Where To Live

Nicole writes in:

I am about to relocate to LA after working in film production for 4 years in Austin, TX. I am doing some housing research and had a few questions:

1. Are there any neighborhoods that are more accommodating to working in film? (Convenient drive to studios and production office spaces…)

2. What price range for an apartment can I expect to afford on a PA salary? I know prices for apartments will be much higher than I am used to in Austin. Without going into more detail than you are comfortable with, could you share a monthly salary range I could expect? It would be helpful to know what to expect in “lean” times as well as “times of plenty.”

Los Angeles is the most spread out city in the country. There is no place that is convenient to every studio. I’ve worked in Manhattan Beach and Santa Clarita and everywhere in between.

On the other hand, movies and television are the main reason this city even exists, so it’s hard to find a place that isn’t close to at least one studio.

A lot of younger folks live in the Hollywood or mid-city area, because it’s convenient for partying as well as work. The Valley is quieter, and there are more studios there. It has a reputation for being far from everything, which is ridiculous, since ABC/Disney, NBC/Universal, and Warner Brothers are all in the Valley. Also, it’s cheaper (places like North Hollywood, or even Van Nuys).

The Oracle’s Hollywood Survival Guide has a nice breakdown neighborhood by neighborhood, if you want to splurge on $10.

PAs nowadays get paid anywhere from $500 to $750 per week. “Lean times” means $0. So, save up. You need to be prepared to not work for months on end while still paying rent and buying food.

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3 Responses

  1. hello, I am in the process of moving to the LA-ish area.. are there any apartments for rent in your complex in Monterey Park?? I am not very rich and don’t have much money to move with but I am a totally experienced film worker, be in a PA or a DP or even director.. so if I could find a cheap place for me and my husband that would be great, thank you.

  2. I live in Monterey Park, which is about 10 miles east of downtown (my area isn’t even considered part of Los Angeles). It’s a bit of a trek to get to anything but the trade off is incredibly cheap rent, free parking everywhere, safety and lots of cheap eats. It’s a predominantly Chinese neighborhood but I can see it slowly getting gentrified. Nearby is Alhambra which is very diverse and if you go north, you’ll find Pasadena (not so cheap).

    By cheap rent, I mean $1,300 for a 2-bedroom 2-bath with free laundry, water and gas in a gated apartment with a 2-car garage. The trade-off is that I had to get a more fuel-efficient car but good golly, that car looks good in my garage.

  3. I’d add that Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Echo Park are all viable options (listed in descending cost) as they’re close to major routes, safe (as long as you’re smart of course), and affordable. If you can live with other people, I’d suggest doing so to keep costs down and get a little more for your money. These neighborhoods aren’t really “close” to any one studio, but they’re not far from many either, which is great if you end up working for a different studio every 6 months.

    Not to scare you off, but when you’re checking out apartments, I’d be thorough about looking for signs of bed bugs and roaches as a lot of cheaper studio apartments that I’ve looked at were definitely infested.

    APA is absolutely right about saving up. Dry spells hit and you’ll have to rely on your savings and/or unemployment.

    Other than that, good luck!

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