Simple in the City: Getting Around

You’ve found a place to live, so now it’s time to explore your city. But how? Today we’re talking transportation!

The golden rule of transportation

Let’s all say it together, class: less is more. After a year and a half of big city life (and big city traffic), it’s safe to say that the less commuting you have to deal with, the better.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t hop in the car every once in a while—our trips to the beach and to local hiking spots are a welcome respite from the madness of Hollywood.

But, like I outlined in my post about where to live, the closer you are to necessities the better. My best tip is to avoid long commutes to and from work, especially if you’re traversing that path twice a day, five days a week.

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The zen of driving

When you do have to drive, make it a positive experience. That’s not always possible in Los Angeles, but I try my darndest.

Bring a bottle of water or tea and a granola bar for longer drives. A sip here and there at stoplights or stuck in traffic can relieve a lot of tension. Avoid anything too caffeinated for regular commutes, because it’ll just make you anxious. Also if you’re like me, coffee may cause some bowel emergencies that aren’t welcome when you’re stuck in traffic.

Know your route as much as you can before taking off, and know that a GPS is an excellent alternative to a phone—no one texts you on your GPS.

And of course, music makes things a whole lot better. I’ve been hooked on public radio, classical/jazz stations, and classic rock. I try to keep it easy and low-key for driving so that I can stay calm. Road rage is all the rage here in SoCal.

And for the love of all things, put the phone down.

Opting out of the car chaos

We’ve chosen the hassle and expenses of a car, but because of those drawbacks, we’re going to stick with just one for the foreseeable future. I’ll discuss this more in detail in a later post about budgeting, but insurance alone is three times more expensive here than in the Midwest, so that’s something to consider.

If you’d rather live without a car, there’s no better place to do it than in the city. There’s public transportation, taxis or other transportation networks, bikes, and just plain walking.

Since I’m not well-versed enough in public transportation (I’ll admit that I’ve never called an Uber), I can’t really give great tips. My best advice is to research, research, research. And take advantage of first-time ride offers when you can!

If you’d prefer to bike, find out what you can about bike laws. In Los Angeles, keep an eye out for where you can ride your bike on the sidewalk versus the road (drivers are insane here, so I’d be nervous on the road). Look for bike lanes and bike routes so you can get where you’re going as safely and efficiently as possible.

It’s okay to stay close to home

I’ve scoured maps of our area and keep an eye out online for new restaurants, bars, and cafes opening up within walking distance. There are plenty of unique spots in our area that we’ve become quite fond of.

For the first time ever, there’s actually a bar a few blocks away where the server knows my name. It’s opened up even more opportunities to explore—she can recommend places I haven’t discovered yet.

Stay safe in your travels, my friends! How do you prefer to get around in your city?

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One Year in California

Today marks one year since our first day as residents of Los Angeles!

Last year, we had just gotten rid of over half our stuff, packed our Honda Civic with what was left and drove across the country.

And now, I want to reflect on a few of the highlights of our first year in LA, a few of the less-glamorous things, and a few tidbits of what you can expect popping up on the blog this next year.

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Highlights of the year

This year has been way more positive than negative, so I’m counting my blessings there for sure. Here’s what went well:

  • Finding and furnishing the apartment. Getting started so quickly really helped us feel right at home in our new city. This is officially my favorite living space in my whole life.
  • Adding Bonnie to the family. She’s just great. We’ve got some big vet bills for her this month, though, but she’s such an important part of our family now that it’s worth every penny.
  • Family and friends visiting. We were fortunate to see most of our family and quite a few of our friends this first year. Again, it’s been integral to adapting to this new life.
  • Job changes for both of us. My husband was able to get into a post-production job within the first month of living in LA, and I was able to transition out of two part time jobs and into a full time one! We’re both happier with our new situations.

The rough spots

I don’t have anything specific for this section, but a few themes did emerge.

  • Working from home. This sounds like it should be a highlight, but when making the transition to a city where you don’t know anyone, the lack of coworkers is a little rough. Thank goodness for video and phone calls and especially this blog – it’s helped keep me grounded on some shaky days.
  • Inability to set a routine. I can get into a good rhythm sometimes, but with all the visits and schedule disruptions, it’s been a little difficult to nail down. That means exercise, writing and working can get tough. That’s why balance is one of my words for 2016!
  • The rapid de-simplifying of the holidays. The past few months have been a little bit like a runaway train, and our bank account and my stress levels reflect that. I’m looking forward to February when things will actually calm down a bit.

What to look forward to

So here’s what both you and I can look forward to this year on the blog and otherwise. Want to hear more about a certain topic? Let me know in the comments.

  • Our monthly challenges. My husband and I are going to try a few different monthly challenges: bodyweight exercising, a vegan diet, and possibly a TV-free month among others.
  • Decreasing our student loan debt. Our goal is to pay off at least 25% of our loans this year – not a small feat, but I think we can do it. More on student loans and debt in a later post.
  • More volunteering. We volunteered on Christmas Eve this past year, and met a lot of wonderful people. It was so fun in fact, we’re going to try to do it every month. We may explore further options as well, and I’ll share some best practices for that once I’ve discovered them.
  • A better blog. This month, I’m taking some time out to develop a proper content calendar. My goal is to actually have a few posts scheduled out in advance at any given time so I’m not scraping around for post ideas. New design, new photos and new collaborations may be in the future to take this blog to the next level.
  • More colorful minimalism. I’ve been really craving more color in my life, especially in my wardrobe, so I’ll be intentionally adding and removing things to increase my joy. Of course, I’ll share how and why later on the blog.

A thank you

And finally, I want to thank all my readers for a great first year in California – we did it! The kind words and support have meant a great deal, and I can only hope to repay you by continuing forward as the Minimal Millennial.

And now your turn – where were you last year at this time, and how far have you come?

 

A Minimalist Apartment Tour

Happy Friday!

I want to kick off this glorious, autumn-in-LA morning with a tour of my home. We’ve lived in Los Angeles for ten months and have slowly added things back into our life based on our needs and our values.

We are a far cry from where we were in Indianapolis a year ago, drowning in stuff we didn’t need and didn’t love.

But first, I want to share my best tip for avoiding new purchases for your home.

How to not buy new home decor

I often catch myself saying things like “what if we got just one more chair…” but I know that’s not something that will truly bring me happiness. I’m guessing that you’ve said something like that too.

The other day, I actually considered getting a bar cart for a random corner of the apartment. Sure, it sounds cool, but it’s one more thing to wipe rabbit hair off of. And I doubt that prominently displaying our liquor will help with us in our efforts to trim back on the booze.

So what do I do when I’m sick of the way things are and want to add in a new piece? Hint: it’s not new throw pillows.

I rearrange the furniture.

When the room no longer feels “right” to me, I move things around. I have relocated our furniture no less than five times in ten months. This last switch actually has hit the right chord for me and made me never want to move out of this apartment. I love this space more than ever, all thanks to some heavy lifting.

So there you have it: to change the entire look and feel of a room without spending a dime, rearrange the furniture.

Our minimalist apartment tour

Remember how I said minimalism can be colorful? My minimalism is definitely not for the monochromatic crowd, so prepare yourself accordingly.

First, the main space where we eat, work and relax:

Apartment Tour - Living Room Apartment Tour - Table Apartment Tour - Desk

We’ve covered the whole space in giant rugs so that our rabbits can frolic freely, which I love because it brings so much color to the room.

Next, the bedroom and bathroom:

Apartment Tour - Bedroom Apartment Tour - Bathroom

Again, colorful and bright – I can’t get over how many windows are in this place. What sold me on our apartment in Indianapolis was that it had three windows, compared to most other places having only two. This apartment has five huge windows that keeps things so cheerful that I can’t help but smile.

And finally, our kitchen:

Apartment Tour - KitchenApartment Tour - SpicesI decided to bring all the spices and many dry ingredients out of (and off of) the cupboards because I want them to be easily accessible and I want to be aware of what I have on hand at all times.

Personal tidbits

To finish this post off, I want to share a couple spaces that make our apartment really ours. Especially since it’s basically an IKEA showroom.

As silly as they look, these odds and ends are meaningful to us:

Apartment Tour - Toys Apartment Tour - Nightstand

I just wanted to show that you can dedicate space in your home to collections of things that truly bring you joy. Minimalism isn’t about getting rid of meaningful collections – it’s about getting rid of meaningless excess.

And of course, I want to wrap this up by saying this: these photos were taken when our apartment was freshly cleaned. I cropped out the dirty laundry and kept the rabbits’ litterboxes out of sight. I tend to compare my reality with what I see on blogs, so just know this: six out of seven days a week, my apartment is not nearly this clean.

I love all the colors in my home. What part of your home do you love the most?

6 Months After Starting Over

Here we are, a little over six months from when we officially said goodbye to our friends and families and most of our stuff.

If you’re new to the blog, my husband and I moved from Indianapolis to Los Angeles to seek better work and more sunshine. We got rid of most of our things and packed the rest into a little Honda Civic.

It feels like we’ve been here forever, but recently we got the chance to go back to Indiana and it was strange how much it felt like we never left.

Before I get into the personal updates, I want to give a little general advice.

If you want to move, move.

This phrase can be adjusted for anything you’re aspiring to do. If you want to X, X.

You don’t have to move. It’s not for everyone. But it was for us!

The most rewarding thing that has come out of this whole journey is the confidence. We wanted to do something, so we did it. We are giving ourselves the opportunity to decide what we want from life, rather than waiting for life to decide for us.

The initiative we took for this crazy move will help us in the future. The way we’ve learned to deal with naysayers and critics (although I’m still working through it) will also help us.

Be confident. Go for it.

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Our first six months

We’ve been through some big changes, but there hasn’t been a challenge we were unable to overcome. Yet. So, here’s what’s up.

Home sweet home

We were able to dive into apartment searching immediately, and we were able to spend our fourth night in LA in our own new IKEA bed.

Since then, we’ve furnished the apartment very intentionally. I think we’ve done well getting furnishings that are really useful and beautiful – this is the loveliest apartment I’ve ever lived in.

My husband and I agree that we don’t really miss what we got rid of. In fact, it’s funny how little of it we actually remember. There’s not a single sweater or book that I want back.

We started fresh and uncluttered, and we’re still (mostly) fresh and uncluttered.

The daily grind 

This has been a good move career-wise for both of us. I’ve had more opportunities pop up with my work from home jobs, and my husband was able to quickly jump back into more meaningful employment.

When we arrived, he was able to transfer to a Trader Joe’s not far from our new home while he waited on a call from a company more relevant to his interest. He got the call earlier than expected and now he’s working closer to the heart of the television and film industry.

Going back to what I said earlier, we made this change to help get us both working more on what we love. We’re not 100% there yet, but we’re taking steps in the right direction.

States of mind

While I personally have some tough days (working from home can drive you crazy), I realize that I’d rather have tough days in California than in Indiana.

The difference between the two is that by moving, we actually seized an opportunity that was in front of us. We took the 2,000 mile risk instead of letting it pass us by.

Having a tough day is bad, but having a tough day and dwelling on missed opportunities is worse.

This city requires an active lifestyle and we find ourselves wandering new streets, beaches and mountains each week. We’re busy and tired like most Millennials, but it’s nice to have a little tan while doing it all.

Friend requests – 0

To make sure I don’t paint too rosy of a picture for you, I’ll let you in on a bit of a downside to the move. Since I work from home, I don’t know too many people out here.

The new friends I have made are all through my husband’s coworkers, so I don’t always get to see them. But when I do, I cherish that social time.

I tend to prioritize work over play, so meeting new people has been difficult (not that I’ve tried that hard).

The next step is to take some sort of class to get me interacting with other humans on a regular basis. Have you moved to a new city without a lot of avenues for meeting people? I’d love to hear what you did.

Because it can make a person crazy.

Moving forward

Since we’re already halfway through our lease, we’re starting to look into re-signing or moving somewhere nearby.

Some people doubted that we would make it past a year out here, so I’m excited to start into year two and show them what we’re made of.

We’ve been tossing around some big ideas for 3-5 years down the road that will impact this blog and I’m excited to share those plans when they become more concrete.

In the meantime, I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, so expect more posts soon.

How was the first half of your 2015?

Our Journey West

Exactly three weeks ago today, my husband and I were crossing into California and making our way through insane mountains before pulling into Los Angeles. It took us three days (36 hours or so), but we finally made it.

We had a car full of our most precious belongings and a few hopeful apartment tours lined up for the next day. If you’ve never lived completely out of your car like this, I recommend it. It’s terrifying in all the best (and a few of the worst) ways.

Out of our element

Neither of us had ever driven west of the Mississippi River before. Ironically, I was too caught up in the St. Louis skyline to even take a moment to look at the great river. Missouri was like Indiana in many ways, but then we moved into Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and then California. Each state looked less and less like home, but we became more excited with each “Welcome to…” sign we passed.

We really did it.

The original plan and what really happened

The original plan was to stop by a grocery store each morning for some fresh veggies and healthy snacks so that we could avoid too much fast food and share our veggies with the very disgruntled rabbit travelling with us.

We ended up at more fast food restaurants than intended, but I’m happy to say we didn’t drink any energy drinks. Just kidding, we drank quite a few of those.

We ended up scrapping the health-consciousness (we basically gave all the carrots to the rabbit) and just fueled up on what we could, when we could. We’ve since been focusing on eating fresh, real food to make it all up to our bodies.

As far as packing up everything and only shipping a few things? It went totally according to plan.

We shipped three boxes, and thanks to my lovely parents’ shipping expertise, it cost $80. I’ll take that over a whole uHaul any day.

Apartment hunting adventures

Since we didn’t have an apartment ready for us, we hit the ground running immediately, trying to find a suitable place to live. The third apartment we visited on the first day of our search was it! We signed that day and moved in the next morning. What mattered to us?

  • Price (although this became less important when we saw the location)
  • Location (walking distance to necessities was a must)
  • Safety (too many odd people lingering and broken down windowless vans in my last apartment’s parking lot)
  • Size (we preferred small to spacious, since we didn’t want to furnish a giant place)
  • Condition (no run-down, potentially haunted places for me anymore)
  • Immediate availability (yeah, I didn’t want to live out of a suitcase anymore)

We’ve since dealt with roaches and multiple necessary adjustments to the apartment (including a phone jack installation so that we could get internet…two weeks in). But I can really, truly say that we’re here and finally settling in!

I’ll do a rundown of what all we bought as necessities to make the empty apartment into our home and maybe give you a brief tour with my next post.

Thanks for your patience after my long absence! What’s new with you?