From LA to New York and Back: My Experience Q& A

Welcome! For those who do not know, i am originally from Los Angeles, California. 7 years ago i made the big move from LA to New York City where i lived for 6 years. I was in my mid 20’s in need of a change. I was craving the hustle and bustle of New York, so i got up and went for it. Now in my 30’s my desires have changed, i wanted to slow down, i missed seeing the mountains around me, i also wanted to settle somewhere where my fiancé and i could start our family, so a year ago we made the move to LA! Below i share the Q&A submitted on instagram. To better provide insight, i also share my fiancé’s point of view as he is a born and raised New Yorker.

“What is the biggest difference in prices like rent, taxes etc? We are looking to move to California too”

When i first moved to NYC, i was shook to get my first pay check and notice they were taking out city and state taxes. I was not use to that. In California you just pay state taxes.

Sales Tax: your city tax will vary depending on what city you are in because they are allowed to collect their own rate. So while sales tax in the city of Sylmar is 9.5%, if you shop in Santa Monica you are looking at a 10.25% tax.

Rent: LA county is pretty big and made up of different cities. So it depends where you are planning to move. If you are looking at downtown LA you can definitely run into New York City pricing. However, you do get more square footage for your money. Below is a map of L.A County to help you get an idea (the colored cities are part of LA County):

“What’s a good area of LA for a first time renter? I am looking to get an apartment with my best friend”

This is so different for everyone simply because as you can see from map above, LA county is so big. The yellow and upper orange area, are the most popular for people to move to. However, it will vary depending on your budget, car situation, where you will be working etc! I have lived in the San Fernando Valley (aka “The Valley”) the majority of my life. I personally wanted to stay in that area when we were moving back. I have never liked the downtown LA area to live in, but that’s my personal preference. A lot of the people i know who have relocated to LA have moved into Korea Town or Culver City. It truly depends on your situation.

“Tips for someone moving to LA that isn’t comfortable driving?”

I have been driving since i was 16, so while it was an adjustment at first having to drive again, for me, it wasn’t abnormal. Therefore i let Juan answer this one:

Adjustment is really about patience. My biggest frustration was not having a sense of direction. Once I understood what east, west, north and south looked like, it made it easier. I was very anxious driving at night for this reason. After about 4 months I could feel the comfort of understanding how the major roads work. My biggest advice to adjust is to take your time going places in order to not feel the anxiety of what it means to get there. Sometimes the journey may seem complicated but once you’re on the road it’s a matter of making sure you get there safe. In NY its easy to rely on public transportation but in California you better know where you’re headed! Also good to note, learn the basic laws of driving in CA, even if you do drive where you currently are located because there are different rules. One big one: in CA you can turn right on a red light, while in NY you can’t!

Note: you will definitely need a car in LA, unless you manage to live and work nearby. You can also use the LA Metro if you live near the subway lines but it but it doesn’t go everywhere so make sure you map it out. If you get a car, you will need insurance!

“What do you like best about living in Cali vs what you miss about NYC? I am currently in Bergen County”.

The best thing about living in California for me is the space! The space you get for your money is more to be desired than NY. I definitely took it for granted before but now that i am back i appreciate it so much more. With that being said, you definitely have to drive/commute almost everywhere. For Juan, he loves living in Cali because of the weather and the value of quality of life. He finds the pace is great for one’s mental health. I definitely agree, especially during this quarantine. I would have not been able to stay sane in the space we lived in New York.

On the other hand, New York is like no other city. The convenience of how close things are and how easy it is to get around without a vehicle is something we definitely miss, especially him since he was use to not having to drive. To have your choice of food no matter what kind it is and have it ready late night is always a win. There’s always a ton of activities in the city especially in the warmer months. Some of my favorite memories were made in the summertime. Nothing like Summer time in NY, it can’t be replicated. New Yorkers are some of the best people to be around because they keep you sharp. “There’s always big city talk that speeds things along”.

“Tips on landing a job before moving to a prospective city?”

I am no expert on this subject and i am only sharing from our experience. Start applying months before you plan to move. Make sure you list you will be relocating. Check with your company for transfer options and network! Fortunately, my company provides transfer opportunities so this was HUGE for me when i moved to NY and when i moved back to LA. I still had to apply and interview, but knowing it was an option took huge stress off me. Juan didn’t have this option but he checked within his network for opportunities and applied to a couple companies in Los Angeles. A big call out is to be willing to go outside of your intended “home” city. We both work in different cities than were we live. Yes you will have traffic, it is Los Angeles, but mentally prepping and being aware of it will make it easier for you to live with it. Finding work 15 minutes away from your home is a bonus-but not the norm for a lot of Angelenos.

“Would you recommend moving to where you do not have any family but you will have a better quality of life? I’m looking to do NYC to FL”

Most definitely! When i first decided to move to NY, it was a decision i made on my own. I had no family there. Sure i had met a few people through college days but no one i can rely on. It was right before moving that my sister decided to join me for a year and a half. I was set to go alone and after she left NY, i stayed. I am a huge believer that you need to go out and go after what you want. If it doesn’t workout, or later your find out it isn’t for you, or you just need a change again, you can always go back or go somewhere else. You roots are where you plant them!

“How did you pick a neighborhood and look for a place?” “What did the process of choosing where to move to look like? Did you visit several times?” “What did you have lined up first, a job or a place to live? Love your page by the way!”

CA to NY: Before i moved to NY, i lived in Santa Barbara (Ventura County) for over 6 years. Lovely beach town but definitely not the vibes for the type of life i wanted to have moving back to LA. In fact, that is where i moved out of when i went to NY. I had first made the decision to move to New York about 5 years before moving. I was still in college and i had visited twice. I took a few years off from school, and decided i would go back to school and move when i graduated. My boss at that time knew this was my plan, so when graduation time came along in June of 2013, she set my last day to be towards the end of August which pushed me to look for internal transfer opportunities. On August 30,2013 i arrived in New York!

Finding our area in LA: Since i was raised in the Valley, and my family lives in the area as well, i really wanted to find somewhere around there when moving back. The area isn’t so busy, not as expensive as downtown LA, streets aren’t confusing, you can find street parking if needed, things are still relatively close and it isn’t so gentrified (although after 6 years it definitely is more than when i left). Juan wanted to be in an area that felt like a neighborhood but not a suburb. So we were both open to that general area and kept that in mind during the process. Note: if you are looking for apartments, you can easily search through online websites such as Zillow. This is a huge difference from NY where brokers make it nearly impossible to search for an apartment on your own.

Finding our Home: Juan and I had already discussed in previous years, one day making LA our home so we were already saving to one day buy a place. I had brought him to visit LA a few times and he instantly fell in love with it so we were both on the same page about what our future would look like. Quick side note: if you are on the fence about what type of home you want as your first home: a co-op, a condo, or a house etc, go with what you feel is best for YOU. There’s ton of advice out there telling you to do one vs the other but there is absolutely no universal rule that applies to everyone. It would be bad advice to tell you otherwise. A great book to help you learn about home buying is this one here, i passed on my copy and recommend it to my friends and family all the time.

In September of 2018, we came down for my cousin’s wedding and decided to just “look” at places in the market to get an idea of what was available. We had agreed if we “found something amazing” we would go for it. We saw multiple places but didn’t find “the one”. When we returned to New York we had a good idea of what to expect and how much we wanted to continue to save. Within that same week, we came across a condo we really liked and sent it to our realtor in LA to go check it out and send us video. I then asked my parents to go check out the area for us. Shortly after that, we made an offer. Within that week, an internal position opened in at one of our Santa Monica locations. When i shared this with Juan, he said “go for it”, we would figure everything out, so i did. We closed on the place at the end of October and the next day i got a call i had gotten the position! I was in LA first week of November and Juan moved March of the following year!

“How did you ship your stuff?”

When i moved, i just brought with me 3 suitcases (the same amount i left to NY with). I paid for two check bags and brought a carry-on with me. Because Juan stayed back, he was shipping out things to me via UPS every week. We didn’t bring big furniture such as beds, dresser, couches etc. We bought all of that here as it was less expensive in our case, than trying to ship all those things out. We both got rid of a lot of things when we moved so that helped a lot. We were mainly shipping clothes, a television, a game console and a couple other things. When i first to moved to NY, i sold my car before leaving so i didn’t have a car to bring back.

Looking back, it is definitely crazy the way everything just ended lining up for us but life is about taking leaps! We made the necessary adjustments to make it work. Trust me, it was NOT easy, but my god has it been worth it. So whatever your tentative journey is, take it!

  1. Ahhh!!!! Deciding on the the big move from Jersey to California and you hit all of the questions I had. Super helpful especially since I’ve never moved THAT far and my biggest concern is having to drive again, le struggle.

    1. It is definitely an adjustment especially if you are not use to it. However, the quality of life for us has been worth it. Looking forward to seeing what you devide!

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