“Settling” in L.A.

Many of you are probably wondering how long we are going to stay in L.A. and to be honest I was wondering the same thing. To share some back story Lee has wanted to live and work in LA/Hollywood/Burbank since he was 10 years old. He even joined the military hoping he could work in media there but unfortunately they thought he would make a better air traffic controller so sent him to school for that. He hated that and asked to be put in the military version of the post office instead. (He hated that too) When he got out of the service we reconnected and within a week we were living together and within a year we were married pregnant with our fist child. If I was a different kind of person I would have had the courage to move to LA with him, but as a small town girl the thought of a big city like that was terrifying.

Lee loved me, and followed along with my dreams to have a family but his own dreams never died. Over the years he always managed to work in some form of media and although he found much to love about the work, it never was the fulfillment of the dream. Fast forward and we have been on the road for 8 years and the only major city we have never visited was LA. That first month we stayed in Burbank was a whirlwind, and it turns out that some things do live up to people’s dreams. He loved every part of it, except the unusual cold and rain, but even that was made tolerable.

I, on the other hand, was frankly not a fan, and found myself as intimidated as I regularly thought I could be. But as Lee started to seriously explore what it would take to “break into” the industry, I realized that it was finally his turn to pursue the dream. Turns out that his age (54) isn’t really a factor at all, and his real life practical experience (versus a college degree) is a benefit. The more he reached out to his friends who have ended up here over the years, (he knows people in Glendale, Silver Lake, Manhattan Beach, Korea Town and Redondo Beach!) and got the lay of the land the more he felt this was possible, and although breaking in can take up to a year, for once we are in the perfect financial situation to try something like this.

I don’t make “L.A. money” but I make enough to live here in an RV park as long as we don’t go crazy with our spending. Plus whatever Lee makes will be on top of that, so we can definitely afford to live frugally. And I am just going to have to find a way to get used to L.A. Getting really sick when we first arrived here certainly didn’t help, and I made the mistake of going all around the city instead of starting small and working my way outwards. LA is really a group of cities (neighborhoods, really) more than one large city and they all have VERY different characters. If you don’t believe me, think about the fact that Beverly Hills and Compton are only 14 miles apart.

Currently we are in Northridge

Finding a place to stay that was both affordable and near enough to Hollywood/Burbank that Lee could reasonably drive back and forth was not easy but we managed to find a very nice RV park in the small town of Northridge. $1400 a month plus metered electric may seem like a lot but for this area it is a steal. It was very difficult to get into the park though (both physically and from a paperwork perspective) because they have VERY strict rules. The RV park itself is really nice (it’s absolutely spotless and very quiet and not at all like most RV parks) but on the small side, and the original spot they gave us in the middle we just couldn’t get into. It was exactly 40 feet for one thing and the person behind us was hanging over into our spot so I had to ask him to move. Then Lee had a hell of a time making the turn and when he was trying to straighten out he crunched the power pedestal. In 8 years of RVing he has never hit the box (or ANYTHING) and I was super upset. It was worse because the office was closed and no one was onsite so ultimately we ended up moving to another spot which they let us stay in. It was incredibly stressful.

Thankfully they let us stay in the spot we selected although this is only for 6 months. You have to leave for at least 2 days every six months and they put you in a new spot but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Turns out I really like Northridge and the surrounding neighbrhoods. The traffic is still pretty crazy but much better than other parts of the city. I am also taking advantage of being in one space for awhile by looking for things like a gym, ceramic classes, and other community events that we can’t always take advantage of. This is still not the place I would choose to be but by learning the immediate area first and slowly venturing out I am doing better.

This is also the first place in a long time I am hesitant to drive. We learned the traffic on the 405 is the worst in the nation and I get particularly nervous driving next to all the Rolls, Mercedes and BMWs. I am trying to force myself to drive more locally but this really isn’t a big truck friendly town. If we stayed though we would definitely invest in a smaller second vehicle which would help with tooling around town. Lee has his first real TV gig booked in March for an initial ten days so I will see how only having one vehicle is. I can always Uber of course (they are plentiful here) and I am reluctant to take on any debt (or buy a car for cash, or change our domicile state) until we see how all this pans out.

That’s the thing. Financially it makes sense to stay in the RV park and keep only one vehicle until we discover if Lee can make enough to cover other expenses. Decent two bedroom apartments for example run $2500 -$3500 here and of course we would need to buy all new (to us) furniture. This is another step I would take lightly, but if we are going to stay long term we will need to start thinking about those sort of things. Thankfully we have a place to stay indefinitely so none of those decisions need to be made in a rush.

Emotionally I am not ready to give up this lifestyle (even temporarily) unless Lee finds a job that will provide him with what he wants and can make enough for us to live roughly as we have been living. Then of course we would need to either store or give up the RV and lots of those decisions don’t make much sense if this is all short-term. I am a planner by nature and although I have loosened up on the planning somewhat with this lifestyle I don’t want to put myself into a situation where I am unhappy. No way would I buy a house here (the smallest boxes are $1M+) so I need to find just the right type of apartment community. Unfortunately there is very little in the way of senior living here either so its important to find a place where I feel safe and can find activities to keep me busy. I also want it to be Jack friendly and again that is not as easy as it might be in other places. We haven’t lived in an apartment for over 30 years, so there would definitely be some adjustment there.

It might seem like the decision has been made and I am pretty far down the path, but that is really not the case. I am just thinking ahead so if things take off for Lee professionally I am prepared. We would be giving a lot of things up for sure to stay here, but there are also some things I think I would like. We signed up for cable internet for one thing and its nice having a stable signal. I can get my nails done again if I want to (I gave that up because I didn’t want to go to different salons all the time) and I can join a gym or take ceramic or pottery classes. Yes those are things that I occasionally have been able to do in the last 8 years but it has been a challenge or next to impossible when we move so frequently.

Most of the people we started out with back in 2014 have found a home base, and many of those have stopped RVing altogether. At 55 we could take a break from the lifestyle and then start again when we retire if our health allows. Honestly I can’t see myself retiring here, cost if nothing else would be a prohibitive factor, but I can see staying here so Lee can fulfill his dream and we can simultaneously rack up some cash. We haven’t taken a traditional vacation in many years, and there is lots of the world we would like to explore. Our jobs might open up the possibility of some international travel which would be really great as well.

Honestly I just don’t know how it will all play out, but I do believe God put us here at this time in our lives for a reason. At minimum Lee deserves to see if he can make it in the industry, and if so whether or not he wants to devote the rest of his working years to it. I need to figure out how to build a life around that, just like he did for me when we moved to New Hampshire in 2001. I promise to keep writing this blog as long as we still live in our RV, even though it might look a little different, and share with you along the way what we decide as we decide it.

Oh, and one more thing. Even in the middle of a big city RV park stuff can happen. We have had lots of rain and wind and one morning we woke up to a tree that fell over and took out an RV in the park. Thankfully no one was hurt and the people have a relative they can stay with but it just goes to show that stuff happens everywhere.

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12 thoughts on ““Settling” in L.A.

  1. Tracy I totally can relate, I am a small town gal all the way. I commend you on being willing to let Lee pursue his dreams. This too shall pass one way or another.
    I am “guessing” this means you will not be returning to Yellowstone for Lee’s camera shop gig.
    I understand as well how so many in our lifestyle have “settled down”….seems like MANY that we follow from our own part timer days have left the full time lifestyle. We are still going strong in year 8 and we are 70 (me) and 68 (Gary). We haven’t even figured out where we would want to settle yet. We are still loving workamping in the summer and chilling in the winter.
    I have discovered that one of the things that can be overwhelming is “thinking too much”….I try to take things one day at a time and go with the flow and do minimal planning ILO detailed planning and it has taken me a while to adjust but I am enjoying this new ride better than the old detailed to death ride.
    Wishing you BOTH happiness and success!

  2. wow… can you say “adventure”❤️❤️❤️Chasing one’s dream is priceless… BRAVO to you both for having the guts to go for it!!!!

  3. I have so enjoyed your posts about your time in the LA area, where I grew up. I have a personal question, and I hope I don’t offend you by asking. Your wordpress blog looks lovely, especially the wide area where your words fill the page. I know you must pay for that privelege, and I am trying to figure out how to get my text block to be wider. I have posted on blogger for so long and have a simple wordpress version as well, but when I attempt to change my wordpress page to be different I get lots of complex instructions from private websites. Do I really need to understand how to write code to get my page to look more like the one I have on blogger? I know how busy you are, but if you have my email can you please point me in the right direction? I know I will have to pay for an upgrade, but I have no idea where to start. I am not completely stupid, but can’t seem to figure this out. Thanks for the time, if you can manage it.

    And I am glad you are enjoying LA. It can be a great place to be if you can handle the crowds and traffic, which I no longer can. 🙂 I don’t envy you the upcoming decisions. I am impressed with your support of Lee’s dreams, and willingness to change a lifestyle you love and maybe even live in an apartment. Wow! I was born northeast of Pasadena, and grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, and area I always considered more accessible and beautiful than the San Fernando Valley. Maybe in your spare time you can get over that way and get a taste of how not only the neighborhoods, but the regional areas of the LA basin have their own unique personalities.

    • Hi Sue. I am using standard wordpress and I do not use code lol. I did upgrade to a business account a few years ago because I surpassed the amount of space allowed (all those pictures lol) and it is $299 a year. They also have a version that is ad free that is 99$ a year. But in short I don’t know code and just use their standard tools. Hope that helps

      • Thanks Tracy. Possibly the 9 per year will allow me to use that particular format and tweak it a bit to fit my own style. i will give it a try. My blogging life doesn’t support 299 a year in the least, and thank you again.

  4. That’s crazy and exciting all at the same time! Good for Lee and for you being open to it. Gotta love that 405! (not!). There’s more than a lifetime of things to see in SoCal.

  5. Big changes, but very exciting that Lee is pursuing his dream. Wishing both of you the very best as you consider options.
    I do understand liking the smaller cities, it took us a long time to decide we wanted to “settle down” for at least the winter months. After living in big cities (DFW and Seattle) prior to our full time life and traveling in / near big cities we decided Tucson was a perfect size for our winter home base. LA was very intimidating when we spent a month there back in 2016, with the “big butt truck”. But we also knew we weren’t really small town people, I like options for shopping, entertainment, etc.
    I am enjoying being “settled” for at least a few months a year, I miss the adventures on the road but right now with a ton of family changes it’s been great to have a part time home base where we know our schedules and makes planning plus reacting to last minute family emergencies so much easier.
    It’s all about balance and while I could have never imagined being so settled 3 or 4 years ago, right now it just feels right.

  6. I got teary reading this. I am all about creating a life you love, and in fact, the impetus for our five years of RV travels was that my husband had always wanted to be a touring musician. Fulltime RVing was my way of helping him to bring his dream to life. Now we are fulfilling our dream of moving to Prince Edward Island, Canada. It’s been really beautiful getting to be a part of a community again, with all the perks of that.

    I’m so happy for Lee, and so happy of you – and proud of you! That kind of change and fear isn’t easy to reckon with, but your attitude is SO healthy and you’re taking such great steps to make it work. Whatever happens, I know you’re there for a reason and Lee is meant to give his dream a go. If not now, when, as I say so often. Thanks for sharing this.

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