Help and Advice

Here is a selection of links to assist you in finding information about all the other aspects of moving to the United States.

Meeting People

These Facebook groups are a great place to introduce yourself, ask questions, find a room-mate or buy a used car, or learn about specially organized social events for ex-pats. We recommend:

Brits in LA – A Social group with weekly meetings in LA and an online community
Australians in LA – An online community
LA Expat Alliance - An online community

Housing

A big priority is finding a secure, central place to live. A relatively short journey (less than ten miles) can take an hour or more across a sprawling, congested city like Los Angeles so it’s important that you don’t live too far out. Familiarize yourself with the city’s layout and bear in mind that entertainment industry business (including auditions) mainly happens in Hollywood (West & North), Studio City, Burbank and Santa Monica. It might sound like a good idea to live at the beach, but the commute can be a nightmare.

Make sure you visit any property you are considering renting, ideally at several different times of day so you can get a flavor for the area. The main sites for Los Angeles rentals are:

Los Angeles Craigslist
Westside Rentals
Airbnb

Beware of scams. Do not pay money up front until you have viewed the property in person.
Hostels are a great way to save money when first visiting LA. Prices vary depending on the area. Hostel Bookers has a full list.

Transport

Los Angeles is known for being a car-centric city, but, if you’re bold (and leave plenty of time for journeys) you can travel via public transport using a smart phone and Google Maps directions. Get more details about fares, TAP cards, timetables etc at Metro

Most newcomers buy a car. You can find good deals on secondhand vehicles online at:

Auto Trader – To buy a car
Craigslist – To buy a car
Swapalease – Take over a lease on a car

Anyone resident in California (i.e. with a bank account, social security number, paying taxes and utilities) for more than ten days needs to take a California driving test and obtain a California driving license (this also helps when obtaining motor vehicle insurance). Make an appointment at DMV.

The DMV – To get your drivers license
Uber Cars – Private Driver / Taxi Service

Entertainment Industry Links

Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, and there’s a constant cycle of deal-making, production, awards shows, screenings, showcases and festivals for you to keep up with. The best places to get an overview of what’s happening around town are the trades.

Hollywood Reporter – Online Subscription Available
Variety – Online Subscription Available
Samuel French Bookstore – pick up the trades

Industry job postings:

Entertainment Careers
Staff Me Up

Must Read Blogs Include:

Deadline Hollywood
The Wrap
Studio System News
American Film Institute
Indiewire

Whatever branch of the entertainment industry you work in, you will be expected to comply with the appropriate union and guild regulations. Make sure you’re up to date with requirements at:

SAG-AFTRA – for actors
Writer Guide of America – for writers
Directors Guide of America – for directors
Visual Effects Society – for visual effect artists
American Guild of Musical Arts
Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers – for everyone

When you arrive in LA, you may keep hearing the phrase ‘Taft Hartley’. Some employers may decide you are right for a SAG-AFTRA job, even if you aren’t a member of the union. They will work with the union to fight your case (Taft Hartley you!) and if successful you can work on the project and are eligible to join SAG-AFTRA. You have 30 days grace period to join SAG-AFTRA. During this grace period you can work on non-union jobs. However you are not permitted to work non-union after the 30-day grace period. See: SAGAFTRA for more information

Consular Services

We’re sure your time in Los Angeles will be happy and trouble free, but if you should run into any major legal problems, or lose vital documents such as a passport, then you may need to seek consular help

British Consular (Los Angeles)
Australian Consular (Los Angeles)
GOV.UK – Apply for, renew or replace a British passport if you’re outside the UK
ACRO – Criminal Records Office
ESTA – Visa waiver program

Cell Phones

You’ll need a phone with a local (323, 310, 213, 818) number in order to function in Los Angeles. Deals are constantly changing so you’ll need to shop around, but the main phone companies are:

Boost Mobile – Pay-as-you-go
Virgin Mobile – Pay-as-you-go
Att Mobile – Mobile Phone Network
Verizon Mobile – Mobile Phone Network
T-Mobile – Mobile Phone Network
Sprint – Mobile Phone Network

Banking and Currency

Bank of America
Citibank
Wells Fargo
US Bank
HSBC

You can transfer money between overseas and US bank accounts using the following services:

XE.COM
XOOM
PayPal
Western Union

Once again, shop around for rates, which can change on a daily basis, and watch out for service fees.

Media / Websites / Graphic Design

If you’re looking to build your online presence and personal brand, have a website created, a business card designed or have some custom graphics developed, we always use:
the brand specialists Yeti Inc – They build graphics, websites, apps and other media. They designed our logo, built and manage nextstoplax.com and do tons of graphic work for our company. We can’t recommend them enough.

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