Ok, let’s just get right to it and bring everyone up to date. We are leaving LA and moving the family to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Well, it’s a complex answer. Let’s start with cost of living. LA’s rental costs are getting out of control. You can see it in the rising homeless population and the number of middle class who are living paycheck to paycheck. It’s real bad. It’s always been important to Joe and I to be saving regularly for rainy days, emergencies, retirement. We’ve been making that work while in LA by living below our means for many years now but with a pair of young kids, our needs have changed.
We’re currently walking sideways around our small apartment to accommodate 4 people and their things (and their wiggly bouncy bodies). To go play outside is a big production which involves making sure both kids are awake at the same time, properly attired, that we have snacks and diapers and water and and and… By the time we walk to the playground or park after all that, it’s almost time to turn around for somebody’s nap or lunch. It’s an event. We need easily accessible outdoor space. We need more indoor space. And we need all this without jeopardizing our savings because we now have 2 little ones who are depending on us being able to feed them in an emergency, ya know? (Pffff kids are so NEEDY!)
Now, there is a chance we could find all this in LA for the low low price of Mommy getting a full time non-acting job or Daddy quitting the freelance life and working for a company that requires he be out of the home 9-10 hours a day but that completely defeats the purpose for us. We are in LA for my acting work. We started a family to spend time with them. Neither if us are willing to trade away either of those things.
…Plus earthquakes. Plus fires. Plus summer air quality (see fires).
OK that’s why not LA anymore. Why Albuquerque?
ABQ has acting work. A number of shows already shoot there. Netflix just bought ABQ Studios and the new film-friendly governor just expanded tax incentives. It’s a market with a TV/film scene and all signs point to it growing over the next few years.
ABQ is really not so far from LA. A 2 hour flight or 12 hour drive. When I need to get back here for work, callbacks, meetings, I can. It’s closer than Atlanta and Chicago, 2 other promising smaller markets.
And of course, affordable housing. We are renting a 4 bedroom house with a yard (see easily accessible outdoor space) in ABQ for the same per month as our 1 ½ bedroom apartment in LA. And that’s before June 1stwhen our LA rent is scheduled to go up 10%.
Plus honestly, I’m drawn to the slower pace of life. This has been a surprising realization for me. I am no stranger to hustle. But my kids are too young for hustle. I’m hoping that by putting a little distance between my family and LA, we’ll all be able to slow down and enjoy these early years together. I don’t want to miss them.
This is a very strategic move. We plan to try it out for a year and reevaluate. I am feeling very optimistic and my LA agent is completely on board, reassuring me that as long as I’m willing to travel there’s really no reason I have to live in LA as an actor/writer anymore. Things are changing. Most first auditions are self-tape, even if you live right next to the casting office.
And just to be clear, I’m not an LA hater! LA has been very good to me and if it were still just Joe and me, I doubt we’d be leaving. I look forward to visiting and working in LA every few months. It’s just not fitting our current goals.
I’ve got a vision of a new way to do this actor/mom juggling act. I’ve thought about it a lot (like A LOT!) and I think it’s going to work. But there’s only one way to find out. Wish us luck!