Five Things You Need to Know

You’ve secured that apartment, room, or couch. So now how do you live in LA without breaking bank? This post will introduce the secrets only the locals know. Read on and learn how to become a local.

1. The 99-Cents Store and the Giant Dollar are your friends.

Thinking of cooking your own meals? Don’t go to Trader’s Joes, Gelson’s, or Whole Foods. Need supplies? Forget Target. Go to the 99-Cents Store. The one on Sunset Blvd. between Hobart & Harvard has fruits and vegetables, essentials to cook a full meal or whip up a quick snack. You’ll find all the supplies you’ll ever need: toiletries, cleaning products, decorations/organization tools, gift supplies, and other miscellaneous items. This store also has both new and used clothing just in case you needed that extra shirt.

The Giant Dollar on Vine & Lexington, though smaller, has produce and essentials, as well as used clothing. Get there early to secure a spot in their small parking lot because it shares its lot with Goodwill.

2. Forget the gym. Walk, run, and hike in LA for free.

All over Hollywood and in the vicinity, there are  gyms such as 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and LA Fitness. Ditch that expensive membership for something free. Go to Runyon Canyon for a workout by picking three of its levels. Do be aware of where you walk and always proceed with caution as you hike up this mountain. All three of its levels provide an awesome view of LA, Santa Monica, and Downtown LA and it’s even better around sunset. Bring a friend and a water bottle! If you forgot the latter, there’s a little stall at the Fuller entrance where you can buy a bottle of water, snacks for you and for your furry friend. The stall operates on an honor system, so don’t be a jerk. Also at the Fuller entrance, you can find free yoga everyday, 3-4 times a day. Click here for the schedule and for more information.

Another hiking favorite is the Fern Dell trail and the trails at Griffith Park. The Fern Dell trail leads all the way up to the Griffith Park Observatory where you can get great views of the Hollywood sign, Los Angeles, and DTLA. You can also get a quick snack or a post-workout meal at The Trails Cafe, right across from the trail’s entrance. Be sure to check out the trails at Griffith Park, namely the Old Zoo Trail. Bring a friend for sure because the trail can sometimes get quite eerie, what with all the old animal cages (say what?).

If you’re thinking of walking or running, check out the newly remodeled Echo Park for a nice view of the DTLA skyline. A stone’s throw away is the Silver Lake Reservoir where you can enjoy some quiet while checking out all the cool houses in the area.

3. Stay on track of free events.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Wilshire Blvd. has free admission for everyone every second Tuesday of the month. If you’re an LA county resident and can show proof, you can get in for free after 3pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. The Getty Villa in Malibu and the The Getty Center in the Santa Monica mountains are both free. You do, however, need get a timed ticket online for The Getty Villa. For more art, head down to DTLA for its Downtown Art Walk every second Thursday each month.

You can become an audience member for free on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Voice, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Ellen, and more. Be sure to reserve your tickets in advance! You may or may not stand in line for a long (long) time to get into the studio depending on which show, so consider yourself warned.

This summer, Grand Park is hosting a number of free events. The Hollywood & Highland Center is hosting its annual Jazz Summer Series. In addition, Santa Monica Pier has its 29th annual Twilight Concerts.

Need more ideas? Check out LA Weekly’s calendar.

4. We have public transportation. Use it.

If the 99-Cent store and the Giant Dollar are your friends, consider your best friend. Sure, he’s your best friend who still has some growing up to do and maybe he flakes on you once in a while, but he’s getting there. You can reach all the places I’ve mentioned either by bus or subway. I’ll be creating an entry on public transportation, but for your own homework, save Nextrip as a favorite to find out when the next bus or subway train is arriving. Reminder: you need to buy a TAP card. This card holds your fare and you need to “tap” the card when you board the bus or at the turnstiles at the subway station. You can buy a TAP card on the bus (let the driver know) and at any TAP vending machine at each subway station. Check out for more information.

As of this writing, gas prices are around $4/gallon in the Hollywood area. If you ride Metro, one-way fare is $1.50; a day pass (unlimited rides until 3am next day) is $5.00; 7-day pass is $20.00; 30-day pass is $75.00. Oh, and there’s no traffic. Boom.

5. Enjoy the scenery. It’s free.

What else is free to check out? Hollywood Blvd. if you really want to go the tourist route. If not, check out all the beaches: Zuma, Malibu, Hermosa, Santa Monica, Redondo, Long Beach. Check out the local shops at Los Feliz and along Melrose. While you’re at it, go to The Grove and Farmer’s Market on Fairfax & 3rd; or even The Americana in Glendale. On Sundays, visit the Hollywood Farmer’s Market on Ivar, which spans from Sunset Blvd. to Hollywood Blvd. Take a stroll down Hancock Park to check out all the beautiful houses. The Larchmont Village isn’t too far away where you can shop (on a budget, of course) or just people-watch. Spend a day in historic Downtown LA and stroll down to the Fashion District to really stretch your dollar.

When you’re in LA, you don’t have to go broke. You just gotta do your homework.

Let me know if you have your own tips below. Now, go out there young one.

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