Moving to California

Movie stars, near-perfect weather, vineyards. These are just a few things that come to mind when thinking of California.

The most crowded state in the country, California has a population of 39.35 million people. After being admitted to the union in 1850, California became the 31st state in the nation. Prior to 1850, Mexico owned California.

One reason for the high population rate is immigration. Throughout history, more people immigrating to the United States relocated to California than any other state in the country. In fact, the state immigration rate is two times the national average. Another reason for the heightened population was the Gold Rush in 1848. During this time, the population of California skyrocketed — growing from 14,000 to 250,000 people in just four years.

In addition to population size, California is also one of the largest states in the country. The state takes up almost 60 percent of the entire West Coast!

Things To Know Before Moving To California

Before you head off into the California sunset, there are a few things you should know about this unique state.

If you prefer more of a “small town” feeling, California may not be for you. However, if you love the hustle and bustle of a busy state, but also have a laid back attitude, consider California your new home.

Largest Cities in California

Los Angeles is without a doubt the biggest city in California, and probably the most well known. Los Angeles, or L.A., is loved for its sunshine, shopping and celebrity sightings. With a population of over 3 million, this town has something for everyone.

Next up is San Diego, which has a population of 1,394,928 residents. Considered the “birthplace of California”, San Diego offers miles of beaches, as well as the world’s busiest land border crossing.

San Jose is the third largest city in the state with a population of 1,026,908. Founded in 1777, San Jose was the original state capital from 1849-1851.

California Weather & Climate

First things first: earthquakes! Southern California has about 10,000 earthquakes each year. However, only about 15-20 have a 4.0 magnitude or greater. The good news from this statistic is that most earthquakes in California are harmless. Nevertheless, you should come prepared to feel some ‘quakes in this state.

The California climate can be described as “mediterranean-like”, due to the warm, dry summers and calm, wet winters. It’s important to remember that because the state of California is so large, temperatures can vary greatly across city lines.

The average temperature in California is around 70 degrees, but on summer days the high can reach above 80 degrees. Winters can get chilly, but it rarely reaches freezing temperatures. Areas with high altitude will typically experience more of a four-season type weather pattern.

One type of weather you can count on in California is fog. During the summer months, fog coats the coastal regions. Mountains also produce rain shadows on the East side of the state, creating deserts. Speaking of deserts — the infamous Death Valley in southern California is the lowest point in the United States, at 282 feet below sea level. Death Valley is the hottest and driest location in North America.

Traffic & Commuting in California

If you move to California, you’ll most likely need a car to get around. Driving will typically be the easiest and quickest way to travel here. The vast terrain across the state is connected by freeways, expressways and highways. This can make traffic patterns problematic at times, so it’s important for commuters to keep this in mind.

The large population size and continuous construction have unfortunately earned California a bad reputation for traffic. When traveling on the freeways, you should always leave yourself plenty of time to fight the traffic.

In addition, California has the second highest cost of gas next to Hawaii. The average annual car insurance cost is double the average in the rest of the country.

If traffic has you worried about a move to California, rest assured. There is plenty of public transportation available across the state. The main public transportation option is the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). Based on your location, prices will vary. For example, the monthly cost for a transit pass in L.A. is about $100, but in San Francisco the cost is about $70.

Housing Market in California

The biggest cost for Californians is housing. With that said, there is a large range of housing costs across the state. A two-bedroom home in the least expensive part of the state (Lake County) has a median price of about $185,000. However, in the wealthier parts, such as Santa Clara, the median price for a two-bedroom home is around $650,000.


If you don’t want to commit to such a large price tag for a home, renting is a great option. The average price for a studio apartment in California is around $1,680. This is about $600 more than the national average. A one-bedroom apartment can go for $1,596 a month, and two-bedrooms average about $2,000 a month.

Finances & Employment

Average Income in California

The average household income in California is about $87,877. This is higher than the national average due to the elevated cost of living. The median household income is around $61,818. Only 7.9% of households in the state are considered “high-income”, or those making over $200,000 a year.

Cost of Living

As mentioned earlier, the cost of living in California is fairly high when compared to other U.S. states. A single person’s monthly costs average around $1,000 and that is not including rent. A four-person household will cost around $3,315 a month (not including rent).

A single person in California will need to earn about $12.50 an hour to cover basic living expenses. Having one child largely increases this rate to about $25 an hour. California is right behind New York City as the second most expensive state in the country.


Fair warning to all future Californians, you’re probably not going to love the high taxes. The state sales tax in California is 7.5%, which is higher than all other states. Its top marginal income tax has a rate of 13.3%. This is also the highest state income tax in the county. The good news? The average property tax is well below the national average at 0.813%!

California Job Market

According to the Employment Development Department, the California economy had a strong start to 2017. Employers added almost 10,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.1%. However, this is still higher than the national average rate of 4.8%. The most popular jobs in California are in education, health and business service sectors.

Top Industries

The top five industries in California are:

  1. Technology
  2. Agriculture
  3. Aerospace
  4. Service
  5. Motion picture

California Food & Culture

Since it is a border state and a coastal state with large immigrant populations, California has great Hispanic, Latin American and Asian influences. This cultural diversity is also represented in the delicious cuisine the state has to offer. From gourmet fast-food chains to seafood, barbecue, and even vegan cuisines, California really has it all.

The overall culture in California is based on an ultra-laid back, relaxed attitude. Of course there is the hustle and bustle of the busy cities, but overall there is a lot of relaxation happening in California.


Thanks to the vast size of the state, it seems that you will never run out of attractions to visit.

Napa Valley, California

First up is the infamous Napa Valley. The winemakers here have been in the business for over a century, beginning in the mid-1800’s. Enjoy the delicious wines, but be sure to take in the gorgeous sites of the vineyards as well.

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite is also a must-see in California. This national park is home to the tallest waterfall in the country, the largest granite monolith, the infamous Mariposa River and Half Dome.

Golden Gate Bridge, California

The Golden Gate Bridge definitely deserves a visit. The bright red bridge has been featured in tons of movies, but can only really be appreciated in person. The views from the bridge are so amazing that you could spend a whole day just taking it all in. This famous Californian landmark cannot be missed!

Big Sur, California

Along the coast of California lies Big Sur. Located along Highway One, the scenery this landmark provides is beyond amazing. Many people opt to drive the 90 miles in, making sure to stop and take tons of pictures along the way.

The Hollywood Sign, California

One thing that seems impossible to miss is the Hollywood sign. It sits on the side of a large hill for all to enjoy (really, you can’t miss it!). Originally, the sign read “Hollywoodland”, and has survived fires, vandals and the elements. The Hollywood sign is a true Californian icon.

Universities and Schools

There are plenty of schools, colleges and universities to choose from in California. In fact, the state had over 6.2 millions students during the 2005-06 school year!

Stanford University

The highest-ranked college in the state is Stanford. It is also one of the top 10 schools in the nation. Stanford is a private research university that offers stellar science and engineering programs. It has a low student loan default rate, and therefore is considered a great value.

Harvey Mudd College

Next up is Harvey Mudd College. While not as widely known as the other universities in the state, Harvey Mudd College is a small, private, liberal arts college. Students benefit from the low student to faculty ratio and the college boasts an extremely high graduation rate. It is ranked number 15 nationally.

Other popular colleges and universities in California include:

  • University of Southern California, in downtown L.A.
  • University of California, in Los Angeles
  • University of California-Berkley

California Sports Teams

Professional sports are huge in California! In fact, there are over 20 major professional sport league franchises. This is far more than any other state in the country. To put this in perspective, San Francisco alone has seven major league teams across three cities!

Sports teams in California include:

  •   Los Angeles Rams (NFL)
  •   Oakland Raiders (NFL)
  •   Los Angeles Chargers (NFL)
  •   San Francisco 49ers (NFL)
  •   San Francisco Giants (MLB)
  •   Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
  •   Oakland Athletics (MLB)
  •   San Diego Padres (MLB)
  •   Golden State Warriors (NBA)
  •   L.A. Clippers (NBA)
  •   L.A. Lakers (NBA)
  •   Sacramento Kings (NBA)
  •   L.A. Sparks (WNBA)
  •   Anaheim Ducks (NHL)
  •   San Jose Sharks (NHL)
  •   L.A. Galaxy (MLS)
  •   Los Angeles Football Club (MLS)
  •   San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

Recreational Activities

California is known for its beautiful beaches and laid back culture. As you can imagine, surfing is a huge recreational activity here. In fact, the coastal cities continuously argue about who can call themselves the official “Surf City” in the state. There are countless surf competitions along the coast where you can often spot the most famous surfers in the world participating.

If you aren’t located on the coast, hiking is another popular activity in California. There are plenty of trails in the mountains that offer some spectacular views. Californians are known for their love of fitness and healthy lifestyles, so hiking is high on their list of fun activities.


If you ever get sick or injured, California has an excellent healthcare system. Many of the hospitals here are nationally ranked for providing exceptional care.

UCLA Medical Center is the number one hospital in California. It is ranked for 15 general specialties, as well as 10 pediatric specialities.

Next up is UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. It is nationally ranked in 15 specialties and 9 pediatric specialities. Stanford Health Care is also nationally ranked in 12 specialties and is high performing in other 9 procedures and conditions.

Safety and Crime

From 1960-1980, the violent crime rate in California rose from 236 to 888 crimes per 100,000 residents. This was a 276% increase. In the 1980s, the crime rate decreased until but around 1992, when it rose again to its highest rate. Since then, the crime rate has decreased substantially overall, even with some higher levels in 2012 and 2015.

History of California

Back in the 1700’s, the first Spanish missionaries made their way to California. It became a U.S. territory in 1847 after the treaty ending the Mexican-American Way.

After the discovery of gold, tons of settlers headed to California in hope of becoming rich. The Kennedy Mine in Jackson was one of the richest mines in the world, and the deepest in North America.

Politics & Religion

California is definitely a democratic state. In 2012, 43.7% of the population registered as democrat, 29.4% were republican, 6% were other and 20.9% were unaffiliated. California is often considered a “trendsetter” when it comes to passing laws, and is usually very open minded when voting.

When it comes to religion, about half of the California population considers themselves religious. Catholicism makes up 28% of the population, with Latter-day Saints at 2.10% and other Christian religions at 5.73% of the population. The Jewish religion makes up .59% of the population in California, and 1.20% identify as an eastern faith.

Celebrity Residents

A notable aspect of California is the surplus of celebrities that reside there. There are plenty of famous people who call California their home state, including:

  • Paula Abdul
  • Jessica Alba
  • Tony Alva
  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Christina Applegate
  • Tyra Banks
  • The Kardashians
  • Tim Burton
  • Paris Hilton
  • Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Bruce Lee
  • Tony Romo
  • And many, many, many others!

The Golden State is definitely a sight to be seen. If you are planning to move here, you won’t have to worry about getting bored. The birthplace of McDonald’s promises to never disappoint, and will quickly become your new favorite place to call home.

So, how are you getting to California?

Whether you’re moving across the country or the world, getting to California should be a breeze. There are plenty of moving companies that can transport your items by truck, plane or even boat.

Finding the best moving company for you depends on your preferences. Be sure to shop around for the best prices, and always check the reviews. You want to be sure that your items arrive at your new California home unharmed, and in the most efficient way possible.

Moving is stressful already. By hiring a reputable company, you can be at ease knowing that your personal belongings are in good hands.

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