Grad Visa Stories: Niall’s Love Letter to Los Angeles


Anyone who’s been to the US for an entire year will know that it’s genuinely life changing. For our latest Grad Visa Story we caught up with @bruthaniall, fresh from an entire year living and working in LA. What follows will give you severe FOMO…

Los Angeles is a vibrant and captivating city, surrounded by film stages, recording studios, and people who are either chasing or living their dream. The city itself is what you make of it, and I had one goal with this in mind – to embrace the culture, immerse myself in the lifestyle, and indulge in the infamous city of stars.

Leaving Ireland behind for the bright lights of LA

Prior to hopping off the plane at LAX with my dreams and my cardigan, I had many reservations about my move. You don’t hear too many people talk about it like they do with New York, Chicago or Boston. “Is it feasible? Is it realistic? Is it affordable?” my friends, family and I would ask myself. These were all questions I didn’t have the answer to, and these questions filled the days leading up to my departure with fear and incertitude.

At this stage, there was no turning back, and so I kept my eyes on the prize; year-round sunshine, streets lined with endless palm trees, and weekends filled with pool parties – or so I hoped. (spoiler alert: I was right!)

Sliding into home on the west coast

I lived at the foot of the Hollywood Hills, and worked in the Valley. This meant my commute was 45 minutes by train and bus each way. My apartment was large, spacious and relatively affordable, in comparison to Dublin and New York prices. I was sharing the apartment with one friend.

Where you live in LA depends on a number of factors; where you are going to work, your commute, and your own personal interests (beach, nightlife, hiking etc.) and also if you have a car. One thing I would like to myth bust is that you do not need a car to live in Los Angeles. Helpful, yes. Essential – no.

My strongest recommendation would be live somewhere on the RED or EXPO metro lines (from Hollywood to DTLA to Santa Monica), as this will make your commute the easiest. I would recommend living in Hollywood, as it ticks the most boxes, if you have a mix of interests and is very centrally located overall.

Finding the right fit for a workplace

I worked in Marketing for a boutique investment bank in Sherman Oaks, that was a growing SMB in the real estate industry, giving me the opportunity to learn how to manage marketing efforts targeting the national US market, marketing to customers (B2C), businesses (B2B) and partnership opportunities, which was an incredible experience to have undertaken throughout my visa.

On moving to LA, or anywhere in the US, I would recommend researching workplaces, available roles, and where they are in the city for your specific field of work. This will also be a deciding factor for your neighborhood.

I would advise applying for roles 2 weeks prior to departure, with the hope of setting up interviews on arrival.

Have a smart, clean and concise one-page resume ready, and also a short and sweet cover letter that’s generic but also easily editable to make custom to each individual role you apply for.

Acclimatising to the LA lifestyle

I don’t even know where to begin, talking about the LA lifestyle. LA is known for its celebrity lifestyle, amazing hiking trails and surrounding travel locations. You encounter celebrities on a regular basis, whether it be in a local Starbucks, a flashy restaurant or a shopping mall. And in LA, you can feel like one too. I downloaded the Surkus app, which invites you to be an extra in top reality shows, based on the pictures you upload and what you fit into, at no cost.

I would also recommend using (and stalking!) the 1iota website; where you can get free tickets to award shows, talk shows and free concerts. Through 1iota, I ended up receiving free tickets to the MTV VMAs, MTV Movie Awards, Radio Disney Awards, Jimmy Kimmel show, James Corden show and the Voice, along with Niall Horan’s album release party and a Netflix Red Carpet premiere.

Travelling in and around LA is also an incredible experience to indulge in. LA is made up of so many areas, venturing 30 minutes outside of your neighborhood can feel like a holiday in itself with countless hiking canyons, endless beaches and many new adventures to enjoy.

Why I love LA much more than many other American cities is you can have city life, hiking, beaches, and the countryside all within a 1-2-hour drive.

On weekends and Bank Holidays, city escapes like Las Vegas, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs are all a stone’s throw away – and make for an incredible few days not too far away from “home”.

Coming out the other side and the future

Since moving home to Ireland from Los Angeles, I’m now based in Dublin City working as a Marketing Manager, keeping with me the incredible experiences both personally and professionally that I accumulated in the City of Angels. Looking back on my entire year, I know for a fact that I have made friends that I will have forever, stories and anecdotes that are so unbelievable that they will be questioned for as long as I tell them, and most importantly, from my year living in Hollywood and all of my experiences I faced, I have a new-found lust for life that will stay with me forever.

I would highly recommend considering Los Angeles as a destination for your USIT 12-month graduate visa if you have an interest in year-round summer, incredible nightlife, sandy beaches and a celebrity-filled lavish lifestyle. I know for sure, I will be back.

Huge thanks to Neil for sharing his experience with us! Make sure to follow him on Instagram, Twitter and for more advice on his year in LA his travel and lifestyle blog –

Good news friends, we’re now accepting 2019 applications to live a year like Neil’s across the Atlantic. Head over to to get started. Got questions about eligibility, process, costs or any other aspects of the programme? Email or call our visa team on (01) 602 1747

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