Approach relocation one step at a time.
Step 1: Establish Credit
Get a credit card. Use it. AND PAY OFF YOUR BALANCE, IN FULL, EVERY MONTH. Your goal is to establish a good credit score, not debt. Landlords run credit checks on potential tenants and may refuse to rent to those with bad or no credit. If you are a first time card holder, I recommend a Visa or MasterCard student card, which offer low interest rates and often no annual fees. Some universities offer similar cards to alumni.
I also recommend gas cards and department store cards, which offer low credit limits, preventing massive debt.
For major credit cards, I recommended the Discover it Credit Card and the Blue Card or Green Card from American Express.
Step 2: Save Money
Or find someone to borrow money from. At the very least you will need enough cash to afford your first month’s rent plus a deposit — a minimum of $1500-$2000. I moved to LA with very little cash. I borrowed the money for my deposit from my beloved grandmother, charged my groceries and gas, and slept on a borrowed mattress on the floor until I could afford a bed. I was hired as a production assistant just four days after relocating, but it took me over four weeks to receive my first paycheck. Your payroll paperwork will be submitted on your first day, but it may take weeks for the accounting department to process it and cut you a check. Be prepared for a two to six week delay.
Step 3: Find A Place To Live And Someone To Pay Half The Rent
Expect to pay a of MINIMUM $750/month/per person for rent and utilities.
Popular roommate and apartment finders include Craigslist, Roommates.com, and Westside Rentals. There is a fee to sign up for Westside Rentals, but I highly recommend it.
There’s no way to ensure yourself a short commute because studios are located all over town. Palms, for instance, is an affordable neighborhood near Venice and Santa Monica and convenient unless you work at Universal. Marina Del Rey is paradise, unless you work at Warner Brothers. You will inevitably be forced to commute. Live in a neighborhood you love and download audio books from iTunes or use the time in your car to call your beloved grandmother and thank her for the loan.
Below is a list of neighborhoods I recommend:
SAN FERNANDO VALLEY
Marina Del Rey
Beverly Hills Adj
Step 4: Apply For A California Driver’s License
According to the California DMV:
If you are a visitor in California over 18 and have a valid driver license from your home state or country, you may drive in this state without getting a California driver license as long as your home state license remains valid.
If you become a California resident, you must get a California driver license within 10 days. Residency is established by voting in a California election, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner’s property tax exemption, or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.
Translation: The first time an officer pulls you over and questions your license, say you moved here 9 days ago.
Step 5: Purchase Roadside Assistance Coverage
You will get a flat tire. You will find yourself stranded on the side of the freeway. Join AAA.
Step 6: Stock Your Trunk
…with a sweater, umbrella, and rain boots. Streets and sidewalks flood in record time in L.A. The first time you walk through ankle-deep water to pick up a lunch order, think of me.