Moving to California: Complete Moving Guide for 2024

By: Emily Kirschenbaum Last Updated: Jan 01, 2024

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California is home to some of the country’s biggest cities and greatest cultural locations - it’s no wonder you want to become one of the millions who call the state home.

Moving to California: Complete Moving Guide for 2024

California – known as the Golden State – is a popular destination for people seeking a change of pace and a different way of life. With sunny weather most of the year, a diverse population, and a growing economy, it’s easy to understand the attraction.

The state’s warm Mediterranean climate and beautiful beaches draw millions of visitors each year. Still, there are plenty of hidden gems and non-touristy locations that only the locals know about. The state’s population, comprised of many cultures and backgrounds, makes it one of the most exciting and dynamic places to live.

From the bustling cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco to the stunning natural beauty of Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe, there is something for everyone in California.

Why Move to California?

Among the many reasons to move to California, some of the top ones include:

  • Diverse Culture –  California is a true melting pot, home to people and cultures from all over the world making it a diverse and inclusive place to live.
  • Weather – California’s warm Mediterranean climate means year-round sunny weather in most places, perfect for outdoor activities and a laid-back lifestyle.
  • Economy – As the world’s 5th largest economy, California is home to many large tech companies, making it a great place to build a career or start a business.
  • Entertainment – From Hollywood and the rest of the entertainment industry to a vibrant arts and music scene, California is home to some of the world’s most iconic cultural institutions and there is always something to do.
  • Natural Beauty – Northern California has the redwoods and Southern California has the beaches, and everywhere in between you can find breathtaking natural scenery, making the whole state a nature lover’s paradise.
  • Health and Wellness – Californians are known for their focus on healthy living, with access to cutting-edge health care, an active outdoor lifestyle and lots of healthy food options.
  • Quality of Life – The strong economy, diverse culture, quality educational institutions and beautiful surroundings all add to the high quality of life making California a great place to raise a family or enjoy retired life.

How Much Does it Cost to Move to California?

It will cost between $550 and $16000 to move to California. The exact cost will be highly dependent on how far you need to travel and how large of a shipment you have.

The table below will give you an idea of how much your move will cost

Type of Service 1 Bedroom 2-3 Bedrooms 4-5 Bedrooms
DIY/Truck Rental $550 – $2250 $700 – $4250 $1600 – $4850
Moving Container $750 – $2750 $1200 – $5000 $2400 – $7900
Full Service $1300 – $3900 $1900 – $8800 $3500 – $16000

Our Most Recommended Long Distance Movers

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What are the Pros and Cons of Moving to California?

The Pros The Cons
  • Strong job market
  • Healthy lifestyle
  • World-class educational opportunities
  • Affordable housing in some places
  • Amazing weather
  • Entertainment and cultural attractions
  • High cost of living, especially in big cities
  • Earthquakes and other natural disasters
  • High taxes
  • Crowded cities
  • Traffic jams
  • High pollution rates

What’s the Cost of Living in California?

To live comfortably in California, a family of 4 with 2 working parents and 2 children will need to earn about $125,000 per year.

As the third-most expensive state in the country, the cost of living in California is high. Housing is one of the biggest expenses, with average home costs across most of the state being significantly higher than average (although there are places with much more affordable options).

Big cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have astronomical housing prices, which can make it difficult for many middle and lower-income families to find housing there.

Californians also pay higher prices for goods and services, spending around $300 per person per month on food and between $5,000 and $13,000 on transportation due to high gas prices and expensive toll roads. The state also has taxes that are higher than the national average.

Where are the Best Cities to Live in California?

Given the sheer size of the state, there are so many options to choose from. Whether you want a big city or a small town, ocean views or mountains in the background, there is something for everyone. Ten of the cities considered the best places to live in California include:

1. San Francisco

This large city in northern California is known for its world-class restaurants, vibrant culture and iconic landmarks and tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge.

2. San Diego

On the state’s southern coast, San Diego boasts a year-round mild climate, gorgeous beaches and a thriving tech and biotech industry.

3. Los Angeles

This list would of course be incomplete without Los Angeles, probably the state’s most famous city. LA is a major center of entertainment, fashion and commerce but it also has a diverse population and lots of cultural attractions.

4. San Jose

Located right in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose is home to a thriving tech industry and plenty of job opportunities. The cost of living may be high, but people in San Jose like to work hard and play hard.

5. Berkeley

Home primarily to students and academics, Berkeley is a college town with a vibrant intellectual community known for its commitment to sustainability and social justice.

6. Santa Barbara

The fabulous climate and weather conditions, beautiful architecture and proximity to wine country are just a few of the features that attract people to Santa Barbara.

7. Palo Alto

For those who want to be in the San Francisco area without being in the city itself, Palo Alto is a good option. It’s a wealthy suburb of the city with top-rated schools and close knit communities.

8. Newport Beach

Nestled on the coast, this city offers residents a luxurious lifestyle and plenty of outdoor recreation activities like hiking and biking.

9. Sacramento

California’s capital city has a booming downtown area and a growing foodie scene. It’s also known for its outdoor activities including skiing in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains.

10. Irvine

Irvine is a planned city located in popular Orange County. It’s known for having top-rated schools, low crime rates, and lots of greenery and outdoor spaces. Many large companies have made their homes in Irvine, so there are lots of job opportunities.

How is the Job Market in California?

California’s job market is one of the most dynamic and diverse in the country. The state is home to a number of major industries including technology, entertainment, tourism, and agriculture, each of which contributes significantly to economic growth.

The tech industry – concentrated primarily in Silicon Valley – is particularly robust and is a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. Many major technology companies like Apple, Google and Meta all have headquarters in the state and offer a lot of job opportunities in areas including software engineering, data analysis and product management.

Of course, many people move to California specifically to try their luck in the entertainment industry, which is another major employer. In addition to the high-earning actors and actresses, there are also plenty of job opportunities in writing, producing, and other related activities.

Despite its strengths, the job market in California is not immune to economic slowdowns, and all industries have seen some recent slowdowns. The state’s unemployment rate has been declining slowly and the job market is expected to make a strong recovery.

What is California Most Known for?

California is widely known as the home of Hollywood, the entertainment capital of the world. But that’s not all the state has going for it.

It’s also famous for its beautiful coastline, scenic landscapes and sunny weather, making it a popular destination for tourists from all around the world. In addition to all the natural beauty in the state, California also has a number of the world’s most recognizable landmarks including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hollywood Sign and Alcatraz Island.

California is also well-known for its thriving technology industry in Silicon Valley. The region is home to many tech leaders and conglomerates and is a hotbed of entrepreneurship.

Locals and tourists alike flock to Napa and Sonoma, California’s famous wine-growing regions which produce some of the finest wines in the world. The state is also home to many cultural and arts institutions and music and dance companies.

What are the Best Schools and Universities in California?

California has a plethora of top-ranked schools and universities including Stanford, University of California Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, University of Southern California and University of California Los Angeles.

There are also a number of smaller liberal arts colleges that the state is known for, including Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College and Scripps College.

When it comes to school-age children, the quality of education can vary greatly depending on the school district, but in general the state is committed to providing high quality education.

Public schools are funded by a combination of state and local taxes and are required to follow state academic standards.


What is a comfortable salary in California?

The high cost of living in California means that an average family of 4 has to earn about $125,000 before taxes in order to live comfortably. The number varies depending on exactly where in the state you live and the quality of life you are after, such that it is possible to live on less.

Does California have multiple time zones?

No, it does not. Although California is very large, the entirety of the state is within the Pacific Time Zone, making it 3 hours behind the time in New York. The state observes daylight savings time.

If I move to California, do I need to take a state driving test?

If you move to California from a different state and have a valid driver’s license from there, then you do not need to take another test. You do, however, have to exchange your license for a California license the next time you renew it.

Does California have any special laws?

It’s a little-known fact that California has one of the largest collections of laws and regulations. Not all are enforced, but some laws include things like it’s illegal for schools to provide soda or juice with lunch meals. In addition, anyone under 18 must wear a helmet when riding a bike or skateboard, and anyone purchasing a gun must be over 21.

Welcome to California

We wish you luck as you embark on your new adventure in California! Once you have decided that you are going and have chosen where to live, the next thing on your list should be to find a top-notch best moving company to help you get there.

Make sure you shop around for the best deals and always read reviews, such as the ones we provide for you.