Having secured a place at Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles, I now needed to move to LA from the UK. It was an exciting and daunting time! Firstly, how was I going to move to America? And secondly, where was I going to live?
After a lot of research, I was able to move to LA to train full-time as a professional dancer with Millennium Dance Complex. Here is everything you need to know to move to LA!
For details on how to apply and train in dance in Los Angeles, check out my Review of Millennium Dance Complex Certificate Program.
Moving to LA
The first step to move to LA is to get a visa to live in America. If you have secured a place on the Certificate Program with Millennium Dance Complex, you will need a visa that covers the length of your program.
Personally, I would check how long you can legally stay in America before you apply for the Certificate Program.
From the UK, it’s usually 3-6 months with a standard tourist visa. But there are lots of visas to choose from. Have a look at the US Embassy website for all the options.
When deciding how long you want to move to LA, also think about the costs of living there. It was far more expensive than I planned for. Even groceries are pricey!
Applying for a Visa
Once you have decided which visa you will apply for, the application process (from the UK) was straightforward but very lengthy! Ensure you start this application process at least 6 months before you want to travel.
Millennium Dance Complex can’t help you with getting a visa even if you have paid for the program. It’s not like an employer where they fill out some paperwork to support your application.
The Tourist Visa was the easiest visa for me to apply for. And met the requirements for entering the US. The same visa you would get if you wanted to holiday/travel in America. But check the US Embassy website for all the details on the different visas.
The Certificate Program at Millennium Dance Complex doesn’t count as formal training.
It's not the same as if you were attending a college or school in the US. So you don’t need the formal training visa.
That’s why I chose the Tourist Visa. You can still do some recreational activities such as dance on this one. And explore more of America if you want to travel while you are there.
My application process involved an online application and then going to the US Embassy to “interview”.
Don’t worry it’s not as scary as it sounds.
Basically, they go through your application, ensuring you have all the necessary paperwork filled out. How long you will go, where you will stay, some photographs etc.
Then they ask you some simple questions like why you would want to come back to your home country. I just spoke about my family and friends being here in the UK.
After this, you give them your passport and they process your application. Posting your passport with the visa inside. It was very exciting!
Based on your interview determines how long they give you to live in America.
I actually got a bit longer than expected. Probably because I was talking so much about the dance training and how I would be living with other dancers.
The officer was just like, “Okay, okay, that sounds awful but good luck with that!”
Being friendly and open goes a long way with this kind of thing I always find.
Living in LA
Once you have your visa to move to LA, you need to find someplace to live. Actually, they will ask you where you will stay in America when you apply for your visa.
If you know you will be dancing at the Millennium Dance Complex, I suggest saying you will be staying at the LA Dance Dorms.
This is the accommodation recommended by the Millennium Dance Complex.
When I moved to LA for three months, I stayed at three different places:
LA Dance Dorms
Recommended by Millennium Dance Complex, these dorms are the simplest way to move to LA.
Hostel-style accommodation that is only a 20-min walk to the Millennium Dance Complex. Personally, I would say they are the perfect place to start in Los Angeles if you don’t have any contacts out there.
However, these are only available for female dancers so male dancers will have to look elsewhere.
You can apply to live here for as long as you like but personally, I would recommend only booking for a month to start with. Once you are there you can usually book to stay longer.
I actually did the opposite as a newbie traveller!
I booked to stay 3 months but when I got there I decided to move elsewhere. Luckily I had only paid for the first month so moving out wasn't a problem.
Some of my friends I met in the dorms struggled to cancel and get their money back. So definitely book less time and then extend if you like it there.
I would recommend this strategy for booking any accommodation when travelling for long periods.
If you are a planner like me, it is tempting to book your whole accommodation itinerary for your entire trip beforehand.
However you never really know about a place until you are there, no matter how many good reviews there are!
In my experience, it is easier to extend your stay rather than cancel and get a refund.
So the LA Dance Dorms are perfect for moving to LA and getting settled. They are a great place to make some friends in LA and discover new dance classes. Learn who the best teachers are, and about upcoming masterclasses and auditions. It is also perfect to stay if you have never lived away from home before.
Most of the dancers here are from 18-25yrs so it is a very young, energetic vibe! Great when you want an active social life of like-minded people, a safe environment, and help with living away from home.
In the dorms, there is a Dance Mom who looks after the house and the dancers. She makes sure the house is kept up together, everyone is getting along, and noise is kept to a minimum.
I was actually the oldest in the house, at 29! And so the Dance Mom and I used to look after the house and dancers together. Perfect for younger dancers who want the safety of being looked after.
Personally, I moved out of my parent’s house at 18yrs old, shortly after my mum passed. I was desperate to get away and live independently. So for me, I found the dorms a bit stifling.
There are some curfews on when you are allowed back at night which is amazing for younger dancers but I’m used to living independently.
Also, for me, I found the dorms quite pricey for how squashed we were.
Bunk beds are in every room including the living room with TV. I struggled to sleep in my first week as the girls liked to watch television late at night and I just wanted a nice early night. After moving to the second bedroom which was a lot quieter, I felt much more settled.
The kitchen and hang-out area are technically outside. They are covered but are outside the main dorm building. This is amazing when it is warm but the LA climate tends to be cold in the mornings and at night.
So if you are planning to go to Millennium Dance Complex in Spring (like I did) bring some warmer layers.
There are four showers. But with 16-18 dancers with full schedules each day and no showers at Millennium Dance Complex, you can imagine the demand for the showers!
The great thing about the LA Dance Dorms is that they are in a safe area. Easy walking distance to the studios. And lots of amenities close by.
I spent a lot of time at the local Starbucks!
There is also Universal Studios close by, a fun day trip. Just across the road is the Supermarket Ralphs, 7/11 store, gift shops, and a beauty store.
These are a perfect place to move to LA short- term. To get settled in LA and at Millennium Dance Complex.
Home for Dancers
So after a month of living at the LA Dance Dorms, I was ready to leave!
After some googling, I found a company called Home for Dancers run by Maryss. A professional dancer who had moved to LA to train in dance and was struggling to find affordable accommodation. Hence Home for Dancers was born.
There are 2 locations, both based in the Noho district. Similar to the arty, urban area of Shoreditch in London.
A cooler area but not as safe as Studio City where LA Dance Dorms are located.
She has a number of options depending on your budget and preferences.
You can stay in a smaller flat and share with just a few others. Or you could move in with friends you made at Millennium Dance Complex. As well as two large houses with hostel-style rooms.
Personally, I was much happier living at Home for Dancers as there was so much more space! It was how I had envisaged moving to LA. In a big house with a large open-plan living area and kitchen.
The house I stayed in had 3 shared bedrooms upstairs, each with bunk beds so you only shared with about 4-5 others. There was a good-sized bathroom with shower upstairs.
Downstairs was all open-plan. With a large kitchen, plenty of cupboard space, a big, cosy lounge with sofas, and a television (and Netflix!)
Large dining room table with benches. And a second bathroom with a shower. The best part was a good-sized dance studio where you could practice dance.
The washing machine was also there and space to keep suitcases and dry your washing.
There was also a small amount of outside space with a little table. Perfect for enjoying breakfast outside in the warmer months.
I loved this house because it was well-organised and clean! Each dancer is given a cleaning task each week so the place is kept immaculate throughout. Most of the dancers here were older (late twenties to early thirties) so there was a more grown-up vibe.
The only downer was the area did not feel that safe. It was fine in the day but I wouldn’t venture out on my own in the dark.
There are supermarkets about a 10min walk away so you can easily get your groceries. Plus there's plenty of space to cook and prepare food in the kitchen.
To get to Millennium Dance Complex, you will need to take a bus. The bus stop is close to the supermarkets so not far away and they are only a 15min drive to Studio City.
From here it is about a 5-10min walk down to the studios. So still easy to get to but takes a bit more planning of bus times.
This is a great place to live if you are an older dancer and confident living away from home.
You will have far more freedom. But it is also easier to skip class so you want to ensure you will still be committed to class living further away. Also, the cleaning rota is really strict so only live here if you are happy to clean up after yourself and others.
After some research, it looks like Home for Dancers no longer provides accommodation which is such a shame!
However, the founder Maryss is still available via her company Maryss from Paris. She is really lovely so you could always contact her directly for advice on where else you could stay in LA.
HI Los Angeles Hostel
After craving the Californian beach lifestyle I had dreamed of moving to LA. I decided to move to the beach in Santa Monica for my last week.
HI USA Hostels are one of my favourite hostels to stay at. Especially if you are older than the stereotypical traveller ie. over 30. They are comfortable, spacious, have great breakfasts, clean bathrooms. And a more grown-up vibe than younger party hostels.
This is a great place to stay if you want your freedom and independence but also want to meet like-minded travellers.
On my first day, I met this amazing girl from Germany who liked to hang out with me so she could practice her English.
We bonded over travelling the world, bad dates, and living freely.
We ended up having a really fun night at The Bungalow. An amazing bar in Santa Monica laid out like a house so you feel like you are at an American house party. So much fun!
Loved, loved loved this hostel!
And it was so affordable for a great night’s sleep, yummy breakfast, and plenty of space to make your own food. Oh and located just minutes away from the beach! What more could you want?!
The only downer with staying here was how long it took to get to Millennium Dance Complex. I didn’t have a car so it took me about 3 Metro trains and then a 20min walk.
This was fine for my last week but unfortunately, without a car, it would be tricky to stay here long term. Also, you are only allowed to stay for a maximum of 14 days at this hostel. Definitely worth visiting at some point when you move to LA.
You can also explore Venice Beach and get a quick bus to Malibu while you are here. So a great spot to explore more of LA.
These can be more long-term options. Plus you have more independence and can experience life in LA like a local.
Air BnB often does good deals if you want to stay somewhere long term (over a month).
Now I am familiar with LA, I would look to move to Sherman Oaks, Studio City, or Toluca Lake. These felt like safe areas to live, and are close to Millennium Dance Complex.
Getting to LA
Once you have your visa in your passport ready to move to LA. And organised your accommodation. You are ready to book your flights!
I recommend Skyscanner for the best value flights. You can check prices for multiple dates by choosing 'Whole Month', then select 'Cheapest Month' for the best prices.
When you arrive at the airport in LA, they will want to know where you will be staying. And when you will be returning to your home country. It is best to have booked your return flight. Or at least be confident on the date you will be returning.
Usually, you can change flights with enough notice. So if you wanted to stay longer, and your visa allows for that extension. I would contact the airline and request to change your flight date.
For example, I had booked a return flight for 3 months later but my visa actually allowed me to stay for 6 months. So I was considering postponing my flight. But I hadn't budgeted to stay for 6 months so needed to get back to the UK to make some money!
Hope you enjoyed my blog on How to Move to LA as a Dancer. I would love to hear from you!
Are you planning to move to LA as a dancer? What are you most excited about moving to LA? Do you have any questions about moving to LA?
Let me know in the comments below! I love reading all of your comments and will answer any questions you have.
As always my friends, happy travelling! And dancing 🙂
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