could even get a Prius or equivalent. Save the environment, and get to use the carpool.
posted by djgh at 9:42 AM on August 28, 2007


Re: neighborhoods-- yeah you're going to want to live somewhere close to your school. But when you're done, move west or east-- I love super-walkable, beach-friendly Venice (but then again I barely have to commute) and most people love Silverlake/Echo Park/Los Feliz on the complete opposite end of town.

Re: finances, having lived both places, London is far more expensive and (IMO) harder to live in than LA, so I'm sure you'll be fine. $1,300 isn't unreasonable for rent.

And I completely agree with milinar about the car issue. Your purpose for moving to LA is not just to drive around and look reasonably well-off in your Mercedes, you are going to LA to MAKE MOVIES. I live here, I went to film school, and you are going to need every dime you've got to chase that dream. And that's perfectly respectable.

I know so many film students or struggling actors who eat ramen to survive but drive around in an Escalade for the image factor. Seems like they're shooting themselves in the foot, spending money on gas instead of film stock or headshots or whatever. IMO you aren't supposed to have the trappings of success while you're in film school-- it's like the only time when it's socially acceptable to eat Kraft mac and Cheese every day for dinner and drive a car that is fourteen different shades of red. Especially if the end result is a kickass film.

Although if you have total faith that you'll be able to work a lucrative position part-time here that still allows you to own a new Mercedes AND go to film school AND spend a lot of money on making films, then please disregard the above.
posted by np312 at 10:24 AM on August 28, 2007


1. West Hollywood is a great place to live, especially if it means you will avoid a commute. Plenty of great restaurants and bars there. All freeways suck, as do the surface streets at rush hour. Hence live close to work.

2. I have no idea how much rent is here these days, but I think for a 1 bedroom 1300 should be ok. Check out the craiglist link above to get an idea. Your visa doesn't stop you buying a place but a) you have no credit history so the only loans you will be able to get will have appalling rates and b) house prices here are nutty, somewhat similar to London prices from what I know of current prices.

3. I second the suggestion above to get a prius. Aside from saving you gas money and giving you access to the carpool lane on freeways (seriously awesome benefit) its actually a trendy car in the hollywood crowd these days. Go past any industry hang out and you will see a few prius parked alongside all the MBs and BMWs. LA is a car culture city and the industry is very car-conscious.

I haven't lived in London for 8 years now, but I would totally agree that LA is generally cheaper, except perhaps rent. If you decide to look elsewhere than WeHo then check out Silverlake/Los Feliz (hipster crowds), Studio City (restaurant scene, although I would say Hollywood restaurants are far superior quality), Beverly Hills or even Bel Air - there are some apt complexes in Bel Air, which is great if you want somewhere quiet, restful and very safe (but $$$$). Santa Monica is also a great place to live, and is home to a huge ex-pat British community - that may be a plus or a negative for you depending whether you wish to have a taste of home or to escape from the UK :)
posted by Joh at 9:02 PM on August 28, 2007


« Older What to do with a thieving adult child?   |   Easy Music Transfer needed Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.