An economic powerhouse, a global dreamland with the highest population in the US. Much can be said of the dreamy California which is also the third largest US state by area. It’s hard to come across someone who would say no to the opportunity of living in California. But there is some groundwork that goes into arranging your stay in a city with ‘rugged individualism’, as most would describe it. Let’s find out more about moving to California.
What Should I Know Before Moving To California?
California is located in the Pacific region, with close to 40 million residents spread over an area of 163,696 square miles, that is, 423,970 km2. It has Los Angeles, the second most populous city after New York. It also has the largest county by area, San Bernardino county.
You must be aware of California’s reputation as a global trendsetter. This means that there is never a lack of culture of any kind, in the state. This means that the result is an amalgamation of arts, food, beach, bar and car way of life in multiple pockets.
Now that we have mentioned food, let’s just say that California is one place that can give India a run for its money in terms of experimenting with food. That had to happen considering the diversity of its population and agricultural strength. Do try the ramen burrito and the custom crepe from ‘Harajuku Crepe’.
California offers a lot. There are beaches, mountains and mega metropolitan cities, which means that the nightlife offered is vast and absolutely amazing. Even after sunset, the heat always stays high, with options for all. The family oriented, or the happily single, may go to Downtown Disney or Universal CityWalk Hollywood. And the even more happily single, whether or not looking to mingle, can visit the brew pubs, theatre, comedy clubs or some rather chic dive bars. If you are in LA, do visit the Sunset Strip and you might just run into a celebrity.
California is arguably Hollywood’s favorite city, either in terms of representation or just residence. And that has shaped the perception of the state for the entire world, US included. Living here is something one should definitely look forward to, given due planning and preparation.
Crime Rate in California
As per the Public Policy Institute of California, the rate of violent crime has been historically low. The property crime rate is 2,491 per 100,000 residents which is 2.49%, on an average. The highest rate of property crime is in the San Francisco Bay area, where it is 3,049 per 100,00 residents, making the rate 3.04%. The violent crime rate would be 3.96%, as per the 2017.
Weather In California
It’s always sunny in California, almost. Along the coast, the temperature can rise up to 70-800F. Death valley is the hottest part of California and is quite sparsely populated. Sacramento, Bakersfield, Stockton, Redding and Fresno are the warmest and better populated areas.
Springtime is beautiful in California. While it may be colder at higher altitudes, much of the state carries with it that fresh, comfortable feeling. So if you are lucky, you will be seeing a lot of those brilliant blue-tinged days.
California can be a surprise for snow bunnies as well. Skiing is pretty popular in the mountains, with temperatures going only as far as 30 F in January in Sierra Nevada. On a different note, though the rest of California has relatively Mediterranean-like weather, the nights tend to be colder than the days, considering the cooling effect of the sea.
Rainy season is pretty much a token season in California. 1 out of 10 days has rain of any measurable quantity. The rest is always sunny and breezy. To sum it up, on an average, summers are hot/warm and winters are mild and wet. Many would call this the most fashionable weather out there.
See also: Top 7 Sunniest Cities in the U.S.
Is California Expensive To Live In?
Know before moving to California that the Golden state charges the highest income tax in the whole of the US, as much as 13.3%. In some Californian cities, it can feel like you are being charged for just existing. So undoubtedly, it sure does take a considerable amount of moolah to live in California comfortably. The most ideal situation, if you play your cards judiciously, is that you will find that California doesn’t necessarily have to bleed your account dry.
When we discuss comfortable living, let’s talk in terms of the basics. Considering a family of 4 living in a 2-bedroom home, buying everything from Costco, using public transport or any other mid-range personal means for inter-city commute, with some savings, that can be termed as comfortable.
We are, in essence, talking about the 50-30-20 method of personal budgeting. 50% of your income goes to housing and food, 30% for other monthly spending like going out and other wants and 20% for savings. To Achieve this, you would need an average of $75,000 of income per month.
Cost of Living In California
A litre of milk would cost you $1.03 and a loaf of bread would be $3.70. A dozen eggs cost $3.43. Keep in mind that these numbers are the average estimates for the entire state. The costs could easily vary city to city. As per reports, in some cities, the costs are just fine, whereas in others, they could be 5-33% higher than the national average. Yes, that’s the range.
When it comes to transportation, using public transport would be the easiest and cheapest option for a lot of people. It would cut costs further if you found a house close to your workplace, If you are not that lucky, a litre of gas costs $0.94. A monthly pass for the local transport would be $100 and that of a one-way ticket is $1.75. If you prefer taxis, the normal base tariff is $2.85 and the tariff per km is $1.68.
If you have a vehicle of your own, the gas and maintenance charges of it would be 27-45% higher than the national average. Healthcare can also cost a pretty penny in this state. A general doctor’s visit would cost you around $120, whereas a dentist would set you back by $100. Both these figures are higher than the national average.
Buying a House
We’re not just talking about a global economic powerhouse, but also a state with the Pacific Ocean as its western neighbors. So you shouldn’t be surprised that buying a home in California would set you back a staggering $640,330 on an average. Oh and that’s not all, that price is predicted to spike up by another 1.3% in this year.
Renting a House
It’s no secret that housing is expensive in California, which obviously means that renting here won’t be a walk in the park either financially. The amount of $1,409, as shared by RentCafe, is the average rent in California, which is considerably higher than the national average.
Bills like electricity, water, internet, etc. make us forget they exist until they stand tall in front of our eyes every month. The internet bill could cost $67 and utilities like electricity, water, garbage, etc. could be up to $140. While a lot of cities in California pay higher than the national average, in places like Orange county, the utility costs are 6% less than the average. So, in conclusion, research your city to the bone before planning your move there.
Economy And Employment Opportunities In California
If California was a country, it would be the fifth-largest economy in the world. As of 2020, Greater Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay area make $1.3 trillion and $1 trillion respectively, making them the world’s 2nd and 3rd largest urban economies. You might find it amusing, though not surprising, that California houses 4 of the world’s 10 richest people. It is also the centre for 4 of the world’s 10 largest companies by market capitalization.
As far as jobs go, there is barely a job that doesn’t find a good place in California, considering the sheer diversity of culture and economy. It is the centre of entertainment for the US, as well as the global centre for technology. If you belong to any of the fields, you would be happy to know that 58% of California’s economy is based on finance, government, real estate, technology and various business services.
Another surprising fact is that California’s agricultural industry constitutes 1.5% of the state’s economy, the highest in any state in the US. In fact, sales related to farming have multiplied four times in the last thirty years. The largest sectors of employment in California are leisure and hospitality, trade, transport, education, health and business services. Unemployment rate in the state is 16.3%.
Note that California can be easily called the ‘home of Hollywood’ with the ‘Big Five’. In case you couldn’t guess, we’re obviously talking about Disney, Colombia, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros., film studios here. Also, the San Francisco Bay Area houses Apple, Facebook and Google, along with Netflix, YouTube, Twitter and Yahoo. This should give you an idea of the economy and employment possible in the state.
Educational system in California consists of public schools, private schools, NPS and public universities like University of California, California State University and the California community college system, along with significant private universities. Given that it is the most populous state in the US, California also has the most school students and one of the highest enrolment rates in the country.
It must be noted that California also has one of the highest dropout rates in the country. That however, has been addressed by the state of California through its Dropout Recovery and Prevention Act (SBS 65), which was implemented in 1985 and expanded in 2004.
California also has some notable private universities like Stanford University, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), University of Southern California (U0SC), Santa Clara University, etc. There is no dearth of good educational opportunities in the Golden state
Getting Around California
California is heavily populated, plus it’s a destination that tourists love all-year round. It is bound to have traffic. But it’s not impossible to have smooth travel in the state.
California is connected by a massive system of freeways or controlled-access highways and expressways also known as limited-access roads and highways. The state, along with its many other qualities, has also been a trendsetter in matters of road construction. The Golden Gate Bridge, California’s most treasured landmark, was once the longest suspension bridge main span in the world. It is a hot spot for tourists and attracts pedestrians and bicyclists alike.
See also: California DMV Change of Address
Amtrak California takes care of intercity rail travel. California Department of Transportation, also known as Caltrans, takes the responsibility of funding the three routes, which are, the Capitol Corridor, Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin. These are extremely busy rail lines and their ridership continues setting records frequently. They are a lot more popular than flying.
Of course California would have the 4th busiest airport in the world in the form of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It also seems to have the 25th busiest airport as the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Wouldn’t expect anything less from this state. It had to be a major point for trans-Pacific and transcontinental traffic. There are quite a few important commercial airports and a lot more general ones throughout the state.
Best Cities in California
1. Los Angeles
It would be criminal to begin the list with any city other than the city of Los Angeles. The second most populous city in the US, the home of Hollywood, the name of this lounging metropolis literally translates to ‘The Angels’. It is distinct because of its vast diversity and just the sheer range of things you can do and opportunities you can cash in on here
This is a city that needs you to have comfortable pockets. Buying a house here could cost you a whooping $800,000 and renting one could set you back every month by $2800. People never forget their time in LA. But irrespective of the high cost of living, you sure would be lucky if you do get to live here in the dreamy LA.
Also Read: Moving to Los Angeles, CA
2. San Francisco
The home to the Golden Gate bridge, it is probably the most expensive city of California. Not surprisingly, it also happens to be the cultural and financial capital of Northern California. It is interesting that this is the city with the highest incomes for its residents and housing prices that go up to $1.7 million. Renting a house here could cost $4200 per month. These are the average prices, keep that in mind.
San Francisco is the center of liberal activism in the US, a feat it has achieved by virtue of its rich history. There’s no doubt that takes a good salary to have a comfortable life in this city, but it takes nothing to make it your own. That’s how good life can be here.
See also: Moving to San Francisco
In 2002, TIME magazine called Sacramento ‘America’s most diverse city’. That is a huge award, considering the history and culture of the entire state of California itself. Interestingly though, this is a city that is constantly evolving and is dubbed as the ‘hipster city’.
Buying a house here could cost around $350,000. Renting would be around $2,000 per month. It goes without saying that this is the city for the dynamic and young at heart, those who are probably always on the hunt for that ‘something different’.
Is Moving To California A Good Idea?
It is a good idea to move to California if you earn good money and are looking for a fast- paced life. One that offers you the chance to interact with new cultures and meet a wide variety of people. If that’s the case, you would fit right in. The only thing we can and will recommend is that you thoroughly inspect your expenses with respect to the city and the neighbourhood, before making the final decision. That being said, California is an experience of a lifetime and you would be only lucky to have it, even for a temporary period of time.
See also: Moving from New York to California