The Pros and Cons of Studying in LA

Screenshot 2023 06 29 at 7.00.09 PM

Image: Photo by Kyle Gregory Devaras on Unsplash

If you are thinking about studying in Los Angeles, you may have a specific reason, such as the fact that the best university for your field happens to be there, or maybe you’ve got family in the state. Chances are, though, it’s just because you like the idea of it. Los Angeles is one of the most celebrated cities in the US. It certainly vies for that title along with New York, with Washington D.C. a distant third purely because it’s the capital, and Las Vegas fourth because of its unique, albeit gaudy, appeal. It wasn’t always like that, though. When the settlers started arriving from Europe in the 17th century, they came to the east coast because that’s what they reached when they crossed the Atlantic.

To them, LA was a nameless place on the other side of the country, and it made sense to settle somewhere much closer. Therefore, to move to the west coast was for the hardy and adventurous only. It’s why we still say, “Out west” and “Back east”, because the east coast was where it all started. If California is a showbiz state and LA is a high-profile, showbiz city, that’s because show business really is one of the biggest things out there. It’s where most of the big movie studios are based. It’s a hotbed of the music business, with that scene having moved across from NYC in the 1960s. And why did these industries move to LA? Possibly the same reasons you’re thinking about it.

Pro: The Weather is Great

Great if you like sunshine, that is. For moviemaking, that means getting your filming every day, rather than being rained off half the time. As for the musicians and their studios, the weather is an attractive factor and one they are free to enjoy, because many musicians choose to record through the night, so theoretically they could be on the beach during the day (sleep not being a major requirement of rockstars). For the potential student who takes supplements for stress that could otherwise be cured by the sun, the weather may be appealing because they can imagine arranging their schedule to accommodate plenty of time in the open air (that may not always be possible because lecturers don’t work nights).

Pros: Other Attractive Things About LA

It is now the hub of technological development. California is the home of Silicon Valley and many of the huge digital age companies. So, if you’re thinking of going into that kind of area as a career, maybe there is something in the air you can feed off. Or maybe you can just pop down the road one lunchtime and get a job with Google or some tech genius the rest of us have not heard of yet (you might have something there and it’s worth a shot). Apart from the weather, the beaches, and the tech community, there are the theme parks, but maybe you’ve outgrown them by now, or maybe not.

The Downside: LA is Expensive

Popular places tend to be expensive, and it starts with property: when so many want to live there, those selling and renting out properties can bump up the price, and realtors are only too pleased to go along with it, because it means higher commissions for them. As a student, you won’t be looking for a fancy apartment, never mind a condo on the beach, but elevated property markets tend to be expensive across the board, so even the humble pad you’re hoping to find may well be anything but humble in terms of rent. It’s not just property, as prices in LA are high in every department.

Fuel is deliberately pitched at a higher rate than it perhaps needs to be, because LA is the home of the second-generation hippy and ecological matters are high on their agenda. That’s a good thing in many ways, of course, but when everyone is paying through the nose for gas, from individuals to trucking companies, prices go up to redress the balance. What this means for students is that finances must be managed carefully, and you may want to think about renegotiating your student loan, which is not an outrageous idea.

Negotiation is what makes the world go around and your lender will understand your concerns. They probably won’t hand you a glass of champagne and a thousand dollars to tide you over, but they might at least think about your request. Another option is applying for a student card, which is something you’re going to do eventually anyway so why not start looking into this before you make the move? The best idea here is to do some research online, finding out what’s available by a simple search for credit cards for students. Do this before you approach the people who gave you your loan, so you’ve got some facts to throw into the conversation and you’ll understand it a bit better. The trick to success is to not sound like such a hopeful innocent and looking at a guide online will really help you out.

Building a good relationship with your loan provider can be the start of a mutually beneficial arrangement that could last many years so think about the long-term. Similarly, it’s worth having a degree of knowledge about elementary financial matters such as what an APR is on all those credit card sites (the annual percentage rate is the total cost of your borrowing for the year). Also be sure to check out the fine print when it comes to interest rates and repayment terms. As a student, you are embarking on a journey that should take you to the employment market in good shape, and if you can spend those important years in a vibrant (albeit laidback) place like Los Angeles, it might be one of the best decisions you ever made. Oh, and there are some great seats for learning here too, from the world-famous UCLA to lesser-known specialist places. Lastly, have fun, work hard and don’t get too much sun.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.