Moving from Texas to California may offer you a more diverse and enriching lifestyle experience. Although the cost of living is higher, with a median home price of $600,000, you’ll likely bring home a much healthier paycheck. You’ll thrive in California’s famously mild climate and enjoy year-round outdoor activities in impressive landscapes from beaches to mountains, and redwood forests to deserts. You can begin your day skiing at Mt. Baldy and end it with a sunset swim in the Pacific.
California attracts new residents who take advantage of job opportunities in technology, banking, medicine, education, agriculture, tourism, entertainment, aerospace, military, and forestry. Entertainment possibilities are endless, from following the state’s 20 professional sports teams to world-class live entertainment at famous venues. California pioneered the farm-to-table movement so that you can find fabulous meals from fine restaurants to food trucks. California has it all! Great Guys Moving can support your move from Texas, so you can start living your California dream.
*If you’re moving the opposite direction you’ll want to checkout this moving from California to Texas moving guide instead.
Things to Know Before Moving to California?
Is a move from Texas to California in your future? If so, be aware that The Golden State comes with a golden price tag. To avoid ‘sticker shock,’ learn what to expect before you relocate. In addition to its fabulous weather, California has a reputation for its out-of-the-box thinkers and over-the-top real estate prices. However, some hidden gems are almost as affordable as Texas. California is a large and diverse state where you’ll find that the social climate, job opportunities, and cost of living in one city can be dramatically different in another. You’ll also find diversity in California’s geography with exquisite beaches, dramatic mountains, and exotic deserts. Ranking as the fifth largest economy in the world, California offers a vibrant job market and plentiful job opportunities. This guide can help you navigate a possible move to California and ease your transition to The Golden State.
Cost of Living is High
If you’ve been living in the metropolitan Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington region where the median home price is $226,600, your cost of living index has been 113, compared to 102 in the rest of the state and 100 in the nation, according to bestplaces.net. By comparison, California’s cost of living index is 168.6, but because the state has some of the wealthiest and most impoverished counties in the nation, it’s possible to find an affordable place to live in the more rural reaches of the state. In Lake County, for example, city-data.com reports the median household income is $35,997, and the median home price is $217,400. On the other end of the spectrum, in wealthy Santa Clara County, the median home price is $956,800. If your sights are on the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, bankrate.com reports your cost of living will be 46.14% higher than in the greater Austin, Texas metro area. In short, make sure you can afford to move!
Real Estate is Expensive
Housing prices in California are much higher than in Texas because the demand far outweighs the supply. The home construction development process is slow, expensive and difficult plus land, labor, and raw materials are more expensive in California than in Texas. All this adds up to a California median home price of $600,000, compared to a median home price in Texas of just $238,000. And even if you opt to rent, you can’t escape the expense of California housing. Apartmentlist.com reports that if you prefer to rent, be prepared to pay as much as $2027 for a 2-bedroom apartment in San Diego compared to $1111 for a 2-bedroom in Dallas.
Taxes are Also Sky-High
California is not only known for its pricey homes but also its high tax rates. Wallethub.com reports that California ranks 10th, while Texas ranks 33rd, regarding overall state and local tax burden compared to other states in the nation. Be sure to understand how your purchases, property, and paycheck will be taxed in The Golden State. While Texas does not charge personal state income tax, you’ll pay a progressive-based income tax system in California that ranges from 1% for people in the bottom bracket to as high as 13.3% for top earners. If you earn between $52,612 to $268,749, expect to pay 9.3% in California state income tax. The California sales tax base rate is 7.5% – the highest in the country, whereas, in Texas, the sales tax is between 6.25% and 8.25% depending on the region. If shopping is your thing, be prepared for an average local sales tax of 8.54% in California. In some jurisdictions, like Santa Monica, sales tax runs as high as 10.25%. San Francisco tacks 8.5% on your purchases, and in Bakersfield, sales tax is 7.25%. Now some good news – while Texas property is taxed at some of the highest rates in the U.S. (an average of 1.86%), California’s property tax rate averages just 0.813%.
Transportation Doesn’t Come Cheap Either
Although many Californians embrace green living, many residents still rely on their “wheels,” a hallmark of California’s car culture. Hop in your vehicle to explore remote stretches of breathtakingly beautiful scenic coastline or test your patience in four lanes of gridlocked bumper-to-bumper traffic. But the independence of having your wheels comes with a cost. Prepare to pay the nation’s second highest gas prices and don’t forget to buy insurance coverage, which according to valuepenguin.com starts at $1137 per year for the typical California resident. Also, consider pricey urban parking fees. In San Francisco, parking for a day of shopping can put you back $30 or more. Various regional rapid transit systems can ease your commute to work: Los Angeles’ Metro Rail and greater San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) provide a vast network of transport systems. San Diego, Santa Clara Valley, Sacramento, and Sonoma-Marin provide light rail systems that are worth exploring if you want to leave your car at home.
The Job Market is Thriving
If you are job hunting in California, you’ll find that the employment opportunities are almost as diverse as California’s incredible landscape. Livability.com reports that the top industries for job seekers in California are agriculture, tourism, technology, education, forestry, pro sports, and airports and seaports, whereas in Texas petroleum and natural gas, farming, steel, banking, and tourism top the list of major industries. Nerdwallet.com reports the seven best cities for job seekers are San Ramon with Chevron and AT&T; Folsom with Intel and Verizon; Cupertino with Apple’s headquarters; Palo Alto with Hewlett Packard and Stanford University; Pleasanton with Kaiser Permanente and Oracle; Elk Grove with Apple and Kaiser Permanente; and Carlsbad’s Life Technologies and Callaway Golf.
California’s Central Valley, where the cost of living is cheaper than along the coast, yields more crops and farm-based products than any other state in the nation. If you worked in Texas agriculture, you’d likely be able to find a job in California. If the tourism industry appeals, you’ll be able to live in some of California’s dreamiest locations including the Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Yosemite, Venice Beach, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and San Diego. Or, if you’re an IT expert, Silicon Valley employs about 250,000 people in the tech sector and headquarters 40 Fortune 1000 corporations. Renowned colleges and universities populate California, providing many jobs in education and research. For outdoor enthusiasts, forestry and land management related jobs are prevalent due to California’s 33 million acres of forest. Tons of cargo passes through Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, Oakland, and Stockton ports, offering many jobs to fulfill the enormous shipping industry’s needs.
Where to Move in CA? Our Best Places to Live
From beachside surfers’ paradises to historic gold rush towns, to sprawling metropolises, to tree-lined suburbs, there’s a perfect place for whatever lifestyle you crave. Here are some of the state’s highlights:
The Golden City is northern California’s cultural, commercial, and financial center. With its steep compact hills, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay, it is the densest metro area in California. You’ll feel the undeniable romance of San Francisco with its cool, foggy summers, cable cars, The Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, historic Chinatown, and eclectic architecture. Forbes.com ranks San Francisco as the #1 most livable American city, but that honor comes with sky-high real estate and cost of living. The median household income is $96,265 according to factfinder.census.gov, and the median home price is $1.6 million. Despite the expense, your children can receive a top-notch education in the highly rated public-school systems. Five major banking institutions and major companies such as Gap, Fitbit, Airbnb, Yelp, Pinterest, Twitter, and Uber, are headquartered in San Francisco. You’ll appreciate world-class cultural and educational institutions such as the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the De Young Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the California Academy of Sciences. On weekends, take a break from city life and immerse yourself in the lush beauty of Golden Gate Park where residents and tourists enjoy the world-class museums, botanical gardens, concerts, and various sports activities. If diversity, liberal attitudes, and livability appeal to you, The Golden City awaits.
With a cool summer Mediterranean climate and even cooler, hipper lifestyle opportunities, Berkeley is a hub for liberal thought and action. The University of California, Berkeley (UCB), is the top employer in the city and offers excellent higher-level education, but if you have young children, be sure to investigate your neighborhood public school rating. Greatschools.org gives the Berkeley public school system low to mid-range ratings.
Want to live car-free? With Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Berkeley has one of the highest rates of bicycle and pedestrian commuting in the nation and is considered the safest city of its size for bicyclists and pedestrians. The median home value is $795,200 with a median household income of $75,709 according to worldpopulationreview.com. You’ll find a variety of housing, from student-oriented apartments to gorgeous homes with views of the bay in the Berkeley Hills, but take note that collegefactual.com reports the UCB campus and the surrounding area are less safe than average colleges across the U.S.
Famous as the cradle of California cuisine and the locally-sourced food movement, Berkeley has a plethora of Berkeley restaurants to please your palate. Plant lovers will relish a stroll through the 34-acre UCB Botanical Garden. Get ready for world-class live entertainment at the UCB 8500-seat Greek Theater and an exciting, eclectic lifestyle in Berkeley.
Santa Monica is a classic, urban beachside community. Eight different neighborhoods provide an artsy vibe with their galleries, boutiques, and cafes. The median household income is $86,084, and according to bestplaces.net, the median home cost is $1,758,300, with renters making up 67.3% of the population. Your children can attend schools with ratings of mostly 8 – 10 from greatschools.org but note that some neighborhood schools do rate lower. If you want to leave your car at home, hop on the Big Blue Bus which connects to rapid transit in Los Angeles County. The top employer here is the City of Santa Monica, but UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica College, Saint John’s Health Center, and Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District also employ lots of locals. Mild sunny days, beautiful sandy beaches and a laid-back, artsy lifestyle lead to a fantastic quality of life in Santa Monica.
If an upscale more conservative university community calls to you, check out Irvine. Master-planned in the 1960s around the University of California, Irvine (UCI), campus, Irvine has become attractive to upper-class Asians, especially wealthy Chinese, who value the city’s highly rated education system, mild weather, and top safety rating. Ocregister.com reports that roughly more than 45% of Irvine’s residents are Asian. In Irvine, your children will receive some of the finest public education California has to offer. Greatschools.org gives ratings of 9 and 10 out of 10 for Irvine schools. Choose a home in one of 48 ‘villages,’ each with a distinctive architectural theme. The median home price is $853,200 according to bestplaces.net with a local economy based on educational, scientific, professional, tech, financial, and manufacturing industries. The master planners made sure you’ll have plenty of entertainment options with first-rate performance and film theaters, plus popular festivals to look forward to every year in various village venues.
Population: 1.42 million
Looking for an ideal climate, world-class attractions, and 70 miles of spectacular coastline? You’ve found it in San Diego, the city that Bloomberg.com lists as the sixth-best big city in the U.S. Here; you’ll discover sophisticated art, nightlife, dining, and sports scene with over 6400 eateries and 92 golf courses. All ages love the world-famous San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the nation. Coronado, La Jolla, Point Loma Peninsula, South Bay, and Mission Bay provide an enticing casual coastal lifestyle with some of the priciest real estate in California. Find more affordable housing farther inland where you’ll still have the advantages of an almost perfect climate with accessibility to all the advantages San Diego offers. San Diego’s median home price is $575,000, with a median household income of $70,588. GreatSchools.org rates coastal neighborhood schools as some of the best in the state with ratings of 9 and 10, while other San Diego schools have an average rating of 7. Did you know that San Diego has the only major submarine and shipbuilding yards on the West Coast, plus the largest naval fleet in the world? Understandably, its deep-water port has a significant impact on the economy. Tourism, international trade, and biotech are other top industries in San Diego, a terrific city you may want to call home.
Locales with Lower Price Tags
If you’re still enamored with the idea of moving to California but are hankering for Texas prices, check out more affordable locations that offer a great climate, numerous job opportunities, good public education systems, safety, and almost countless things to do. Here are a few ideas:
- Ventura sits on the Pacific Ocean just 25 miles south of Santa Barbara and is known for its laid-back lifestyle and beautiful beaches.
- San Luis Obispo is in the Highway 101 corridor of Central California and home to California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly SLO). Surrounded by ranches and wine country, SLO is close to the beach communities of Avila, Morro Bay, and Cambria.
- Oceanside is a laid-back beach community about 38 miles north of San Diego, near the charming beach towns of Leucadia, Encinitas, and Solana Beach.
- Fresno, a major agricultural hub, is in the San Joaquin Valley of Central California and the gateway to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.
- Sacramento, California’s capital and fastest growing city, is about 90 miles east of San Francisco and is a major financial center.
How to Move to California | Tips & Advice for Your Relocation
You likely already know that a move equals stress. The keys to minimizing the strain of are planning and organization. Prioritize the following suggestions to ensure a frazzle-free relocation:
Create a Master “To-Do” List
To plan a stress-free move, think through logistics categories, then write up a master list of what you need to do in each one. Schedule a family meeting to discuss who can do what, then delegate responsibilities.
Choose Your New Home
Thoroughly research where you’ll live. Carefully consider your lifestyle priorities, then once you decide on the location, establish a relationship with a reputable local real estate agent. With demands of work and family, it’s most efficient to identify four or five properties online before flying out to see them. Nail down your new home or temporary housing before you move.
Schedule Your Move
Don’t wait! Schedule a cross country mover as soon as you know you’ll be leaving Texas. Great Guys Moving will help you find expert, licensed movers easily and efficiently. Once you fill out our quick and easy form at greatguysmoving.com, we’ll get back to you with quotes from professional moving companies that are verified and insured, saving you tons of time. You’ll schedule them to come to your home to give you an estimate of the move based on the size and amount of your possessions. Point out special items to the movers that require extra care, space, and handling such as a piano or pool table.
Simplify and Pare Down
Be ruthless! Your moving quote will depend on the size and amount of your possessions, so now’s the time to get rid of unnecessary stuff. A move provides a fantastic opportunity to simplify your life. If you can’t part with something you don’t use, take a photo of it and create a memory book of items you’ll be giving away or selling but want to remember. It’s amazing how we can easily forget things that are packed away in an attic or closets. If you’ve forgotten you own an item, it’s a sure sign that it’s time for it to go.
Consignment stores are delighted to take your nicer items. You’ll love that the money you collect can help offset moving costs. Friends can help you organize a garage or yard sale to get rid of items that a consignment store may not want. Donate stuff to thrift stores that assist any number of worthy causes, and hand over things to family and friends who may appreciate having something you’ve valued but no longer use, want, or need. Paring down your possessions means less to pack, lower moving costs, and a happier you.
Pack It Up
Packing is challenging work and requires organization. Start gathering packing supplies right away. New supplies are expensive, so try to find boxes at the grocery, liquor, and big box stores. Also, check Craigslist. Get a head start by packing up items you don’t use or need such as seasonal clothing and holiday décor. If your new house has stairs, clearly label boxes with the floor and room where they’ll end up – your back will thank you!
Enroll Your Kids
Be sure to contact your kids’ new California school(s) with your arrival date. Arrange to have their Texas school records sent to their new school(s). Moving can be stressful for kids too. To ease the transition, give your kids a chance to say special goodbyes to friends, family, school, and their old house. Make sure your children have plenty of in-car or plane activities to keep them amused during their moving adventure.
Keep Health Top-of-Mind
If your family has health issues that require continual monitoring, be sure to obtain a referral from your Texas medical professional, research health care providers in your new community, and then set up an appointment for soon after your arrival in California. Make sure you keep all your prescription medications, essential health and legal documents, such as driver licenses and passports with you during your move. Include essentials such as clean water, healthy snacks, a flashlight, and small first aid kit if you’re driving across the country.
Take Care of Insurance
Don’t forget to cancel your Texas health, auto, and homeowner’s/renter’s insurance policies, then buy new plans to make sure you have coverage as you transition to California.
Keep Fido Happy
If you have beloved pets, guarantee their safe transport by making sure kennels are right-sized. Pack your pet’s medications plus a bit of extra food for the trip in case there are delays. If you’re transporting your animals by air, check your airline’s restrictions and rules. Ask your vet for all records and any necessary documentation.
Arrange for Utility Services
Your Texas realtor can guide you on the appropriate days to turn off utilities when you lock up your Texas abode. Also, make sure that your California realtor hands over necessary information about which utility companies you’ll be using in your new home. To ensure you’ll have electricity, gas, water, trash, internet, and cable service when you arrive, set up accounts online for your California services.
Check the Weather
Check weather forecasts when you’ve penned in your move date. Texas and the southwest can experience severe winter storms that may affect your moving van’s arrival date and your overall travel experience. Also, hot, humid weather can affect you and your pet’s travel comfort, so be sure to check forecasts.
Say Goodbye, Then Hello
Be sure you schedule a time to say goodbye to family, friends, and neighbors. Don’t forget to give them your new contact information to stay in touch across the miles. Your new community may have a “Welcome Wagon” for new residents. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to let them know you’re a new resident and ask what kinds of services they offer.
All the Best
Get plenty of rest, keep your lists organized and updated, then pat yourself on the back as you whittle down your checklist. As soon as you know you need a mover, use this form to contact Great Guys Moving. We’ll quickly find professional movers who are insured and licensed to move you from Texas to the Golden State. All the best in your new California home!