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Moving to California – Step by Step

Moving to California

California is a massive state that encompasses just about any lifestyle you could want. Urbanites in search of culture and sunshine head to Los Angeles, techies on the cutting edge head to Silicon Valley, and there are a number of top-notch academic institutions to choose from if that’s your path. There are also rural pockets in the mountains or along the coast if you prefer the quieter life. No matter what draws you to the West Coast, California has a lot to offer. So here are a few things about moving to California that you should know to make your move a successful one. We’ve listed them out, step by step!

Moving to California

Moving to California: Climate

California is home to scrub deserts, the Pacific coast, and high mountain altitudes in the Sierra. Where you choose to live in this massive state will determine what type of climate you experience and, accordingly, what you’ll need to pack. So here’s a list of the major climates:

  • San Diego: Fairly dry with little rain, temperatures fairly steady in the 60s and 70s year-round.
  • Los Angeles: Moderate winter months with an average of 10-15 inches of rain, temperatures generally stay in the 60s. In summer, temperatures rise to the 80s.
  • Central Valley: Slightly cooler winters with temperatures in the 50s. In the summer, temperatures into the 100s are not uncommon.
  • Central Coast: Coastal weather means regular rain and fog, along with mild temperatures year-round.
  • Gold Country: You can experience all four seasons here, with hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. You may even get snow depending on elevation.
  • The High Sierras: Summer in the Sierras is warm, dry, and beautiful. In the winter, heavy snow makes travel difficult through the passes.
  • San Francisco Bay Area: You’ll get summers in the 70s and 80s, though the Bay itself maintains a steady cooling effect year round. The Bay Area is also known for its pervasive fog, which is at its height during May and July.
  • The North Coast: Cool, wet, and densely forested, the average temperatures are in the 50s and 60s year-round.

So what kind of climate suits your lifestyle desires? 

Housing in California can be tricky

The housing shortage can make moving to California rather challenging. Zoning laws in some cities keep the housing supply low, and the rent has been driven up accordingly. So before your move to California, leave yourself plenty of time to look for housing. Or if you have the flexibility, consider finding a temporary sublet while you look for a more permanent residence. You can take your time and get to know the area, then decide which neighborhood feels like the best fit for your needs. Shopping for housing once you’re in the area is usually easier anyway!

Moving to California

You’ll probably need personal transportation

In most of California, you’ll need a vehicle to get around — and the emissions standards are higher than most other states. Public transportation is in the works, but unless you live in San Francisco you will probably find it insufficient. Even though it is constantly expanding, it is difficult to get around only using public transit.

So if you don’t have a car yet, plan to buy one. It may be best to purchase one in California to avoid paying to register it in your current state, and then again in CA. That means you’ll also need a drivers’ license. New Yorkers, we’re looking at you! Once you move to CA you have ten days (yes, just ten days) to get an updated California license, and twenty days to register your car. And new drivers, be ready: the traffic in California’s major cities is no joke. 

Prepare your budget accordingly

The cost of living in California is high in a number of categories. Most notably, you’ll probably see your taxes increase since there are both sales and income tax. Your budget should also plan for upticks in other expenses including housing, gasoline, and in some areas, utilities. Homeowners will also want to consider insurance against earthquakes and wildfires if you’re relocating to an area of California prone to these natural disasters. It’s truly better to be protected and hope that nothing ever happens! The California lifestyle is worth it for many, but when you’re creating a moving budget be sure to allow a little extra cushion. 

On the other hand, you’re moving to one of the agricultural hubs of the country. So if you haven’t immersed yourself in the fine art of farm-fresh cooking, it might be time! Be sure to allot a chunk of your budget for visiting the weekly farmers’ markets. They’re a staple of California like all year round.

Hire an experienced moving company

This step is especially important if you’re moving to one of California’s large cities. The traffic congestion of LA, San Francisco, and San Diego demand the full attention of even an experienced driver; you don’t want to leave your belongings in the hands of just anyone. Hire a professional moving company so you can rest assured everything will arrive at your new home smoothly!