Moving from New York to California | How to Prepare for Your Move

Moving from New York to California | How to Prepare for Your Move

If you’re looking to trade in New York’s dismal winters for year-round balmy temperatures, California might be the place for you. Ranked the 3rd largest state regarding land mass, California is home to more Americans than any other state in the union. Almost 40 million people call the Golden State home, and with its moderate climate, breathtaking coastline, booming cities, and abundant job opportunities, it’s not hard to see why. As you plan your long distance move from NYC to California, here are some things you should know!

What to Know Before Moving to California

When moving from New York City to the state of California, you’ll experience several lifestyle and cultural differences. Here’s what you can expect:

1. California Has Warmer Weather

While California weather varies from city to city, most of the state has a Mediterranean-like climate. The summers are dry and warm, while the winters are mild, with little snowfall except in mountainous regions of the state. Highs are typically lower than in New York, in the 70s instead of the 80s. Meanwhile, winters in California are warmer, and freezing temperatures are rare, while New York has average lows in the high 20s. New York typically has more rain that California and is considerably less sunny. On bestplaces.net, New York City scores only a 60 on the Comfort Index, while Los Angeles scores an 87 and San Diego an 85. You might be able to ditch some of your winter gear before your move. It’s unlikely you’ll need fur coats or puffy parkas in the sunny Golden State.

When it comes to natural disasters, New York State sometimes suffers from winter storms, drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe summer storms. California is more vulnerable to earthquakes, wildfires, flooding, and tsunamis.

2. Your Commute Might Improve

According to Politico, New Yorkers experience the longest commute times in the nation, with an average of 6 hours and 18 minutes spent getting to and from work each week. Despite the significant traffic, commute times in the major metro areas of California are better than those on the East Coast. Though San Francisco has the second longest average commute time in the nation, it still comes in at an hour and twenty-one minutes less per week than New York, on average.

That said, New York City has one of the best public transportation systems in the country. Its subway, MTA, is the longest and has the most lines, with 24 lines to Los Angeles Metro’s six. Costs are slightly lower in California. The Los Angeles Metro, for instance, rings in at about $1.50 a ride to MTA’s $2.50. New York’s public transport is more streamlined and integrated than you will find in much of California, and it runs 24/7. You’ll notice that more people own and drive cars in California over taking public transit.

3. Taxes are About the Same

In New York, the state base sales tax is 4%, but after local sales tax is added in, New York City’s sales tax rate is 8.875%. In California, combined state and local sales taxes range from a low of 7.75% to a high of 9.75% in Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Oakland, so you may end up paying more or less sales tax than you do in New York.

New York’s top marginal income tax rate is 8.82%, making it the 8th highest in the nation, according to Smartasset.com. California, however, has the highest marginal rate in the nation, at 13.3%. Of course, your actual income tax rate will be lower in both places – these are only the top marginal rates. On average, a single person living in Los Angeles making $100,000 will pay about $650 more per year in state sales tax than their New York City counterpart.

Property tax rates in New York City are an average effective rate of 0.8%. While property tax varies from locality to locality in California, the average is close to that of New York City – at 0.79%. Both places have property tax rates that are lower than the national average, but the high cost of real estate means that total tax bills are often higher.

4. Real Estate is Still Expensive

Overall purchasing power is about 12% lower in New York City than in Los Angeles and about 25% lower in New York City than in San Diego, according to numbeo.com. A lot of this difference is due to differences in the cost of real estate.

Rent prices are higher in New York City than in either L.A. or San Diego. Median home prices in New York City are also higher than in most California metro areas, though of course, a lot will vary by location. As in New York, you will find a variety of types of housing available in California, but in New York City, fewer people live in single unit housing than in metro areas like Los Angeles.

5. There’s Lots to Love!

Moving away from New York City doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on culture, food or entertainment. California has a wide variety of activities to keep you busy – from outdoor adventuring to urban experiences to world-class dining.

California’s beaches are always popular for swimming, surfing, beachcombing, and tanning, while wine country in the northern part of the state draws scores of visitors each year. Destinations like Disneyland and Legoland are popular attractions for families and the young at heart. Yosemite National Park, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and dozens of state parks provide abundant space for the nature lover to explore. If staying indoors is more your thing, California metro areas boast museums, aquariums, zoos, and more.

6. The Job Market is Thriving

California’s economy boasts several major industries:

  • Agriculture
  • Technology
  • Tourism
  • Motion Pictures
  • Government

As of March 2018, the unemployment rate in New York City (4.2%) was slightly lower than the unemployment rate in California as a whole (4.3%). However, in the major metro areas of California, unemployment rates tend to be lower than across the rest of the state. For instance, unemployment in Los Angeles was only 4.2%, while in San Francisco it was an impressively low 2.4%.

Best Places to Live in California

If you’re making a coast-to-coast move, California has plenty of attractive places to live. While many people think of California as an endless expanse of sandy beaches and endless sunlight, the state is enormous and rich with cultural and geographic diversity. Regardless of your preferences, there’s a perfect place for you in the Golden State. Here are nine of the best places to live in California.

1. Sacramento

Though California has a reputation for its high cost of living, Sacramento bucks that notion. With a population of only half a million, this city has more of a friendly and personal feel than larger metropolises like Los Angeles, and it’s rich with culturally diverse and picturesque neighborhoods. You won’t be able to walk out of your house and onto the beach, but there’s still plenty of waterfront property within the city. Several rivers and lakes crisscross Sacramento, and its proximity to nearby mountains makes it a heavenly choice for those who like to explore the great outdoors.

2. San Diego

In a state known for its near perfect weather, San Diego still stands head and shoulders above the rest. Due to the cool breeze from the bordering coast, it boasts the most temperate weather in the United States. That makes the abundance of beaches and hiking trails that cut through and around San Diego even more appealing for locals. But you don’t have to be a nature lover to enjoy the city. The town’s restaurant scene is highly regarded, and it’s also home to one of the most vibrant craft brewing scenes in the world. This laid back and friendly community is a far cry from the busy workaday life of New York City.

3. Los Angeles

Even if you don’t aspire to make it big in Hollywood, moving to Los Angeles from NYC has plenty of career opportunities. The current rise of the Silicon Beach-centered tech community has sent the job market in LA into a steady climb, and the city draws in people from all walks of life. And though the residents of LA work hard, they also play hard. The night life is vibrant and thrilling, serving as a test bed for some of the hottest new brewing and cocktail trends, but residents also take their health seriously. Fresh produce is never hard to find, and yoga studios and spin classes dot practically every corner.

4. Irvine

If you can afford it, Irvine is one of the most promising places in California to call home. Nestled squarely in Orange County, it’s one of the safest cities in the United States, and the exceptional education system makes it a great place for families with school-aged children. Irvine also has ample job opportunities. Over a third of the world’s Fortune 500 companies have headquarters in Irvine, and the job market is steady, especially when it comes to specialized jobs in the tech sector. In addition to all this, Irvine is recognized as one of the greenest cities in America due to its conscientious approach to urban planning.

5. Santa Barbara

There’s an obvious reason why Santa Barbara is such a hot destination for tourists. Wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, this city offers views of some of California’s most stunning natural beauty. Then, there’s the stately Spanish architecture that adds a unique personality to the city itself. But Santa Barbara isn’t just a place to vacation; it’s an amazing place to call home. The people of Santa Barbara are passionate about staying in shape, but they’re equally as willing to indulge life’s luxuries. Santa Barbara has the highest density per capita of restaurants in the U.S. and produces some of the best wines in the Golden State.

6. Palo Alto

NerdWallet has identified this town as one of the five best-educated cities in America, and the exceedingly bright community is bolstered by offices of some of the biggest tech companies around. Whether you’re looking to earn your degree or pursue a career in one of the fastest growing fields, Palo Alto is the place to be. But this Bay Area city also offers plenty of opportunities to let off a little steam. The city has taken measures to make its streets safe for bicyclists, and there are plenty of nature and hiking trails to explore.

7. Fremont

As the largest suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fremont gives residents direct access to one of the most promising cities in California, but you won’t have to commute to live, work, or play. Fremont features a strong education system and plenty of job opportunities comfortably within its city limits. It also boasts a spectacular park system and commitment to community events. The city is home to over 55,000 trees, making it something of a verdant suburban paradise. Fremont also hosts expansive and family-friendly events throughout the year.

8. Santa Monica

When Los Angeles residents are looking for a break from the busyness of the city, they retreat to Santa Monica. This beach town enjoys Southern California’s ideal weather and ready access to both the nearby airport and LA metroplex. Set to the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica offers some of the most expansive shopping and dining options you’ll find anywhere. While tourist spots abound, you don’t have to dig deep to uncover the unique boutiques and hidden culinary gems that line the town’s streets.

9. Santa Rosa

U.S. News and World Report has pegged Santa Rosa as one of the top 100 best places to live in the United States. Though the city is an economic hub, the people here tend to take a back-to-basics approach to living. One of the most prominent cities in the state for wine production, Santa Rosa played a major role in the farm-to-table dining movement. It’s also a hotbed for artists and a great place to settle down if you’re looking to discover local art and music in an unpretentious environment.

Tips for Moving Cross Country from NY to California

Moving across the country is never a straightforward affair. There are myriad details and logistics to coordinate, all while sticking to a workable relocation budget. Given the complexity of this type of move, several things can go wrong. Here are some tips for planning your move from New York to California that will help you avoid common mistakes, while streamlining the process.

Think Long Term

Hiring a moving company to assist with your relocation is always a sensible choice, but even the most expedient company can’t get your belongings to you overnight. On average, it takes a long-distance mover anywhere from one to four weeks to transport your belongings from one side of the country to the other. With that in mind, make sure to set aside everything you need during this time. Pack a separate bag like you would for a business trip or vacation. Bring plenty of clothes to get you through the gap, including anything you need for work, and essentials and toiletries you’d rather not have to buy when you arrive in the Golden State. Don’t forget any personal documentation or paperwork you might need.

Pack Carefully

Also, keep in mind that the extended length of the cross-country trip could put its toll on the possessions you’re looking to move. Be more diligent about packing than you would be if you were relocating across the street. Pack and stack everything carefully, and don’t be afraid to splurge on boxes specifically designed for moving or a few extra sheets of packing paper or foam. Safely getting your stuff to your new home is worth spending a little extra on the moving supplies.

Reflect on What You Need

Moving to California is a huge decision, but it’s also an opportunity to mix up your life in exciting new ways. Taking a careful inventory of what you own isn’t just an excellent way to save money on your moving expenses. It also provides you with the means to reevaluate your priorities. While California is a large state reflecting a lot of different climates, it’s bound to be notably warmer than life in New York, so you can donate or sell a good portion of your winter wardrobe. But also look at your furniture, appliances, and anything else you might want to reconsider keeping. Do they reflect the future you see for yourself? Just as importantly, could you potentially save money by buying a replacement once you reach California? Taking a minimalist approach can help you more easily integrate into Cali life and leave you with more space to fill your home with things you fall in love with in your new city. Read this article for tips on what to get rid of before your move.

Consider Your Driving Situation

If you live in New York City, there’s a decent chance you rely on public transit a whole lot more than you rely on your personal car (if you even own one). California is by and large a whole different affair. There isn’t a city in California with a subway system that can give NYC a run for its money, and making the most of the mountains, forests, and beaches across this vast state practically necessitates owning a car.

The trip from coast to coast offers a rare opportunity to see lots of this beautiful country – from the windswept plains of the Midwest to the lofty reaches of the Rocky Mountains. If you do decide to drive, we recommend you take your time. Stopping in small towns allows you to avoid some of the denser traffic and to save money filling up, while also immersing yourself in local cultures you otherwise might not experience. But if you don’t have time to stop and smell the roses, there are plenty of options you can take to move your car without driving. These range from trailer moving services to trains. These options can save you significant time, gas, mileage, and wear and tear on your vehicle.

Be sure to keep in mind the rules and regulations that come with driving in California as well. Emissions laws tend to be more restrictive than in New York, so you’ll want to be extra careful to make sure that everything is on the up and up before you fuel up and head out on the highway. Remember that residents are required to register their car in California and apply for their license within ten days of arrival.

Hire Full-Service Movers

As you plan your move to California, weigh the benefit of hiring a full service moving company to handle the entire relocation from start to finish. Imperial Moving & Storage is a fully licensed, bonded, and insured interstate mover. No matter where you’re moving to in California, our staff is here to help you through every step of your relocation journey. From providing a free in-home estimate to safely packing your possessions to unloading the last box at your new home, we’ll do our part to ensure you have the smoothest cross-country move possible at a reasonable rate. Letting a professional do the work saves you lots of time, energy, and headaches along the way.

To request your free NYC to California moving quote, contact us today!