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23 year old moving to California for one year - J1 internship visa

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  • 30-04-2015 4:52pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 3


    Hey there guys,

    I'm 23 and moving to California on 3rd June for one year on a J1 internship visa with USIT. I'm trying to decide between moving to LA and moving to San Francisco. I have a stopover in San Francisco and then flying on to LA so its no big deal to move to either city. I would really like some advice or some opinions on the move. I'm moving in one month so it is definitely time to decide on a city so I can focus my energies on one city or even a specific area of a city. Anyone have any experience of either city?

    Just to tell you a bit about the move - my visa allows me to work in an internship only. It can be paid or unpaid. I'm not allowed to work part time on the side in a bar or restaurant to help support myself. It's only feasible for me to find a decently paid internship (or find a way around the visa and look for under the table work. Anyone have any experience of this?)

    My sister is moving with me for the three months of the summer on a student J1 visa so she is looking for bar work/waitressing work. She'd ideally like sun and sea, but she is happy for me to decide where we move to because I'll be there for a year and she's only there for the summer. I'm looking for a digital marketing internship or something similar in marketing or in media. We originally decided to get our visas because we were attracted to the outdoors, active, sunny, beach lifestyle of LA. However, I started to look at San Francisco because I thought there may be more internships available for me in San Fran. Now we are finding it hard to weigh up the pros and cons of each city.

    We know that LA is a huge sprawling city and that a car is hugely necessary to live there. I am planning on buying a car when I get there anyway because I'm sick of having to rely on public transport in Dublin where I currently live. My sister also drives but she wont be buying a car because shes only there for 3 months. We know that traffic is horrendous in LA all day everyday. We hear that people arent always hugely friendly in LA, but that people are really into health so people are active and outdoorsy. We also hear that theres not a huge sense of community as LA doesnt really have a centre. But we like the fact that LA is in close proximity to the beach.

    San Francisco's crazy high rent is kind of scary. We hear that public transport is fab so my sister would be able to get around everywhere. But finding parking is expensive and troublesome, I hear so I might be crazy to buy a car in San Fran. I can't decide if that is a pro or a con because it would be cheaper to use public transport and convenient for my sister, but I hate relying solely on public transport (its nice to have the option though). We hear San Francisco has a huge community feel and that people are way friendlier than in LA. I hear there are more jobs in San Francisco, but I need to look into that more. We don't like the fact that SF is always pretty foggy and much cooler than LA. We did kind of want that beach feeling sometimes, but are willing to give that up if SF suits what we want better.

    So my questions are:

    1. We want to make friends and meet friendly, like-minded people. We are both in our early 20's and have done lots of partying in college, so while we definitely want the option to have crazy nights out every now and then, we want to make friends with people who want to hang out and go to the beach, go for coffee, go for a hike, chill out doing nothing. Basically, the opposite of Ireland where socialising revolves sometimes solely around drinking alcohol. Which city best suits us in this regard? Is LA really that unfriendly? Even with San Fran's friendliness, do people live spontaneous, active lifestyles? Which city is most laid back?

    2. We don't want to be crazily stressed over money. San Francisco rent sounds mental, maybe we could find somewhere more affordable in LA? But with LA's car lifestyle, would that balance things out financially? Is cost of living higher in one city? Which city might suit us better financially?

    3. It's really important to me to find a decent digital marketing internships. Which city might have more opportunities for me? I assume that my sister will be able to find bar work relatively easy in both cities? I'd like to figure out if there is a way around my visa -has anyone got any experience with finding under the work bar/waitressing work? Might one city be more open to this kind of thing?

    4. Is LA traffic really that horrendous for everyone who lives in LA? Might having access to public transport in San Fran be preferable to NEEDING a car in LA? Would my sister be able to cope with a bike maybe in LA? If we moved to San Fran would buying a car be a waste of money (we might want to travel a bit at weekends etc).

    5. We would love to live near a beach and have lots of friends to do non-alcoholic things with and also have crazy alcohol fueled adventures, whilst also being able to afford to live there, plus finding an internship that I will actually benefit from. Does such a utopia exist? Haha! :-)

    Sorry for being so long winded - what a rant, haha! We are just really confused and because we are moving so soon, we really need to pick a city. Or even better, a specific area in a city! If anyone has any advice, or help or has any experience of either or both cities, please let us know what you think. All help will be hugely, hugely appreciated! Thanks guys! :-)


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 905 ✭✭✭Uno my Uno.


    I'm going to say SF all the way, I was there for a few months and it is just an amazing place, I'd move there in the morning if It was an option.

    For all your criteria I think its a better bet, I have been to LA a couple of times and found it to be a drag, for balance I have two friend living in LA at the moment, one who really likes it and another who can't stand it and wants to move up the coast to the bay area.

    The Rent in SF is pretty bonkers but there must be ways to make it work, perhaps Living in South San Francisco, San Jose or Oakland might be more affordable options. I'm not an expert on Digital Media Internships but I do know that the Bay Area is a major Hub for digital media in a way that LA isn't.

    Also you'll meet tonnes of people everywhere you go in SF, Americans are very friendly in general so it may be the same in LA but I didn't have that experience.

    Best of luck, either way California is an amazing place, you will have a stunning time there.


  • Registered Users Posts: 670 ✭✭✭C.D.


    Living in CA for the last 3 years:

    1) You'll be fine in either city for this. If you're looking for a beach lifestyle LA will be better

    2) What are your savings like? I would recommend you bring 2 months living expenses each... maybe about 10k. See here for rent prices. Anecdotally unless the two of you share a room, expect to pay ~1,500 each a month + one month's deposit. You will also likely need to fund your lifestyle out of savings, your sister will not be able to live in SF on waitress money.


    3) You may also struggle to find a decent paid internship given you are on a J1 and looking for a marketing internship. No problem if you can code though.

    4) Yeah it's awful. So is Bay Area traffic though, it is horrendous. Aim to live near where you work or near public transport. SF has a reputation for good public transport, but it has got nothing a major European city like London.

    5) SF is not known for its beaches. It has a microclimate and gets fog all the time (even in the summer). Nobody every believes it till they come over.


    TBH given you are looking for a laid back summer with beaches, sun etc. I'd look into San Diego if you are set on CA.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,698 ✭✭✭iusedtoknow


    Well i can answer from an SF perspective

    1) Don't call it San Fran or Frisco when you get here...just don't - people call it "the city" or SF.
    2) rents here are MENTAL. We pay $3000 for a 2 bedroom bog standard house in the Sunset district. If you want to stay in the city, you will be paying $1.5K in the lower standard to $3.5k to share apartments. Be careful on craigslist, you are starting to see "price per bed" prices...where you share a room. There are also adverts for co-ops where there are 30 people sharing a 6 or 7 bedroom house.
    3) Paid internships for a year are hard enough to come by - our own company takes on summer interns only. Here's the thing though - we hired them in April, with a June start date. Most companies will already have their summer internships filled - this week is finals week in colleges meaning that there is going to be a lot of them moving to the city and taking the bedrooms
    4) the weather. Warm it is not. Not in the city itself. June/July/August are the coldest months in the city. We get a marine layer of fog (affectionately called Karl) that comes in the mornings and evenings and can stay all day. The weather changes dramatically from area to area. The sunset and Ocean beach area can be 10c cooler than downtown. The East bay is considerably warmer. A lot of my colleagues commute over and the difference can be as much as 20c in the summer.

    If you want cheaper places to stay the following would be your best bet
    Daly City, South San Francisco, San Bruno - they are all south of the city, but not in the richer areas of the Peninsula. You can get into the city easily with BART or CalTrain depending on where you live. Over on the east bay, Lake Merrit, Temescal, Rockridge are the less expensive places but still with BART links to the city. You need to be slightly more careful in some areas of the east bay for crime - West Oakland and Richmond are the worst areas - however, some parts of downtown oakland can be dodgy as well.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,236 ✭✭✭Dr. Kenneth Noisewater


    5) SF is not known for its beaches. It has a microclimate and gets fog all the time (even in the summer). Nobody every believes it till they come over.

    This. I did a J1 in New York one summer and headed out to SF for a couple if weeks at the end of it and froze my nads off.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,698 ✭✭✭iusedtoknow


    5) SF is not known for its beaches. It has a microclimate and gets fog all the time (even in the summer). Nobody every believes it till they come over.

    This. I did a J1 in New York one summer and headed out to SF for a couple if weeks at the end of it and froze my nads off.

    and the sea can't be swam in - aside from the riptides that make it difficult for even the best swimmers.....it's freezing as anything the atlantic throws at you


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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,569 ✭✭✭✭ProudDUB


    Given how often you mentioned sun/weather/beaches in your post, I'd go for LA. The weather in SF really can be terrible. Given your lack of a really well paying job, you can't (for now) afford to pick and choose where you live weather wise. As the cost of living in SF is so high, you are going on your own and your sister will only be with you for 3 months, getting by financially will be tough, unless you are taking a lot of money with you to tide you over. I wouldn't go for down town LA itself, I'd pick one of the beach communities such as Venice or Santa Monica. As they are more self contained communities, there isn't the pressing need to go always be going somewhere else, if you know what I mean. They have plenty of shops, restaurants, bars etc etc, so your sister should be able to find temp work closer to home, without having to commute from one side of LA to another, which would be an utter impossibility without a car.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,900 ✭✭✭InTheTrees


    Arosc1234 wrote: »
    4. Is LA traffic really that horrendous for everyone who lives in LA? Might having access to public transport in San Fran be preferable to NEEDING a car in LA? Would my sister be able to cope with a bike maybe in LA? If we moved to San Fran would buying a car be a waste of money (we might want to travel a bit at weekends etc)

    The Traffic (its pretty bad everywhere) really isnt the main reason for needing a car in LA. Its the distances. In the 1930's the place was optimistically built around the notion that the automobile would be the future of society and everyone would have one. So the freeways are great, streets are wide and plentiful.

    Unfortunately it means distances are huge and that also makes public transport very ineffective. nobody takes a city bus on a 30 mile commute.

    Live in Venice beach or Santa Monica and you'll probably still have a 20 mile commute to your internship.


  • Registered Users Posts: 905 ✭✭✭Uno my Uno.


    InTheTrees wrote: »
    The Traffic (its pretty bad everywhere) really isnt the main reason for needing a car in LA. Its the distances. In the 1930's the place was optimistically built around the notion that the automobile would be the future of society and everyone would have one. So the freeways are great, streets are wide and plentiful.

    Unfortunately it means distances are huge and that also makes public transport very ineffective. nobody takes a city bus on a 30 mile commute.

    Live in Venice beach or Santa Monica and you'll probably still have a 20 mile commute to your internship.

    +1 to this.

    Santa Monica is lovely and close enough to Venice beach (which was not all that nice when I was there) but you have to drive for sodding miles to get anywhere!


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,900 ✭✭✭InTheTrees


    San jose, the capital of Silicon Valley. Just an hour south of SF. Its a much larger area so there's far more variety in rents. Sunnyvale, Milpiitas, Fremont. And you'd be well placed for internships with the big Silicon Valley firms.

    Plus you can still commute into SF if you really need to.

    Better climate too. The fog is blocked by the mountains so its sunny.

    And just across the Santa Cruz mountains are beaches and world class surfing. You can be down in Monterey in an hour too.

    Have you had a good look at the map?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_Valley

    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,900 ✭✭✭InTheTrees


    Arosc1234 wrote: »
    I'm looking for a digital marketing internship or something similar in marketing or in media.
    If you want cheaper places to stay the following would be your best bet
    Daly City, South San Francisco, San Bruno - they are all south of the city,

    And it would also open up opportunities in the south bay.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,698 ✭✭✭iusedtoknow


    InTheTrees wrote: »
    San jose, the capital of Silicon Valley. Just an hour south of SF. Its a much larger area so there's far more variety in rents. Sunnyvale, Milpiitas, Fremont. And you'd be well placed for internships with the big Silicon Valley firms.

    Plus you can still commute into SF if you really need to.

    Better climate too. The fog is blocked by the mountains so its sunny.

    And just across the Santa Cruz mountains are beaches and world class surfing. You can be down in Monterey in an hour too.

    Have you had a good look at the map?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_Valley

    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/

    Old data my good man.

    San Jose and Santa Clara are actually worse for rents at the moment as there has been a glut of hiring young engineers in a non rent controlled environment. A buddy of mine on 125k at Google recently had a hike in his rent for a room from 1600 to 2500 due to the landlord just putting up the price. The cheapest rents in the Bay Area are currently San Leandro, union city and east Palo Alto....


  • Registered Users Posts: 670 ✭✭✭C.D.


    Old data my good man.

    San Jose and Santa Clara are actually worse for rents at the moment as there has been a glut of hiring young engineers in a non rent controlled environment. A buddy of mine on 125k at Google recently had a hike in his rent for a room from 1600 to 2500 due to the landlord just putting up the price. The cheapest rents in the Bay Area are currently San Leandro, union city and east Palo Alto....

    Yup, it's crazy. TBH OP you're not going to be able to live in the Bay Area (SF and San Jose) unless you have savings to burn or you get a well paying job. Even then you will struggle to rent somewhere, the rental market is extremely competitive. Anything desirable price wise goes in one to two days and people turn up with their credit reports, pay stubs, deposit and first month's rent ion hand. I'd seriously look into San Diego / Santa Monica or any of the other beach town suggestions here.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,900 ✭✭✭InTheTrees


    Old data my good man.

    A link to south bay craigslist really isn't old data. He can look at rents for himself.


  • Registered Users Posts: 25 anonimity


    I live in LA. It's big and spread out, but the traffic / driving really isn't as bad as people make it out to be.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,301 ✭✭✭blue-army


    you don't have to do an internship.

    You can get any job provided it's related to your degree and that you show a learning process throughout the year. (You're not allowed to use employment agencies though.)


  • Registered Users Posts: 22 Grayce23


    I'm doing a similar thing myself, but hoping to go to Nashville! I found this forum really helpful as it is used by people who live in the area you want to go to, they have tones of advice for people on where to rent etc. It wont let me post the link, but it's called city data forum



    I know I asked about buying a car, and someone sent me on a link to a used car dealer, cars in the states seem to be way more expensive then they are in Ireland. A lot of the cars were in the 90's and costing 4,000+ so for a decent car, I was looking at 7,000 or so! Which is ridiculous.

    The visa specifically does state that it has to be an internship based role, but entry level jobs etc. can fit the bill! You just have to make sure that there is a structured learning process through out your stay with them.

    Can I ask you about USIT? How are you finding them? I'm considering going with the ICCC as they allow you to book your own flights and insurance so the cost can be reduced.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,900 ✭✭✭InTheTrees


    Grayce23 wrote: »
    I know I asked about buying a car, and someone sent me on a link to a used car dealer, cars in the states seem to be way more expensive then they are in Ireland. A lot of the cars were in the 90's and costing 4,000+ so for a decent car, I was looking at 7,000 or so! Which is ridiculous.

    A used car dealers website is going to have the worst prices.

    Honda Civics or Toyota Corollas should be reasonably priced.

    Check Craigslist:

    http://nashville.craigslist.org/


  • Registered Users Posts: 22 Grayce23


    They still come up very expensive for what they are at the end of the day!
    At the end of the day, I can't really expect to get as good a deal as I got on my car here!

    Thank you for the link! It will be well needed in the future.


  • Registered Users Posts: 303 ✭✭Dave1442397


    Used car prices went up a lot when gas prices were at their high point. Prices have been falling again, but I know in this area (NJ) you will probably spend at least $5k at a used-car dealership to get something reasonably reliable.

    Private party sales can be good too, such as ebay, autotrader, craigslist, etc. A guy near me has been trying to sell an older Lexus GS300 for the past six months. He was down to $3k last time I looked, and he says it runs fine.

    Another reason prices may be higher than in Ireland is that many states don't have the kind of rigorous inspections that you have in Ireland these days. NJ checks emissions, brakes, tires, glass and fuel system, but that's about it. Some states do more, some do a lot less, so be careful what you buy, especially from a private party. You may inherit a car that needs a lot of work.


  • Registered Users Posts: 22 Grayce23


    You're exactly right, even in Ireland, the NCT doesn't guarantee a car is in any way reliable! I've known many a person who has been stuck with a lemon of a car even though it had a full years NCT and drove perfectly fine! My dad should be coming over with me for 2 weeks or so hopefully, he helped me buy my car and he has a fair bit of knowledge regarding them. Actually a weird question for you, is it more expensive to get a manual car? My dad drives an automatic and I drive a manual, I can't stand driving his car, always think the break is the clutch!


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,698 ✭✭✭iusedtoknow


    Grayce23 wrote: »
    You're exactly right, even in Ireland, the NCT doesn't guarantee a car is in any way reliable! I've known many a person who has been stuck with a lemon of a car even though it had a full years NCT and drove perfectly fine! My dad should be coming over with me for 2 weeks or so hopefully, he helped me buy my car and he has a fair bit of knowledge regarding them. Actually a weird question for you, is it more expensive to get a manual car? My dad drives an automatic and I drive a manual, I can't stand driving his car, always think the break is the clutch!

    Manual cars are really rare here - i've been here 3 years and can only think of 1 person that drives a manual, and he's spanish

    Automatics will give you the best bang for your buck, as manuals are seen as "car peoples cars" they tend to be higher in price.


  • Registered Users Posts: 22 Grayce23


    Thank you for all that :) I'm just going to have to practice driving his monster of a car! If I could bring over my little Ibiza I would :L


  • Registered Users Posts: 905 ✭✭✭Uno my Uno.


    Grayce23 wrote: »
    Thank you for all that :) I'm just going to have to practice driving his monster of a car! If I could bring over my little Ibiza I would :L

    You better get used to driving bigger cars alright, you won't find something that size to easily in the US and if you did you probably wouldn't feel safe driving it with all the other monster trucks on the road!


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,900 ✭✭✭InTheTrees


    Grayce23 wrote: »
    My dad should be coming over with me for 2 weeks or so hopefully, he helped me buy my car and he has a fair bit of knowledge regarding them.

    If you find a used car you like you ask the seller if you can take it to a main dealer to be inspected. Its a very common thing to do and I'd be very wary of any seller who objected.

    There's also an online service called Carfax, where you can check VIN numbers. The VIN number is a legal "serial number" that is stamped on a plate inside the windshield and on the chassis and engine block. Checking will give you a basic ownership history (not service history) of the vehicle (verify mileage and whether its been written off.)

    www.Carfax.com

    Here's the two big national used car's for sale sites:

    www.autotrader.com

    www.cars.com


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,110 ✭✭✭KevR


    anonimity wrote: »
    I live in LA. It's big and spread out, but the traffic / driving really isn't as bad as people make it out to be.
    Totally agree about the traffic. Was in Los Angeles a couple of weeks last year and traffic was generally fine. Very easy to quickly cover long distances across the city.

    Will be back in LA in June, cannot wait!! :)

    Just a side note but I found traffic/driving to be majorly worse in the New York area compared to LA (which is surprising considering all the public transport that NY has).


  • Registered Users Posts: 31,838 ✭✭✭✭Mars Bar


    anonimity wrote: »
    I live in LA. It's big and spread out, but the traffic / driving really isn't as bad as people make it out to be.

    It's like here, it's the direction and the time you are going.

    I was going to Culver to Malibu at 7.40am and the only hold up was the sewage works on the PCH. The traffic was fine. Coming back was a pain on the 10. The exits for Long Beach and Sacramento was always bonkers between 2 and 3 pm.

    I had to go to Redondo to Santa Monica back to Redondo for two mornings and it was crazy going to Santa Monica but fine going back to Redondo. I refused to do the next three days because it was bad planning by the company and I had spent two hours driving before my work day even started at 8.30.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,698 ✭✭✭iusedtoknow


    Mars Bar wrote: »
    It's like here, it's the direction and the time you are going.

    I was going to Culver to Malibu at 7.40am and the only hold up was the sewage works on the PCH. The traffic was fine. Coming back was a pain on the 10. The exits for Long Beach and Sacramento was always bonkers between 2 and 3 pm.

    I had to go to Redondo to Santa Monica back to Redondo for two mornings and it was crazy going to Santa Monica but fine going back to Redondo. I refused to do the next three days because it was bad planning by the company and I had spent two hours driving before my work day even started at 8.30.

    I was staying with friends up in the San Fernando area for the weekend and needed to be in Oceanside (between LA/SD) on Monday morning for a work meeting. The meeting was at 10:30. I left at 6:30 thinking I would have time and could get a coffee in Oceanside before the meeting. Due to 2 accidents and just sheer hell - i get to the office at 11.

    Lesson learned...next time, leave friends place on Sunday night and get a hotel that is not in LA.


  • Registered Users Posts: 31,838 ✭✭✭✭Mars Bar


    I was staying with friends up in the San Fernando area for the weekend and needed to be in Oceanside (between LA/SD) on Monday morning for a work meeting. The meeting was at 10:30. I left at 6:30 thinking I would have time and could get a coffee in Oceanside before the meeting. Due to 2 accidents and just sheer hell - i get to the office at 11.

    Lesson learned...next time, leave friends place on Sunday night and get a hotel that is not in LA.

    The first morning going from SM to Malibu, a guy decided to hijack a car and drove it through red lights and smashed in to someone else right at the junction at malibu bluffs park, which was where I was working. We could see the park but we just couldn't get in there! We were there at 8.30 and didn't get to start our camp until 11.

    Some things just can't be accounted for!


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