The most populous state and the third-largest by area, California still ranks as a popular choice for people deciding to relocate. After careful research and deliberation, we have compiled for you the best tips for moving to California. Home to the oldest and the largest film industry, Hollywood is just one of the many positives offered by this state. If you are looking to relocate to California, you will need complete unbiased details about various factors that can affect your decision.

Go through our moving to California checklist to get a hang of what you can expect if you were moving to California. Be prepared to get only the best of everything – be it parties, food, tourist spots, or even the housing, jobs, and everything you would require if you relocate to California. Check out the best places to reside in California in this article and we are sure we will help you identify the best option for you.

Moving to California

Cost of Living in California

You’ve always dreamed of living in California, but can you afford the cost of living? That’s an excellent question to ask before you sell your home and buy surfboards and sun and move to California.

Is it really that expensive to live in California? California’s cost of living is higher than the average for the nation as a whole. In terms of cost of living, California is the third most expensive state. In the state, the cost of living cost 15.4% more than they do nationwide on average, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis data. According to the worldpopulation review, California’s cost of living index is 151.7. It is comparatively higher than the united states index average of 100.

Generally, living in a densely populated metro area is more expensive than in a more rural location. 26 metropolitan areas are located in California. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward is the most expensive in California, where the cost is 31.6% costlier than the national average and 16.2% higher than the statewide average.

Aerial shot of downtown Los Angeles at night
CaliforniaUS
Median Home Value$475,900.00$204,900.00
Median Monthly Rent$1,429.00$1,023.00
Average Car Insurance$2,389.00$1,517.00
Healthcare cost for Single Adult$3,711.00$4,266.00
Healthcare cost for family of four$11,253.00$12,950.00
Food cost for Single Adult$3,468.00$3,240.00
Food cost for family of four$10,016.00$9,354.00
Annual Child care cost$9,663.00$8,903.00
Annual Taxes$8,248.00$6,542.00

Job market

Those who think California is a good place to begin their job search are in the minority. The employment outlook in California is positive when viewed in its entirety. Job projections look good, and unemployment rates in the state are low. Moreover, it is not untrue that the future of California will present some challenges for workers such as you.

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In California, the average household income is $101,493 While the median household income is $71,228. The most wanted job in California is Solar photovoltaic installer With an Average annual salary of  $46,390.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, California’s current unemployment rate in February 2021 was 8.5 %, which is higher than the 6.2% average Unemployment Rate in the United States. It is 6.5x more common for a worker in California to be an Amusement and Recreation Attendant than all U.S. workers.

The Most Common Jobs in California

RankJobLocal JobsMean Local SalaryLocal Popularity Index
1Retail salespersons467,220$23,9120.9
2Office clerks, general389,960$25,9821.2
3Cashiers350,570$20,7580.9
4Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand251,590$22,4851.0
5Waiters and waitresses218,410$17,0320.9
6Registered nurses215,770$69,0290.8
7General and operations managers214,210$97,2681.1
8Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food206,660$17,7170.8
9Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks202,770$33,1521.0
10Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners200,300$23,1100.8

Highest paying jobs in California

RankJob DescriptionAverage SalaryEntry Level Salary# of Employee
1Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers$204,760$90,76010,340
2Family Medicine Physicians$201,950$66,40011,050
3Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates$200,150$95,6301,690
4General Internal Medicine Physicians$199,980$114,1403,410
5Orthodontists$198,330$57,970420
6Nurse Anesthetists$197,640$127,7001,270
7General Pediatricians$191,490$105,5503,160
8Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons$181,820$68,470690
9Computer and Information Systems Managers$173,180$107,13075,700
10Architectural and Engineering Managers$169,130$105,67034,140

Largest employer in California

#EmployerCityNumber of Employees
1Los Angeles Intl Airport-LaxLos Angeles45,000
232nd St Naval StationSan Diego42,951
3UCLA Community Based LearningLos Angeles30,000
4Walt Disney Parks & Resorts USAnaheim28,000
5University of Ca Los AngelesLos Angeles27,489
6University-Calfornia Sn DiegoLa Jolla26,000
7University-Ca-Sn FranciscoSan Francisco25,000
8Alphabet IncMountain View23,000
9University of California DavisDavis20,295
10Dept of Transportation In CaSacramento20,000

Tax rates in California

Taxes in California are among the highest in the country, according to the Tax Foundation. State residents are taxed at 7.25% base sales tax, higher than any state in the country, and at 13.3% top marginal income tax, the state has the highest minimum income tax.

Though the Golden State fared slightly better in regards to real estate, it still has quite a few problems.  A homeowner pays real estate taxes on their home at a rate of 0.7% of its actual value each year.

California income Tax:

California state applicable to dividends and interest income. California state has a progressive tax structure. California state tax is divided into 9 brackets with tax rates of 1%-13.3% applicable on income range of $8,932-$599,012.

California Sales Tax:

California state is ranked 1st nationwide. In California, the state sales tax is 7.25% and the average local tax rate is 1.41%.

California Property Tax:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, California state’s median property tax is $ 3,104with an effective property tax rate of 0.70%.

California Gas Taxes:

California state has a $0.533 / gallon gasoline tax and $0.68 / gallon diesel tax.

California Cigarettes Tax:

California state ranks 13th out of 50 states in the cigarette tax. In California, the cigarette tax per pack of 20 is $2.87.

Economy

California is ranked 46th for its economic outlook and 17th for economic performance rank. In the US, California is the 5th most economically exposed state to the COVID-19. The top three occupations of California are Health care and social assistance, retail trade and professional, scientific and technical services.  In March 2020, the unemployment rate across the state was 5.3%.

60% of California employees, totaling 12,694,201 workers, are employed in economic sectors that are High or Moderately High in the level of exposure to COVID-19. A population of 39,512,223 and annual population growth of 0.5% made California 21 out of a possible 50 US states in 2019. 

State Gross State Product (GSP) of California reached $2.8 trillion during the fiscal year of 2019 and was up 3.8% over the 5-year period. California ranked 4th among all the 50 US states for GSP growth.

Education

If you plan to move to California with children, you should investigate the quality of schools. Your move may even be coordinated around providing your children with the best possible educational opportunity.

According to U.S. News, California is ranked 20th overall in the United States education system, 3rd for higher education, and 40th for Pre-K-12.  California is ranked 38th for quality of education in public schools among all 50 states by WalletHub.

California schools spend $12,498 per pupil for a total of $77.6 billion annually. That’s the equivalent of 3.3% of taxpayer income. 487,890 college students graduate annually in California.

The cost of the average community college in California is $1,310 for In-state tuition and $7,730 for out-of-state tuition. In California, public university costs $23,344 which is more than the national average of $21,216.

Rank15
StateCalifornia
In-State Total$23,344
In-State Tuition & Fees$8,362
Room & Board$14,982
Out-Of-State Tuition & Fees$32,366

2021 Best Colleges in California

RankSchoolLocation
1Stanford UniversityStanford, CA
2Pomona CollegeClaremont, CA
3California Institute of TechnologyPasadena, CA
4Claremont McKenna CollegeClaremont, CA
5University of California-BerkeleyBerkeley, CA
6University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA
7University of California-Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA
8Harvey Mudd CollegeClaremont, CA
9Pitzer CollegeClaremont, CA
10Scripps CollegeClaremont, CA
According to bestcolleges.com

Healthcare

The U.S. state of California has approximately 39 million residents, making it the most populous. California’s ongoing challenge has been to provide affordable health care systems to a diverse population. Because of this, California’s marketplace for small group and private medical insurance plays a crucial role in the maintenance of individual health and happiness.

California continues to be a costly state for medical care. The California health care exchange is one option for residents to choose from. If they decide to obtain insurance, they must decide where to enroll. Covered California does not require you to sign up for health insurance if you have employer coverage or Medicare.

California Health Care Options:

Health insurance options are available to the residents of California. Here are your options:

  1. Employer Health Plans
  2. Medicare
  3. Medi-Cal: Medi-Cal is the state’s Medicaid program. Young people and adults with limited income and resources can get free or low-cost medical services through this public health insurance program.
  4. Covered California Plans
  5. Off-Exchange Plans
  6. Short-Term Medical Plans

What is the cost of health insurance in California?  A major medical individual health insurance plan in California will cost an average of $487 per person. Prices will vary and if your health is good, you might be able to lower your premiums.

Housing prices:

In December, the California housing market continued to be strong, with sales remaining solid and the median house price reaching a record high. It is expected that the momentum will continue in 2021. Data released by C.A.R. for May 2021 shows that homes in California typically stay on the market for seven days (median time) before they sell. Most homes sell over their list price.

Despite California’s home values rising 0.5% month-over-month to $818,260, the statewide median price was still near a record high. California’s single-family home market has seen a 39.1 percent increase in median sale prices since last May when the region’s real estate market tanked under the spring lockdown.

Despite California’s real estate market is astronomical, there is a housing shortage driving the price up. To alleviate the shortage and make houses more affordable, it is estimated that the state will need 3.5 million new homes by 2025.

A Los Angeles house is worth $752,508 on average. In the expansive Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metropolitan area, the median home price is $697,203.

Cheapest places to live in California

  1. Eureka
  2. Bakersfield
  3. Oxnard
  4. Stockton
  5. Redlands
  6. Fresno
  7. Chico
  8. Clovis
  9. Temecula
  10. Sacramento

Most Expensive Cities in California

  1. Atherton.
  2. Woodside
  3. Hidden Hills
  4. Beverly Hills
  5. Los Altos Hills
  6. Cameo Shores-Cameo Highlands, Newport Beach, Orange County
  7. Malibu
  8. Pelican Hill-Pelican Crest, Newport Beach, Orange County
  9. Portola Valley
  10. Ross

Traffic and Transportation

California’s transportation system is dynamic and complex. While the state is known for its car culture and an extensive system of freeways, the state is also home to various railroads, seaports, and planes. Many of the state’s largest population centers are served by subways, light rails, and commuter rails.

Do what more and more locals do by taking the bus, subway, ferry or light rail system to get around the state’s larger cities. When roads, parking and urban traffic are confusing or frustrating, public transportation can be a convenient, affordable, safe, and eco-friendly option. Multiday passes are available for some transportation systems. You can find the best ticket prices online before arriving. The Go and CityPass services in California and San Francisco offer discounts on local transportation options as well. 

Depending on where in California you plan to settle, freeway traffic is likely to be a problem in bigger cities like San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, or Los Angeles.

Largest Transit Systems in California

  1. Los Angeles Metro
  2. San Francisco Municipal Railway
  3. Bay Area Rapid Transit
  4. San Diego Metropolitan Transit System
  5. Alameda‑Contra Costa Transit
  6. Orange County Transportation Authority
  7. Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
  8. Long Beach Transit
  9. Sacramento Regional Transit District
  10. Los Angeles Department of Transportation

Moving to California DMV

What are the procedures for transferring a driver’s license to California? The transfer process from an out-of-state license to a California license takes just 10 days for new residents of California. The process is easy and quick, even though it doesn’t take much time (especially if you’re moving, unpacking, starting school, etc.).

Five simple steps will guide you through the process of transferring your license to California.

  • Step 1: Verify your residency status.
  • Step 2: Submit an application for a California license
  • Step 3: Prepare your additional documentation including proofs of identification and residency. 
  • Step 4: Prepare for the Knowledge Exam
  • Step 5: Visit the DMV in California

A temporary license will be provided to you upon completion of the appointment. The official California driver’s license should be mailed to you after your application is approved. 

Are you moving to California with a vehicle? You should register your vehicle within 20 days of moving to California. So, you’ll need to go into your local DMV office and register in person. Before making an appointment, you should contact your local office of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

To apply for a title or registration, you must fill out an Application for Title or Registration, get all registered owners to sign the document, and provide a smog and emission certificate. 

Weather in California

Wet temperate rainforest and hot and arid desert climates are found in the North, whereas the warm, Mediterranean climate of the coastal plains is in the south and the snowy alpine weather of the Sierra Nevada mountains is in the interior.

Despite the vast size of the state, the climate varies from subtropical to polar. Inland areas, there’s rather hot weather and cold winters, even if there’s a California Current on the coast. San Francisco and Los Angeles near to the coast are regulated by their proximity to the Pacific Ocean, which typically causes a different microclimate, with higher summer temperatures in the downtown and colder winters in the suburbs.

Northern California is rainier than its southern counterpart, where the high mountain ranges influence the climate by allowing more rain to fall on the western slopes compared to the eastern leeward coastal areas, which lie in the rain shadow. In the world, Death Valley is the hottest place, with a temperature of 134°F.

The summers are mild between June and August in California’s rim, particularly along the San Francisco coast (67°F, 19.4°C), but hotter toward the east and central coasts (128°F, 32.8°C, and 36.1°C, respectively). Most parts of the state experience more humid and warmer springs than winters, while autumns are cooler in most areas.

During most of California’s year, precipitation mainly falls during winter, and it amounts to 18 inches (457.2 mm) annually. The North commonly gets a foot to a foot-and-a-half of snow, with an average of 60″ to 70″ (1524mm) over the year. During summer, the western coasts are frequently fogged, while frost is regular in many parts of the state during winter.

Weather hazards

It is susceptible to earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity because it lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire. As many as 37000 earthquakes occur in California annually, but some are too weak to notice. 

During a dry summer, wildfires threaten hundreds of acres of forestland. Hazardous climatic events are often intensified by winds such as the Santa Ana. Because there are various weather patterns throughout the state, you may encounter floods, landslides, and droughts in various parts.

Pros and Cons of Living in California

Pros

  • Pleasant Weather

California is famous for boasting soothing sunshine and truly warm weather. The year-round temperature of this state hovers between 68 – 70 degrees with low humidity.

  • Better quality of Living

The state of California is well-known for its excellent living standards. The median income of the state is about $61,489, way more than the national average. 

  • Breathtaking natural beauty

California is the land of amazing outdoors that include beautiful coastlines, misty forests, open spaces, exotic wildlife, beaches, mountains, and valleys.

  • It is more diversified

This state features a diverse culture of music, artistic heritage, and festivals. It is counted amongst the culturally diverse places in the world and ranks 1 in the US, according to the WalletHub. 

  • Vibrant Nightlife

California is home to an array of illustrious clubs where you can enjoy the thriving nightlife when the sun goes down. Only a few places in the world can rival California’s nightlife. 

Cons

  • High Cost of Living

California is the second-most expensive state in the United States to live in. The average cost of residing here is around 50% more than the national average. You need a whopping amount of $552,800 to own a home in this Golden State.

  • Pollution

This state is an epicenter of pollution and this problem is continuing to rise every single day. However, the government is taking effective measures to combat this issue. 

  • Overpopulation

California is the nation’s most populous state and is home to nearly 40 million people, according to the 2020 estimates. 

  • Higher Taxes

It is the least favorable state in the country when it comes to taxes. The property and other government-imposed taxes in California are way higher than in other states in the US. 

  • Worst Transportation Services

One of the major downsides of living in California is its below-average public transportation service. Residents usually prefer to drive themselves to avoid slow and expensive public transportation. 

  • Unpredictable weather

Living on the ocean doesn’t always about rainbows and butterflies. It also comes with unpredictable weather and climatic conditions.

  • Prone to natural disasters

California is a coastal state thus, it is more prone to natural disasters like hurricanes, flooding, Tsunami, and storm. 

Mirror Lake in the Lassen national park, California

Unique Places to Visit in California

  1. Avalon Canyon, Catalina Island
  2. Old Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara
  3. Celebrity Homes & Haunts, Los Angeles
  4. Pebble Beach, Monterey
  5. Alcatraz, San Francisco
  6. Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara
  7. Carmel Mission, Monterey
  8. La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles
  9. Muir Woods, San Francisco
  10. Balboa Park, San Diego
  11. Santa Barbara County Courthouse, Santa Barbara
  12. Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles
  13. Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey
  14. Alcatraz, San Francisco
  15. San Diego Zoo, San Diego

Looking for a new location where you can relax in the sun, enjoy the ocean and eat delicious food? California might be the right place for you. There are many great places to live in California as it is one of the largest states in terms of land area and population. Start your move by requesting a quick quote now.

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Looking to move to the other US States? Check out our Moving to State Guides:

Moving to North Carolina
Moving to Tennessee
Moving to Montana

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