Moving to California

Your Complete Guide for a Move to California

Can you feel the dreamy Golden State just calling your name? Can you feel yourself ready to start California dreamin‘? If you’re nodding your head yes, then look you’ve stumbled upon the right page. To help you bring your dreams of moving to California a little closer to reality, we developed a guide for you which contains all the relevant information you might ever need about a move to California!

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Costs of Moving to California

Before starting your adventure in paradise, you’d probably like to know exactly how much this adventure is going to cost you. As with any move, your move to California will be mainly affected by the size of your move and the distance between points A and B. As well, if you’re relocating within the state of California, your move will be much cheaper than if you’re moving in from outside of the state.

We know that this might sound a little vague. So, to illustrate it better for you, we compiled a list of estimates for a full-service move to San Francisco (CA)  from various cities across the United States below.

New York City, NY$4,880 – $6,919$6,919 – $8,923$10,766 – $14,606
Houston, TX$4,079 – $5,728$5,728 – $7,368$8,883 – $12,036
Miami, FL$4,709 – $6,663$6,663 – $8,582$10,340 – $14,009
Chicago, IL$4,260 – $5,999$5,999 – $7,722$9,312 – $12,621
Portland, OR$3,117 – $4,304$4,304 – $5,513$6,648 – $8,998

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that the rates shown above are just estimates and will vary depending on your actual point of departure and service rates of the company.

If you want to know precisely how much moving to California will cost you, the best thing you can do is request quotes.  By filling out the form below, you will be able to receive up to 5 free moving quotes, which will ultimately help you save money on your move to California!

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Moving to California: Checklist

Moving to California will definitely be an adventure, but unfortunately it will be one that will require a lot of steps. To make sure your move is as stress-free as possible, we recommend that you check out our national moving checklist –it will help you make sure you don’t miss out on any important details!

In case you’d rather just note down a few points remember, we recommend the following:

  • Declutter, declutter and then declutter some more. Remember that the size of your move heavily affects your moving costs;
  • Make sure you evaluate in detail every city that catches your attention so you can make sure you find the right fit for your expectations and lifestyle;
  • Calculate the size of your move and request moving quotes at least 8 weeks before your move – carefully compare movers, this will help you save on your move;
  • Collect all important documents (birth certificates, passports, drivers license, pet documents);
  • Notify others about your move on time (e.g.: postal services, doctors, tax agencies);
  • Cancel/transfer your utilities on time;
  • Start packing and remember to label as you go –trust us on that one, you’ll thank us later!

Living in California: How Much Does It Cost?

To keep on with the money theme, it’s only fair that we move on to discussing the living expenses you can expect to have while residing in California. You might be aware that California ranks as number one in the list of most expensive states to live in the US, requiring a living wage of around $68,200. Overall, the living costs in California are around 45% higher compared to the national average.

We know this might sound a little scary or discouraging, but keep in mind that not every city in California is equally as expensive. At the end of the day, your living costs will largely depend on your lifestyle and the city you choose to reside in. We’ve broken down the most common living costs in this section so you can get a rough idea of what to expect when moving to California.

Housing in California

When it comes to living expenses, be assured that housing will probably represent the biggest chunk of such. As we mentioned before, California is pretty well known for being quite pricey. And, unfortunately, this expensiveness doesn’t stop at overpriced (but tasty!) coffees or lunches but actually reaches housing too. The median home value in the California is well above the $550,000 mark, and the average monthly rent is around $2,750.

To illustrate this, below you can find some estimates of possible rent and home prices for different properties in different cities in California.

CityMedian Home ValueAverage Monthly Rent
Los Angeles$629,900$2,524
San Francisco$1,194,300$3,629
San Diego$572,100$2,237
San Jose$877,400$2,790

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that the prices reflected above are just estimates. The rent can vary depending on the location and characteristics of the property.

Moving to California, San Francisco skyline

Taxes in California

Given that taxes are unfortunately just one of those things that will follow us ’til the end of time, you can most certainly expect to pay a few of them when you move to California. So, when it comes to the state’s tax rates you can expect the following:

  • An income tax ranging from 1% to 12.3% depending on your personal income;
  • A sales tax (state-wide) of 7.25%;
  • A property tax of 0.77%.

For further information regarding state taxes, we recommend that you check out the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration’s website.

Food and Groceries

California’s food scene is one of the most diverse in the country, so we can imagine that one of the things that excites you the most about moving to California is the ridiculous amount of great restaurants across the state (at least we definitely would be very excited).

We really hope you manage to taste all the delicacies the state has to offer, but just in case you find yourself craving a home cooked meal every now and then, we compiled a list of common grocery items and their respective prices below so you know what to expect!

Grocery ItemAverage Price
1 lb. of local cheese$5.87
1 lb. of potatoes$1.29
A carton of 12 eggs$3.49
1 lb. of chicken filet$5.67
1 lb. of beef round$5.43
1 lb. of rice$2.34
Bottle of wine$14.50
1 lb. of apples$2.02
Loaf of fresh bread$3.35

Transportation Costs

As you might expect, transportation costs will vary depending on the city you live in. As well, it’s important that you keep in mind that public transport is widely available in large metropolitan areas, but might be lacking a bit in smaller towns. So you know what to expect, below you can find a summary of public transport prices across different cities in California.

Los Angeles (TAP Card used for both metro and bus lines)
  • One-way ticket for $1.25
  • One-day pass for $7
  • Seven-day pass for $25
  • Monthly pass for $100
San Francisco (Clipper Card, all-in-one transit card for the Bay Area)
  • One-way ticket for $2.50
  • Monthly pass for $98
  • Cable car single ride for $8
San Diego (Compass Card, used for both trolley and bus lines)
  • One-way ticket for $2.50
  • One-day pass for $6/$12
  • Regional monthly pass for $72/$100
  • One-zone monthly pass for $140
  • Two-zone monthly pass for $161
  • Three-zone monthly pass for $182

Moving to California, Pismo beach skyline

Things to Do

We don’t think that it’s necessary to tell you that California isn’t particularly known for being a boring state. Whether it’s by visiting Mickey Mouse over at the Disneyland Park, by having a nice walk along the Santa Monica Pier, or by enjoying the wonders of Yosemite National Park, we are more than sure that California will find a way to keep you entertained. Below you can find a list of possible entertainment activities and their respective prices to give you a gist of all the cool things you can do in California.

ActivityAverage Price
Disneyland Park single-day ticket$110 on regular days, $124 on peak days
Dinner for two at an Italian restaurant$90
Ticket to Los Angeles County Museum of Art$20
Two tickets to the movies$29
Two tickets to the theater$223
Coffee at a local café$5
Monthly gym membership$56
Ticket to the Japanese Tea Garden$5

Moving to California for Work

When we think about the job market in California, our first thought tends to be the famous Silicon Valley where giants like Google and Apple operate. And although there are great opportunities there, you’ll also be able to scout a job in the following top industries in case high-tech isn’t your cup of tea:

  • Architecture;
  • Business and financial operations;
  • Arts and design;
  • Entertainment, sports and media industry;
  • Education and training.

Becoming a True Californian

To make California your forever home you will have to:

  • Live in California for at least 9 months of the year;
  • Proving you have a California address;
  • Obtain a REAL ID card.

Moving to California, Los Angeles skyline

Did You Know…?

  • There are over 100,000 earthquakes in California a year but don’t worry, a ridiculous amount of them hardly cause any minor damage.
  • In Sunol, California, a dog named Bosco Ramos was elected honorary mayor. He was in “office” from 1981 to 1994.
  • California produces over 17 million gallons of wine per year —clink clink!
  • In Blythe, California, it’s illegal to wear cowboy boots unless you own a minimum of two cows… very specific.
  • Apparently, in California it’s illegal for a man to go outside wearing a jacket and pants that don’t match —did someone call the fashion police?

We hope that after reading this article you feel well prepared to start a new life in the Golden State! In case you’re in need of some extra help, we recommend checking out the articles linked below. Good luck during your move!☘