Monday, October 20, 2008


I've never had my own car. I did grow up in the (chicago) suburbs, but I also went to boarding school for high school. So unlike my New Yorker friends who still don't have driver's licenses now in their mid-20s, I did get one when I was 15, but I also never had my own car since they were banned on my campus. So....oil changes? tire pressure? car insurance? Totally clueless. But I can say...driving by myself in my (parent's) car were definitely the best moments in my young life.

I don't think I can feel freer than when I am by myself, in a car, cruising down a highway. I literally become overwhelmed with possibility. I can go ANYWHERE I WANT! Which, ironically, is what my native New Yorker friends believe about the MTA, which I think is a huge load of bullshit. You can't go anywhere you have to go where the MTA goes! Which is an impressive amount of places for a public transportation system, yes, but you're still subject to the MTA's whims and follies, which are vast and many.

I hear a lot about car culture/traffic/smog and LA, but I don't completely buy it. I think partially because I need my personal space...I have that invisible box around me. If a stranger enters it I immediately freeze up and am ready to retaliate at any second if they decide to accidentally brush against me.
I've been in traffic for 2 hours when it should have taken 30 minutes many times in Chicago, and it never got on my nerves. But then again--I never had to drive in 2 hours of traffic to go to and from work everyday, either.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

MQ#3: How much $$?

Just in case you didn't know....moving costs money. I've moved a few times in my post-college life (including once from Manhattan to CA, then back from CA to Brooklyn), and I can easily say that those few days were the worst of my LIFE. Moving in NYC without the money to hire a moving company makes things about 50x worse. Reserving a U-Haul truck, packing shit into boxes, waiting in line for 2 hours in the early morning to get that truck, trying to find a place to idle the truck in front of my apartment building so I won't get ticketed, guilt tripping friends into helping me move, carrying shit up and down flights of stairs, trying to keep everyone fed and hydrated, maneuvering a large truck in single lane one-way NYC streets, then unloading and doing the whole thing all over again right when you feel like you're gonna collapse...just thinking about it makes me shudder.

Which is why I am DETERMINED to make sure that this move will not be torture. And I will achieve this lofty goal through a combination of endless planning, and, yes, spending money.

We are planning on making the move in April 2009. We chose this month for a couple reasons: first, N's lease on his apartment conveniently ends May 1st (my lease doesn't, but I have more flexibility); second, this will give me enough time at my current job to appropriately phase out and also get the coursework I'd like to get done out of the way; and third, it gives us time to plan and save money. This gives us roughly 6 months to prepare.

We opened a joint savings account (took 5 minutes online with ING) devoted to stockpiling our funds. We've both taken on second jobs, most of which will go straight into the account. By the end of April, we *should* have around $8k saved. But in my mind, $10k is the ideal figure. Time for the nitty gritty breakdown (each of these figures are generously cushioned for my own peace of mind):

Two one-way plane tickets: $600
Rent (1st month + security): $3,000
Furniture, move-in necessities: $2,000
...and the remainder will go towards a car

I am deathly afraid of loans and debt, thus my preference to have this much in cash ready and available for the transition. And, as always, the more the better, right?

This is a very general idea of the breakdown of funds we need without taking into factor important financial unknowns: jobs, crises, other random opportunities. Who knows? These may be numbers we're basically pulling out of our asses, but I always feel more comfortable working with concrete goals and figures, especially with as big of a change as this.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

MQ #2: How are we going to get there?

N and I talked over some options concerning this question. There seemed to be 3 different choices:

1) Rent a car/truck, pile as much of our stuff into it as possible, and make a cross-country road-trip of it

Pluses: We could keep a lot of our current stuff and do a long roadtrip together, which we've always wanted to do

Minuses: Buying GAS, being constantly afraid that someone's going to break into the truck overnight and steal all of our stuff (it's almost happened to me before), combining the stresses/costs of being on vacation smashed into a small space and staying at random motels along the way with moving

2) Buy a car here, pile as much of our stuff into it as possible, and make a cross-country road-trip of it

Pluses: We'd have a car the second we'd arrive in LA, so that would be one large stressor out of the way, we could keep some of our current stuff

Minuses: Buying GAS, putting tons of miles onto a vehicle we just acquired, getting car insurance in NY, the risk of breaking down in the middle of the desert (we've been in NYC too long--we're no longer car people!), ditto to the rest of the minuses mentioned in #1

3) Sell 90% of our current stuff, mail the other 8%, take a plane with the rest of the 2%

Pluses: We'd get there in 5 hours instead of 2 weeks

Minuses: We'd have to sell 90% of our stuff

And the winner is--#3. Yes, a roadtrip would be really fun, but vacations always have their own stress that come with them, and I don't want to combine that stress with moving. And will I really be able to kick back and enjoy myself when I'm really just trying to get to LA to start a new life? I don't think so.

#1 would be the most expensive in the end. The money spent on a rental would just be money thrown on the window. #2 would be more feasible than #1, but we'd still blow hundreds on gas. And at a time when we're trying to budget to pay for a move, will we really have money to pay for several hotel rooms along the way, along with food and stuff, all in the name of vacation? Nah.

Now it's time to think about the cost of plane tickets...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Mother of All Lists

Well, I can't write a blog comparing NYC and LA without taking a look at this doozy of a list.

From my explorations of LA, I already knew that I was most attracted to the areas of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Echo Park. According to these lists, that should also mean I'm an East/West/Greenwhich Village, SoHo, and Chelsea person. Which I am! If I made a $100k+ salary, that is. I could probably afford to live in a closet with no windows with 3 other people in a 2-bed apt there, but that wouldn't really be living, would it?

The LA/Brooklyn comparison is definitely throwing me off, though. At this point I've spent 4 years of my time in NYC in Manhattan and the other 4 in Brooklyn, and the 4 in Brooklyn have been in various places in the borough, so I feel I know it very well. Carroll Gardens, Boreum Hill, Park Slope, Cobble Hill...yes, I am attracted to these hoods (minus the babies + strollers), but is Echo Park really like Williamsburg? If that is true, I may have to nix that neighborhood from my list...