Cost of living -

7 Things to know and do before moving to California

Are you looking to relocate? Have California in mind? If yes, trust that you are in the right place. Nicknamed “The Golden State,” California is home to beautiful beaches, celebrities, interesting food, the best neighborhoods, and an exciting nightlife. Before moving to California, there are several things you need to prepare, here are 7 things to know and do when moving to California.

What to Know Before 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 job 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 

For your move to California, you will need to hire a reliable moving company or take on the move yourself. To find the best moving company in California, look for good reviews, a professional-looking website and years of experience.

Planning a move to California? Have a look at our selection of the Best Moving Companies in San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Riverside and Sacramento.

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, home services and your voter registration. 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 and commute times. 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

$2.25

Daily pass

$6.16

Monthly pass

$81.00

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, 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.

2. Best places to live in California

Best places to live in California

  1. If you have a family, you should consider moving to Ventura due to the safety score, affordable housing, and high-quality schools.
  2. As a single person, you might want to lean towards settling in San Diego, where there are multiple dating opportunities, lots of entertainment options, and a booming economy. 
  3. If you’re a young couple, you should consider moving to Sacramento as housing is affordable and there are many ways to stay entertained like festivals.

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 national 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

Area/Neighborhood

1-bed apartment

3-bed apartment

California (Outside city center)

$2,916.97

$4,041.81

Cost of buying a property in California

Area/Neighborhood

Average home price

California

$747,352

Zillow (Oct 2023)

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

Category

Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center

$2,916.97

Groceries

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

$285.88

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

$266.43

Internet with 60 Mbps

$82.81

Transit pass

$81.00

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

$99.66

Gym membership 

$71.51

Total

$3,804.26

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.

Where to shop and eat in California

  • California’s grocery shopping scene is dominated by Albertsons, Safeway, and Vons, offering a diverse range of products. 
  • For broader retail needs, the state’s go-to options are Costco and Target. 
  • When it’s time for a quick and satisfying meal, Californians often opt for Sonic Drive-In, Chick-fil-A, or the iconic In-N-Out Burger, known for their delicious offerings and convenient service.

7. Fun facts about California

Fun Fact #1

A quarter of Californians are born outside of the country.

Fun Fact #2

California has the most national parks than any other state.

Fun Fact #3

There is an avocado festival every year in California.

Conclusion

Before moving to California, prepare by finding a job or a reliable moving company. Update your address and get ready for the warm weather. 

Research apartments and familiarize yourself with your neighborhood. Exchange your driver’s license, set up a bank account, and obtain health insurance. California’s housing market is expensive, and has a high cost of living.

As a local you can enjoy the outdoors, beaches, and vibrant entertainment scene. California offers diverse grocery and retail options, and don’t miss out on local favorites like In-N-Out Burger. Fun facts: A quarter of Californians are born outside the country, the state has the most national parks, and there’s an avocado festival.

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

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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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