I moved to Santa Monica just a year ago, and the transition from the chilly Pacific Northwest to the sunny California beaches was shocking, to say the least! If you’re thinking about making the transition yourself, here are a few things you’re going to need that may surprise you:
A Winter Coat
Southern California is supposed to be warm, right? When I left Portland and moved down south, I sold all of my winter clothes in a big yard sale.
That turned out to be a grisly mistake. You see, evenings in Santa Monica are quite chilly, especially with the wind blowing in off the Pacific Ocean. Many people in the Santa Monica/Los Angeles wear coats and scarves when the weather gets cold, even when “cold” is now defined as anything below 50 degrees.
A New Roommate
You know those lists of “Top 10 Most Expensive Cities To Rent An Apartment?” Fully half of those top cities are in California, and Los Angeles clocks in at number 5. Even though Santa Monica is not LA’s most expensive neighborhood, since it is populated by a lot of UCLA students and other young people, you’re still going to need a roommate — or several — just to afford a place in the city.
A Good Accountant — and a Good Lawyer
Los Angeles has a lot of rules you don’t expect. If you move to LA to become an actor, writer, or musician, be prepared to register your business with the city and pay all kinds of business, city, and sales taxes. (Los Angeles sales tax is divided by neighborhood, meaning that if you travel through the city doing the performance circuit, you have to keep track of how many albums you sell in each district.)
It’s best just to get an accountant right away, and keep a good lawyer on hand as well. I never expected to need a personal injury attorney in Santa Monica , until I got sideswiped by a car on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Westwood.
A Flexible Sense of Time
“California casual” extends to time as well — the city’s perpetual gridlock means that there’s no good way of knowing when you’ll arrive at any given location. Expect to leave early, spend hours on the 405, and still show up late. On the other hand, if you’re planning to attend a comedy show at LA’s branch of the famous Upright Citizens Brigade, the training ground for comedy legends like Amy Poehler and Jessica Williams, don’t worry — it’ll start late, so that everyone who’s stuck in traffic will have time to get to their seats.
A Love of Street Performers
Santa Monica’s famous Third Street Promenade is just a few blocks away from my apartment, and I can hear the street music long before I hit the bustling Promenade. Like everything else, the street musicians, dancers, and other performers that line the Promenade are top-notch. Space on the Promenade is extremely coveted, as actors and musicians often use the spots to get discovered by agents. According to the Examiner, Naia Kete of The Voice, Q’orianka Kilcher of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” and the band Ready Set Go! all got plucked off the Promenade and catapulted into stardom.
A Gym Membership
LA is a city of beautiful people, and you have to do your part to keep up. That means hitting the gym, since it isn’t really safe to jog on the busy streets after dark. Luckily, Santa Monica has every type of gym activity you could want, from pilates to rock climbing.
A New Wardrobe
Chances are, whatever you wore where you came from won’t look right in Santa Monica. Hit up the thrift stores and consignment shops, and see if you can pull off the effortlessly casual, simply gorgeous look that gives LA its sense of style.