A Comprehensive Guide for Moving to California

Known as the Golden State, California is a fantastic place to live. With year-round sunshine, beautiful beaches, and a diversity of jobs, there’s a lot to love, which is why the state’s population has increased more than tenfold over the past century, from 3.6 million people in 1920 to nearly 40 million today.

While moving to California is exciting, it can also be overwhelming. You have to ship your life from one state to another. This includes all your belongings, and maybe even your car.

With so many things to think about when you move, some essentials could slip your mind. But you don’t want to show up without an understanding of what life will be like.

This guide will walk you through the A to Z’s of moving to California. Read on to learn about everything from the weather to the best cities to explore, and how to make your move as simple as possible.

Things to Know Before You Move to California

California has a diverse culture and many vibrant neighborhoods you may want to call home, and moving here will give you access to opportunities you can’t find in other states.

But before you get settled, you’ll want to know the basics. From what the weather is really like to average housing prices, here’s the skinny on West Coast living.

California Climate

Most people think that California has lovely, warm weather. And they’re not wrong. Residents in most counties experience consistent 71-degree temperatures, especially in Los Angeles.

But, in other parts, such as the Bay Area, the weather is more unpredictable. You’ll see highs and lows, making it difficult to predict what the next few hours have in store for you.

Because of these fluctuations, California is known to have “microclimates,” which means that the temperatures can be different from city to city. There are five major climate regions in the state:

  • South Coast or Southern California
  • North Coast or Northern California
  • Central Valley
  • California Desert
  • The Sierra Nevada and the Northern Forests

The coasts have a denser population since most people want to live near the beach. Northern California is more humid, while Southern California is sunnier and drier. Because of the near-daily sunshine, this part of California gets less rain, and as a result, wildfires are prevalent.

The Central Valley experiences more variety, with warmer summers and chillier winters in the mid-50s. The deserts can get very hot. For example, Death Valley, which is one of the hottest places in the world, regularly reaches temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Finally, Sierra Nevada and the surrounding areas are colder. The mountains will get some snow during the winter.  

California Taxes

Many look at the advantages of moving to California but forget that it’s not a cheap place to call home. Living in a city like San Francisco or LA comes with high costs, including high taxes.

California’s average sales tax is 7.25%, which is much more than the national average. State income tax rates range from 1% to 12.3%, depending on your income bracket. And, if you’re earning more than $1 million in taxable income, California will get 1% of that income as a mental health services tax.

You’ll also pay more for gas in California than you would in other states. California has one of the highest state gas tax rates, at 66.98 cents per gallon. This tax is actually popular in the Golden State, as most of the voters favor environmentally-friendly policy decisions. 

Job Opportunities in California

Living in California has its perks. One of those is the diverse selection of employment opportunities. You can find work in every imaginable industry, from tech and insurance to art and entertainment.

Here’s more good news: The unemployment rate is 7.6% and declining. Whether you’re looking at Los Angeles, San Francisco, or any other large city, there are companies willing to hire you. As the fifth-largest economy globally, California could be its own country and still be very well off. 

Since you are moving to California, it is worth noting some of the fastest-growing jobs in the state. 

  • Solar Photovoltaic Installers
  • Occupational Therapy Assistants
  • Statisticians
  • Physician Assistants
  • Information Security Analysts
  • Personal Care Aides
  • Nurse Anesthetists
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Software Developers
  • Market Research Analysts

All these occupations will grow between 30% to 65% by 2028, which means more employment opportunities for everyone from Silicon Valley IT professionals to green energy technicians.

If you’re still thinking about which city to move to in California, take a look at the areas with the highest number of job opportunities. 

  • Bay Area
  • Orange County
  • Central Sierra
  • Central Coast
  • Sacramento
  • Upstate California
  • San Diego/Imperial/Southern California
  • Inland Empire
  • Central Valley
  • Los Angeles

Higher Education in California

If you are college-aged or want to go back to school, you’re in luck. California has some of the highest-ranked educational institutions in the country.

If you have the motivation, moving here will open plenty of doors for your career. Some of the best colleges in California’s cities include:

  • Stanford University – ranked #6 in the country
  • California Institute of Technology – ranked #9 in the country
  • University of California Los Angeles – ranked #20 in the country
  • University of California Berkeley – ranked #22 in the US
  • University of Southern California – ranked #24 in the US

As you can see, all these universities offer a top-notch education. And for in-state residents, the costs associated with attending state colleges are reasonable. While there is a lot of traffic in California college towns, you’ll also find plenty of student housing with affordable rent and good public transportation.

Best Places to Live in California

One of the perks about moving to a state like California is that there are so many appealing cities to live in and explore. Whether you’re looking for Michelin-starred restaurants or that legendary laid-back vibe, you’ll find your version of perfect in California. 

San Francisco

The tech boom over the last few decades has made this city the front runner for the best place to live in California.

If you’re thinking of moving here, keep in mind, the cost of living is exceptionally high, and many view it as unaffordable. When you call San Francisco home, you can expect to pay more than $3,000 to rent a one-bedroom apartment.

But with such a high cost of living, you’ll also find high salaries that allow you to enjoy everything the city offers. With plenty of activities, including many world-class restaurants, parks, and beaches, there’s no question that San Francisco is an exciting place to live.

San Jose

With a population of 1.028 million, San Jose is Northern California’s largest city. It’s full of young professionals and recent graduates moving from other areas of the country in search of high-paying jobs.

San Jose has a relatively high cost of living, although most residents make enough to support an affluent lifestyle. It boasts an excellent public school system and a mixture of urban and suburban neighborhoods.

San Diego

San Diego is known for its lovely beaches and uber-cool coffee shops and food trucks. It’s also the second-biggest city in California. You’ll find a more relaxed vibe in San Diego, as well as great weather and a small-town feeling.

There are plenty of excellent restaurants to explore, and with nearby vineyards, a world-famous zoo, and some of the best whale watching on the West Coast, you’ll never run out of things to do on the weekend. But, be prepared for exorbitant rents.

Sacramento

The capital of California, Sacramento, is a far more affordable place than others on the list. Only two hours away from the beach and surrounded by lakes and rivers, there are many outdoor activities to enjoy, including skiing and camping in national parks.

Los Angeles

A renowned city for its entertainment industry and movie companies, Los Angeles is the largest city in the state and the center of culture. It’s very spread-out, however, so be prepared for bad traffic.

Rental prices are pretty high, and you can expect to pay upwards of $2,000 for a one-bedroom apartment. But life in LA is sunny and fun. You can check out different neighborhoods, visit the upscale beaches, enjoy great food, and even spot a few celebrities when you go out.

Top Things to Do in California

Living in the Golden State, you’ll always have plenty of options for filling up your free days. 

Walk by the Ocean

Sand, sun, water, a cold drink, and a good book. That’s all you need to relax and wind down after busy days at work. California has around 655 miles of coast along the Pacific Ocean, making it the perfect place for beach lovers.

Visit the Best National Parks

Most people come to California for the cities, but once you move here, you’ll discover that this state is a gem for anyone who enjoys hiking, camping, and simply spending time in the great outdoors.

If you’re flying when you move, you can ship your car to California, so it’s ready and waiting for you when you arrive. Then, you can hop in your vehicle and drive to one of the nine national parks whenever you’re in the mood for adventure.

  • Channel Islands National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Kings Canyon National Park
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Pinnacles National Park
  • Redwood National Park
  • Sequoia National Park
  • Yosemite National Park

Do the 17-Mile Drive

You’ll be glad you brought your car to California for this activity. Driving the 17-mile drive on the central coast of California is a sublime experience. The drive takes you through a scenic route looping around the Monterey Peninsula, where you can see Monterey Bay, Lone Cypress, Del Monte Forest, Bird Rock, and the Pebble Beach Golf Course.

Stop along the way to try out the local wine and delicious farm-to-table cuisine, and make it a day in paradise.

See the Hollywood Sign

If you’re living in California, you have to see the Hollywood sign in person. It is the most distinguishing site in the state. It’s located on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills. The sign first appeared in 1923 and now represents a whole culture around entertainment.

When you make California your home, all of these iconic sites, parks, and destinations will be a part of your everyday life.

Take a Big Task Off Your Moving To-Do List with Auto Transport Services

Moving to California is an exciting step for anyone who wants to live in a sunny state with plenty of job opportunities and outdoor activities. The cost of living might be higher, but competitive compensation and job growth can make up for that. You’ll have everything you need to live your dream California lifestyle.

If you have decided or are already in the process of moving to California, then you might also need to ship your car to California. That’s where we can help.

Guardian Auto Transport is the premier auto transport service in the US. With more than 27,000 qualified drivers, we can ship your car anywhere within the country. Get in touch today to learn more.

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