It’s been a while, but I’m back. I’m currently on location in Clearwater Beach, Florida filming the sequel to Dolphin Tale and loving every minute of it!
(This is the view from my hotel)
But, that’s not why I’m writing this blog! I’m writing to talk about moving. That’s right! Moving. I’ve learned a few things over the past couple of days that I think will help you guys out. When I first moved to the West Coast, I came to visit for a whole week before locking down a place. Then, I flew back to pack and drove across the country.
This time it’ll be a bit different. I’m here for work until the new year and flying back to find a place won’t be possible. I have a feeling a lot of actors go through this so I thought I’d have you learn from my hits and misses. Here are some things you can do from another state to help your search for that perfect place!
1. Figure Out Your Budget and Stick To It
When I first started looking for places, I was convinced that I was gonna be able to get a super cheap and cute place in a safe area I knew and felt comfortable with. Then, when I couldn’t find a single place in the area I was looking for, my price range went up and so did the areas where I was looking to rent. Turns out that in LA a good area can be really close to a bad area. You also don’t want to get stuck in a part of town where traffic is always horrible or live so far that getting anywhere takes forever. So finding that perfect gem becomes a little bit harder to afford if you, like me, don’t want to live in Shanty Town.
The problem with finding a place that’s a hundred or two over budget is simple: unless you are living in a rent controlled building, you’ll be having to move within a year or two. If you have to furnish the place like me, it ends up being even more important. Having a good savings cushion in California (and anywhere) is important. You don’t want to spend it all on helping you cover your month’s expenses because you got a pricey little place.
2. Westside Rentals Is Awesome, But It’s Not The End All Be All
When I first moved everyone said, “You have to do Westside Rentals. It’s a must.” Well, it’s not. Sure, it’s great and there are some amazing properties, but you can also try craigslist and other sites. Lots of people post their places everyday, look for roommates, and sublease apartments and you can find dozens of new listings every day. There are people that never even list their places! Some just post a sign in the front yard and that’s it. Which if you aren’t there like me, it brings me to another point…
3. Your Friends Can Be Your Eyes And Ears In LA
That’s right! If you have any friends or social networking groups that are local to the areas you are looking to move to ask them for help. I know I’d always find for rent signs driving around The Valley and Hollywood. There are also many places that aren’t even listed because friends of tenants find out and get to them first. You can be one of those people! Make sure that you check the places your friends find and once you’ve narrowed ALL of your choices or if you hear of a place that’s too good to pass up, ask a friend to take you on a virtual tour. You can Skype, Tango, or FaceTime around the property and surrounding areas and get a friend’s perspective or advise in the process!
4. Don’t Stress
Believe me, this is a hard one for me not to do. There’s only so much you can do from far away. Another option I’ve found helpful is to research places and then wait until you are in town to take those tours and drive around yourself. If you’ve got awesome buddies with a couch or can afford an extended stay hotel, then you can wait to make a decision ’til then.
Tip from my buddy: “If you find a place you love, drive around during rush hour traffic and then in the middle of the night. Check out the surrounding areas to get a feel of the place… what works for me may not work for you.”
UPDATE: I did find an amazing place in Studio City thanks to my wonderful friend Emma who used FaceTime to show me around the property. I negotiated the priced down $25 a month and sent in the application using the DocuSign app on my phone!