Moving across the country isn’t as fun as it sounds (and it doesn’t sound fun at all). But being prepared will make your life a whole lot easier. Just like there’s no clear cut path to a career in the film business, there’s no “right” advice about moving. But if you’re looking to follow in someone’s footsteps who made it across the country in one piece, here’s my list of five things that you should do before you move.
- Figure out how you’re going to move your stuff: Are you going to sell all your furniture and re-buy it all at Ikea? Or do you really like the stuff you already have? If so, do you think renting a U-Haul or Budget truck makes sense (it probably doesn’t—gas alone is nearly $800 from Florida to California). Personally, I moved most of my stuff with U-Pack. I recommend going that route if you have a lot of things you have to move. Of course, you could always try to cram everything into your car.
- Find a place to live: I know people that found places on Westside Rentals or Craigslist. The best thing to do is know someone who’s moving out and steal their apartment. That’s what I did. But that’s not very common. I’ve heard that visiting LA and driving around neighborhoods that you like, looking for rental signs, is probably the best.
- Save money: Moving is expensive. It cost me about $2500 when all was said and done. And that’s quite literally before I went to the store to buy my first round of groceries. And most of my expenses were split with my three other roommates. Again, moving is expensive.
- Be okay about not having a job lined up: It’s quite unrealistic to have a film-related job before you move unless you know a lot of people who are not only employed, but are in positions to hire you or recommend to someone that they hire you. Don’t be afraid to move out here without employment. That’s where saving money comes in handy. But to appease your parents and judgmental friends, you can certainly say that you “have two or three interviews lined up,” since most people don’t understand moving somewhere without the prospect of immediate employment.
- Contact everyone you know: And do it early. And be real about your contact. No one likes zero-content “keeping in touch” emails. Comment on their Facebook statuses. Message them interesting articles that you think they might like. Remind them that not only are you alive but you’re valuable. Everything you’ve heard about “it’s not what you know but who you know” is right. But there’s another part to that: “It’s not hard to know people.” Not really.
Notice that “visit” wasn’t one of those five things. That’s because I never visited before I moved. My reason is simple: I know two different people who visited Los Angeles and came back disappointed. Knowing that LA was the only option for me in terms of career goals, I didn’t want to have a jam-packed week-long awkward impression of the city. At best, I figured that I’d like it, which wouldn’t really change the fact that I was moving there. At worst, I’d hate the trip and have had spent a lot of money figuring that out.
To be fair, I already had a place to live before moving out thanks to the incredible Michelle Roca. Had I needed to look for an apartment, my outlook would have certainly been different. Just know that one or two weeks in a place like LA isn’t really enough time to form accurate impressions (it took me that long just to acclimate to the traffic). Michelle visited and really enjoyed it, but she was working on a film at the time—meeting lots of great people. So if you are visiting good friends who know the area, you might be in better shape.
If you decide that a visit is something you should do, be realistic about it—set simple and clear goals and make sure you accomplish them.
Is there anything that I missed that’s really important? What did you do before you moved here? Have any questions about moving that I might be able to answer? Let me know in the comments.