Moving to California
Ah, California; famous for sunshine, Pacific waves, laidback stereotypes, Google, Hollywood, wine, music, culture, and being a top choice for other Americans and immigrants moving to the US.
Relocating to California puts you within an hour or two from mountain, beaches, lakes, forests and deserts, which means you can find any climate you want in the Golden State. From the Pacific Coast in the west to the Sierra Nevada in the east, California is a geographical wonder encompassing natural delights like Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe and the Redwood forests.
Move to cities in California and you will see just how culturally rich and diverse the state is. As a border and coastal state, California has the benefit of drawing cultural inspiration from the strong Hispanic and Asian populations, as well as the food! From traditional dishes to food truck fusions, Cali has got it all.
There is always so much to do in California. The most awesome attractions and events are here covering all the spectrum of interests and ages, with infinite possibilities for museums, theme parks, beaches, national parks, restaurants, shopping, wineries and more!
No matter where you come from or what language you speak, you will feel welcome in California. Above all, remember: Life is what you make of it. That applies in California just as much as everywhere else.
California’s economy is focused on technology, finance, scientific, and technical business services, together comprising 58% of its economy. Despite the development of other high-tech centres globally, Silicon Valley continues to be a nerve centre.
Of course California, more specifically Hollywood, is synonymous with the glitz and glamour of the film industry. Since the 1920s California has been a major centre for media industries, especially in the Hollywood and Burbank areas. Thousands of hopefuls flock to LA each year for a slice of the pie, hoping to make it in the film, television, video game or music industry.
California is home to many of the world’s largest corporations, (Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Apple, eBay, PayPal, Adobe Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Disney, Pixar, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios) as well as thousands of tech start-up companies.
Although the economy of California is the largest in the nation, the state has one of the highest unemployment rates being estimated at 6.1% according to the California Employment Development Department (EDD).
California has one of the highest costs of living and if you can live here, you can live anywhere in this country. Making a realistic estimation of your living expenses is very important, as they may surprise you.
Basic food items, like milk, bread, and eggs are pricey, as well. In Los Angeles, you may pay close to $4 for a regular loaf of bread. The average monthly food budget in California is $300 for a single adult, and $900 for a large, two-parent family. Though there is access to affordable nutritious food, actual food costs can vary based on the region in which a family lives.
Unlike some other states, the cost of utilities is quite reasonable. Keeping your lights and water on in an apartment may cost you around $100/month. Regarding Internet, packages start from $20/month (1.5Mbps) or $15/month (3.3Mbps) for standard or cable connections, where available, respectively.
Most people in California drive a car, especially in Los Angeles and San Diego, as California hasn’t really nailed public transportation like New York or Washington DC. Fuel is less expensive than in other countries, but traffic congestion will take a chunk out of your pocket.
While public transportation may be less expensive than driving, it may not be convenient or reliable in certain areas. In addition, the extra stops commonly involved in picking up or dropping off a child at school, shopping for groceries, and running other errands makes it difficult for many parents to use public transportation. Keep in mind that owing at least one car per family is a must in this state.
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California’s home and rental prices are higher than almost anywhere else in the US. Among all states, on average, and only Hawaii is more expensive. The median home value in California is $450,000, while, as a renter, you will pay an average rent of almost $1,900.
Housing and rent prices in big California cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles are among the highest in the nation and keep going higher. While the cost of rent may be challenging, owning a home is unfortunately out of reach for many. California’s homeownership rate is the second lowest in the nation, averaging 55%.
California has many different personalities; from laid back beach towns and bustling downtowns to vibrant neighbourhoods and carefree suburbs, sometimes all in the same city!
San Francisco: Everybody loves this city. Alameda is definitely a neat neighbourhood and fairly affordable considering how close it is to downtown. A little bit further, Albany is a highly recommended place for families.
San Diego: is the second largest city in California and the best zoo in the United States! San Diego is the perfect family city with endless beaches, yet, near to mountains and the dessert. Coronado, North Park and La Mesa should be in your viewing list if you consider moving to this city.
Los Angeles: there are too many options in this city. If great weather and direct access to the rest of the world without even using the freeways are among your priorities, you should consider Santa Monica. For those coming to make their dreams come true, Burbank is the hub of the entertainment industries, located just north of Hollywood. Long Beach and Santa Barbara are excellent options as well, offering the chance to live out of Los Angeles area but, still, close enough.
Whatever kind of lifestyle you are looking for, there is a neighbourhood to suit you.
- Family Friendly: Orange County – Choose Orange County for stand out schools, particularly in Irvine United district, great outdoor activities, stunning beaches and a Mediterranean climate.Albany in San Francisco has charming homes, great schools, and is right next to Berkeley with all its available amenities.Agoura Hills in LA County is situated between mountains, parks, and a relatively short drive through the canyon to the beaches.Oceanside in the north of San Diego County is a wonderful place to grow up, and it’s cheaper than pricier beach-side areas.
- Hip and Trendy: Echo Park, Los Angeles – Echo Park is a culturally, ethnically and sexually diverse neighbourhood that continues to attract a crowd of hip, young things.Culver City in the Westside of Los Angeles is great for those who love new restaurants, bars, ranch-style homes, and being nearer to their jobs in Santa Monica or Century City.Gaslamp Quarter is in the heart of downtown San Diego, perfect for night owls and foodies alike.
- Upmarket: Beverly Hills – 90210 of course! Beverly Hills is home to the stars and famous for its grand mansions and chic shops along Rodeo Drive.Manhattan Beach has a mixture of glam and modern homes within walking distance to the beach. Great for families and anyone who can afford it, really.Montecito near Santa Barbara is where Oprah has a house, so…Pacific Heights in San Francisco offers decent views of the bay and is close to the Presidio National Park.
- Up and Coming: Livermore, East Bay (San Francisco) – Livermore is a great city close to vineyards and the Dell Valle Regional Park.Sacramento’s South Land Park is a stone’s throw from downtown with more space – great for commuting young professionals.North Park is home to San Diego’s local craft beer scene and the latest restaurants.Fox Hills and Jefferson, both in Culver City in LA, are on the up and up – get a place while they’re still affordable and not well known!
Schools and education
Californian first rate education prepares students to live and work in a multicultural and multilingual environment. The state has almost 1,000 school districts that vary significantly in size. The largest district, Los Angeles Unified, educates almost 700,000 students.
California’s approximately 9,700 schools also vary a great deal in size, from fewer than 10 students to more than 4,500 students. There are 4,378 private schools with average tuition $10,000 for elementary schools and $16,700 for high schools.
Universities in California
California is home to some of the best universities and colleges in the country, and these are part of different education systems. The public University of California (UC) has with 10 major university campuses around the state, including famous UCLA and UC Berkeley.
California State University (CSU), the largest university system in the country, with many students choosing to go to their local campus for college. There are also California Community Colleges that help high school students and recent graduates prepare for more intensive university courses or to earn Associate degrees.
Notable private universities and colleges include Stanford University, Loyola Marymount University, University of Southern California (USC), and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Each is known for different reasons and those looking to specialise should consult the departments rather than the overall rankings of a university.
Ranking against the world
California is the most populous state, with 38 million people, though most live along the coast. No surprise, eight of the nation’s 50 most populated cities are here, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and Sacramento.
If California were a country, it would be the 8th or 9th largest economy in the world, though its taxes are some of the highest in the country.
California is one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world; currently, 16 languages other than English are spoken as primary languages, more than any other state in the nation. Besides English, Spanish is the most popular language spoken by 29% of the population, followed by many types of Asiatic languages.
A day in the life
Wherever you choose to relocate in California you are going to benefit from a Mediterranean climate. This means cool rainy winters and dry summers, except of course if you are in San Francisco, which has its own particular climate due to being surrounded by water on three fronts. In general the worst weather to impact on your day is going to be summer fog. You can blame the California current offshore for this.
Each city is unique and the way you choose to spend your days will reflect this but there are some Californian ways that encompass a common day in the life. California is known for clean living and exercise and if you live in one of the coastal cities, you might start your day off with jogging or a skate along the boardwalk. If looking good is important, why not begin with an alkaline juice and aerial yoga session, preferably on the beach.
You might then want to head to one of the 7,000 farmers markets. Once you’ve tasted an avocado from California, you’ll never go back. Pity the poor expat Californian as once they move out of the Golden State, fruit and veg just never tastes as good. If you’re based in San Francisco head to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, referenced as one of the best in America, open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
If cooking is not your thing then you are spoilt for choice for eating out. As a true Californian you will swear the state’s Mexican and sushi restaurants are the best in the US. There’s a reason why a California Roll is perhaps the most famous sushi dish. If it’s junk food you are after, then get over to In N Out Burger, no other burger bar will compare again.