The total cost of moving to LA (from the other coast) will depend on a lot of factors so it’s very difficult to give an accurate estimate. Thankfully, the final cost will really depend on YOU and what you’re willing to do to keep costs as low as possible.
Let’s just look at the first month and see what you would be looking at financially.
Here are your major expenses:
1) MOVING: The most economical way is to hire a U-haul and load it up with as much stuff as possible. Of course, that will limit how much stuff you’re bringing with you but hopefully you’re not moving a whole house worth of crap. It’s gonna take a couple of days to do a cross-country journey and it’s better if can convince a friend to take the journey with you to cram more driving hours into the day.
Estimated cost: $1500. This price will be higher if you want to take more stuff with you and take longer to drive or lower if you decide to leave most of your junk behind and just jump on a plane.
2) APARTMENT: First you have to decide if you want to get into a roommate situation or rent a one bedroom. Obviously the roommate sitch is cheaper but I can tell you from first hand experience that roommates are crazy and will spend every waking hour trying to drive you crazy so the discounted living quarters may not be worth it. If you want to live in the valley close to Hollywood, you need to search in the following neighborhoods; Universal City, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood and possibly Van Nuys. Don’t even think about living in Northridge, Chatsworth or Encino if you want to get any respect from people living over the hill.
Estimated cost: $700 (shared) to $1200 (one bedroom). Of course, the move in costs are doubled because they will ask for a security deposit so you’ll want at least $1400 to $2400.
3) FOOD: Eating in LA is damned expensive unless you decide that you can survive on the Subway/Carl’s Jr. diet. I shop at Ralph’s grocery store and I tend to buy about $400 worth of groceries each month but admittedly, I’m not always looking for deals and I’m not a coupon clipper.
It’s hard to stay away from restaurant eating once and a while. And if you’re in LA, you should check out some of the scene. So …
Estimated cost: I’m gonna go with $300 to $500.
4) CAR: Don’t even think about using the public transportation system in LA. Actually, I have a metro link close to my apartment and it isn’t a bad way to get down to Hollywood but it’s pretty much the same price as when I drive. It is also a longer trip. So you need a car. And it has to be reliable; the last thing you want it to be stuck on the 101 because your transmission blew up and suddenly, you’re gonna be 2 hours late for a script meeting. Cost of gas is very expensive and can be painfully expensive if you have a long commute to work. Also add in the insurance. When I moved to California, my insurance rates doubled and I got less coverage. Welcome to helLA!
Estimated cost: Including gas and insurance, $300 to $500.
5) MISCELLANEOUS: There are other costs involved such as apartment utilities, internet, cell phone, movie tickets, gym fees (c’mon, this is LA, you gotta look good) as well as parking tickets (we all get them, just accept this fact). And you do want a buffer of cash, just for emergencies.
Estimated costs: For the first month, I would have an extra grand on hand, just in case. You never know in this crazy city.
Let’s see. It adds up to $4500 on the low side to about $6000 on the high side. That sounds about right. Ideally, you will have a good job that will pay the bills after the first month and by the second month, you’ve sold that million dollar script and will be working out the costs to move to BH.