My Total Cost of Moving to Los Angeles from Columbus, Ohio

Lucas La Tour
My Total Cost of Moving to Los Angeles from Columbus

Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash

If you’ve ever thought about moving to Los Angeles but wondered about what it would actually cost to move there, I wondered the same thing. It’s really hard to know what the total cost would be unless you either know someone or have actually done it yourself. I want to share my data with you in case it helps you make a decision on whether the time is right for you to make your move.

Currently, I am a single person, unemployed (I just quit my job), with good credit 720+, and I just recently drove out to Los Angeles in a car that I had already paid off. I would have flown, but I knew I would need a vehicle when I got to Los Angeles, and I wasn’t ready to buy a new car.

If you want the short answer of everything I spent up until this moment, it was $7930.43 That includes everything I spent booking hotels, Airbnb, housing, gas, meals every last penny.

That’s insane considering I arrived on June 2nd, and I moved into my place on June 15th. (Not even a whole month)

If you want to start to break that down, let’s take a look at the budget:

I spent $2170.84 for first months rent plus a security deposit and insurance. This would have been more, but I moved in on the 15th of the month so I only had to pay the first two weeks instead of a full months rent.

By the way, the housing market is competitive out here. Some places require 2–3x your rent for your monthly income. Additionally, most places require good credit.

If your dream is to move out here. Don’t let that stop you though. I was able to find a place with no job. I do have good credit though and made a good connection with the property manager. What you should expect is that it will take time to land a place. I spent roughly two weeks out here before I found something, and I spent at least 5–6 hours per day looking.

Additionally, your budget matters. If you are a family or have multiple people, rent is going to be pricey, unless you’re willing to living in shared rooms.

Out here, my place is an efficiency. It has a kitchen and a bathroom, but still, it’s $1,400 per month. You should expect to pay more than what you’re used to. I would recommend getting a flavor for it by searching on or before making the move out here. That said, before renting an actual place you really want to see the property first. Even the housing applications typically have application fees.

Okay so once we subtract the $2170.84 from the total that leaves us with $5,759.59.

Lodging: Hotels + Airbnb ($803.80 + $1,074.58)

Yes, this is a lot, but honestly, it could have been a lot more. That’s a total of $1,878.65 on lodging. Unreal, it’s more money that I’ve ever spend in my life on travel, and likely more than I want to ever again. I stayed out here for two whole weeks before landing a place and spent a lot on hotels on the way.

Okay so subtracting that from our remainder, $5,759.59 minus $1,878.65 equals $3,880.94.

Okay, so what the heck else was I spending money on? This is more than I typically would spend in a month.

Transportation Costs: Gas + Parking + Speeding Ticket ($382.87 + $243.5 + $200)

Unfortunately, bringing a car out to California can be very pricey. My car is old, a 2002 Honda Civic.

$382.87 in gasoline to drive out here plus to drive all around the city. Currently, Gas prices are hovering around $4.00 per gallon, which is definitely more than in Ohio. However, it was extra brutal when you add parking to the equation. I moved around a lot. Not only did I have errands to run, but I also couldn’t stay in my Airbnb all day. It was hot, and there was no airconditioning or anywhere to sit. It was just a bed, with my luggage piled high around the perimeter. It was kind of a sleep-here-only situation.

The parking above also includes two parking tickets. If you’re moving to a new city, you’re probably going to mess up at least once. I did twice.

So that total comes to $826.37. So subtract that from $3,880.94, and we are left with $3,054.57. Okay, that’s still a lot. What do we even have left?

Well, turns out there are additional vehicle costs. When you come to California, you have 20 days to register your vehicle with the state before penalties start to accrue.

In California, to get your registration the car must be in a certain condition. It must pass a smog test, so you aren’t polluting up the atmosphere. Unfortunately, my car is old. The first test I got, my car failed, and that meant I needed to have my car repaired.

That cost $49.95 (test) + $173.9 (parts and labor) = $223.85

Then once the test was over, the gentleman told me that I had to drive my car to recalibrate the computer and that even with the repairs the car might still fail the test. So I drove the car a bit and went to another location for a second test. This test only cost me $40.00 and I passed. (Thank the lord)

Then, what you have to do is take your car to the DMV to get an official license plate. That cost me $161.00

So we have $223.85 + $40 + $161 = $424.85. Alright so let’s subtract that once again. We are currently left with, $3,054.57 subtract $424.85 and we are left with $2,629.72.

I went pretty minimal with this. I’m living in a bachelor pad style apartment and I tried to bring everything with me from Columbus that I could. This really is only two desks, two chairs, a bed, a box spring, and then like a bunch of miscellaneous home organization things. For someone who wanted to actually fully furnish an apartment, this could be way higher. I also purchased everything except by bed from Facebook Marketplace, which took tons of time, and which means that everything was used.

$2,629.72 subtracting $898.52 = $1731.20

This is something that I am slightly embarrassed to record, but in the effort of full transparency, I want to give as much information as possible. The problem is I got here, and my Airbnb didn’t have access to a kitchen. By default, I just started eating out a lot or ordering in. The damage of this totaled out to be: $869.73 I guess I definitely spent a ton more on food than I should have. There’s not a chance in hell that I would ever spend that much when I was back home. Nonetheless, it is what it is, and now we must move on.

Subtract that from the remainder of $1731.20 and we have:

This remaining budget includes things like my lasts months payment for the gym I went to in Columbus, personal family expenses, fixed costs payments for loans, insurance, credit cards, random software subscriptions etc. I’m sure everyone has these. It’s something that you must include when you are considering your move because the costs are still there.

I’m not showing you this to pretend like I did this well. In fact, I think I did quite poorly. I didn’t even decide I was going to move to Los Angeles until the last minute when I got into a music program out here. That could have saved me a TON of money on Airbnb and hotels. By the time I was ready to move it was too late, all of the Airbnb’s and hotels were pretty booked. Additionally, by buying groceries I could have had a much lower food spend.

That being said, I would say for a person to move out here, it would be reasonable to expect to have at least $10,000 in your bank account to cover all of this and have some kind of safety net. One of the risky things, when you move to LA, is that it feels like a vacation sometimes. There are so many cool things to do. So many places to go or things to see that you can quickly become engrossed in the culture of spending instead of the culture of making. Don’t let these costs get out of control.

That said, with some planning and saving. If it’s your dream, you can definitely make it happen. Good luck with your next move!

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