Moving In LA

Hey guys!

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!

Waze App: One of the Best Ways to Get Around Town

405Let’s face it. LA traffic sucks. Most commuters spend hours a week trying to get from point A to point B and the process can be beyond frustrating. I’ve found a great app called Waze which uses a community operated system where drivers alert each other on traffic conditions, hazards, and even police up ahead. Once you open the app on your smart phone, it begins to track the speed at which your car is moving along with those around you to calculate your trip. The cool thing about Waze is that it’ll give you the fastest route every time and alert you if your trip is delayed due to traffic conditions. It even changes your route for you if it’ll save you time. For example, for those of you who hate the never-ending construction mess on the 405 or can’t stand being trapped in a 110 mess, look for the routes icon to navigate freeway free, but be aware that sometimes taking side streets might be worse.

TIP: for those of you new to Los Angeles, using it often can teach you all sorts of new routes known only to locals. :~D

There are other features which allow you to connect with your facebook contacts and see if any other Waze users are in your area. Frankly, I don’t want people to know where I am at all times (too Big Brother for me), but if you like it and find it useful, then comment below :~) You can also gain points when you report conditions, but again, I don’t use those features.

This little app has saved me more than once getting from one audition to another… I highly recommend it. Best of all… It’s Free!

Find out more or download the app here: WAZE

The DMV

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Yesterday I finally got my California license plates after four trips to the DMV! I never thought it was going to be so difficult and I’m sure my experience might differ from someone else, but here are some things that might help you speed things along.

TRIP#1

I brought my car from Florida (where smog checks aren’t required) so I had no clue that my car needed to pass a smog test in order to get my California tags and registration. I saw car repair shops all over LA that said smog test, but I never even bothered to check if I needed one. FIRST FAIL.

I arrived with an appointment ( you can get one here: DMV Appointments) to take my written test for my driver’s license and get my tags and registration and was helped by the front desk person who looked through my paperwork and gave me a number. She never checked for my smog paperwork so after I took the written test, I sat there for another hour or two before I was told I needed one by another person.

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TRIP#2

After I left the DMV, I stopped by an auto repair shop to get my smog certification and return to get everything finalized. Well, what’d ya know? My car failed! The diagnosis would’ve taken a full day which I didn’t have. So, I was back to the DMV to get a temporary permit without an appointment. I was there forever!

I went to get the diagnosis which revealed a $600 repair and after driving it for a week, had to get a second smog test for another $50. Finally, the car was ready…

TRIP #3

Two weeks later, I walked in to the DMV early in the morning for a 3rd time and went Read More