Moving to California: 10 Things to Know About Living in California

Moving to California: Photos of San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Fransisco

Moving to California can be a dream come true, but doing so means navigating housing costs, securing employment, and adapting to the vibrant lifestyle of the Golden State. Gaining a grasp of the essentials of relocation, from climate considerations to cultural integration, is vital in equipping you with the knowledge for a confident move. Whether you're drawn to the bounty of things to do in Los Angeles or the majesty of the redwoods up north, there are countless reasons to move to California.

Major Points

  • California is a land of natural wonders and geographic diversity, from its beaches and valleys to its mountains.
  • Transportation in California largely revolves around car ownership but with some public transit options available. Expect traffic in busy cities like LA, and know that the state eases newcomers into driving with a structured licensing process.
  • The California housing market is diverse and dynamic but generally high, with the average home value significantly above the national average.

Exploring the Vast Landscapes of California: From the North Coast to San Diego

California is a Huge State with Diverse Landscapes

At 163,696 square miles and more than 39 million people, California is the nation's most populous state, and it's easy to see why. With a beautiful range of landscapes, from towering mountains to sandy beaches, it's no wonder that many Californians love spending time outdoors. From the redwoods of the north to the deserts of the south, the Golden State has something for everyone.

California's vast landscapes are as diverse as they are stunning. Imagine a place where you can surf on the Pacific Coast in the morning and ski in the Sierra Nevadas by the afternoon. That's California for you. Stretching from west to east for 560 miles and from north to south over 1,040 miles, California presents an array of natural wonders. This is evidenced by unique features such as the occasional bioluminescent waves in Southern California. It boasts everything from rugged cliffs and sandy beaches to volcanic lava beds and fertile river valleys.

The state's geography is a marvel in itself. California offers:

  • The highest and lowest points in the U.S. outside of Alaska, with Mount Whitney and Badwater Basin in Death Valley being just 85 miles apart.
  • 840 miles of Pacific coastline, ranging from the sun-kissed beaches of Southern California to the rugged, remote coves of the North, offering something for every beach lover.
  • The towering Sierra Nevada mountains attract climbing enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

This doesn't even touch on the many attractions of California's major cities, the shopping paradises, the delicious restaurant scenes, and the entertainment destinations that are famous worldwide—one can live in California their entire life and never run out of things to do. Whether hiking through the Sierra Nevada or surfing in Malibu, people always find something new to discover in California.

Beyond its unique natural features, California is partitioned into 12 distinct regions. Each of these regions carries its own unique cultural essence and attractions. Some of the regions in California include:

  • Northern California
  • Southern California
  • Central Coast
  • Central Valley
  • High Sierra
  • Inland Empire
  • Los Angeles County
  • Orange County
  • San Diego County
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Shasta Cascade
  • Gold Country

So if you're deciding on moving to California, one crucial decision you have to make is which part of the state you want to go to. Will you thrive best in the hustle and bustle of moving to Los Angeles? Or do you prefer somewhere less hectic like a home in Ventura County? Research the different areas of California before you decide. Once you've found the perfect place to call home, you can start packing.

Navigating the Golden State: Transportation Must-Knows

Highway Near Sacramento, California

Moving to a new state is a big adjustment, giving you a lot to think about. One of the first things you'll need to do is figure out how you'll get around. If you're moving to California, you'll need your own set of wheels.

The state is vast, and public transportation won't always take you everywhere you need to go. Renting a car is an option, but it can be expensive, and it's not always convenient. Owning a car is the best way to get around California. That way, you can come and go as you please without relying on anyone else. Plus, it'll give you the freedom to explore all that California offers. 

If you're moving to California from a long distance, it's often best to rely on car shipping companies to transport your vehicle. This is a much better option than driving your car across the country. It will save you time, gas money, and wear and tear on your vehicle and ensure that your car arrives in California safely.

Traveling within California can be an adventure, given its sprawling cities and limited public transportation. With over 14 million registered vehicles as of 2021, it's safe to say that Californians love their cars, surpassing the national average. But this comes with its own challenges. Driving in Los Angeles is particularly notorious, as commuters spend an average of 119 hours per year in traffic.

However, there is a silver lining as intercity transportation progressively improves. Services such as Amtrak trains and long-distance buses now connect various cities within California. So, whether you're commuting within the city or planning a weekend getaway to one of the many national parks, you have several transportation options at your disposal.

If you're moving to California and don't have a driver's license yet, don't fret. The state has a comprehensive process in place for new drivers.

The Cost of California Dreams: Understanding Housing Prices

Residential Neighborhood in Southern California

The aspiration to reside in California does carry a significant cost, particularly concerning housing. The average home value in California is about $750,000, and homes in Los Angeles average close to $1 million. This is significantly higher than the national median, with only 16% of residents able to afford homeownership. But don't let these numbers scare you. Housing prices in California are as diverse as its landscapes, with variations across the state.

Cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles rank among the most expensive, while other regions have experienced both price increases and decreases. Due to the high housing costs, there's a growing interest in lower-cost-of-living areas like Bakersfield, Clovis, Fresno, Chico, and Sacramento. Even the Palmdale community, one of LA's suburbs, is fast-growing due to low housing costs.

Weathering the Climate: Embracing the Mediterranean Climate Year-Round

California Has a Mediterranean Climate

Residing in California affords the luxury of a year-round Mediterranean climate. Think warm, dry summers and wet, mild winters with an average daily temperature of around 70℉ all year round. But just like its landscapes and housing prices, California's climate too has its variations.

The climate in northern and southern California can be quite distinct, with Northern California often being cooler and more variable compared to the warmer and milder climate of Southern California. Factors such as proximity to the coast, elevation, and exposure to the Pacific Ocean influence these regional differences; Burbank's best neighborhoods have significantly higher average temperatures than San Jose's. This Mediterranean climate supports a high level of biodiversity, with over 5,000 plant species in the state, many of which are unique to the region.

A Thriving Economy on the West Coast: Job Opportunities and Average Salary

California Has the Biggest Economy in the United States

A thriving economy is one of the key draws of California. The state offers a plethora of job opportunities bolstered by industries such as film and TV, agriculture, tourism, healthcare, hospitality, and technology. Whether you're an aspiring actor, a tech enthusiast, or a healthcare professional, California has a career for everyone. Industries vary by region, with the economy of Los Angeles standing as the center for film and TV and the Central Valley being one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. 

Some of the fastest-growing job positions in California are in:

  • Media
  • Healthcare
  • Software
  • Research
  • Retail
  • Hospitality

And it's not just the variety of jobs that's impressive. The average annual salary in California is reported at $73,220, while the average hourly rate is approximately $35.20, indicative of the thriving economy. Of course, salaries can vary significantly, with some areas, like tech hubs, showing yearly averages exceeding six figures.

The high average salaries in California contribute to its economic strength and have established it as a coveted destination for career growth and opportunities. So, if you're looking for a place that offers both a vibrant lifestyle and a robust job market, California might be just the place for you.

The Pursuit of Knowledge: Higher Education in the Golden State

California Has Many Large Universities

Beyond its beautiful beaches and bustling job market, California also serves as a hub for higher education. The state is home to universities like Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Caltech, known for their rigorous academics and significant research contributions. In LA's Westwood neighborhood, UCLA attracts students and faculty from around the globe.

The University of California system offers a diverse array of programs. From UCLA's extensive course offerings to UC Davis's strong community presence, each campus provides unique opportunities for student activities and learning experiences. Education is also affordable for California residents. Housing may be expensive, however, with UCLA being located in one of Los Angeles' most expensive neighborhoods and Stanford being surrounded by some of the priciest real estate in the state.

California also incentivizes affordable higher education with initiatives like free community college for residents. This commitment to education not only attracts students from across the country but also contributes to the state's diverse and vibrant community.

Savoring the Flavors of California: A Culinary Journey

Baja Tacos Are and Example of Delicious Foods in California

The culinary scene in California is as varied as its landscapes. From the fresh seafood of the coast to the farm-to-table offerings of the Central Valley, the Golden State is a paradise for food lovers. The state's rich culinary culture is celebrated through numerous festivals such as:

  • The Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival
  • The Lodi Wine & Chocolate Weekend
  • The Winter White Wine Festival in Anderson Valley

But it's not just about the festivals. California has given the world some iconic culinary creations. The state's culinary innovation is second to none, from In-N-Out Burger's Animal Fries to San Francisco's Cioppino and the Cobb Salad, which was born in the glamorous Hollywood neighborhood.

Much of California's culinary richness comes from its agricultural abundance. Central California, also known as the Central Valley, is a critical agricultural hub that supplies an array of local produce year-round, enhancing the state's cuisine with fresh ingredients.

So, if you're a foodie, California is your culinary playground.

Green Living in the Golden State: Renewable Energy and Eco-Friendly Practices

Wind Energy Farm in Palm Springs, California

California is leading the nation toward a 100% clean energy future, with various programs developed by the California Energy Commission that mandate incentives for energy technology installations and renewable energy grants.

The state leads the nation in distributed generation, including a massive renewable energy project featuring 1.9 million solar panels. This is thanks in part to initiatives like the California Solar Initiative. But it's not just about solar energy. To meet its climate and renewable energy goals, California is considering offshore wind energy and supporting the use of renewable energy in agriculture through the Renewable Energy for Agriculture Program.

So, if you're passionate about sustainable living and renewable energy, California offers an environment where you can contribute to a greener future.

Fiscal Realities: Navigating High Taxes and Financial Planning

California Has a High Cost of Living

While California's sunny skies and sandy beaches are undoubtedly appealing, understanding the fiscal realities of living in the Golden State is crucial. If it was a sovereign state, it would be the fifth-largest economy in the world, and its residents enjoy a higher standard of living than most Americans. But there's a flipside to California's stellar economy: everything—from groceries to housing—costs a little bit more than the average.

The state's fiscal landscape includes some of the highest income taxes in the nation, reaching up to 13.3%, with a range of rates applicable to different income brackets. The state's income tax system is markedly progressive, placing a heavier tax burden on high earners. Despite the high income taxes, California's property taxes are below average compared to other states, and property taxes factor heavily into homeownership.

Moreover, taxpayers in California can leverage various state tax deductions and credits, including those for bad debt, student loan interest, and educator expenses. They also have the choice of standard or itemized deductions. So, while the high taxes may seem daunting, with some smart financial planning, you can navigate California's fiscal realities.

Discovering the Great Outdoors: National Parks and Beaches

Yosemite National Park in California

For enthusiasts of the great outdoors, California serves as the perfect playground. With more national parks than any other state, the Golden State is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Some of the famous parks in California include:

  • Yosemite National Park
  • Redwoods National and State Parks
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
  • Joshua Tree National Park

These national parks offer stunning natural attractions and a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy.

Whether you're hiking through the deep valleys of Yosemite National Park, exploring the giant sequoias in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, or sunbathing on the sandy beaches of Southern California, the state offers a myriad of ways to connect with nature. You can even engage in kiteboarding and windsurfing on the coast, join yoga classes or fishing trips on the piers, or enjoy a day at one of the Los Angeles area's best lakes or beaches.

And it's not just about fun and adventure. California's great outdoors also contribute to conservation efforts. Places like Point Reyes National Seashore serve as important conservation areas, with over 1,500 species of plants and animals, providing visitors with opportunities to explore its unique biodiversity.

Everything to Know About Moving to California

Living in California is a unique experience. With its diverse landscapes, robust economy, and commitment to green living, the Golden State offers a lifestyle that's hard to match. While the high cost of living and taxes are undeniable, the state's charm, opportunities, and vibrant community make it an attractive place to call home. So, if you're seeking a fresh start, new career opportunities, or just a change of scenery, California might just be the place for you.

Want to live in California? Call The Brad Korb Real Estate Group with LA Homes at (818) 953-5300 to find your dream home.

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