Moving from New York to California: Tips & Expert Advice

If you are planning a move from New York to California, you are probably already aware of just how different these states truly are. This is especially true if you are going from the Big Apple to some beachside city were the surf’s always just right. However, if your destination goal is one of the bigger metro areas, like Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, or San Jose, you might not feel far out of your element. Well, minus the heavy coat and winter boots for several months of the year.

Are You Looking for Greener Grass?

Tons of people move from California to New York, and no one even blinks, but when the move is reversed it is an entirely different story. Why is this? Is it not possible for New Yorkers to be happy in a casual and carefree coastal environment?

Well, the reason why no one questions moving from California to New York is because people from around the globe flock to New York to pursue their dream, look for love, or just prove they can make it in the world’s most culturally diverse and fast-paced city. However, if you are heading to the West Coast, people can’t help but ask “Why?” and this is a question you need to ask yourself. This is a huge move and a really big lifestyle adjustment, so make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.  You’ll want to make sure you start a bold move with the right moving company.

Cost of Living

People often associate California with million-dollar mansions and ocean views. Sure, some of the country’s most breathtaking and affluent neighborhoods in California, but the cost of living doesn’t come anywhere near New York’s average prices. So, you very easily could go from living with three roommates in a matchbox apartment to having more room than you need in your place for the same price.

A one bedroom in New York City would likely run you right around $3,000 per month depending on the location and building. A fairly spacious one bedroom in a downtown city in California typically prices out around $1,600, and of course, significantly less just outside of the center of the city. If you are looking to buy an apartment, one in California will average $601.53 per square foot. This may seem like a lot, but compared to New York’s average at $963.30 per square foot it’s not.

Housing is not the only area where you will save big though. Even public transportation, groceries, clothes, utilities, etc., are all considerably cheaper in California. New York to California is sounding pretty good about now, eh?

Public Transportation

There is not another city around that can compete with New York’s complex public transportation network. Owning a car or even driving anywhere in New York is just not normal unless you live outside of the boroughs. So, if you have grown up in New York, this may be a huge shock to get used to.

Car culture is prevalent in California. You can get away with not having a car in one of the major cities, but you will find that the majority of residents do tend to drive most of the time, and you can actually find parking.  Plus, most major cities have a nice network of bike paths, too.

Since more residents do drive their own car this is something you need to keep in mind when scheduling your move from New York to California. You definitely want to avoid holidays and weekends and try your hardest to time your drive so you hit the highways between 9 am and 3 pm. Before and after this is heavy congestion that you do not want to get stuck in. New York – California distance gets easily cut down when utilizing public transportation in either one.

Climate

Nice weather is definitely not hard to get used to, but before you assume that all of California is sunny and warm year-round, you should know that it’s not. it does not matter where you live in New York, you can pretty much count on snowy winters, rainy springs, hot and humid summers, and falls, well, most of the time summer just jumps to winter, so fall very well may have retired at some point in history and no one noticed.

California is a big state and weather varies significantly based on location. If you don’t already have your heart set on a specific location you may want to use this breakdown to help you make your decision.

  • Central Coast – With its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean the Central Coast sees year-round mild temperatures with occasional fog.
  • Central Valley – Summers often include long heatwaves where temperatures are above 100 degrees, and winters are mild with low temperatures averaging in the 50s.
  • Gold Country – Cold, wet, snowy winters and dry, hot summers are normal in Gold Country. The amount of snow depends on your altitude.
  • Los Angeles – Temperatures rarely dip below 60 degrees year-round with summers in the 80s most of the time. Winter in Los Angeles is wet. If you move to the City of Angels expect 10 to 15 inches of rain during this season, so a pair of fashionable rain boots and a waterproof jacket are essential, if you plan on spending any time outside.
  • San Diego – In terms of temperature it doesn’t get much more perfect than San Diego. Year-round, you will enjoy temperatures averaging 70 degrees, and there is very little rain.
  • San Francisco Bay Area – Summers average 78 degrees and winters usually stay above 50 degrees, except if you are actually in the city where the position to the Bay keeps it a bit cooler. Expect very foggy conditions May through July.
  • The High Sierras – Summers may be warm and dry, but it is not uncommon for this area to get enough snow in the winter to shut down the roads.
  • The North Coast – If you prefer cooler temperatures, you will love that this area averages 55 degrees year-round. It also rains a lot from November to March.

It is important to know the climate of the area where you will be moving to. You don’t want to show up with a moving van in January expecting summer conditions only to find you can’t get in your driveway because there is too much snow. But as you can see…weather is a major factor when people go from New York to California.

DMV

If you live in one of the areas of New York where people do tend to drive everywhere, so you have a car that you will be taking (or driving) to California, you will need to be aware of California’s strict regulations. There are rules and requirements for registering your vehicle with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

First, you have to register within 20 days of establishing residency. You will also need a smog/emissions inspection to register your vehicle unless it is model year 1975, or older.

You must obtain a California license within 10 days of moving to the state. If you own a moped, recreational vehicle, or all-terrain vehicle they will need to be registered, as well.

Employment

Whether you are a college graduate, freelancer, or laborer, you should have no problem finding a job in California. No education or work experience? No problem! There are enough touristy areas where anyone entering the work field should be able to snag a job in the hospitality sector.

California’s largest sectors are trade, financial services, education, healthy, transportation, and manufacturing. It is a good idea to get familiar with opportunities available in different cities you are considering moving to. This may help make your decision, if you are not sure which city you want to focus on. For example, San Diego is known for being one of the country’s best cities to launch a startup business while San Francisco’s Financial District has earned its nickname as the “Wall Street of the West.”

Important Tips

  • The heaviest freeway traffic is between 6am and 9am and 3pm and 7pm, Monday through Friday.
  • Carpool lanes are only for multi-passenger vehicles, but many welcome free flow traffic at different hours of the day.
  • Get familiar with an area or a new route before having to navigate it in the dense fog.
  • Depending on where you are moving, you may be able to obtain a “no parking” zone to reserve a space for your moving vehicle through city offices.
  • Moving van permits are not required.
  • Always check the weather and be prepared for it to change.