15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

Are you thinking about moving to California? Known for its sunny beaches, diverse landscapes, and iconic landmarks, California has long been a popular destination for people looking for a fresh start or a change of scenery. In California, you’ll find everything from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles to the natural wonders of Yosemite and Joshua Tree National Parks.

However, before you pack your bags and hit the road, it’s essential to do your research and know what to expect. This article will cover our team at SecureSpace Self Storages top 15 things you need to know before moving to California. Whether it’s the high cost of living or the unique cultural and social norms, we’ll help you adjust to life in California. 

Whether you’re relocating for work or school or simply seeking a change of pace, understanding the ins and outs of living in California can help ensure your move is successful. So, let’s dive in and discover the 15 things you need to know before moving to California.

The Geography of California

15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

California (Also known as the Golden State) is a state of natural beauty and wonder located on the West Coast of the United States. The state is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada to the east, Arizona to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and Mexico to the south. California has a land area of 163,696 square miles. It is the third-largest state by area, making up 4.31% of the US. California is the most famous state in the country, with a diverse population of over 39 million people. California’s geography is diverse and dynamic, from its sandy beaches, vast agricultural valleys, and Redwood forests to its soaring mountain ranges and sprawling deserts.

Here are some of the state’s most prominent geographical features:

  • Coastline: California has a long coastline along the Pacific Ocean, stretching over 840 miles.
  • Central Valley: The Central Valley is a large, fertile valley stretching over 400 miles through the state’s center. The state’s agricultural heartland produces crops like almonds, avocados, and grapes.
  • Mountains: California has many mountain ranges, including the Sierra Nevada, the Coast Ranges, and the Cascade Range. The state is home to the highest peak in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney, which stands at 14,505 feet.
  • Deserts: The southeastern part of California has vast desert regions, including the Mojave and Colorado Deserts.
  • Lakes: The state has many natural and man-made lakes, including Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, and Salton Sea.
  • Bay Area: The San Francisco Bay Area is a populous region that includes San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. It is home to the Golden Gate Bridge and the iconic Alcatraz Island.
  • Rivers: California has several major rivers, including the Colorado River, the Sacramento River, and the San Joaquin River. 

Northern California and Southern California 

15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

California is a diverse and expansive state with many different regions and smaller cities, each with unique opportunities and attractions. Two of the most distinct regions of California are Northern and Southern California, often called NorCal and SoCal. If you are planning to move to California, it’s important to understand these two regions’ differences before deciding where to live.

Its mountainous terrain and cooler climate generally characterize Northern California. The region is known for its wine country, the tech industry, and liberal political leanings. The lifestyle in NorCal is known to be more laid-back and focused on the outdoors, emphasizing natural beauty, sustainable living, and farm-to-table food. Some of the largest cities in Northern California include San Francisco, Sacramento, and Oakland.

Its desert landscape and warmer climate characterize Southern California. The region is known for its fast-paced lifestyle, focusing on entertainment, nightlife, and fashion. SoCal is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in most cities worldwide. Some of the largest cities in Southern California include Los Angeles, San Diego, and Anaheim.

Weather and Climate

15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

California’s weather attracts sun worshippers and snow bunnies alike, making it a yearly destination. California has four distinct seasons, but the climate and weather patterns vary significantly. The Golden State is known for its mild, Mediterranean climate, with warm summers and mild winters in many coastal areas. The climate is arid and hot in the southern desert areas. 

Northern California is generally mild and wet, with cooler temperatures and more rainfall, especially in winter. It’s essential to research the specific California region you plan to move to and understand its unique climate patterns. For example, coastal regions like San Francisco and Los Angeles typically have mild temperatures year-round, experiencing an average temperature of around 70°F. However, it can spike to 80°F or more on hot summer days. 

Inland regions like Sacramento and Fresno can experience hot and dry summers, with temperatures regularly exceeding 100°F (38 °C), and cold winters. Mountainous areas in California have a colder and snowier climate. Ski resorts and mountain towns such as Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes experience snowfall and cold temperatures in the winter months. The state’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean also brings about marine layer fog, particularly along the coast.

Natural disasters 

15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

California is known for its beautiful landscapes and stunning beaches but is also prone to natural disasters. Some of the natural disasters to be aware of before moving to California: Earthquakes are the most well-known natural disasters in California, with the San Andreas Fault running through much of the state’s north coast.

Southern California experiences around 10,000 earthquakes yearly, but most are below 3.0 magnitude, with only 15-20 being above magnitude 4.0. The hot, dry climate in California makes it prone to wildfires. In 2018 CampFire killed 85 people and destroyed nearly 19,000 structures. Landslides and mudslides are also a significant concern, particularly where wildfires have destabilized the soil. The 2018 Montecito mudslides killed 23 people and destroyed more than 400 homes.

Floods are another common natural disaster in California, with the state’s history of droughts making it especially vulnerable to flash flooding. Droughts are a recurring problem in California, with water scarcity becoming increasingly common. Tsunamis are also a concern, with the state’s long coastline and proximity to the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Cost of Living

15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

The cost of living in California has always been high because it’s one of the biggest states in the country. It is ranked as the third most expensive state to live in, with housing prices being 49.9% higher than the national average. Many factors contribute to California’s high cost of living, including its size, population, and various regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment. The cost of housing, gas, utilities, and groceries are all noticeably higher than in other states, making it essential to consider your budget carefully before deciding to move to California.

The average cost of living varies greatly depending on where you live in California. The most expensive cities include San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Beverly Hills, and Malibu, with some of the highest real estate prices in the entire country. In San Francisco, an average income of $92,000 is recommended for a family of four to live comfortably, while in Los Angeles, it is $77,000. On the other hand, cities like Eureka, Sacramento, Oxnard, and Fontana are relatively less expensive.

Due to the very high taxes and cost of living, many residents have been moving out of the state, with 53% being forced to leave. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, as people find it increasingly challenging to afford the high cost of living and housing. However, young professionals with high-paying jobs are still moving to California, driving prices even higher.

Job Market

15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

The job market in California is an essential consideration for those considering a move to the state. The state has a robust economy and is one of the twenty-fifth largest economies globally, providing many job opportunities across different sectors. California is known for its competitive job market due to its large population and diverse economy. The state attracts many job seekers from around the country and the world, making it a challenging environment for finding employment.

Job seekers should be prepared to invest time and effort in their job search, including networking, developing skills and experience, and tailoring their resumes and cover letters to each position they apply for. Additionally, it’s essential to research the job market and understand the specific qualifications and requirements for each position to increase the chances of landing a job in California.

Here is a list of growing industries to find a job in California.

  • Information and Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Agriculture
  • Entertainment
  • Construction
  • Financial Services
  • Green Energy
  • Manufacturing
  • Tourism and Hospitality

The Culture of California

15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

The culture of California is diverse and creative, reflecting the state’s melting pot of people and its artistic and innovative spirit. From Hollywood to Silicon Valley, California has a reputation for pushing boundaries and setting trends. California is known for its diversity and is home to many people from various ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. 

The state has a significant Hispanic/Latino population (15.6 million), followed by European, Asian, and African American. From food to fashion to music, California’s diversity is celebrated and woven into the fabric of the state’s culture. California was the site of the famous Gold Rush in the mid-19th century, significantly impacting the state’s culture and history.

California continues to be a hub for artists. The state is home to numerous museums, art galleries, and theaters, showcasing the works of local artists and internationally renowned ones. The visual arts in California also encompass a broad range of styles and mediums, from painting and sculpture to photography, video art, and installation art. 

California has a vibrant street art and muralism scene, with colorful murals and graffiti adorning buildings and walls throughout the state. These vibrant public artworks reflect the state’s diversity and artistic spirit and have become integral to California’s cultural identity.

Cultural Traditions, events, and festivals

  • Chinese New Year Festival
  • the Dia de los Muertos celebrations 
  • Santa Barbara International Film Festival
  • Palm Springs International Film Festival
  • Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
  • San Francisco Pride Parade
  • Napa Valley Wine Auction
  • Monterey Wine Festival
  • Tournament of Roses
  • LA Art Show
  • California State Fair
  • Wide Open Walls (Sacramento Mural Festival)
  • Dia de los Muertos
  • The Hollywood Christmas Parade
  • Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival

Transportation and Traffic

15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

If you’re planning on moving to California, it’s essential to understand the transportation system in the state, including public transportation and traffic. California has various public transportation options, including buses, trains, light rail systems, and ferries. The state also has several major airports and ports for international and domestic travel. It’s important to research your area’s transportation options and determine the most efficient and cost-effective way to get around.

Traffic is a major concern for residents and visitors in California, particularly in major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. Many residents own cars in C.A., which contributes to traffic congestion. In 2021, there were almost 14.3 million registered automobiles in California alone. Heavy traffic congestion can result in longer commute times, delayed deliveries, and reduced business productivity. 

The cost of transportation in California can vary depending on the mode of transportation and the location. Owning a car and paying for gas, insurance, and maintenance can be expensive, and commuting long distances can be time-consuming and stressful. Some cities offer discounted rates for students, seniors, and low-income individuals. It’s essential to research the cost of transportation in your area and budget accordingly.

Tips for using public transportation effectively

  • Plan your route ahead of time
  • Familiarize yourself with the schedule and fare system
  • Purchase any necessary passes or tickets in advance
  • Avoid traveling during peak hours 
  • Be aware of traffic patterns in your area
  • Utilize GPS apps that offer real-time traffic updates 

Food Scenes

15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

The Golden State is known for its diverse and vibrant food scene, which is influenced by various cultures and cuisines worldwide. When it comes to the types of cuisines available in California, there is something for everyone. The most popular cuisines include Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, French, and Mediterranean.

Many California chefs have also put their unique twists on these traditional cuisines, creating new and innovative dishes that reflect the state’s melting pot of cultures. Farm-to-table dining is also popular in California, where restaurants directly source their ingredients from local farmers and suppliers. It allows fresher and more sustainable ingredients to be used in cooking while supporting local agriculture.

The state’s agricultural industry plays a significant role in shaping California’s food scene. California grows over one-third of U.S. vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts, mainly produced in the Central Valley. Farmers’ markets offer an opportunity to purchase fresh, locally grown produce and other food products, such as cheeses, breads, and honey. It allows chefs and home cooks to create delicious and healthy meals.

Popular cuisine dishes

  • California-style pizza
  • Korean BBQ tacos
  • Avocado toast
  • Fish tacos
  • Sushi burritos
  • Sourdough bread
  • Cobb salad
  • Fortune cookie
  • Cioppino

Education system

15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

California is home to a high-quality education system that offers a variety of options for both public and private schooling. California’s education facilities are modern and well-equipped, with state-of-the-art technology and resources. C.A. invests heavily in its education system, with a budget of over $128.6 billion for K-12 education in the 2022-23 fiscal year. 

The state has the largest public school system in the United States. Over 6.2 million students attend public schools in California. The state funds traditional public schools in California and is free to attend. California’s average per pupil spending was $22,893 in 2022-23. Parents in private schools typically pay tuition fees for their children to attend. However, private schooling can be expensive. CA has 3,866 private schools with 669,295 students for the 2023 school year. California’s average private school tuition is $12,860 per year per student.

California is known for having a solid education system. Early education is provided for children ages 0-5. These programs include preschool, transitional kindergarten, and Head Start programs.

Students in California attend kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) before moving on to college or university. California also has several charter, magnet, and alternative schools that offer college-preparatory courses.

Children typically begin primary school, also known as elementary school, around six. They attend for five or six years before moving on to secondary school. The secondary school includes middle or junior high school (grades 6-8), followed by high school (grades 9-12). Upon graduation from high school, students receive a diploma or certificate. After completing high school, students may choose to attend college or university, referred to as higher education.

Top-ranked Colleges and Universities

  • Stanford university
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Harvey Mudd college
  • Pomona college
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Southern California


15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

If you are considering moving to California, it’s essential to have a good understanding of the healthcare system in the state. California has many healthcare providers, including hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices. Some of the top hospitals in the state include Stanford Health Care, UCLA Medical Center, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

California has a diverse healthcare system. However, access to healthcare can be challenging in certain areas, especially in rural or low-income communities. It’s essential to research the availability of healthcare providers in your area.

California has a health insurance marketplace called Covered California, where individuals and families can purchase health insurance plans. Some of California’s most popular health insurance options include Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield of California, and Anthem Blue Cross.

Several mental health programs and resources are available, including the Mental Health Services Act and the California Peer-Run Warm Line. California is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes, wildfires, and floods. It’s essential to know where the nearest emergency services are located and have a plan in place in an emergency.


15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

California is known for its thriving entertainment industry, which encompasses many art forms, including film, television, music, theater, and more. The state’s diverse landscape and rich culture have contributed to its reputation as a hub for entertainment and tourism.

Hollywood is synonymous with the American film industry in Los Angeles. It is home to many of the world’s most famous film studios, including Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, and Universal Studios. Hollywood attracts tourists worldwide who want to experience the glitz and glamor of the film industry. 

The television industry is another essential aspect of California’s entertainment industry. Many of the most popular T.V. shows, such as Friends, Seinfeld, and The Big Bang Theory, were produced in California. The state has several major television networks, including ABC, CBS, and NBC.

California has a thriving music scene, with Los Angeles and San Francisco being two of the most important music cities in the world. Many famous musicians and bands, including the Beach Boys, the Doors, and Metallica, started their careers in California. The state has several major music venues, including the Hollywood Bowl, The Greek Theatre, and The Fillmore. 

The Golden State is home to several world-renowned theaters, including the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, the San Diego Civic Theatre, and the Golden Gate Theatre. These theaters host various shows, including Broadway musicals, plays, and ballets.

California’s theme parks offer visitors a chance to experience the magic of their favorite movies, and T.V. shows through rides, attractions, and themed areas. Here are the top California theme parks: 

  • Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Disneyland Resort
  • Six Flags Magic Mountain
  • Knott’s Berry Farm
  • SeaWorld San Diego
  • Legoland California
  • Pacific Park
  • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

California has many world-renowned museums that show diverse art, history, and science exhibits. To assist you in your search for museums, I have compiled a list of the finest museums in California.

  • Getty Center
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 
  • Palm Springs Art Museum
  • Crocker Art Museum
  • The Haggin 
  • Oakland Museum of California

Sports and recreational activities

15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

California offers many sports and recreational activities for residents and visitors alike. With its diverse landscape and pleasant climate, there is something for everyone in the Golden State. One of the most popular activities in California is surfing. With over 840 miles of coastline, California is a surfer’s paradise. The state hosts several surfing competitions, such as the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach and the Mavericks Surf Contest in Half Moon Bay.

California is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world, from the rugged terrain of Yosemite National Park to the stunning coastline of Big Sur. Some popular hikes include the Pacific Crest Trail, Mount Whitney, and the John Muir Trail. Although California is known for its warm weather, it also offers excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities at the Sierra Nevada Mountains, including Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain. Visitors can enjoy various winter activities, including skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and ice skating.

California is home to hundreds of golf courses, including some of the world’s most famous and challenging courses. The state hosts several major golf tournaments, including the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Golf enthusiasts can also play on courses designed by famous golfers such as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. California offers a diverse landscape for biking enthusiasts, from the rugged mountain trails to the scenic coastal paths. Some popular bike routes include the Pacific Coast Highway, Napa Valley, and Lake Tahoe. California also hosts several bike races, including the Amgen Tour of California, a multi-day race that attracts some of the world’s top cyclists.

California is home to several other cities of professional sports teams, spanning a variety of sports, including football, baseball, basketball games, hockey, and soccer. Here is a list of some of the major sports teams in California:

  • Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)
  • Golden State Warriors (NBA)
  • Los Angeles Clippers (NBA)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
  • San Francisco Giants (MLB)
  • Los Angeles Angels (MLB)
  • San Francisco 49ers (NFL)
  • Los Angeles Rams (NFL)
  • Los Angeles Chargers (NFL)
  • San Jose Sharks (NHL)
  • Anaheim Ducks (NHL)
  • Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
  • L.A. Galaxy (MLS)
  • San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)


15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

With a beautiful coastline stretching 840 miles along the Pacific Ocean, California is renowned for its breathtaking beaches and clear blue waters. The state is a haven for thousands of surfers and beach goers who flock to the shores year-round, making a day at the beach an essential activity for residents. Enjoying a refreshing drink while lounging on the sand is a classic Californian pastime for families and weekend adventurers. Whether it is soaking up the sun, snorkeling, swimming, jet skiing, or catching a glimpse of the sunrise or sunset, the beaches offer endless possibilities for relaxation and recreation.

However, for those relocating from the east coast, it is essential to note that the Pacific Ocean is notably colder than the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Investing in a wetsuit before indulging in water activities might be necessary to keep warm. Additionally, the water in the Pacific Ocean is more treacherous and turbulent, with larger waves compared to the Atlantic. Therefore, it is vital to be mindful of rip currents and dangerous conditions before venturing into the water.

Here are some of the top beaches to visit in California:

  • Laguna Beach: This picturesque beach town is known for its scenic coves and clear water, perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.
  • Santa Monica Beach: Located in the city of Santa Monica, this beach features a famous pier with an amusement park, shops, and restaurants.
  • Venice Beach: Known for its lively boardwalk and street performers, Venice Beach is a popular destination for people watching and soaking up the sun.
  • Huntington Beach: Also known as “Surf City,” Huntington Beach is a favorite among surfers and features a long stretch of sandy beach.
  • Laguna Beach: This picturesque beach town is known for its scenic coves and clear water, perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.
  • Coronado Beach: Located in Coronado, this beach features the iconic Hotel Del Coronado, a historic landmark and popular tourist attraction.
  • La Jolla Cove: This small beach in San Diego is known for its crystal-clear water and stunning sea caves, making it a favorite spot for snorkelers and kayakers.
  • Pismo Beach: This central coast beach is known for its expansive dunes and is a popular spot for off-roading and camping.
  • Carmel Beach: Located in the charming town of Carmel, this beach features picturesque white sand and a stunning view of Pebble Beach.
  • Malibu Beach: Located in Malibu, just west of Los Angeles, Malibu Beach is a stunning stretch of sand and surf. The beach is well-known for its excellent surfing conditions, and the area has many upscale restaurants and shops.
  • Pfeiffer Beach is a beautiful, secluded beach in Big Sur, California. It is known for its purple sand. The beach is located within Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

National Parks

15 Things To Know Before Moving To California

California is home to some of the most stunning and diverse National Parks in the United States. With nine National Parks, California offers endless outdoor adventures and exploration opportunities. One of the most famous California National Parks is Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is known for its towering granite cliffs, stunning waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. Visitors can hike, rock climb, bike, fish, and even ski during the winter months.

Another popular National Park in California is Joshua Tree National Park, known for its unique desert landscape and iconic Joshua Trees. Visitors can hike the park’s many trails, rock climb, stargaze, and even camp in the park’s designated campsites. For those interested in marine life, Channel Islands National Park offers a unique opportunity to explore California’s coastlines and islands. Visitors can hike, camp, kayak, and snorkel in the park’s pristine waters, home to diverse marine life.

Other National Parks in California include Redwood National Park, known for its towering ancient redwood trees. Death Valley National Park is home to some of the hottest temperatures on Earth, and Sequoia National Park is home to the largest trees on Earth. With such a diverse range of National Parks, California offers endless outdoor adventures and exploration opportunities, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Storage Facilities In California

Now that you’re up to date on what you should know before moving to California, it’s time to think about what comes next. If you find yourself in need of self-storage in California, SecureSpace Self Storage is the way to go. We have facilities located conveniently nearby and each one is constantly monitored for your safety and peace of mind. Plus, we know the area like no other storage facility can – which makes us perfect guides for keeping your items secure. If you are looking for more local information checkout some more of our guides. Thanks For Reading!

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