Here Are the Most Important Things to Know About Moving to California

June 18, 2020 / Posted in City Guides
Blake Shaw

Bostonian and residential moving and packing expert. Blake Shaw enjoys bar-hopping, music, and writing insightful content.

If California were a sovereign country, it would be the world’s fifth-largest economy, leaving behind France and the UK. It is home to four out of ten largest global companies, while four out of ten wealthiest people in the world live in some of its amazing cities. But moving to California means so much more than a chance to shoot at the stars and earn a better life. The famous Golden State has always been a pioneer in many spheres – from showbusiness and innovation to popular culture and environmentalism. Let us guide you through the essential things to know about the most populous of the 50 US states and see whether it can justify its official anthem: “I Love You, California.”

A palm tree
CA offers excellent and diverse opportunities

If you’re wondering: Is it worth moving to California, maybe its 1,100 mile-long coastline, perfect summer temperatures, and the largest subnational economy in the world might provide you with an answer. Young professionals seeking dream jobs will have the chance to work in one of many Fortune 500 companies, including tech giants that have headquarters in the renowned Silicon Valley, such as Facebook, Apple, and Google.

Those looking for higher education can expand their knowledge in some of the top-rated US universities like the University of California or the California State University.

When it comes to the question of “Where should I move to in California?”, you will learn about the rivalry between the North and South part of the state. But don’t worry, there is no right or wrong choice because each area has something great to offer. Those still on the fence regarding a long-distance relocation can compare the costs of living and expected salaries in CA with other states and see why the move is such an excellent decision.

Compare the Cost of Living With Other States When Moving to California

Cross-country relocation inevitably brings a lot of changes. Not only in a geographical sense but economical as well. You might be leaving the location with high utility bills, low housing prices, or cheap entertainment options but low median incomes. No matter what your current circumstances are, before hiring professional long-distance movers with packing services for your belongings, crunch some numbers just to see how the cost of living in CA compares with other states.

Moving From California to Arizona or Vice Versa?

Are you bored with an arid desert-like climate that Arizona has, and that’s one of the reasons to change your place of residence? The warm and pleasant Mediterranean temperatures make CA a perfect new home. Add higher average earnings and lower health care costs, and you will see why people flock here. On the other hand, if you are a Californian relocating to Arizona, expect more affordable housing.


Moving From New York to California

According to data from the website BestPlaces, moving from New York City to the West Coast might save you some money. Utility bills play a significant role in this because they are 60% higher in NYC, while CA boasts higher average paychecks.

Moving to California From Texas

The cost of living in Los Angeles is indeed higher than the cost of living in Dallas. However, those relocating to CA from Texas may be looking for a spot that will give them not only great work opportunities but also high quality of life and a wide array of entertainment options. You cannot put a price tag on the amount of happiness that settling down in the Golden State will bring you.

Route 66 is 2,448 miles long and it connects CA with Texas.

Moving From California to Oregon or Other Way Round?

Are you bored with your life in LA, or you ran out of unique things to do in San Diego or San Francisco, and you need to turn a new page? Oregon is just a short ride north, and it can offer you cheaper housing and lower utility bills. However, if you’re an Oregonian looking for vast employment opportunities, relocating to CA is a way to go.

Staying on the West Coast- Moving From California to Washington State or Vice Versa?

Those relocating to the state of Washington might be looking for a colder region with lower utility and transportation costs compared to those in CA. On the other hand, Washingtonians going to The Golden State are probably dreaming of lower food, housing, and miscellaneous expenses.

A piggy bank and money
Place you choose to settle in will impact your budget

Choosing the Right Place to Call Home Is Crucial

With 39.5 million residents, the CA is the most populous state in the US and the second-most-populous subnational administrative entity within the Western Hemisphere, after Brazil’s Sao Paulo. Newcomers have the option of residing in enormous urban areas or slow-paced towns with a suburban vibe. If you’re planning on moving from a small town to a big city, one of the following large metropolises might become your next home:

  • Los Angeles, with its four million residents, is the second-most populous city in the US. It’s a great spot for everybody, from millennials and young adults looking for exciting careers to outdoor enthusiasts and potential Hollywood stars. If you are relocating with your family, you can settle in one of the many great suburbs of LA. Suburban districts are ideal spots for your kids to go to highly rated schools, and you can have a yard with a pool.
  • San Diego, also known as America’s Finest City, has one of the best climates in the US, according to the Weather Channel. Also, living in Sandi will put you in a safe community since crime rates are slightly lower than that of the CA.
  • San Jose is the largest city in the Northern part of the CA. It’s also the cultural, political, and financial center of Silicon Valley. The booming high tech industry puts it among the wealthiest major cities in the US.
  • San Francisco, as of 2020, has the highest wages, disposable income, and median home prices in the world. Living in SF would put you in the vicinity of very successful national and international companies.

There are also plenty of smaller places to live in, like Redondo Beach that is located on the coast, Long Beach that prides itself on its proximity to LA and lower prices, or Santa Clarita that is perfect for all history lovers.

Moving to Southern California vs. Relocating to Northern Cali

Did you know there is a bitter rivalry between the Northern and Southern parts of Cali? Because of their distinct cultures, residents tend to make fun of each other. When you choose the location, you will more likely than not get sucked into a competition between the areas. No matter which one you pick, be ready to stand your ground when the rivals start badmouthing your new home.

Think About Getting Renters Insurance

According to data from Census ACS, approximately 45% of homes were rented in CA. When renting an apartment, don’t forget to get a renters insurance policy. You can find policies for a few dollars a month, and some landlords even require them.

Overview of Los Angeles
There are many cities you can live in, the choice is all yours.

You’ll Have Access to Top-Notch Education

There are more than 400 colleges and universities all over CA, and that’s the most of any state in the US. With the country’s biggest public university system, this is an excellent location to gain higher education. As a newcomer, you can save some money by paying in-state tuition instead of an out-of-state one.

These Are the Best Universities in CA

CA has more than a few highly ranked educational institutions that will prepare you for the real world. According to international higher education directory uniRank, the best universities are:

  • Stanford University
  • Berkeley
  • UCLA
  • Institute of Technology
  • USC

CA Is a Business Powerhouse With Blooming Work Opportunities

With an economy that ranks among the largest in the world and accounts for one-seventh of the total US GDP, you can tell the business is booming, and the jobs are in abundance. The largest employment sectors are trade, government, business service and, education and health service. Among the most prominent industries are agriculture, manufacturing, and the movie industry. Additionally, Silicon Valley is home to some very valuable tech companies such as Apple, Facebook, and Alphabet Inc. If you are wondering how to find a job before you relocate by hiring a cross-country moving company, all you have to do is go online and reach out to some of the most successful businesses in the area of your expertise.

Get to Know the Biggest Employers

Did you know that there are 54 Fortune 500 companies located in CA? If you are an ambitious professional looking for the best spot to climb up the career ladder, check out some of the biggest and the best employers. According to career expert website Zippia, those are:

  • Chevron
  • PayPal
  • Facebook
  • Apple
  • Netflix
  • Cisco System
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise
A statue in California
Movie industry is very important part of CA economy.

Weather Is Perfect for Walking on Sunshine and Dancing in the Rain

You will be moving with a long-distance moving company to a big state, and because of its size, prepare for a variety of microclimates all over. However, what can be said for the CA climate is that it can go from the hot desert to polar, depending on the proximity to the coast, latitude, and elevation. If the weather is an essential factor to you when picking a place to call home, know that there are five climate regions across Cali, each bringing something unique to the table:

  • North Coast and South Coast are the most densely populated regions where almost 68% of all residents live. The northern part can be foggy in winter, with warm but not too hot summers, making it perfect for those that like to experience all four seasons. The southern region is more temperate, and summers are sunnier and dryer.
  • Desert region borders Nevada, and it is hot and dry all year round. Since Death Valley is famous for being one of the hottest spots in the world, people avoid settling down here, which is why the region is sparsely populated.
  • Central Valley is an agricultural center with hot summers when temperatures reach 100 degrees and mild winters. Most folks in this region are located in cities such as the capital Sacramento and Fresno.
  • The Sierra Nevada and northern forests are ideal for those that prefer a bit lower temperatures. Because of higher elevations, snow can persist late into the year. Here you can go skiing in July or even later. If you are looking for some of the best mountain towns to raise a family, check out Truckee Grass Valley, Mammoth Lakes, or Sonora.

No matter whether you’re looking for a spot to walk on sunshine or dance in the rain, CA surely has some of the most diverse climates in the US that can accommodate all your needs. However, all that sunshine comes with a price. That’s why the location is also famous for forests and wildfires.

Wildfires Are a Downside of Warm Weather

When summer temperatures hit over 100 °F during the day, and monthly rainfall falls below 0.3 in, the land becomes prone to wildfires. CA has dry, windy, and hot weather conditions that can lead to devastating wildfires. If the thought of fire creeps you out, pick a location in the lower-risk zone and stay away from rural areas. Also, these fires are less common along the coast and more common in inland areas.

Tropical palm tree with sun light on blue sky
Sunny days are ideal for outdoor activities.

You Will Need a Car to Travel Around

Unless you decide to live in a big, urban area, you’ll need a vehicle to travel around.  Have your car shipped when you are relocating and don’t depend on public transport. Having a four-wheeler is especially important if you choose to settle down in a low-density community with limited public transportation options. With an extensive network of roads and freeways, driving around won’t be exhausting and stressful.

You Have 20 Days to Register Your Car After Moving to California

You decided to bring your vehicle with you, which means you will have to register it. CA laws dictate that you should do it within 20 days of becoming a resident. Head to your local DMV office and register in person, but before you do, make an appointment. Then you will have to fill out the Application for Title or Registration, where you have to provide proof of insurance and a smog and emission certificate. Smog and emission certification is something the majority of zip codes require.

Cars on street
Don't forget proof of insurance and smog certificate if you want to drive.

You’ll Be Living in a Really Happy State

Happiness is a combination of many inner and outer factors. WalletHub collected data taking into consideration things like good economic, social, emotional, and physical health, making a list of the happiest states in the US.

The analysis shows that Californians are a happy bunch. Overall, WalletHub ranking puts The Golden State at the 4th place, right behind Minnesota, Utah, and Hawaii. It’s highly ranked when it comes to the sports participation rate, low suicide rate, and fewest work hours. If you’re ever asked yourself, should I move to California?, remember that this is a community of really happy people, and you can be one of them.

Young friends celebrating
You'll get to live among some pretty happy people.

Politics Is a Big Deal Here

Are you ready to get politically involved in your community? When living in CA, you might as well get inspired to do so. Direct democracy is a big deal, and due to the number of residents and the size of the economy, some legislation and policies enacted by the state government often have significant implications on the national level.

Cali is famous for ballot initiatives, more than in any other place in the US, even though other states allow citizen-proposed initiatives as well. It is most likely that Californians will start a petition, gather the required signatures, and put a proposal on the ballot. If you want to change the world, this is where you start. Some organizations and institutions can help you get your petition going without a fuss.

California resist vote
If you want to be politically involved, this is the spot for you.

One of the Things to Know Before Moving to California – It Has Some Weird Laws

The CA is known for its progressive views and liberal politics, but somehow there are still laws that will make you think you’ve traveled back to the 19th century. Although codes and policies play an essential role in the way society works, it’s high time for spring cleaning of some of those weird laws:

  • It’s still forbidden for a woman to drive in a housecoat. If you break this rule, you will get a high fine.
  • Jumping out of a four-wheeler at 65 Mph is a big no in Glendale, so if you are in a hurry to get out of a vehicle, make sure it slows down to 64 mph.
  • You can’t hunt from a moving vehicle except if you’re hunting a whale. However, keep in mind that whaling has been illegal since 1971.
  • Don’t leave Christmas lights on your house past February 2nd, because you may be subjected to a fine.
  • When living in LA, don’t wash your neighbor’s car if you don’t have permission; this good deed may lend you a fine.
  • If you’re relocating with pets, know that you can only have two cats or two dogs in San Jose.
  • In San Francisco, it is illegal to carry cakes, bread, or pastries intended for human consummation in open baskets or exposed containers. The next time you are carrying baked goods, cover them to avoid fines.
California table
Learn all the weird laws and avoid getting arrested for no good reason.

Californians Know How to Party

The Golden State is a land where people know how to enjoy life and have fun. No matter how you like to be entertained, there will always be a way to do it. From enjoying food in some of the best restaurants in San Diego to some fun things to do in Sacramento for couples, possibilities are endless. Besides entertainment in your area, you can create a list of all cool and unique things all over CA and check them out one by one, when you have the time.

Moving to California Checklist of Cool Attractions You Shouldn’t Miss

CA is not only beaches, Walk of Fame, and cocktail lounges. There is a long list of other cool attractions that will keep you entertained for a while:

  • Avenue of the Giants is a part of Humboldt Redwoods Park, and it has an outstanding display of giant trees. Here you can hike, bike, fish, swim or enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  • Hollywood Forever Cemetery might sound spooky at first, but this site located in Los Angeles is worth checking out. Judy Garland, Chris Cornell, Cecil B. DeMille, and members of the band Ramones Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone are rested here. If you stop by at the right time, you can catch a screening of Hollywood classics projected on the side of the mausoleum.
  • Encryption Lava Lamps in SF will give you an experience like no other. View the encrypted data and learn how the computer translates random movements into the code.
  • The Wave Organ is an acoustic sculpture that amplifies the sound of the waves. Visit at high tide and hear the actual music, not just random notes.
  • The Sailing Stones of Racetrack Playa will show you that rocks, in fact, can move. This phenomenon has been studied since the early 1900s. Since the stones are movable, if you want to get a glimpse, drive about two miles south of the Grandstand parking area and start walking for about half a mile.
  • Monticello Dam Morning Glory Spillway is the largest drain hole in the world. When the water levels are low, you can see the foundations of the town Monticello that was submerged in the 50s.
  • Bodie Historical Park will give you a glimpse of the Gold Rush life. When you want to visit it, make sure you catch some of the yearly events that include historical reenactment.

Make Your Dreams Come True in the Golden State

Leave your heart in SF, chase pretty girls in San Diego, or get star struck walking down the famous Rodeo Drive. No matter what you do, living in the CA will feel like being on a movie set. When you feel restless, sit in the car and hit 101 while songs blast on the radio. Don’t be afraid you’ll run out of areas to explore. Embrace all the opportunities, learn at the top-rated colleges, or earn some greens while climbing the career ladder. CA will give you all the tools to make your dreams come true. All that is left is to invest in long-distnace moving services and relocate. Everything is up to you.


Why Should I Consider Moving to California?

California offers a lot of benefits for people looking to move, including a strong job market, diverse culture, excellent outdoor recreation opportunities, and a mild climate. Some of the largest industries in California include technology, entertainment, and agriculture.

What Are the Best Places to Live in California?

This depends on what you’re looking for! Some popular areas to consider include San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, and Silicon Valley. Each city has its own unique character, so it’s important to research and visit different areas to determine what best fits your lifestyle.

What Is the Cost of Living in California?

California is known for having a high cost of living, particularly in urban areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles. However, there are also more affordable areas in the state. It’s important to research and budget carefully before making a move to California.

What Are the Job Opportunities in California?

California has a strong job market, particularly in the technology and entertainment industries. Other industries with significant job growth include healthcare, education, and finance. It’s important to research job opportunities in your field and location before making a move.

How Is the Housing Market in California?

The housing market in California is known for being expensive and competitive, particularly in urban areas. However, there are also more affordable areas to consider. It’s important to research housing options and budgets carefully before making a move to California.

What Is the Education System Like in California?

California has a diverse education system, including both public and private schools. The state is also home to several top universities, including the University of California system and the California State University system.

What Is the Weather Like in California?

California has a mild climate, with warm summers and mild winters in most areas. However, there are also areas with more extreme weather, such as the deserts in Southern California and the mountains in the northern part of the state.

What Are the Popular Attractions and Things to Do in California?

California has a wide range of popular attractions, including beaches, theme parks, national parks, museums, and more. Some popular attractions include Disneyland, Yosemite National Park, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

What Is the State Income Tax Rate in California?

The state income tax rate in California ranges from 1% to 13.3%, depending on your income level.

How Do I Find a Good Cross-Country Moving Company for My Move to California?

You can start by asking for recommendations from friends and family who have recently moved, or you can search online for reviews and ratings of moving companies in California. Be sure to get multiple quotes and ask for references before choosing a company.

What Is the Process for Changing My Driver’s License and Vehicle Registration to California After Moving?

You will need to visit a California DMV office in person within 10 days of moving to the state to apply for a California driver’s license and register your vehicle. You will need to bring proof of identity, residency, and insurance.

How Do I Find a New Healthcare Provider After Moving to California?

Ask for recommendations from your new colleagues, neighbors, or friends. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to make sure the healthcare provider you choose is covered by your plan.

Are There Any Unique Cultural Aspects of California I Should Know About Before Moving?

California is known for its diverse population and cultural influences. It is home to Hollywood and the entertainment industry, as well as the tech industry in Silicon Valley. It also has a strong Hispanic and Asian American presence, and a laid-back, health-conscious lifestyle.

What Are the Best Ways to Meet New People and Make Friends in California?

You can join local clubs based on your interests, attend community events or festivals, or participate in social activities such as sports leagues or volunteer organizations. You can also try using social media or online platforms to connect with like-minded individuals in your area.

How Can I Prepare for the Move to California and Make It as Smooth as Possible?

Start by creating a moving checklist and timeline, and research the cost of living, housing options, and job market in your new area. Make sure to declutter and pack early, and label your boxes for easy unpacking. Be sure to notify your current utility companies and services of your move and cancel any subscriptions or memberships that won’t transfer.

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