California Love | 1 Year In Los Angeles

Venice Beach

It's been a year...Happy LA-versary to me!

Exactly a week after my birthday came my one year anniversary of moving to Los Angeles. I've heard an Uber driver or two say that you're truly official after you've spent at least a year as an Angeleno, so I'd say it's safe to say I've earned my stripes (well, maybe one stripe) as a California girl.

California Love has always been one of my favorite songs of all time, hence the title of this post, but it also reflects how I feel about this big sunny place. And although I live a pretty normal, understated life (idk who this Miss Hollywood girl my family refers to is), I am definitely enjoying my journey ever since relocating. I love having all kinds of first, discovering new things every time I go exploring, and I also love getting to go to the occasional semi-exclusive event. Plus, seeing/meeting a few celebs has been cool too. I ran into Russell Simmons at the movie theater, said what's up to Tyler the Creator at the Grove, kicked it with Michel'le, and had a lively night hanging with Keke Palmer.

Downtown LA

Christmastime Marketplace, Downtown LA. It was about 60+ degrees this day ^_^

Echo Park and Sunset Street Art

Echo Park Lake pedal boating 

What I can’t get enough of, though, is living by the ocean and this d*mn near perfect weather -- big surprise there.

Is it worth the impossible traffic we subject ourselves to deal with at any given time? Absolutely. I find it hard to not be happy every day when the sun's shining bright, palm trees are soaring above me, and snow has become an unfamiliar thing of the past. What is winter?

It's also highly motivating out here -- You just want to do well for yourself. I see successful people around from all walks of life, and those who are trying to make it there. We’re all coexisting as we chase down our various passions, and here, there’s no excuse not to. These beautiful surroundings are home to a few million dreams, pursuits that surprisingly don’t ALL involve the entertainment industry, so there’s truly a community for anybody to feel at home in. One can always find people with similar goals, resources and outlets to put our aspirations in motion.

The mansions and Bentleys seen on a semi regular basis definitely aren't excluded, but I'm more motivated by the fact that right now, I can't wake up and decide exactly what I'm going to do that day. I can't go work at a cafe in Venice Beach or spend a sunny afternoon walking my puppies through Echo Park or go hike Runyon on a Tuesday morning. Instead, I have to spend my days indoors following someone else's rules, while there is a whole world out there waiting to be explored on my own terms.

I've always known I wanted to be my own boss, but now I know exactly why. To be free. To be endlessly creative. To be multidimensional. THAT'S what drives me more than anything else, and that's what living in California reminds me of every single day. 

Echo Park street art

Downtown Los Angeles 

Millennium Biltmore Hotel downtown LA

For all of our newer readers, here's a recap of the things that helped me get settled into this here LA life:


1. Friends -- the ones you can depend on

--- Having a great childhood friend who I was not only able to visit, but crash with upon arrival while I hustled for an income and my own digs.


2. Bearer of good news

-- Landing a temporary gig, seemingly by luck (but not really, ‘cuz I ran my butt off around the city to these interviews and temp agencies). The assignment was for an award winning company within an industry I love -- travel! Sweet serendipity.


3. "Oh, I think they like me!"

-- Having said gig become converted into a full time job. Blessings, blessings.


4. "And the weather’s so breezy..."

-- Finding a landlord who had an available room for rent in her beautiful townhome. Landing the lease, win! Affordability, win! Having two chill roommates who I rarely saw, win! Proximity to job, ultra win. My 20 minute commute to work by way of my two legs in perfect weather (90% of the time) was really the best. I loved nearly everything about that place (besides being far from friends). I made sure to cherish those days since I knew it’d only be a temporary, 6 month lease.


5. "You’ve got to go Downtown"

-- When my townhouse lease was up, I decided to move in as Tamika’s official roommate, as hers was moving out. It wasn’t my first choice to live on this side of town since it’s painstakingly far from where I work, but I took the easy route by choosing not to conduct an apartment search. Long story short, certain plans were made and failed, which resulted in the choice to settle (for a little while anyway) here in DTLA.

There’s definitely a trade-off I encounter by living downtown. Although I’m finally getting used to my hour and a half long public transit commute (I’ve found ways to flip it into a positive thing -- I get built-in time in my schedule to be productive), there’s still the fact that pretty much no one really wants to travel that far from home to work. I also loved living on the beautiful west side; I’d choose to live closer to the beach again in a heartbeat. Lastly, our apartment is definitely not inexpensive. It’s manageable, and I’m thankful to be able to pay all my living expenses on time and contribute towards my savings, but it would be nice to save more.

With all that being out of the way, I can’t deny that I do love our place! It’s fabulous having two girlfriends who are also great roommates. They’re my built in movie dates, Scandal buddies, inside jokesters -- my all around partnas. The fancy apartment building gets two thumbs up, though I need to make way better use of these amenities so that I’m getting my money’s worth. Also, being downtown is a short distance from so many surrounding LA areas. When it all comes down to it, I’m happy to live here. Over the long run, I’d look for a less expensive rent, but then again over the long run, I won’t be here.

DTLA living

Downtown LA

Juice bar in the historic core

Almost overnight, I made a drastic change in lifestyle.

I’m adopting minimalism and a level of responsibility I’ve never quite had before. The biggest surprise for myself has been living carless in a city where everyone says you need a car. What's crazy to some is a humbling challenge for myself, and I appreciate it immeasurably.

When I arrived here and made it my home, I didn't think much of my quick switch up or sacrifices I had to make. I just wanted to do better -- to internalize the ideologies that would give me focus and clarity. Over the year, I’ve realized I’m happy with less stuff to clutter up my life, and ready to do even more of a “stuff cleanse” when it’s time to for moving again. I’m more comfortable going for opportunities, speaking to strangers, and regularly seeking resources to learn, learn, learn. Now, I’m feeling pretty well prepared for my ultimate move halfway across the globe. 

Sunset Series: I'm pretty obsessed with these sunset views from work

My absolute favorite to date

Other random perks of city life in general:

An Uber/Lyft ride is never more than 5 minutes away, there are all types of 24 hour food delivery options (back home in Bowie,  MD? Yeah forget about that), and there is never a shortage of things to do. Even when I don't get out much, it's great to know that I can.

I got options, you got options, I'm in love (Word to PartyNextDoor). It's lit!


Urban Outfitters in DTLA's Theater District 

Westside apartment building

Headed to Marina del Rey

I fully believe everyone should venture out to new places and explore life away from home. As cliche as this may sound, moving across the country has been a life changing experience.

No matter if you take a similar, build from the bottom up route, or if you have all your sh*t together before deciding to make a move and fare on your own in a new city… just make it happen. No fear shall prevail!

My trip to LA was only supposed to last just over a week… Get into my Moving Journal posts to read more about how my vacation turned into a permanent move, and to learn about the setbacks and successes I encounter during my transition from DC to LA.

Kristen Noelle

I consider myself a softly eccentric urbanista. I’m quiet by nature, and I’ve generally always had a mellow laid-back vibe. However, when it comes to my preferences for fun, my style, and my overall thought process, I get a bit more eccentric. I like stepping out of the box of normalcy -- but without forcing anything. I’m a thrill junkie and I live for things that get my adrenaline pumping, such as riding on top of party buses in New York City and hanging off of skyscrapers in Vegas. I spring for bold hues, colorful prints and patterns, and a relaxed look that gives effortless-chic. I like exploring new places and capturing exciting sites. I’m a creative, with a million different ideas running through my mind each day. Whether I’m designing waistbeads, imagining up new clothing concepts, envisioning my next business venture, or planning my next adventure abroad, I’m always thinking of how I can create something great. Being raised in the suburbs but not far from the city and constantly traveling, I developed a love for the best of worlds. The calm and the crazy. The easy-going and the always-buzzing. The soft and the eccentric.