What to expect when moving from NYC to California: A complete guide

Hey there, future Californian! We at Best Movers NYC know the importance of information before making a decision. Do you know what to expect when moving from NYC to California? New York City is a wallet-drainer. High rent, costly groceries, and those ever-climbing subway fares make it hard to keep up. You’re not alone; many New Yorkers are swapping their Big Apple lifestyle for sunny California this year. Sure, California isn’t cheap, but the cost of living tends to be easier on your pocketbook than in the City That Never Sleeps.

What to expect when moving from NYC to California in terms of living costs

One of the most significant factors people consider when moving is the cost of living. And for good reason! With the current economic climate, living costs have become the most critical moving consideration for many. Price surges in essential items, from food to fuel, are making headlines. In some places, even rents are skyrocketing, leaving people scrambling to make ends meet. This kind of financial pressure is pushing people to weigh their options carefully before making a move. After all, nobody wants to jump from one expensive city to a costly state without some clear benefits. The financial stakes are high, so understanding the cost implications is crucial for a successful move.

Picture of a person counting money and getting ready for what to expect when moving from NYC to California
The prices are high in both NY and California.

Housing in New York and California

In New York, the price tag for a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan hovers around $3,500 per month. On the other hand, in Los Angeles, a similar apartment will set you back around $2,800 per month. If San Francisco is more your style, expect to pay the same as in NYC. Down in sunny San Diego, a one-bedroom costs about $3,150 per month. So, if you’re considering this move, long distance moving companies New York residents wholeheartedly trust can help you. However, we suggest thinking well about your budget before making the move.

But it’s not just about the cost; it’s also about what you get for your money. California offers a range of housing options. In Los Angeles, for instance, you can find apartments with more outdoor space, ideal for soaking up that Cali sun. San Francisco is known for its iconic row houses, which average around 1,300 square feet. And in San Diego, you’ll find plenty of modern apartments with amenities like gyms and swimming pools. So, in terms of both price and living space, California does seem like the clear winner in the housing game.

How much lighter will your wallet be after the bills arrive?

Utilities can add up, no matter where you live. In NYC, you could spend about $190 on electricity, gas, and water for a one-bedroom apartment. In Los Angeles, that number dips to around $146. You’ll also find internet plans for around $50 per month in both states, so there’s not much difference there.

Transportation: MetroCard vs. California transport cards

Public transport is a big deal, especially in places like New York City, where it’s an essential part of daily life for many. In NYC, about 55% of households don’t own a car, making them heavily reliant on public transport. The monthly MetroCard at $132 is a crucial expense for these individuals. But if you’re moving from NYC to Los Angeles, you’ll notice some differences. In LA, a monthly transit pass is more wallet-friendly at just $110.

However, if you love to drive, California might pinch your pocket a bit. Gas prices in the Golden State average around $5.26 per gallon, significantly higher than New York’s $3.71 per gallon average. So, you’ll need to weigh the costs. If public transport is your go-to, you might save a bit in California. But if you plan to own a car and drive frequently, be prepared for higher fuel costs.

Picture of a subway station
NYC is very dependent on public transportation.

You also need to think about your future job

You’ve got the cost of living figured out, but what about employment? If you’re moving from NYC to California, opportunities abound. Each major Californian city has its dominant industries and major employers. For instance, in Silicon Valley, companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook lead the tech sector. Over in Los Angeles, major studios like Warner Bros and Universal Pictures offer numerous jobs in entertainment. Regarding healthcare, San Diego has well-known companies like Illumina and Kaiser Permanente.

In terms of money, the median household income also varies across these cities but generally trends higher than the national average. In San Francisco, the median household income is a staggering $126,000, while Los Angeles reports around $69,000, and San Diego sits at approximately $89,000. Meanwhile, in NYC, the median household income hovers around $70,000. So not only are there diverse job opportunities in California, but the potential for a higher income exists as well.

What to expect when moving from NYC to California in terms of your career

As you can see, California offers a range of job options. When you move, think about the kind of work you’re into. Los Angeles is the place for film and television, while San Francisco reigns supreme in tech. However, moving from NYC to Los Angeles could mean facing stiff competition in the entertainment industry. So, you might need to pull some strings or polish that resume to make your mark.

What life in California is really like

If you decide to move to California, your life will improve. One thing’s for sure: you can say goodbye to those icy winters. California offers sunshine pretty much all year round. Think 75 degrees in January instead of snow boots and heavy coats.

Out with the cold, in with the warm

Ah, California weather—where the sun usually shines, and the skies are often blue. Imagine being able to hit the beach any weekend you choose or go hiking without bundling up in multiple layers. While New York winters can trap you indoors, California offers a welcoming outdoor lifestyle year-round. Summers are warm, yes, but rarely unbearably hot. The temperature hovers around 85 degrees, but it feels much cooler thanks to the gentle coastal breeze. Think of all the picnics, barbecues, and sunset walks you can enjoy. Moving to California means saying yes to an active, outdoor lifestyle.

Food and dining

California takes its food seriously. Whether it’s In-N-Out Burger or an expensive dinner in Napa Valley, you’ll find something to suit your taste buds. Fun fact: California produces nearly half of all the fruits, nuts, and vegetables in the US. Therefore, expect farm-fresh produce on your table.

Outdoor activities: sun, surf, and nature

Outdoor lovers will find no shortage of activities in California. For water sports enthusiasts, Malibu is a surfer’s paradise, and spots like Santa Cruz are perfect for paddleboarding. If you’re into hiking, you can’t miss Yosemite National Park; it’s a breathtaking place with trails for every level. For rock climbing, Joshua Tree National Park offers iconic rock formations that attract climbers from all over the world. Then there’s Lake Tahoe, where you can kayak in crystal clear waters during summer or go skiing in winter. And let’s not forget the scenic bike paths along the Pacific Coast Highway. Every corner of California offers a unique setting for your favorite outdoor activities or to try something new.

Getting to know your new neighbors will be easy in CA

Californians are generally laid-back and open to new friendships. You might find the social pace slower compared to the NYC rush, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. California’s social life is different, but in a good way. It’s easy to strike up a conversation whether you’re at a beach bonfire or a tech meetup. Also, the state’s big on outdoor activities, so joining a hiking group or surf class could be a great way to meet new people.

Picture of people shaking hands
Making friends is easy in California.

What to expect when moving from NYC to California – Legal and administrative tasks

Okay, now for the nuts and bolts of moving. Sure, it’s not as fun as tasting In-N-Out Burger for the first time, but it’s super important. After moving from NYC to San Diego or any other California city, you’ll need to update your address officially. In California, you have ten days to change your address with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The U.S. Postal Service makes it easy. You can do it online for a small fee of $1.10 or for free at your local post office.

Don’t forget about your car

If you’re moving from NYC to San Francisco, where parking spaces sell for an average of $123 monthly, get ready to update your vehicle registration. California law gives you 20 days to register your vehicle after becoming a resident. The cost varies, but expect to pay around $60 for a standard car.

Taking care of yourself in California

After all the paperwork, it’s time to think about you. When it comes to healthcare, California ranks better than New York, according to America’s Health Rankings. For example, California ranks 12th in the number of primary care physicians per 100,000 people, while New York ranks 30th.

In addition, insurance premiums tend to be similar in both California and NYC. The average monthly premium in CA was $486 in 2023, while in NYC, it was around $484. However, it’s good to note that healthcare costs can vary based on your needs and the specific area you choose to live in.

Education in the Golden State

Despite popular belief, education in California isn’t limited to prestigious universities like Stanford in Palo Alto or UC Berkeley in the Bay Area. The state also offers excellent options for younger students. For instance, Troy High School in Fullerton is known for its robust STEM programs. If you’re looking for great elementary schools, Bullis Charter School in Los Altos has received high marks for its innovative curriculum. California is also home to many specialty schools. The Orange County School of the Arts, for example, is perfect for creatively inclined students. Even though the state spends less per student than New York, the diversity and quality of educational options make it an excellent place for families.

Picture of a person who is graduating
California has schools that are ranking high

What to budget for when moving to another state

Among everything else, the costs of an interstate move are also an important consideration. It’s essential to budget for this significant life change. According to the American Moving and Storage Association, the average cost for a long-distance move is about $4,300. Of course, factors like the amount of stuff you have and the exact distance can make this number go up or down.

Tips to make moving from NYC to California easier

Moving from New York to California is not easy. Here’s how you can make it more bearable!

  • Unlike NYC, California is a car-centric state. Ship your car ahead of time so it’s there when you arrive, especially if you’re moving to areas like Los Angeles, where public transportation isn’t as advanced.
  • Say goodbye to heavy winter coats. Lighter clothing is more suitable for the state’s generally warm climate.
  • California has its own set of rules around vehicle emissions and pet restrictions. Make sure your car and pets meet state requirements.
  • The Golden State has its healthcare marketplace. If you had a plan in New York, you’ll need to switch.
  • If you’re used to the lower gas prices in NYC, budget for higher prices in your new state.
  • Many cities in California don’t have local income taxes, but sales tax can be higher. Plan your budget accordingly.
  • Earthquakes are more common in CA. Once you’re settled, buy or assemble an earthquake emergency kit.
  • The infamous “California Stop” is something you might need to get used to. Make sure to familiarize yourself with local driving habits.
Picture of a person packing clothes
One of the things to expect when moving from NYC to California is the state-specific laws.

Now you know what to expect when moving from NYC to California!

As you can see, what to expect when moving from NYC to California involves a refreshing lifestyle change, with opportunities for career growth, quality education, and an exciting social life. It’s a place where you can be as relaxed or as active as you want to be. So go ahead, make the move, and discover all the Golden State has to offer, which, trust us, is a lot!

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