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Describing herself as a "struggling optimist", Freiburg says that having her husband by her side gives her the strength "to keep ploughing through the days. Derek Aitken is the only one of the expats we spoke with who'd had a long-term plan to move to LA - and who found settling in easy.
Gby married an Irishman after her separation from Bernie, but that relationship also ended in divorce. Living in Silver Lake - a relatively chilled community with a "cool, creative vibe" sandwiched between Hollywood and downtown - Ryan is in his element. Moving to the city almost "by accident", he has found his feet quickly, carving out a dream career in Hollywood.
Adapting to life in Southern California, she feels, has made her stronger, more self-reliant and also more self-centred than dating might have been if she'd remained in New Zealand. Facing the prospect of living in a car to survive - or save. But she ended up having so much of it she never wanted to leave. Now dividing Barbara time Santa Santa Monica and New York, happily divorced and a mother to three US-born adult children, Gby, 52, still thinks of the States as a land of opportunity.
It became intoxicating, as did the affluent SoCal lifestyle at the time. Yes, Hollywood's a dive and the traffic really is atrocious but whether you're shopping or window shopping on Rodeo Drive, checking out the latest exhibition at the Broad or the lifesavers at Venice Beach, rubbing shoulders with celebs at the farmer's market or wannabe celebs on their daily power walks up Runyon Canyon, it exudes a kind of cinematic intensity. There's so much to see and do here.
Of the work-hard-play-hard mindset, he crams as much as he can expats his time off, often jumping into the car to explore beyond the city's limits. Ryan feels fortunate to have secured work in his field fairly quickly. That they were also sensationally good looking, glamorous and couldn't have had a boring day if they'd tried made me long for their lives - and thereby the city they lived in - all the more. Three months in, she says they're "as close to being settled in LA as an immigrant on a temporary visa can come".
Good things don't come to those who wait in this town — you have to work really hard for the opportunities. These days, she says: "I'm working too hard just to live. Not having anyone around who had known her in her former life as an Auckland schoolgirl, however, was tough.
Waiheke Islander Liam Ryan has had a far easier introduction to LA, but more through luck than de. At times, as a teen, I felt I knew the characters of Beverly Hills better than I knew members of my own family. Freiburg's first impressions were of a city "overwhelmingly" large yet eerily deserted.
After just three months in LA, Freiburg says she "bloody hope[s]" she will return to New Zealand one day as she and her partner are also afraid for their financial future. For those in secure jobs paying a good wage, Freiburg thinks LA would be a great place to be.
Settling in was "rough", Freiburg says, in large part because they were relying on just one income. She has found the people friendly and welcoming and the variety of food and "crap you don't really need but want to buy" extraordinary.
If you don't look after yourself and play your own advocate, she says, you will almost certainly be taken advantage of. I sometimes think of year-old me training in television production at Avalon Studios in Lower Hutt and appreciate that journey for what it is.
If they take up health insurance, however, they feel it could accelerate the "very real threat" of becoming homeless. That almost palpable sense of danger - that things could take a turn for the worse at any second - is also familiar to Gby who, arriving in the States as a teenager, had no choice but to grow up quickly. Still, so many Hollywood celebrities have moaned about the city in magazine interviews - complaining about the traffic and superficiality and saying they were only biding their time until they could move to New York - that I half expected to hate it when I first visited in my late twenties.
The best things about the city, he says, are the weather, creative culture and diversity. Zachary's company had offered him a job in LA that paid more than hers did so, after much deliberation, they decided to make the move. While they are earning "quite a bit" above minimum wage, "this does not exclude the imminent probability of us needing to live out of a car in order to get by, and even save any money.
Are you an expat living abroad? A pretty lonely feeling. The trip was meant to be a bit of fun on a working holiday that had already taken her through Bali, Singapore, the Philippines and Hawaii.
We were just excited for a new challenge in a new land," the year-old from Morrinsville says. You can do anything and be anyone here. They were so much better at expressing themselves. We dine out and entertain at home often.
As luck would have it, he was the only one of them to win permanent residency and, deciding that being in the entertainment business he'd be a fool to pass up an opportunity to live in the so-called entertainment capital of the world, he booked a one-way ticket to LA. Having visited before, he thought he knew the city pretty well but soon realised how wrong he was.
It's a trap she feels New Zealanders, as characteristically "humble people who take others at face value", can fall into easily. As with Gby and Freiburg though, it doesn't feel like a permanent home.
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Ryan feels he had a better work-life balance in New Zealand, saying Angelenos tend to work longer hours, but feels the pay-off is worth it. The club scene was intense, the bands Barbara the Strip were a thrill. In a city celebrated around the world for its creativity, they feel they almost have a duty to tap into their own and milk it for all it's worth. This, together with the current political climate and urban sprawl have got her contemplating a return to New Zealand. Traffic aside, he feels one of its biggest drawbacks is that you have to hyper-aware of your surroundings at all times and constantly alert dating potential danger.
Working as a freelance event producer for brands such as Google, Intel and Samsung, Aitken says they have a better standard of living than they did in Sydney, where they own a house. She was having the time of her young expats, but it wasn't until she met a South African on a blind date who'd won political asylum in the States that she realised she wouldn't be moving on anytime soon.
As a single flight attendant dividing her time, she can no longer afford to have a decent work-life balance, she says, and she's found the local dating scene a nightmare. Steph Freiburg and her husband Zachary moved to LA in February this year after the company he contracted for in Wellington told him they had no more work for him there, and they decided it was too scary a prospect to remain in the city, with its rising rental costs, on her income alone. Like anywhere, if you put yourself out there you meet people and I've forged some great relationships.
With three children - now aged 34, 31 and 21 - she found it fairly easy to forge lasting friendships with expats parents and others in the community. In the s, Southern California truly was the golden land it Santa so often portrayed to be on screen, Gby, who grew up in Auckland's Takapuna, says. The sheer size of things - the ro, the cars, the malls, the shops and the food portions - enhanced the sense of being but a small and inificant fish in a pond so large it could well prove to be the ocean. He and his husband decided not long after they met in that they wanted to move to the States and settled on LA as they thought it would be best for their careers.
And yet I fell head over heels; felt the same giddy love for the place I'd had as a teen, albeit for very Barbara reasons. Santa think you find your feet and stabilise. Feeling like she'd landed on the set of an American soap opera, Gby worked as a nanny and in a body care store at a local mall she declined a role as a mistressspending her free time carving up the local beaches' famously gnarly waves with new mates who included the owner of surfwear outlet Quiksilver.
Living there, of course, is a very different dating of fish. It's easy to feel as if you know Los Angeles even before touching down in the city.
City of celluloid dreams. He's been lucky, he says, that the friends he had in the city when he first arrived have welcomed him into their social circles, as have work colleagues. Get in touch at travel stuff. The sun-kissed setting of so many a movie and TV show, it's a celluloid extension of our own backyards almost from birth. Catherine Gby was 19 when she arrived at LAX, took a cab to Newport Beach and called one of the two people in town she semi-knew - the brother of an old boyfriend - from a pay phone and asked him to pick her up.
They're preparing to launch their own fitness apparel brand though, so are enjoying their freedom while it lasts. Moving to Santa Monica, then "still a small beach town", in with her first husband, now an immigration attorney, Gby had a fairly comfortable lifestyle. But as housing costs, healthcare, poverty and homelessness have continued to rise, she's come to think she would be better off in New Zealand. They fell immediately for the city's "endless sunshine" and easy access to the beach, desert and ski-suitable mountains. It takes a bit of adjusting.
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She is looking for work but finding it hard as a new migrant. Happiness is where you choose to see it, but that doesn't mean a good lot of money doesn't go a long way! Freiburg admits that they should have done more research into living costs before they moved there, saying the "very, very high" cost of filing taxes and healthcare, in particular, have taken them by surprise.
After nearly 40 years in the country, her homesickness is acute. I decided early on that I had a choice — be fearful or jump in the deep end.
The truth about life in los angeles, according to kiwi expats
Aitken feels they have a "great" work-life balance at present, with hitting the gym, hiking in the city's numerous canyons and enjoying a night on the town every other weekend among their other extracurricular activities. They are "comfortable enough" living in the "laid-back, family-friendly" and relatively affordable suburb of Torrance, about a minute drive from downtown, for now. They rent a "huge" two-bedroom apartment with a pool in West Hollywood, generally considered far more hip and happening than Hollywood itself.
Based at Universal Studios, sharing a lift with the likes of E! News co-anchor Guliana Rancic has become his "new normal". Unable to afford a decent work-life balance. The year-old was living in Sydney when a few mates entered the Diversity Visa aka Green Card Lottery, and he thought he might as well give it a go too.
For a girl from suburban Auckland, life in that mythical postcode seemed as big and bright as on-screen couple Donna and Steve's hair at the time. As the years went by, we realised how amazing and diverse the city is.