Cost of living -

7 Things to know and do before moving from New York to California

Moving from New York to California can be quite a unique experience. New York has cold weather during winter whereas California has warm weather year-round. New York is known for its vibrant city life in the Big Apple, but it doesn’t have those picturesque nature views that California has to offer. If you’re thinking about moving to California from New York, there’s a lot you need to know. Keep reading to find out.

Get Ready for Your Move to California

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1. First steps before moving to California

Finding a job 

Many individuals frequently relocate to California for employment opportunities, but they often decide to make the move when their company has a branch in the state and they desire to experience the vibrant aspects of Californian life, including its bustling nightlife, beach culture, and warm weather. 

If you are unable to transfer within your company to a California branch, you might want to explore some of the currently high-demand job professions in the state, such as positions in the food service industry, personal care assistants, teaching, personal training, housekeeping, administrative support, and wind turbine maintenance technicians.

Getting there 

How Far Is California From New York?

There are 2883 miles from New York to California. Driving to California from New York will take you approximately 45 hours and will cost you around $300 in gas

When driving from New York to California, you’ll pass through a scenic route:

  • Chicago where you can walk on the waterfront or check out the Willis Tower Skydeck.
  • Iowa where you can camp at the beautiful Lake Okoboji. 
  • South Dakota where you can see Mount Rushmore.
  • Wyoming where you can visit the Yellowstone National Park. 
  • Idaho where you can visit the Twin Falls.
  • Nevada where you can take a swim in Lake Tahoe. 

How Long Is a Flight From New York to California?

A flight from New York to California is 6 hours long and will cost you around $200.

If you’re taking a flight for your move from New York to California and don’t know how to transport your belongings, check out the best long-distance movers to California.

Ship Your Car From New York to California

Shipping your car from New York to California is an efficient way to save the time and money you would otherwise spend driving it down. The cost to ship your car from New York to California is expected to be around $2200 depending on the size, traffic and time of year.

To ship your car from New York to California, search for the best car shipping company that has excellent reviews, is fully bonded and insured, has great customer service and has many years of experience. Make sure you leave the gas tank ⅓ full and follow all the company’s recommendations and regulations. 

Must dos before your arrival

  • Update Your Address: Changing your address is a crucial step when relocating. You can easily set up mail forwarding either online or in person before your move. Remember to update your address with various organizations, including the SSA, DMV, and home services. To ensure you don’t miss any important notifications, refer to our comprehensive change of address checklist, which covers all the places you need to update when moving.
  • Weather Preparedness: Be ready for California’s warm weather. Check local forecasts and pack accordingly, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the region’s climate variations.
  • Apartment Hunting: Plan ahead by researching and scheduling apartment visits before your arrival. This proactive approach will help streamline your housing search process and ensure a smoother transition.

2. Upon your arrival in California

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Get familiar with your neighborhood, and make sure to take note of the important emergency numbers. 
  • Locate the essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for your safety and in case of emergency.
  • If you’re around the area for work or just simply roaming around, it would be great to purchase a daily transit pass to save money.

How much does local transportation cost 

California is notorious for its bad traffic. Whether you live in San Diego or Sacramento, be prepared to spend much time in the car. The public transportation system of California is convenient for those who live near transit lines, and many neighborhoods are not accessible by transit. Also, the gas prices in California City are the highest in the country.

Below is a compilation of the average public transportation costs in the 3 most populated cities in California:

Type of fare

Cost in California

Single ticket


Daily pass


Monthly pass


US Dept. of Transportation (October 2023)

Exchanging your driver’s license

Procedure for New Driver’s License and Vehicle Registration in California

It’s important to notify the California DMV of your change of address so that you can legally drive a vehicle in California. When moving to California from New York, you’ll get 10 days to apply for a new driver’s license and 20 days to register your vehicle.

For more information, check out our article on how to notify the California DMV of an address change.

Setting up a bank account 

When moving to California from California, it’s essential to establish a local presence by setting up a bank account. This state follows the same procedures and regulations as in other states. Chase Bank has nearly 1000 locations in California, and it is convenient for every local because it is accessible.

Getting health insurance

Getting health insurance is an excellent way to get peace of mind when it comes to your health. With health insurance, you won’t have to worry about spending a ton of money in case of a health-related emergency. The state of California proposes a website to help you with your health insurance search. Simply choose California as your state and create an account.

3. Best places to live in California

Best places to live in California

A lot of people dream about moving to California, after all, it’s filled with adventure and a lot of opportunities. Some of the best places to live in California include: 

  • San Diego – It is clean, the people are nice, and there’s always something to do at the beach.
  • San Jose – It’s a diverse area with high-spirited people.
  • Sacramento – Some of the exciting outdoor activities and good housing facilities. 

The best places to retire in California

  1. San Diego – San Diego has a lot of retired communities and a robust healthcare system. 
  2. Redondo Beach – If you’re retired and boating is your passion, Redondo Beach is a great place for you. 
  3. Los Gatos – It has a warm climate and a lot of activities to choose from. 
  4. Santa Barbara – A lot of history and cultural scene, as well as retirement communities.
  5. Salinas – You’ll never get bored in Salinas, there are a lot of recreational activities and beaches.

Best School Districts in California

The top 5 school districts in California include: 

  1. Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District 
  2. Palo Alto Unified School District 
  3. Louisville High School
  4. Carmel Unified School District 
  5. San Marino Unified School District


While LA and NYC are both trendy bustling cities, they are quite different in terms of population, vibe and weather.



  • Most people prefer to travel by car rather than use the subway.
  • Summers are dry and winters are wet.
  • It’s more of a place to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, etc.
  • Slower-paced life
  • Over half of the NYC population uses the subway.
  • Summers are hot and humid. Winters are chilly and snowy.
  • A place for foodies and nightlife lovers.
  • An energetic and diverse lifestyle.

Setting up home services 

Due to the large population, California imports a part of its electricity, making it a bit more expensive than other states. Electricity providers will vary depending on what county you live in California. You can find the electricity providers in your county on the California Public Utilities Commission’s website

Water will need to be set up at least a day before you arrive so make sure you contact the water company in your county at least a few days before you move. Water companies by county can be found on the California Water Association’s website. To set up gas in California, start by applying on the SoCalGas website

The best internet providers in California will have bundling options, various speeds, and multiple package options at reasonable prices.

Should you rent or buy?

California has a crazy housing market. It is difficult to rent or buy a place for less than $1000 a month in California. Even though the state has over 14 million housing units, the average price of a home is 250% higher than the U.S. average. The average property tax rate in California is 1.25% depending on your location.

Below is the list of average costs for renting and buying properties in the 3 most populated cities in California:

Cost of rent in California


1-bed apartment

3-bed apartment

California (Outside city center)



Cost of buying a property in California


Average home price



Zillow (Oct 2023)

Pros and Cons of Living in California vs New York



  • Year-round warm weather.
  • California is a vibrant place where you will never get bored.
  • You’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches in California.
  • California’s beauty attracts people from different parts of the world, leading to a diverse culture.
  • You can stay healthy and fit in California as it has access to many facilities and recreational spots.
  • Wildfires are common.
  • Cost of living is high, especially in and around Los Angeles.
  • California is known for its bad traffic.
  • The crime rate is high in California.
  • California is quite crowded, especially in the big cities. 

Property Insurance for Forest Fires in California

Home insurance is not mandatory in California. However, if your property is mortgaged with a lender, the lending company may contractually obligate you to purchase insurance to safeguard the amount outstanding on the loan. With the weather constantly warming up, California is prone to forest fires. 

Along with forest fires, earthquakes are quite common too. Getting insurance to protect you from spending on the damages caused by these natural disasters is a great way to get peace of mind when it comes to your home.

4. Cost of living in California vs New York

Cost of living in California


Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center



Numbeo’s grocery list ($71.47 multiplied by 4)



Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage


Internet with 60 Mbps


Transit pass



Meal, taxi, movie


Gym membership 




Numbeo (Oct 2023)

Cost of living in New York


Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center



Numbeo’s grocery list ($85.63 multiplied by 4)



Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage


Internet with 60 Mbps


Transit pass



Meal, taxi, movie


Gym membership 




Numbeo (Oct 2023)

5. The weather in California

Most parts of California have weather that varies from dry summers to wet winters. In the coastal areas, the average daily temperature is about 70°F. This could, however, go up, reaching as high as 80°F on some days. In this part of the United States, freezing weather is rarely seen, even in the cold winter season.

6. What to do as a local in California

Locals in California relish the year-round warm weather found in most places and have a deep passion for the great outdoors. The beach stands as a top favorite activity, alongside hiking in the stunning mountains. As widely recognized, California, and particularly Los Angeles, are renowned for their entertainment, culinary delights, film industry, and vibrant festival scene, which is a major draw for numerous celebrity actors who relocate here. 

There’s always something to do in California, whether it’s indulging in high-end experiences or enjoying cost-free ones like beach outings or hiking. Locals also have an insatiable wanderlust for exploring other parts of California, often escaping for weekend getaways to places like San Diego. LAX, a major international and domestic hub, facilitates easy access to various destinations worldwide, making frequent vacations a breeze.

Fitness and well-being hold significant importance for California residents, with individuals seen walking or running along the beach at all hours of the day. They also take pleasure in savoring high-quality, fresh, and organic foods available at grocery stores and their local cafes and restaurants, with a particular fondness for smoothies.

7. Fun facts about California

Fun Fact #1

There are more people leaving California everyday than there are people moving in.

Fun Fact #2

It is the only state which has hosted both Summer and Winter Olympics.

Fun Fact #3

There is an avocado festival every year in California.


Moving from New York to California involves a significant transition. California offers year-round warm weather and stunning natural landscapes, making it a popular place. Before making the move, consider job opportunities, the 2,883-mile journey, and necessary steps like updating your address, acquiring health insurance, and setting up a local bank account. 

Choose between renting and buying property, noting California’s high housing costs. Weigh the pros and cons, considering weather, diverse culture, but also wildfire risks and high living expenses. Lastly, explore California’s local lifestyle and fun facts, including the 7.25% sales tax in California compared to New York’s 4%.

Are you moving soon? Discover the best movers for your move to California


Widgets Magazine


Widgets Magazine

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Selina Cifelli

The author

Selina is a motivated marketing intern with a keen interest in developing engaging content related to moving experiences and city life. With a passion for fashion and traveling, she brings a fresh perspective to our readers. Her talent for crafting innovative written material effectively positions MovingWaldo as a trusted resource for hassle-free and efficient moves.

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