Things To Know Before Moving To California

After spending 16 long years in Seattle where I was raised I decided it was high-time I moved to someplace warmer. I was born in San Francisco, and my family traveled to visit family there often. I had heard stories of San Diego weather being 80 degrees year-round. This sounded like my kind of place, so in October 2002 I packed my small amount of things and hit the road to stay with my Aunt in Riverside County. My first 3 months in Southern California left me thinking there must be other naive Northern-states people planning their big move to Southern California who have no idea what to really expect!! So I thought it was important to be one to step up and give it to you straight because there’s definitely a few things to know before moving to California.

Reasons To Reconsider Living In California


You might have heard about the traffic in California. And if you haven’t, there’s traffic in California. My first day in California I had an interview lined up at 9am in La Jolla. Knowing the travel time would take me approximately 2 hours to get there from where I was staying, I left with an extra hour to account for any traffic. Little did I know I would need much more than that to make it in time. I ended up not making it to my interview until around 11am! To this day I avoid traveling anywhere near the Los Angeles area at all costs, preferably nothing north of the 91 freeway.

things to know before moving to california traffic

Now this traffic may not be traffic like you would see in Times Square, New York, but pretty close. I think the biggest difference between Los Angeles and New York City is wider lanes. A lot wider. I gotta hand it to New Yorkers! They must have the most incredible awareness of their cars’ dimensions to drive the way they do and not get in accidents every time they get on the freeway!

Of course all this traffic created quite a bit of pollution. But this pollution isn’t everywhere, despite what you may believe. Around Los Angeles you can clearly see where the smog begins when you are traveling in or through. And due to this if you are driving an older car (6 years and newer do not need to be smogged) every two years. A smog check runs around $40-$90 depending on what county you live in. It’s more an annoyance than a reason to avoid moving here. Especially when you consider how much the smog checks have improved the air quality in Los Angeles and similar cities.


If your California dreams are full of tall palms and green grass you may want to reconsider moving to California. These dreams may be better aligned with Hawaii. Again, I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but California is in a drought. A massive one. The worst drought California has ever seen. So bad, in fact, that when the San Diego Water Authority offered homeowners a rebate to convert their yards to drought-resistant yards they ran out of money after two short years!

It’s funny how having to cut your outdoor water usage by 75% grows you a full .16 acres of luscious weeds but 100% usage can’t even grow a decent square foot patch of grass.

The drought also means that all the water reservoirs near you are off limits to human contact. You can boat, fish, camp NEAR it… But very rarely can you go into the “lake’s” because they provide our treated drinking water. Yeah, that’s exactly why we don’t mind… we like our drinking water free of dirty human butts.

things to know before moving to california drought

When it does rain, don’t forget that it hasn’t rained in a long time and the roads aren’t like how they are where it rains a lot. All the gross grease and oil that gets washed away on a regular basis where it rains a lot doesn’t get washed away on California roads. So all those months of grease and oil are right there waiting for you the second it rains… And trust me… It’s waiting for you.

This explains the mystery of why Californians can’t drive in the rain. We’re all expecting to go hydroplaning all over the place the second we go over 55mph. I had a full on panic attack driving in a Seattle Storm a few years ago to the point where I had to park it out until the heavy rain chilled out a little. Any time I’m in the passenger seat while the Hubbs is driving in the rain (like right now) and I hear the distinct sound of “tires not making contact” I die a little inside. The struggle is real folks… you let me know how you feel after white-knuckling a drive to the grocery store in a light rain.


I’m not sure what Eastern states are comparable to Temecula, CA but I chose to compare it to Greensboro, NC. If the national average housing cost is 100, Temecula is 218.6 and Greensboro is 61.6. That’s quite a jump folks… that means that housing in North Carolina is 71% cheaper than it is in Southern California. And keep in mind, we live in an area significantly cheaper than beach cities!

things to know before moving to california housing

Reasons To Live In California

Ill be honest, I hesitated a bit including this section. California is pretty crowded already. But I realize that had someone else written this article, maybe I wouldn’t have moved back here, and I actually love it here! So I’ll share this with you.

WEATHER: first and foremost, it’s California… If your ideal temperature is on the warmer/hot side then this might be your place! And in all actuality; even if it isn’t, this still may be your place. San Diego tends to be much cooler, with marine Layers and a bit windier, and reasonably cold in the winter.


Yes, I realize I used this in the reasons not to, but in most areas around here, you really don’t need flood insurance. And if you’re gullible enough to purchase it in light of El Nino and some flooding issues in very small pockets of California (like we were) you’ll soon learn not to make that mistake again when you call to cancel it and are told that you can’t do so. That’s right. They make you pay for the first year up front for a reason. Now why would they do that? I guess I was under the impression that we could keep the flood insurance policy for the 2 months that we were expecting heavy rain, then cancel it for a refund of the unused portion. Smart huh? Well it seems that flood insurance companies are well aware that I’m not the first person to think of that brilliant idea. They basically said the only 2 ways to cancel a flood policy early is to either move, (oh ok no problem hold on while we do that really quick) or sell ALL of our personal property. It almost seems worth it just to get my $270 back from FEMA. Can you imagine that phone call? “Ok FEMA thanks for holding yeah we are all moved into our new place can you just put the money back on the same card?” Ridiculous. I could go on a tirade about the flood insurance issue (more so than I already have) but the point is that in most areas you don’t need it. Money saved!


You really only need clothes for one season: summer. Ok maybe not all the time, but for the most part yes! If you have a pair of jeans, a long sleeved shirt and regular sneakers, you’ve got yourself some California winter clothes. Depending on what your hobbies and/or passions are, you may need heavier/lighter clothes. But generally you can get away with the jeans, long shirt.. And maybe a light jacket. The only technically “seasonal” clothes you’ll need is a bathing suit. Not a bad deal if you ask me!
The lack of seasons is also why you get to enjoy all the outdoor activities you enjoy most, unless singing in the rain is your favorite outdoor activity, of course… There are some areas of California that get much more rain still though, so if that is your thing, you can still find it here! If you enjoy camping you can rest assured that you will know exactly what weather to expect and any cancellations due to weather are unlikely.

things to know before moving to california weather


Basically everything you can do in other states you can do in California. Finding that hard to believe? California has snow, rain, sun, water, grass, desert, trees… There are so many different things that you can find in California. No matter what your passion, you can do it in California. Just do a search for your sport or pastime of choice and California. Guaranteed you will find you can do it anywhere in California.

things to know before moving to california surfer

Where Should I Live In California

So, you’re sold on it now, aren’t you! There’s no convincing you otherwise. You’re moving to California! Now you just have to decide where. It’s a big state though, so you’ve got some serious research to do! Maybe you’re moving here for your job, in that case you probably know exactly where you’re headed, but if not, let’s dig in and try and answer this question.


We’ll say this is anywhere from the Siskiyou mountains to Colusa County. This is a good starter area for those of you coming from greener areas. Around Northern California you will find the tallest trees in the world the Coast Redwoods (this forest is hands down one of the most breathtaking you will ever see, and I highly recommend you put this on your bucket list!), an ever-loving hippie commune called Black Bear Ranch (quietly nestled in the beautiful Siskiyou mountains… we don’t mind that we haven’t stumbled across this…) and lots and lots of beautiful forests, rivers, mountains and coastline. Northern California is the greener part of California. You’ll still see seasons but enjoy warmer summers and still see rain.


Think you can handle a little more heat? Central California will be anywhere from Yuba to Sonoma. You can find lots of farmland, wineries, more gorgeous coastline, more Redwoods (though not as tall as the ones in northern California) and the world famous Death Valley! We just drove on the outskirts of Death Valley recently and our car registered a balmy 112 degrees. Coastal areas will see less extreme summer temperatures, and maybe a little greener too.


Beware! Southern California is for experts only! If you believe you have mastered Northern and Central California you can proceed. Almost all the best that Northern and Central California has to offer. Beautiful mountains, gorgeous coasts, warm weather (and probably an ever-loving hippie commune somewhere too). If you want to enjoy all the best that California has to offer (in my personal opinion) Southern California is the place to be! Now from personal experience, I can tell you for sure the coast of southern California will NOT bring you 80 degree weather year-round. But inland areas typically don’t see temperatures lower than 60 degrees. We HAVE seen overnight snow twice here in the 13 years I have lived here, but it was gone within a day.

One thing to note, Hollywood is gross. It is NOT like the movies. Yes, you will still want to go check it out… and you will… Just know that it will be gross, and you’ll feel a little disillusioned.

things to know before moving to california


As for the exact location where you’ll want to move, well, that will really be up to you. I can only do so much for you! I mean come on! The truth is, even with my misguided belief that the temperature is always 80 degrees year-round here and not really knowing what to expect, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I may not be able to tell you all the things to know before moving to California, but I hope I was able to cover most of it. Maybe you’ll find the love of your life here, start a family, make it big in Hollywood… who knows! The possibilities are endless!