While the Golden State of California is regarded as the lap of luxury and the birthplace of Hollywood, Virginia is a state that carries the very essence of American history wherever you go. It is renowned for its comfort, safety, and high standards of living. Mainly known for being home to the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, the region is located in the Southeastern regions of the country.

It is a state that thrives with natural flora and fauna and is famous for its perfect blend of mountains plus beaches. Tailor-made for nature and adventure lovers, Virginia is home to both the Appalachian Trail as well as the Shenandoah National Park. If you’re planning on moving from California to Virginia, there are a couple more things that you’ve got to learn about the state. Here’s everything to help you prepare.


Things To Know Before Moving From California To Virginia

1. Weather

California is known for its sunny, dry summers and brief bursts of wetness and drop in temperatures during winters. Virginia on the other hand is a state that has a humid subtropical climate, which makes it slightly warmer than its adjacent states, touching but not going beyond 90 °F in the summers. The state also gets its fair share of rain in the months of April to September accompanied by severe thunderstorms and lightning.

Even though the Virginian climate is regarded as ‘Goldilocks Climate’ as it is neither too hot nor too cold, it is important to note that, since it is a coastal state, it is prone to natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. During winters in Virginia expect temperatures ranging from 30-50 °F. January is generally the coldest month in the region.

2. Population Profile

The population of California is generally known for being a mixed pot of diverse cultures and races. Today, it is the most populous American state–and not for nothing! California’s population today stands at nearly 40 million. However, Virginia’s current population is at only around 8,603,985, the most populated city being, undoubtedly, Virginia Beach. This is followed by Chesapeake, Arlington, and Norfolk. This diametric shift in terms of the population would be beneficial if you see yourself moving to a quieter, less populated beach state.

Out of the population of 8,603,985, Virginia’s population consists of 67.63% White people, 19.18% Black or African Americans, 6.40% Asians, 0.28% Native Americans, and 0.07% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders. Virginia is projected to add over 800,000 new residents every decade. 49.18% of the Virginian population are male while a majority of 50.82% are female. With clusters of German and Irish households, Virginia is a state that houses and welcomes diversity.

3. Language And Culture

Virginia is distinctly varied even when it comes to what language the residents speak. Even though English is the official Commonwealth language, there is a percentage of populations that speak Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Tagalog. Virginia is also known for a variety of unique accents, like the Tidewater accent, Old Virginia accent, etc. West Virginia slang is particularly famous for calling a refrigerator an ‘icebox’, ‘buggies’ for shopping carts, and ‘poke’ to describe a bag! Primarily, the accent is Southern, known for their clipped words and that distinct, friendly drawl!

Virginia is often referred to as ‘the Heart of America.’ This is because it is home to a large number of legendary American founding fathers and figures. The historical significance of the state has been conveyed time and again by personas like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Robert E. Lee, who saw their humble beginnings there and made it their abode. Virginia is also known for its examples of classic American architecture, a few styles of it being Colonial, Georgian, Federal, and the very specific Queen Anne houses. It is reminiscent of the Victorian era, with gables and large wrap-around porches.

The state is also home to many institutions that further this cultural and historical legacy like the Smithsonian Institution, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Science Museum of Virginia, etc. It is also a theatre-lovers paradise, with theatre and orchestra being an indispensable part of the state’s artistic and musical fabric. The Harrison Opera House, Barter Theatre, Signature Theatre, Lincoln Theatre, Little Theatre of Alexandria, are just a few of the theatres scattered across the state.

The Smithfield Ham is a special ham variety that the state is renowned for. Other Southern delicacies that you can look forward to while moving to Virginia include Fried Pies, Peanut Pies (pies loaded with crispy, salted/caramelized peanuts), and several seafood preparations like Shrimps and Grits (shrimp with North Carolina ham, peppers, and chopped corn nuts), Trout, and Blue Crab.

4. Economy And Employment Opportunities

The Golden State has a booming economy that revolves around the industries of entertainment, technology, horticulture, and travel, with an unemployment rate of 6.9%. The state of Virginia is a business hub, exceptionally friendly for small businesses. It is home to multiple high-brow Fortune 500 companies, a few of them being Freddie Mac, General Dynamics, Capital One, etc. with the third-largest concentration of technology workers. So, if you’re looking to expand or begin a career in technology, then Virginia offers multiple opportunities to do so—many of these industries catering to and spearheaded by women.

Vienna, Falls Church, and Charlotteville are the three best cities in terms of their job market, especially in the field of tech! This list is followed by the cities of Fairfax, Leesburg, Alexandria, and Herndon. The current unemployment rate of the state is a mere 3.8%.

Other industries that the state depends on include ocean tourism and agriculture, with producing crops like corn and soybeans. Virginia is today the third-largest tobacco producer in the country. Seafood production is also a large component of their economy with a primary focus on the production of Chesapeake blue crabs, menhaden, and sea scallops.

5. Purchasing A House

We all know it; living in California is an expensive affair. After Hawaii and the District of Columbia, California is the third-most-expensive state to live in, with a cost of living that is 38% higher than the national average. The Housing Cost Index of the state is 184.8. Virginia, however, is relatively less expensive when compared to the Sunshine State, in terms of housing. The Housing Cost Index of Virginia is 111.8.

The average median home value in California is $727,370. However, the typical median home value in Virginia is only $258,400, less than half of what California demands. However, this rate will vary as you venture into the posher, upscale cities in the state. For example, the median home value in a city like Great Falls that is known for being upmarket can sometimes touch $1,212,347. But other affordable cities like Richmond or North Chesterfield have median home values not extending beyond $247,564. Therefore, you can choose the city of your liking depending on your financial ability and housing choices, as the state offers options of every kind!

6. Renting A House

As with purchasing houses, it can be quite difficult to land cheap renting options in the state of California. But the Old Dominion offers several renting alternatives that are both cheaper as well as spacious and self-sufficient. The median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment that averages around 973 sq. ft. in the state falls in the range of $1,200-$1,600. But a one-bedroom apartment of roughly the same area size would cost you around $2,568 in California. Kindly note that your rent/lease amount would also depend on several other factors like location, quality, proximity to the city, etc.

7. Utility Bills

It would be safe to say that while the state is glamorous and offers a plethora of opportunities to make it big, nothing about California is cheap, least of all your utility bills! While Virginia is not an expensive state per se, some amenities tend to cost more than the others in the state–like natural gas and electricity.

The average monthly electricity bill in Virginia would be around $135 per month, as compared to California’s $116. The average monthly water bill in the Old Dominion is a mere $36, with $65 in California–nearly double! Average internet bills are $20 and $40 for Virginia and California respectively. The price of natural gas for California rests at an average of $34 per month and for Virginia, $80.

8. Taxes

Tax rates are an important fiscal element that you need to inspect before making the big move. The California State income tax system has a ceiling rate of 12.3%, depending on your income, and a sales tax rate of 7.25% to 10.25%. However, Virginia’s lower income tax brackets make it a relatively tax-friendly state–especially to senior citizens!

The tax rates for the state of Virginia are lower than the national average for state income taxes. The state’s tax rate begins with a mere 2% with a maximum of 5.75% on incomes exceeding $17,000. Sales tax rates for the states are currently at 5.3% for Virginia and 7.25% for California, making the former a friendlier state for shoppers!

9. Education

We’ve all heard about California’s rich legacy of educational institutions at some point. The state certainly has a wide array of colleges and universities that attracts flocks of students from across the globe. To name a few – There’s the University of California, California State University, California Institute of Technology, University of Southern California, and the California Community Colleges.

Virginia is yet another state that pays an exceptional amount of attention to its educational history, driving forth its measures of quality and enlightenment each year. The Virginia Department of Education is the body responsible for accrediting and assessing the state’s standards of learning and education.

Currently, Virginia is home to 2,293 local and regional schools and around 86 colleges and universities of outstanding quality and repute. There is, of course, the University of Virginia (which Virginians call ‘The University’ owing to its lengthy legacy and well-rounded educational capacity), the Virginia Commonwealth University, James Madison University, University of Richmond, IGlobal University, and Virginia Tech, among a few. So, be it for liberal arts or technology, your prospects for higher education are safe in Virginia.

10. Crime Rates

Living in California is not without its downfalls. Today, California’s crime rate stands at 4.40% per thousand residents for violent crimes and 21.30% for property crimes. However, Virginia is the fourth-lowest in the country with regard to violent crimes and the eleventh-lowest when it comes to property crime. Virginia’s violent crime rate is at 2.08% per thousand residents and 14.50% for property crimes. Offsetting Virginia’s total crime rate of 16.57% with California’s 25.70% makes the shift in safety between these two states even more visible and obvious.

11. Getting Around

In California, residents are accustomed to systems like the Metro rail, MUNI Metro, BART, SMART, VTA, RT Light rail for commuting. These modes of commute make it super easy to get around the city. In Virginia, you can depend on the public transport options provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for the same. It is the body that is responsible for public transportation in the state. The state boasts of a fairly well-built network of public transport that is accessible and safe. The VDOT also has a 24/7 Highway Helpline which is useful to attain information regarding new construction projects, blocked roads, traffic updates, etc.

By Road:

Greyhound is the most accessible and affordable bus option to traverse the state. It plies regularly and is perfect for both long and short journeys. However, Greyhound does not cover or stop at many small towns in the state. While it is a pocket-friendly mode of transportation fit to commute to the major Virginia cities, having a car of your own is the most convenient option to travel across the state.

By Airways:

Virginia is very well-connected via airways. The state boasts of three international airports; the Norfolk International Airport at Norfolk, Washington Dulles International Airport in Fairfax County, and the Richmond International Airport in Byrd Field, Richmond. The ‘Mother of States’ is also dotted with several smaller domestic and general aviation airports located in almost all the major cities. Some of them are Charlottesville–Albemarle Airport, Leesburg Executive Airport, Danville Regional Airport, etc.

By Trains:

The Amtrak train system is a good way to travel through the state. They have several stops in all the major cities like Alexandria, Norfolk, Fredericksburg, Roanoke, Manassas, etc. It is a fairly affordable mode of transportation.

By Ferries:

While limited, ferries are also an interesting and fun way to explore the state. The state of Virginia currently has four ferries, some of them free! The Jamestown Ferry is best known for operating 24 hours 7 days a week.

Also See: Moving To Virginia


Popular Cities To Live In

1.Virginia Beach

Known primarily for having received the Guinness Book of Records as having the longest pleasure beach in the world, Virginia Beach is a city located in the southeastern coast of the state of Virginia. As indicated by the name, it is home to multiple breathtaking beaches as well as a set of striking, natural parks like Mount Trashmore Park, False Cape State Park, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, etc.

It is filled to the brim with flora and fauna that make the region stand out. It’s not all fun and games in Virginia Beach, as the city is also home to two of the most acclaimed universities of the state; Virginia Wesleyan University and Regent University. Tourism, technology, and agribusiness dominate the economy of the city, and it is home to many United States Military bases too.

Median home value: $350,788
Average market rent: $1,485/month
Average monthly net salary: $5,162 (After Taxes)

Also read: 5 Best Moving Companies In Virginia Beach

2. Richmond

Richmond or the capital city of the Commonwealth of Virginia is the fourth most populous city in the state. Known in the history books for its indispensable role in the American Civil War, Richmond continues to exemplify its nationalistic spirit. The city is dotted with memorials, statuettes, and structures like the American Civil War Center, Virginia Holocaust Museum, etc. It is a city that is perfect for exploring outdoor activities along the banks of the James River and has a large number of lush, green parks like Maymont and Byrd Park. One of the biggest attractions of Richmond is the fact that it is one of the cheapest cities to buy or rent a house in, in the entire state!

Median home value: $304,307
Average market rent: $1,328/month
Average monthly net salary: $3,252 (After Taxes)

Also See: 5 Best Moving Companies in Richmond VA

3. Alexandria

The city of Alexandria is better known as the homeplace of George Washington. It is the resplendent seat of American history and old American architecture. Alexandria is one of the more expensive cities to live in Virginia. But it has a huge historical significance. Locations like Carlyle House, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, George Washington Masonic National Memorial, etc. make it a city worth living in.

Old Town in Alexandria is filled with boutiques, restaurants, and stores that bring alive life as it was in old America. It is home to several federal agencies like National Credit Union Administration, National Science Foundation, Food and Nutrition Service, etc.

Median home value: $549,531
Average market rent: $1906/month
Average monthly net salary: $9,316 (After Taxes)


FAQs On Moving From California To Virginia

How Much Does It Cost To Move From California To Virginia?

Considering the distance between the two states, a full move would cost you somewhere between $1,780 to $12,500. The prices would depend on the vehicle, the nature, and the volume of your goods. However, it would be beneficial to note that it would be cheaper to choose a weekday for moving rather than a weekend like most.

Is It Cheaper To Live In California Or Virginia?

While Virginia is more expensive when it comes to some utilities like natural gas and electricity, California is generally a lot pricier to live in than the former. The fundamental difference comes from the discrepancies in the home value, for which Virginia is a lot more affordable. On the whole, California is 8.8% more expensive than the state of Virginia.

What Are The Best Cities To Live In Virginia?

Virginia Beach, Richmond, Alexandria, and Greater Falls lead the list of the best cities to reside in the state.

Do Hurricanes Hit Virginia?

As per Virginia Hurricane Climatology, on average, a tropical storm or hurricane can be expected to hit the state once every 2.3 years. However, major hurricanes are quite rare in the region.

See Also: Top Affordable Movers in the USA | Moving From California To Texas | Moving From California To Vermont – Cost and Tips