I congratulate you on your passion for RE and your desire to free yourself from your current job situation. That being said, and without knowing what is your unique "twist," I am wondering why you think you will be able to be successful as a RE agent in SoCal during such a difficult economic environment? In addition, the difficulty of the economic environment is compounded for you because you do not have the experience or network that your competing realtors have. I enjoy real estate as well, I actively invest in RE, and believe there is a lot of money to be made a number of different ways. Given your background with doing home repair, why not pursue an alternative path in real estate? One example is becoming a real estate appraiser or even inspector. You could also use your home improvement skills to start an improvement business. Or, better yet, work as a consultant for people to help them realize a vision with some of these rundown foreclosures. There are a lot of homes out there at great values, many times people just have difficulty envisioning it without furniture or in the current state. An opportunity like this might also help keep you in your current location as opposed to relocating. Good luck!