If it was just me I wouldn't be worrying half as much as I am, hell, I'd probably be out there already. It's that I'm bringing along my wife and 2 kids. Kids complicate EVERYTHING. Love them, but geeze. My wife is set on living outside of the city where it's cheaper and we know we can afford a place, but I don't know if the saved rent is going to matter with the gas I'll be spending getting into the city. I think we'll end up doing that for 6 months until we know we're steady and we can afford to move closer and we have our income settled and know we're not going to end up homeless, again. I need to get out there and hit the ground running with freelance and anything else I can find, plus find a steady job.
Oh, I hear you about family and stuff. I think it would be important to know where you are going to work. Even if it's to narrow it down to 3 main areas: West side, LA Proper, or The Valley. If you think you'll work on the west side (companies in SM, Venice, Culver), look into Culver City or Mar Vista areas. If you're looking at a job in LA (Hollywood, Bev Hills, W Hollywood, etc), then hollywood itself should have some affordable places (actors/waiters have to live somewhere, right?), as well as across the hill. Or like my friend if you're job is in Bev Hills area, check out Studio City. The drive is still going to suck, but it's decent path. And if you'll be working somewhere in the valley, well, the valley is generally cheaper anyways.
But if you got a place in Hollywood and got a job in Venice, your drive is going to SUCK. unless you can always drive in to work at 1030 am and come back by 3 or later around 9. Whereas if you lived in Culver or Mar Vista and worked in Venice, it's not really a big deal (relatively speaking).