Tips on How to Move to Los Angeles on a Budget

Last Updated: 
Monday, May 9, 2022
Tips on How to Move to Los Angeles on a Budget

Table of Contents

    How Much Money Do I Need to Move Out?

    Moving is a process that constitutes more than just the events penciled in for The Move Day.

    It starts from the time we draft a moving checklist and culminates with unpacking on the other end. In between, it’s important to get your ducks in a row to ensure things go more smoothly and that you avoid the pressure that comes with a long-distance move.

    A central part of this should involve sorting out your finances because starting over in a new city will come at a cost, especially if we are talking about the largest city in the United States after New York.

    Los Angeles also happens to be one of the most expensive places in the country, so if you’re moving to LA with no money, it’s only natural to wonder how you’ll manage to do LA on a budget.

    If you’re concerned about how to move to Los Angeles on a budget, it’s worth acknowledging that a $20 bill here won’t take you as far as it would in most places. The good thing, however, is that you also don’t have to stretch too thin financially, whether you’re moving to Los Angeles alone or with family.

    After all, there are many moving to LA with nothing each year and still making it.

    Before You Decide to Move to Los Angeles

    So, how much money do I need to move out when relocating to LA, you may ask?

    Well, if you decided to move to Los Angeles, there are a few things you need to think about to ensure you’re better prepared for life in the City of Angels.

    Cost of Living in LA

    Cost of Living in LA

    If you’re wondering how to move to Los Angeles on a budget, the best place to start is to compare the cost of living in LA versus your current city.

    That way, you’ll have better clarity on the numbers you should expect in relation to what you’re used to. This is also a good way to determine whether you’ll be maintaining the same standard of living or tightening the belt a little.

    Unless you’re moving from more expensive cities like NYC or nearby San Francisco or San Jose, normally you will need to make some adjustments to your lifestyle when starting over in a new city as expensive as LA. Budget Los Angeles neighborhoods and lifestyles might not be as steep as the cost of your move to San Francisco, but it can come as a shock if you are not prepared for it.

    Dive deep into aspects such as rental prices, cost of transportation, food, as well as the cost of monthly utilities as these will have the biggest impact on your budget. Think about taxes, and healthcare, and don’t forget to factor in additional day-to-day expenses like dry cleaning or haircuts. The more detailed, the better you can anticipate and plan for it.

    Calculate Moving Costs

    Calculate Moving Costs

    If you’re contemplating how to move to Los Angeles on a budget, look at ways you can trim your moving costs.

    After establishing your budget, start by deciding what belongings you’ll be carrying with you and what you can leave behind. De-cluttering will save you in terms of moving costs and also provide a much-needed cash injection to help you get started. The leaner the baggage, the lower the cost of your move to Los Angeles.

    It’s easier to offload items or de-clutter if you’re moving to Los Angeles alone. But even in the case of family relocation, consider selling off items like furniture to reduce your moving bill if it’s a budget Los Angeles move.

    If you’re hiring a moving company, you might want to book your move in advance (months ahead even) as booking closer to the date of moving is likely to be pricier, particularly during the high season. If you’re using your vehicle or renting a truck, factor in the cost of gas too, not to mention accommodation for each night you spend on the road.

    Whichever the case, don’t forget to budget for moving supplies, depending on what you’re taking with you.

    Anyone trying to figure out how to move to Los Angeles on a budget can also not afford to overlook the season or time of year. The summer season is the busiest time for moving companies, so if your schedule is flexible, consider slotting in your move for the colder months.

    Your wallet will thank you – not forgetting the best time to move to Los Angeles is during the wet season (November through March) if you want to avoid the uncomfortable summer heat.

    a couple on a laptop

    Think About Other Expenses and Hidden Costs

    Most people tend to overlook some small expenses which can add up if you’re strapped for cash or moving to California with no job.

    These include, among others:

    • Freeway tolls;
    • Driver’s license application or car registration in the new state;
    • Parking permit fees;
    • Hired help costs or delivery fees if you’re buying large items like furniture.

    Look at how you can trim down such expenses or avoid them altogether. Otherwise, don’t forget to budget for them. A detailed moving checklist can ensure you don’t miss anything.

    Los Angeles view

    Search LA Neighborhoods and Find Yourself an Affordable Place to Rent

    Obviously, one of the top things in your mind if you’re trying to establish how to move to Los Angeles on a budget will revolve around housing and choice of neighborhood.

    LA is notorious for its high cost of living, so anyone moving to LA with no money or on a tight budget might want to restrict their search to the cheapest places to live in Los Angeles. It’s possible to find cheap places to live in LA without compromising too much on aspects like safety, amenities, accessibility to public transport, and general quality of life.

    Some cheap places to live in Los Angeles you can look up include:

    • Central Alameda;
    • Lakeview Terrace;
    • South LA;
    • Congress West;
    • Crenshaw;
    • Los Feliz;
    • Hollywood;
    • Culver City;
    • Mission Hills.

    As much as the idea is to keep costs down, visit a few budget Los Angeles neighborhoods to soak in the vibe and get a feel of how the neighborhoods speak to you. And when you get down to renting an apartment, a roommate or two to cost-share the bills with should be a welcome reprieve on your finances.

    Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

    Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

    This next tip on how to move to Los Angeles on a budget particularly applies to anyone moving to CA with no job. Ideally, you want to find something to do as soon as you get to LA in order to cope with the city’s high cost of living without putting yourself under undue financial pressure.

    Take some time to spruce up your resume and LinkedIn profile and start sending job applications a few weeks before your move. You don’t want to be a sitting duck when starting over in a new city as you wait for employers to get in touch vis-à-vis your job applications as nobody knows how long that’s going to take.

    At the same time, you also don’t want to start your job search months ahead of your anticipated move unless you’re targeting remote gigs; lest a job offer comes in abruptly.

    Think About Your Backup Plan

    Think About Your Backup Plan

    Finally, as with everything else in life, it never hurts to have a contingency plan.

    Things don’t always go as planned, and in the event, that your move doesn’t work out or you encounter challenges during an initial couple of months, having a plan B can help you navigate the challenges while providing peace of mind.

    This is why it never hurts to have some dry powder on the side, more so when moving to Los Angeles without a job.


    Moving to LA with no money is not easy, particularly if you have no way to bring home the bacon.

    We recommend planning for your move months in advance, if not a year beforehand – circumstances permitting. This way, you’ll have more time to plan your relocation and be better prepared to deal with potential challenges should things go south.

    With these tips on how to move to Los Angeles on a budget, you should have a nice foundation to come up with a plan that increases your chances of a successful move.

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