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21st November 2010
Old 21st November 2010
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Costs of living in LA

So I'm planning to apply for an O1 visa to move from London to LA in a year and just want to get lots of planning done.

I currently pay about $1,600 in rent in London, food is expensive etc, and I don't really like it here. I've spent time in LA (Beachwood Canyon) and loved it. All my clients are American and I feel like I could get a lot more work if I was based in LA.

So I just want to get an idea of places to move etc so I can do some long term planning. Little things can made a big difference in my choice of whether I go or wait longer etc. I'd be going with the girlfriend (who I'd marry so she could get her visa, we've been together almost 10 years, just haven't got married because we don't see the point)

I like Beachwood Canyon but it's expensive and when I compare it to Topanga Canyon, it seems like you get more for your money. I also want to get into writing for artists and wonder if they'd be up for travelling there. I don't mind being out in the sticks but the idea of brown recluse spiders etc freaks me out.

I'd be working from home mostly so getting to a job etc apart from meetings wouldn't be a big deal. I'm used to spending over an hour on the tube to get somewhere 4 miles away.

Is there anywhere else I'm not thinking of that's good value for money rent wise with a good location where I could make a bit of noise, feel like I have space etc? I mostly do music for ads/docs etc right now.
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21st November 2010
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Costs of living in LA

The valley is ok... But personally I avoid when possible. Nothing wrong with it, know plenty of successful guys there and they love it.

I happened to end up in Silverlake/Echo Park (east of DT LA) and love it. I work a M-F gig on the westside (Culver) and I really don't mind the commute (I may be in the minority).

Thought about moving to the west-side but it's a bit pricy and I've come to dig my neighborhood.

Venice is my favorite westside spot but you have to be into that scene... And it isn't cheap. If you are planning high level pop writing sessions, a nice, west side spot may be a necessity.

LA has hundreds of various neighborhoods and they all have pluses and minuses. My best advice is to visit a local friend and drive around for a day or two.
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21st November 2010
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I've checked out Silverlake, Echo Park, Santa Monica, Venice a bit. I think I might be better off in Beachwood Canyon if I could find somewhere a bit cheaper.

It's close to Franklin Village and when I was there, it was fairly easy to get food delivery etc.
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21st November 2010
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There are musicians scattered all over the LA area, including in Topanga Canyon. I think most people would be willing to drive out there as long as you aren't too far from the 101 freeway.

You'll probably have to pay more than $1,600 in rent if you want a place with space where you could make some noise, though. You're also looking at the hottest part of LA--the high got up to over 120 Fahrenheit in Woodland Hills a few years ago. You'll spend more on air conditioning bills there than you would in the Basin.

The part of Laurel Canyon that's in the Hollywood Hills between the Basin and the Valley is probably the most centrally located. You'll spend more for rent and less for utility bills there than you would in Topanga Canyon.

Best,

Geoff
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21st November 2010
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How much does AC cost in the summer usually? When I paid rent in Beachwood Canyon, the landlord just asked for $70 a month to cover it all. My gas and electric in the winter in London is really silly. About $240 a month.

Also, when I say noise, I don't mean drums etc. I do everything in the box pretty much.
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21st November 2010
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For what it's worth, you may want to also check out crime maps and such at the LAtimes.com. It's nothing like getting the vibe from the locals, but it's better than nothing.

Finding a place that you can be loud in might be tough in Hollywood/valley burbs. A downtown-ish loft might be the place to go.

If you can afford a secluded, private place in the Hollywood hills than

LA can get a bad rap due to the few pockets of bad areas but there are some great areas. If you don't have to be in LA, Santa Barbara/ventura can be amazing. Depends on your work/clients though. It's a bit of a bubble, musically. I had to physically rip myself from SB and force an LA move. Best decision/move I have ever made when it comes to the music biz. If you love it and arecommitted, you'll probably dig LA.

After 3 years this month, I don't want to live anywhere else (and every ex-LA bloke will think I'm completely crazy).

For reference, I pay about a $1k for a great studio apt/garage(shop) in echo park and I consider it a deal.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber View Post
How much does AC cost in the summer usually? When I paid rent in Beachwood Canyon, the landlord just asked for $70 a month to cover it all. My gas and electric in the winter in London is really silly. About $240 a month.

Also, when I say noise, I don't mean drums etc. I do everything in the box pretty much.
$70/month doesn't seem insane to me for A/C , electricity-bill, and trash? I think it's all rolled into one these days...
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21st November 2010
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That's a good price.

I'm not too worried about crime etc. I doubt it's any worse than London. I live in one of the best post codes in London and last week some famous rapper got stabbed about 5 minutes from my flat.

Is there much crime in the hills and canyons?

All the areas I did visit (echo park to Beachwood Canyon) I'd probably be happier there than London right now. I just like the idea of being high up instead of feeling a bit like I'm surrounded by buildings.

I didn't know you had to pay for trash. Seems weird.
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21st November 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber View Post
How much does AC cost in the summer usually? When I paid rent in Beachwood Canyon, the landlord just asked for $70 a month to cover it all. My gas and electric in the winter in London is really silly. About $240 a month.

Also, when I say noise, I don't mean drums etc. I do everything in the box pretty much.
In the Valley, during the summer, I'd say you're looking at more like $340 per month, depending upon the size of house you're living in.

If you're doing almost everything in the box, then any house will probably do--unless you decide to live by the beach. The houses there are right next to each other and people leave their windows open a lot of the time in those areas.

Best,

Geoff
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Ok, so the valley is out!

Are Laurel, Topanga and Beachwood Canyon similar temps? I just left the AC on all the time when I was there since we just paid the $70 for bills up front.

What about pest control? Don't people in the hills have people come in the smoke out spiders and bugs?
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21st November 2010
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Although Topanga Canyon has a vibe, it's off the beaten path and it's not conducive to face-to-face interaction...especially when it rains. If traffic jams up, it's a long drive to anywhere.

On the west side, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey and Culver City were the best locations for me, give the balance of location vs. lifestyle vs. proximity to the music business "action." Of the three, Culver City has the least vibe, but is the most affordable, and you're no more than 20 minutes away from any of the studios and record companies.

Silverlake is hip, and is regarded as a place where musicians (as opposed to producers, engineers, et al.) tend to live. Be prepared to have your car stolen.

San Fernando Valley is a hotbed of activity. Lots of folks & studios... much more affordable, but more smog.... If you land there, try to stay near 101 & 405 Freeway intersection, i.e. Sherman Oaks, for traffic considerations. Access to dining and entertainment is super easy. People in the music business are accustomed to working & meeting there, so you'd be in or near the action.

A recent trend among producers has been to move west of SFV, to places like Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks or Simi Valley. Simi is farther away from the scene in terms of mileage, but it is typically a faster drive via 118 Freeway. It's 30 minutes to Burbank & Sherman Oaks, or 45-ish to Hollywood & Santa Monica. (101 Freeway can easily add 20 minutes to the drive time--or more than an hour if there's a traffic accident.) Simi has the added benefit of being surrounded by a green belt, and if you're physically fit, you can ride your bicycle to the beach. It's great for people who enjoy the outdoors, and the air quality is very good.

Depending on what you do in the music biz, you could be virtually anywhere, working remotely. There is, however, no substitute for face-to-face networking. Any of the locations above have pros & cons, but they are a good starting place. Good luck with your search!
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21st November 2010
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Keep in mind that Topanga Canyon ends at the beach, so the temperature on that road can vary dramatically as you wind your way down from the Valley. Even the difference between the Basin end of Laurel Canyon and the Valley end will also be pretty significant. You can find more info about this at weather.com.

Best,

Geoff
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21st November 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imacgreg View Post
For what it's worth, you may want to also check out crime maps and such at the LAtimes.com. It's nothing like getting the vibe from the locals, but it's better than nothing.
100% agreed!
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21st November 2010
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Costs of living in LA

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21st November 2010
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Costs of living in LA

I'm curious to know about how you want to work that 01visa because I heard it's very hard these days and the visa fees generally have increased.
Having said this, the valley like studio city, Sherman oaks encino are great and also west valley like agoura hills calabasas etc provided you don't mind the heat. Studio city has alot of apartments too. Santa Monica is fantastic on the west side.
Remember that you would need to buy a car in la too. Public transportation sucks!
My thought is get a month-month studio spartment type place and get a feel for what u like and base it on that. People have moved twice or three times before they ended up with what works perfect for them. Crimewise the valley is generally ok south of van nuys in my opinion. I would not worry about that.
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21st November 2010
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I used to think it was very hard too. But the more I read about people who have them (actors, musicians, artists) it doesn't seem that hard if you have some credits and US based work lined up.

There are quite a few people on here with O1 visas who aren't exactly Clint Mansell or Coldplay.
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21st November 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mu6gr8 View Post
Although Topanga Canyon has a vibe, it's off the beaten path and it's not conducive to face-to-face interaction...especially when it rains. If traffic jams up, it's a long drive to anywhere.

On the west side, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey and Culver City were the best locations for me, give the balance of location vs. lifestyle vs. proximity to the music business "action." Of the three, Culver City has the least vibe, but is the most affordable, and you're no more than 20 minutes away from any of the studios and record companies.

Silverlake is hip, and is regarded as a place where musicians (as opposed to producers, engineers, et al.) tend to live. Be prepared to have your car stolen.

San Fernando Valley is a hotbed of activity. Lots of folks & studios... much more affordable, but more smog.... If you land there, try to stay near 101 & 405 Freeway intersection, i.e. Sherman Oaks, for traffic considerations. Access to dining and entertainment is super easy. People in the music business are accustomed to working & meeting there, so you'd be in or near the action.

A recent trend among producers has been to move west of SFV, to places like Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks or Simi Valley. Simi is farther away from the scene in terms of mileage, but it is typically a faster drive via 118 Freeway. It's 30 minutes to Burbank & Sherman Oaks, or 45-ish to Hollywood & Santa Monica. (101 Freeway can easily add 20 minutes to the drive time--or more than an hour if there's a traffic accident.) Simi has the added benefit of being surrounded by a green belt, and if you're physically fit, you can ride your bicycle to the beach. It's great for people who enjoy the outdoors, and the air quality is very good.

Depending on what you do in the music biz, you could be virtually anywhere, working remotely. There is, however, no substitute for face-to-face networking. Any of the locations above have pros & cons, but they are a good starting place. Good luck with your search!
I'll second most of this but reiterate that the part of Topanga Canyon that's near the 101 freeway is an exception to Michael's comments above. (Chris Lord-Alge's studio is just a few miles from there.) I'd also like to add that while it's true that there's been a trend for established producers and composers to move west of the San Fernando Valley, I wouldn't recommend moving there to get established. I'd also throw Burbank into the mix of good places to live and make music. Like Hollywood and Culver City, it's a good place for access to both the record and film industries.

Best,

Geoff
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a friend of me lives in Pasadena and likes it very much. I don't know about the cost but it shall not be to hight (he came from a 800€ flat in Gent, Belgium, and says it's cheaper) and it's a rather quiet enviroment and the 110 runs nearby.

He's a dubstep dj/producer who makes a lot of noise, and never had problems.

But i have no experience in LA, never been there...
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21st November 2010
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The valley is a bummer! It's hot and ugly, miserable lot of people living in it. The coastal side is cooler and much more pleasant. Agoura hills is ok, away from the madness but a bit suburbia-ish. I live in a community called Malibou Lake (no not malibU) and it's the best place on earth! It's 10 minutes away from Agoura, towards the beach, very peaceful and tranquil. There's some top notch wineries and even a few decent restaurants. It's much like Topanga cyn, simlar vibe but a bit cheaper. Most people don't even know it exhists.

The downside: it's a bit far from Hollywood, bout 45 minutes with no traffic (but there's ALWAYS traffic). And on that note, the public transportation is laughable, be prepared to spend a great deal of time in your car. Motorcycle is a great way to get around and beat traffic. Lane splitting is legal here and about the only savior from traffic.

Best of luck to you. You're gonna LOVE the weather!
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Driving for over an hour doesn't bother me in the slightest. I used to spent 3 hours a day on public transport to get to an office job.

Gas is so much cheaper over there as well. I'll probably be trying to get finance for a VW Golf or something since they do special deals for people with no credit who have moved over there.

Will check out Malibou Lake. How would I find it on Craigslist?

I do music for ads/film/docs right now but really want to move into songwriting so I imagine I'll probably just try and set up meetings and kill several birds with one stone in a day.
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21st November 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
I'm curious to know about how you want to work that 01visa because I heard it's very hard these days and the visa fees generally have increased. Having said this, the valley like studio city, Sherman oaks encino are great and also west valley like agoura hills calabasas etc provided you don't mind the heat. Studio city has alot of apartments too. Santa Monica is fantastic on the west side. Remember that you would need to buy a car in LA too. Public transportation sucks! My thought is get a month-month studio spartment type place and get a feel for what u like and base it on that. People have moved twice or three times before they ended up with what works perfect for them. Crimewise the valley is generally ok south of van nuys in my opinion. I would not worry about that.
CJ. I've had an 01 since 2008 from when I toured the US with another band. It's not as hard as some people make it out to be. US Immigration however (God Bless Them) certainly don't like making the process any easier than it could be. It's essentially a money-making exercise for all concerned (Government/Immigration Attorneys). The aim for the end user being .. Try not to get your wallet raped

As a mere outsider, I liked a lot of the places people have suggested. Marina Del Rey, Santa Monica, Culver/Silverlake would be great picks, and the Sherman Oaks, Burbank area and some of the Northern Hills districts.

Cheers RAy
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21st November 2010
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I lived in L.A. for a year before moving to NY in the summer of 2000.
Had a nice place in the Fairfax district, on Stanley between Melrose and Beverly, I could probably live there again if I ever had to re-locate, very central area and easy to get to just about anywhere. I had a friend in Silverlake and at the time thought that could be a great alternative, really liked that area, great vibe overall. I also spent some time in Beachwood Canyon, small but quaint, had many great nights at La Poubelle on Franklin! Those 3 areas would be my top choices, perhaps a bit narrow, but I was only there for a year so it's purely based on my experiences/areas I've spent most time in.
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21st November 2010
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Topanga is nice. There are allot of people that do what you do here. If you live in Fernwood or the Post Office tract you won't have much of an AC bill. Yes you do pay for trash. The best way to control spiders is the vacuum cleaner. There are no brown recluse but plenty of black widows and snakes and rodents. The trick is to keep them outside. Tighten up the house. Only the rodents want to share your space anyway. Cats work well but you will lose them to coyotes sometimes. If you are inclined to the action it's not to bad, the 101 starts to move by 9pm. But if you are gigging every night you would probably want something like Laurel Cyn. It used to be a bargain here but not so much anymore. $1,200 a month is the average starter rate. Utility's not included. Crime is not a concern. I had a car pinched once about twenty years ago but I found it a few weeks later in Venice. The people here tend to be a little new agey, lots of healers and mystics mixed with hippies and red necks. Musician tend toward the singer song writer type. There is live music every weekend at the local Mexican restaurant. Bands here play allot in town too.
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21st November 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Grace View Post

The part of Laurel Canyon that's in the Hollywood Hills between the Basin and the Valley is probably the most centrally located. You'll spend more for rent and less for utility bills there than you would in Topanga Canyon.

Best,

Geoff
+1 for Laurel Canyon. It' like the vibe of Beachwood Canyon turned up to 11.
Head North on Laurel Canyon "over the hill" and in 15 minutes your in the southern (good) part of the valley, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood... Go South on Laurel Canyon 10 minutes and you're at Hollywood Blvd., and 2 minutes more at the Sunset Strip and in the heart of Hollywierd.

One thing you really want to take note of; you will be living in one of the few places on earth where the temperature in the summer can be one degree hotter for every mile you are away from the ocean. It is NOT uncommon for it to be 100 deg. F in the San Fernando Valley and 75 deg. F in Santa Monica or Marina del Rey over on the west side. Also, the morning fog in June (called the June Gloom) can make the west side much cooler than the Valley during the heat waves. All that being said Laurel Canyon gets my vote as I used to be a studio musician in L.A. years ago in the days of "real studios". The commute from there was perfect whether I was going to Universal in the Valley or any of the Hollywood studios. I think you'll dig it as it is VERY centrally located and got the vibe you like too... Good luck! Oh, is the NHC going to cover you while you are over here? No body has mentioned the fact that you can go broke in America if you get sick... and you can go broke in America paying for health insurance------either way they get you... Cheers!
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You might want to look at the Santa Clarita Valley...Valencia, Saugus, etc. Only 15 minutes to the valley by car...a little cheaper and a lot nicer life style than the valley. Valencia is the nicest part of it, Canyon Country probably less so, but most of it is nicer than anywhere in the valley, which has gotten pretty shabby over the years. Public transportation is pretty poor in L.A. , but there is a metro train station in SCV that will get you to some points in the valley and downtown L.A.
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The Valley

Quote:
Originally Posted by mu6gr8 View Post
Although Topanga Canyon has a vibe, it's off the beaten path and it's not conducive to face-to-face interaction...especially when it rains. If traffic jams up, it's a long drive to anywhere.

On the west side, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey and Culver City were the best locations for me, give the balance of location vs. lifestyle vs. proximity to the music business "action." Of the three, Culver City has the least vibe, but is the most affordable, and you're no more than 20 minutes away from any of the studios and record companies.

Silverlake is hip, and is regarded as a place where musicians (as opposed to producers, engineers, et al.) tend to live. Be prepared to have your car stolen.

San Fernando Valley is a hotbed of activity. Lots of folks & studios... much more affordable, but more smog.... If you land there, try to stay near 101 & 405 Freeway intersection, i.e. Sherman Oaks, for traffic considerations. Access to dining and entertainment is super easy. People in the music business are accustomed to working & meeting there, so you'd be in or near the action.

A recent trend among producers has been to move west of SFV, to places like Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks or Simi Valley. Simi is farther away from the scene in terms of mileage, but it is typically a faster drive via 118 Freeway. It's 30 minutes to Burbank & Sherman Oaks, or 45-ish to Hollywood & Santa Monica. (101 Freeway can easily add 20 minutes to the drive time--or more than an hour if there's a traffic accident.) Simi has the added benefit of being surrounded by a green belt, and if you're physically fit, you can ride your bicycle to the beach. It's great for people who enjoy the outdoors, and the air quality is very good.

Depending on what you do in the music biz, you could be virtually anywhere, working remotely. There is, however, no substitute for face-to-face networking. Any of the locations above have pros & cons, but they are a good starting place. Good luck with your search!
I Live about a mile from downtown LA, I grew up in Van Nuys. I F**King hate Los Angeles. The Traffic is brutal, no one speaks english.
In the Valley, the further east you go, the worse the area but cheaper the rent, but then again The eastside was our playground!
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21st November 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yfoiler View Post
+1
...I used to be a studio musician in L.A. years ago in the days of "real studios". .... Oh, is the NHC going to cover you while you are over here? No body has mentioned the fact that you can go broke in America if you get sick... and you can go broke in America paying for health insurance------either way they get you... Cheers!
Partied way too much back in the day did we? LOL.....
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21st November 2010
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a friend of mine in LA sent me this link - it's for a 13x13 studio apartment in echo park, the rent is $1,650 - it's an OK neighborhood but has become "hipster central"...

1155.5 N. Coronado St
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21st November 2010
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Originally Posted by Lives For Fuzz View Post
a friend of mine in LA sent me this link - it's for a 13x13 studio apartment in echo park, the rent is $1,650 - it's an OK neighborhood but has become "hipster central"...
1155.5 N. Coronado St
Nice link! COnvert the Closet into a dry vocal booth too!!
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21st November 2010
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+1 for Laurel Canyon. It' like the vibe of Beachwood Canyon turned up to 11.
Head North on Laurel Canyon "over the hill" and in 15 minutes your in the southern (good) part of the valley, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood... Go South on Laurel Canyon 10 minutes and you're at Hollywood Blvd., and 2 minutes more at the Sunset Strip and in the heart of Hollywierd.

One thing you really want to take note of; you will be living in one of the few places on earth where the temperature in the summer can be one degree hotter for every mile you are away from the ocean. It is NOT uncommon for it to be 100 deg. F in the San Fernando Valley and 75 deg. F in Santa Monica or Marina del Rey over on the west side. Also, the morning fog in June (called the June Gloom) can make the west side much cooler than the Valley during the heat waves. All that being said Laurel Canyon gets my vote as I used to be a studio musician in L.A. years ago in the days of "real studios". The commute from there was perfect whether I was going to Universal in the Valley or any of the Hollywood studios. I think you'll dig it as it is VERY centrally located and got the vibe you like too... Good luck! Oh, is the NHC going to cover you while you are over here? No body has mentioned the fact that you can go broke in America if you get sick... and you can go broke in America paying for health insurance------either way they get you... Cheers!
Cool, thanks for all the info. Laurel Canyon has always interested me.

My girlfriend will be a Reiki master (healing) by the time we go so she could earn some cash doing that hopefully. And if I come into contact with people with lots of money, I can always refer them to her since I know stuff like that is popular over there. As for health insurance, I'm not sure how it works. I've read about people flying to the UK for treatment, but I'd rather just do it legit and pay for insurance. We're both health freaks apart from loving red wine so hopefully we'll be okay as well.

I plan to get a car. I loved driving in LA and never understood why people find it a nightmare. If there's a traffic jam, I'll work on songs in my head and record melodies into my iPhone.

How common is it to find snakes, black widows when living in Laurel Canyon etc? I dont remember seeing a single spider when we were up in Beachwood Canyon but I do remember seeing some guys in white suits doing something to the garden sometimes while we were there. I guess our landlady paid to have it done. To think I'd walk around our balcony bollock naked as well (it was situated in a way that you could only see us if you have a benoculers I guess)

It seems like cell phone plans / internet costs less over there as well.

Lives For Fuzz, thanks for the link but to be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of Echo Park. Felt it was a bit hyped up because of hipters pricewise.
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