The Ultimate Moving to California Checklist: 14 Things to Know Before Moving to The Golden State

Living in California can be one of the best experiences in life. People love calling it the “Golden State” and for every right reason. With the beautiful weather, the abundant beaches, the warm people, amazing job opportunities, and the picturesque locale, moving to California can be the best decision of your life.

But moving to a new city requires a whole lot of planning and it can be sometimes super complex. Everything can be easier when you have the right moving to California guide with you. Having a California moving checklist will help you to plan better and also to save time.

Moving to California Checklist

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So, let’s have a look at the moving to California checklist so that you don’t forget anything at the very last moment and you are fully prepared to make the perfect move.

You may be wondering before relocating to California if it is worth moving to the Golden State or how to move to California on a budget, right? It’s always best to know about the place you’re planning to relocate.

What to Know Before Moving to California

Your relocating to California checklist must include some important information about the state.

1. The Golden State is huge

California is the third-largest state in the U.S and also has the most population. From mountain ranges to the redwood forests to a number of beaches, California has every type of climate and culture under its roof.

Of course, the vast land area of the state allows ample opportunities. Also, if you are moving to California from Texas you won’t ever feel a space crunch as both the states have huge areas. But you have to decide which part of California you want to move to?

If you are moving to Southern California you must be prepared for the sunny weather almost all year round. On the other hand, if you want to experience cold, Northern California should be your option. Nonetheless, the diversity of this state will keep your life so exciting that you’ll never regret moving to California.

2. Cost of living in California

The ever so thrilling city of Los Angeles is situated in California which is the home of the Hollywood industry. You must be thinking that California is expensive to live in and how to move to California? Yes. Living in California is expensive as it is the third highest state in terms of cost of living.

Housing is more expensive than in most other states in the country. Apart from that food, education, and transport all of that is much higher than the national average. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other rapid-growing cities in California definitely will cost you more.

However, living in California can also be pocket-friendly if you know the right places. Bakersfield, Fontana, and Oxnard are some of the most inexpensive cities to live in California. But always keep a financial plan ready in your moving to California checklist.

If you’re a retired person and looking for the best places in California for senior citizens then consider choosing places like Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz.

3. Having a car is important

The Golden State is huge and the distance between cities can be miles and miles. With the traffic situation in California not being so favorable, it’s best to have your own car. Also, the less populated places have limited transport options. So, having a car is not a luxury but a necessity.

You will surely find apps like Uber and Lyft, but your own car will save you a lot of time and hassle. Moreover, California has great scenic beauty, and taking your car to the weekend getaways nearby can be a fun experience altogether.

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4. The booming job market in California

 California is truly diverse and versatile in all senses. Not only do you find all kinds of people here, but the job market in California is just beaming with tons of opportunities. Being the fifth largest economy in the world, you’ll never find a dearth of job options for yourself.

Many young professionals move to California just to have a career upgrade. Also, if you are a student and wish to pursue a great career, California will shower you with options. There are many benefits of moving to California, but the ever so growing economic situation of the state makes it worth moving. From technology to agriculture to entertainment, you can be of any background and yet land your dream job in this beautiful state.

5. A dream place for travelers

California is truly a nature lover’s destination. If you love going out, exploring new places, and always looking for some fun and adventure, you will love moving to California. There are tons of mountains and residents of California love to go hiking on these. With many National and State Parks nearby you won’t run out of options.

California is great for beach lovers too. You can indulge in a number of water sports while you’re in California. So, if you move from Florida to California, you won’t miss the beaches. However, your moving from Florida to California checklist must have some important points. The apartments in Southern California are quite smaller, so check thoroughly before moving if you want to bring your large furniture. Also, you can’t move plants across states.

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park

6. Weather in California

California is warm and mostly sunny. On average California experiences 70 degrees daily. Summers can be even higher than this with temperatures ranging from 80 degrees. Clearly, this place is for people who love sunny weather almost all year round.

But with a diverse climatic range, sometimes you might experience 10 feet of snow during winters. Nonetheless, you will always get a chance to see the blue sky and beautiful fall colors. Chilly winters are quite unusual in California so do not get your hopes high about a snowfall.

7. California and its beaches

Living in California can be super fun. With an abundance of beaches, you would look forward to the weekend for a relaxing day on the beach. Think of any outdoor activity such as surfing, snorkeling, diving, and California beaches have everything to entertain you.

Malibu, Santa Monica, Laguna, and Carmel are some of the most famous beaches of California which are must-visit when you are moving to California. There are other beaches too where you can bask under the sun or plan a family day.

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8. Northern vs Southern California

The checklist for moving to California will remain incomplete if you can’t decide in which part of the state you want to visit. And for that, you must know the various differences between the two parts.

To have rainy experiences NorCal is the ideal place. The weather is generally more gloomy than in SoCal. On the other hand, SoCal is dry, and sunny throughout the year. As far as iconic places are concerned, NorCal has Golden Gate Bridge while SoCal has the world-famous Disneyland. With different cultures in both these regions, you are bound to experience many differences there, so choose wisely.

9. Brush up your Spanish

No one can beat the diverse population of California. But knowing a little bit of Spanish can make your stay in California a lot smoother. With almost 40% of the population being Latino, you will find the influence of Latino culture everywhere from food to architecture.

A little bit of knowledge of the most spoken language will help you settle down easily and also get acquainted with the local people a lot quicker.

10. Great education

One of the benefits of living in California is definitely the opportunity to experience a world-class education. If you’re worried about moving to California with your family, then worry not. With universities like USC, Stanford, and Berkeley, the education scenario is amazing in California.

Many students from all over the world come to California only to get a superior quality of education. The public university system is huge in this state and residents get ample advantages.

11. Tax is high

Living in California is expensive. The income tax is quite high. Although property taxes are not super high. So you’ll find a balance between paying income tax and property tax. The state tax is at 7.25% which is one of the highest.

However, with the job market being great in California, you will be able to earn a handsome amount of money for sure. So, don’t be worried about the high-income tax.

12. Nature can be risky

Like every state, there are both pros and cons to living in California. Although the advantages will definitely be the winner, there are some demerits. And one of them has to be the frequent natural calamities that the state goes through.

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Earthquakes, wildfires, landslides, and sometimes draught too are part of living in California. These natural disasters can take place anytime. So it’s good to be aware of such kinds of hazards so that you get the right kind of insurance for your property and other assets. If you have already decided to move to the Golden State, you should avoid these worst places in California.

13. Great food and wine

Great food makes a good place. The diversity of California ensures a diverse range of food as well. You will find yourself in a heaven of some delicious food. From local shops to farm-fresh food, you will find tons of options to soothe your taste bud. The nightlife is quite exciting and you can get some awesome food from the happening pubs and restaurants in the cities.

Moreover, California is not just for foodies, but for wine aficionados as well. It is the largest producer of wine with more than 1200 wineries. So going for winery tours is pretty common when you are moving to California.

moving to California checklist

14. Eco-friendly California

California has huge solar panels and it’s an amazing source of renewable energy. If you are an environmentally conscious person, moving to California can be a great option for you as you will get plenty of opportunities to set up solar panels at your own residence.

Moreover, the state gives incentives and other tax benefits to residents with solar panels in their houses.

How to Prepare to Move to California

With your moving to California guide pretty much ready, now you might want to know how can you prepare yourself for the big move. Moving from state to state can be stressful but a detailed moving to California checklist will solve all your worries.

1. Prepare for the high cost of living

Living in California is not just fun, but is expensive at the same time. From real estate prices to utility prices to day-to-day groceries, the expense will be always on the higher side. Always consider saving up a good amount of money before moving to California.

Also, if you’re moving with your family, your expenses will be much more including your kids’ education. So, keep a sizable amount of money in your bank account, to be stress-free in the Golden State.  The high-paying job market of California has contributed significantly to the high cost of living.

2. Housing is difficult

Finding a house in California can be quite tiresome. The shortage of housing has been a concern for California for the past many years and people are still suffering the same trouble. With people flocking to the state from every corner of the world, the supply is extreme while the demand is falling short. Hence the pricing is super expensive. So, most people opt for renting rather than buying houses in California in the initial stage due to its insane prices.

3. Transport is an issue

Public transport is not so readily available in this state. It is always advisable to invest in a car when you move to California. Although the public transport is trying to improve, it’s better to have your own car or at least rent one.

4. Be prepared for high state tax

California is not a tax-friendly state. Property tax, sales tax, and income tax are much higher than in the other states of the country. So, prepare yourself thoroughly before moving here. It’s always better to move with a job in hand as you would not face a financial problem.

5. Prepare yourself for the traffic

You better choose your house near your workplace. On average, almost all residents of California spend an hour in transpiration. Not just cities like Los Angeles face the worst traffic conditions because of their high population, even rural highways are quite busy.

Traffic in San Francisco
Traffic in San Francisco

6. Be prepared to grow your own food

You will find tons of fresh food because California is the agricultural hub. However, people love growing food in their backyard and gardening is a pretty passion in every household. The perfect climate of California makes it ideal to grow vegetables and fruits of different kinds. Make sure to use that opportunity.

California Moving Checklist

It’s time to check the checklist for moving to California

  • Cancel your utility services. All services such as cable, internet, electricity, or any other home services should be canceled. You must give out an application prior to one month so that your transition is smooth.
  • Choose a movers and packers company. Check out various companies, compare the cost and take recommendations from people who have moved earlier. Then finalize your moving company for a hassle-free move.
  • Updating your address is another important step. You can do it online.
  • If you have kids, make sure to transfer all their academic details to the new place.
  • Make sure to change your address in your bank, or for your doctor, or insurer to be free of any further complications in the future.
  • Decide the things you want to keep. There is no point in overloading yourself with unnecessary stuff. You can opt for a yard sale or simply donate your clothes or other stuff.
  • Buy the packing boxes or any other supplies that would be very helpful during the packing process.
  • Carry all the important documents with you and keep them together in a safe place.
  • Clear off all your bills before the moving day as you don’t want to mess up on the big day.
  • Transfer all your bank accounts to the new address.
  • Keep some cash handy with you for any kind of emergency.
  • Buy necessary snacks, food, and water for the moving day since it’s going to be a long day.
  • Check-in with your movers and discuss the entire process with them.
  • Once you move, you must register your kids in the new district.
  • Get yourself California’s driver’s license.
  • You will need to set up all your utility services at your new address.
  • Check all the insurance that you would be needing. Health and home insurance are the two most important ones, so get those at first.
  • You must update your new home address and other necessary information to your current employer.
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California Driving License Requirement

Obtaining a driving license for new residents is not a difficult job when you know the requirement properly. Visit your nearest California DMV to know all the necessary information.

  • Have all your identity proof documents such as birth certificate, passport, or permanent resident card
  • You need proof of your residency like your utility bills, insurance documents
  • You will also need your name identification documents such as marriage certificate, or adoption documents in case it’s applicable
  • Proof of your social security number or SSN
  • Fill out your DMV application within the 10 days of your arrival

What is Life in California Like?

California is undoubtedly one of the best places to live. The vibrant culture, the diverse population, the awesome weather, the abundance of nature, the number of beaches, everything makes it a dream destination.

It has the best beaches and the best national parks and people love to spend time with their friends and family in these gorgeous locations. This is a great place for outdoor adventures like hiking trails or indulging in water sports.

And the food is to die for. You will find great quality food and a vast range to choose from. Again the booming economic scene provides good job opportunities and exposure.

Making friends will never be an issue here as this state is full of diverse people. You will never be tired of chances of mingling and knowing other people even in a new place.

All in all, this is a place where you will find slices of nature and also bustling cities. The Californian vibe and energy will attract you surely. The easy, laidback culture is a top attraction for tourists and residents both.

Final Words

What more to say about California? Whatever your likings are, you will find a place for that in California. So moving to California can be a very good decision. And with a curated moving to California checklist like this, you won’t come across any difficulties while moving to California.

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FAQ – Moving to California Checklist

1. What do you need to transfer your driver’s license to California?

Ans– Provide your identity proof, and social security number at first. You will also have to confirm your residence status by proving any of the documents like your employer’s documents etc. To get your license, you need to pass a written knowledge test at the DMV. The current application is a fee of $38 which is non-refundable.

2. Is it good to live in California?

Ans– Living in California can be one of the best experiences of your life. With several good opportunities and other amenities, living in California is certainly good. If you want to experience a better quality of living, then there’s nothing like California.

3. Should I move to California?

Ans– If you are looking for great education opportunities or you want to expand your horizon by working in top companies in the world, then moving to California is the best option. The state is ever-growing and ever-evolving and you will be leading a life worth living.

4. What is the safest area to live in California?

Ans– Danville, Moorpark, Poway, and Rancho Santa Margarita are some of the safest areas to live in California.

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