Dayana Sabatin came up with a strict savings plan to put away $10,000 before starting over in Los Angeles. She's now a full-time freelance writer.
Four years ago, I was a financial specialist at a tech company in Seattle — in a cubicle for eight to 10 hours a day, and beyond miserable. I decided I wanted to change my life.
I always dreamed of living in a city like Los Angeles. So I made a plan and left my life in Seattle behind to move there.
Since then, I've made a life for myself in LA — I'm a writer, blogger and YouTuber — but getting here was a journey. I've heard the stories of people moving to LA with less than $200 in their bank account, and I applaud them — but I wasn't one of those people. I spent three months trying to pay off school debt and save at least $10,000 for my move.
I set a specific amount of money aside for rent, car payment, phone bill, gas, and groceries from every paycheck. Everything else went into savings. The goal was to move with enough money in my bank account to feel comfortable until I could get another job. I didn't give myself the option to spend money on unnecessary things. I'm not a saver — I'm strictly a spender, so it was challenging.
What helped was knowing I was moving towards something that would radically change my life. Mostly though, what got me through was knowing that I was doing this purely because I wanted to. It was exhilarating.
I didn't like the path I was on
When I was young, my whole life revolved around the idea that I should go to college, get a degree in the tech field, secure a job that pays well, and sell my soul to the corporate world. I was homeschooled in high school, which allowed me to go to college during sophomore year, and it was decided that because my cousin made the most in our family as a software engineer, that I should become one too.
I wasn't the most confident growing up; I didn't have a "passion" for anything. It was incredibly easy for me to be influenced by my family and everyone around me, because there wasn't anything specific that I wanted to do with my life.
I had interests. I've always loved the idea of becoming a writer — but those dreams felt unrealistic in the world I was raised in.
The change was difficult for the people around me, but I was determined
By moving to LA, I was leaving behind everything I'd ever known — my mom (who's also my best friend), my baby sisters, my cousin who was also my roommate, my dog, and the friends I'd made. I've always been a huge introvert and making friends was a challenge, so the idea of having to make new friendships was scary to think about.
My family felt blindsided by the news that I was moving. When I told my cousin, she looked at me like I was crazy — my mom was worried I'd be kidnapped or that I'd be all alone because I didn't know anyone. She didn't like that I'd be so far away.
I told her that this was my one chance to do something different and exciting with my life. I had my mind made up — I was going to LA. I'm incredibly indecisive, so to feel so sure about something felt strange, but good.
Some people in my life tried to stop me from going
My boss tried to stop me leaving my job, promising me a six-figure salary if I stayed and kept my financial specialist position — I said "no thanks" — and my friends also tried to stop me, telling me it would be extremely tough to survive in LA. My ex even tried to get me to stay and then tried to convince me to take him with me.
When people hear that you're chasing your dreams or doing something they don't understand, they get jealous. Usually, it's because they're unhappy with their own lives, and the idea of someone else escaping and thriving bothers them.
When I saved enough, I found an apartment on Craigslist
I moved to LA before securing an apartment, with around $9,000 in my bank account after paying for a hotel. I still remember the drive from Seattle to Los Angeles. I woke up at 4 a.m., feeling elated. I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing, and all those years before that moment had set me up to be where I was.
I doubt Craigslist is all that safe nowadays, but I lucked out when using it for my apartment search. The place I found was only 25 minutes from the beach and I had two great roommates — I loved it.
I used LinkedIn to find a job and I worked remotely for a tech startup for the first few months — I was making $2,000 a month and my rent was $1,200. My pay was enough to cover rent, food, and my coffee addiction, but the hours were infuriating. I felt like I was back in my cubicle in Seattle. After a few months, I quit and took a waitressing job at a hip restaurant in Venice, where I made around twice as much as I did before.
I was still pretty lost in terms of my career, but I was living a life I was genuinely enjoying and building on my own terms. I met celebrities — like Jillian Michaels, Paul Wesley, Emilia Clarke, and Kevin Garnett. I met my now-boyfriend who introduced me to all of his friends, and I went to the beach every single day and ate incredible food.
I started writing on Medium and identified my passion for writing about self-improvement and relationships. The first few months I made a few dollars, eventually those few dollars turned into a consistent few thousand. The monetization of my content came after a whole lot of grinding and hustling. I reached out to brands, did a lot of work for free, and eventually started getting paid here and there for sponsorships and writing articles. I stopped waitressing once I was making enough from writing.
Now I'm growing my lifestyle blog, my YouTube channel, and working on my book about dating and relationships. Eventually, I want to publish more books — both fiction and nonfiction.
My goal is to be financially free
I want to be able to take care of myself and my family while doing what I love, every single day. I know what it's like to live a life dictated by outside pressure or family expectations, so I want to be an inspiration to other girls who also feel lost in their careers.
I can confidently say I'm on the right path now, and I've never felt more excited about the direction my life is headed in. If you feel destined for something outside of what you currently have, then go for it. Don't be afraid to color outside of the lines.