Tips for Moving from NJ to CA
Moving to a new state can be scary, especially when you don’t know what to expect. If you’re moving from New Jersey to California, here are some tips and information to make the transition a little easier.
California Is Huge
New Jersey is an urban state where people are packed together. California has large areas of the state that are mostly empty. Certainly, people in the Los Angeles/San Diego basin and the San Francisco/San Jose area are also packed in closely, but not as close as in New Jersey. It takes about 16 hours to go from one end of California to the other from north to south. Fortunately, California is not very wide; it only takes three to four hours to progress from west to east.
California features a vast choice of biomes to inhabit. It has 700 miles of coastline with multiple beach communities throughout the state. If you like mountains and snow, Northern California will give you everything you want. Its national park, Yosemite, is arguably one of the best in the nation. You can get lost exploring the redwood forests in Humboldt County; everyone should see these giant redwood trees at least once up close.
Deserts are native to California. These deserts support a variety of outdoor sports and are popular with visitors to the state, and cities such as Palm Springs have sprung up in these areas for people who like heat. The central valley of California, between two mountain ranges, is also very hot. It turns out that with water, this area is excellent for growing just about any crop; this area of California provides most of the fruits and vegetables of the United States. California is blessed with many rivers in the north that offer water to farming areas.
Of course, there are two large urban areas. San Francisco is a center for technology and tourism. The Los Angeles area is known for its entertainment industry, technology and manufacturing, and oil fields. California also has a large military presence in the state at several installations.
California Is Diverse
California was once part of Spain and then part of Mexico. As such, the Hispanic cultures have a long-standing influence on the state. Many places still bear Spanish names, and state laws still include statues from this background. There are also significant populations of Black Americans, Indians, Asians, and even Native Americans. If you’re comparing California vs. New Jersey, most of the cities and suburbs in California are more diverse than New Jersey.
California Is Expensive
Yes, California is expensive. The average cost of living is around $53,000 per year, though that can fluctuate depending on where you live in the state. But, if you’re moving from New Jersey to California, you may find some things, such as sales taxes and property taxes, are cheaper in California. Why? Because there are so many more people to pay taxes in California. New Jersey has around 4 million people, while California has over 20 million.
In many places, employee salaries are set to consider living expenses in California. Many people commute from the less expensive areas into the cities for work, and California has a system of highways and public transportation to support these commutes. Still, rents and housing are costly, so researching this topic can lead to significant savings because many places in California are still affordable.
California has some of the busiest earthquake faults in the United States. Generally, the ground shakes a bit during an earthquake, and that is it. However, large shakes are possible, and becoming familiar with methods to protect your family from injury during a quake is worthwhile. These protection methods could involve securing mirrors, picture frames, and other fragile items to prevent them from falling and breaking or injuring you during a quake. It’s also a good idea to have go-bags and food storage in the event of power outages or property damage.
While non-Californians emphasize the quake’s strength, equally important is how long the quake shakes. Most of the quake damage in San Francisco’s “Big One” occurred because the ground shook for over two minutes. In general, most quakes are less than 30 seconds.
California Is Progressive — Sort Of
Yes, it is pretty progressive in the two large urban areas. However, even the Los Angeles area has conservative areas, and most of California’s agricultural and Northern parts can be quite conservative in their affiliations. New Jersey also tends to be quite progressive, so most transplants fit in well with their new neighbors. If you feel most comfortable living with neighbors that support your views, check on the communities where you want to live. You may find yourself surrounded by a group with views quite different than your own.
Cars and Other Vehicles
Most Californians own a vehicle of their own to drive. If you do not use a car in New Jersey, this may not work very well here. While there is public transportation, and it might be possible to avoid having a car in California, leaving yourself at the mercy of local transportation often means much longer and more frustrating days. It is also more expensive to take public transit than to drive in most cases. Most locals also stay off the freeways, except where it is impossible to bypass them. California freeways are often multiple structures that can be stories high. When comparing Jersey to California, this takes some getting used to while driving.
California has many taxes on its gas and a vast network of roads. California car insurance is also some of the most expensive in the nation. It is usually more expensive to operate a car in California vs. New Jersey. However, cars in major cities last for years because of the lack of snow in California. A new resident from New Jersey will note many late-model cars still on the road. One way to save is to have a household use one car. Of course, insurance companies are on to this and give nice discounts to those with two or more cars.
In recent years, California has taken significant steps to improve education. New rules and laws are being implemented to better schools and colleges. The California Department of Education also regularly conducts surveys to discover ways to improve education.
When moving from New Jersey to California, be prepared for a more robust job market. California is strong in several industries, including tech, entertainment, and agriculture. In contrast, the job market in New Jersey centers around pharmaceuticals, finance, and tourism. Both states have high minimum wages and robust labor laws to help protect employees.
California is one of the top agricultural producers in the country, especially for avocados, oranges, and tomatoes. Farmers’ markets across the state will have plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and nuts sprouted in the golden California sun.
Other California Facts
Californians love recycling and you will need to do this, too. Many items, such as plastics, are banned in the state. You will find your state documents such as ballots available in numerous foreign languages besides Spanish and English. Due to recent droughts, many cities are remaking their green areas into water-saving flora.
Seasons in California tend to be less defined in most of the states. Yes, it gets cold in winter, but it rarely snows in most of the state, and days of 80-degree weather happen during any season. It can be very windy in many parts of the state, especially in canyon areas. Thus, many Californians don’t use umbrellas during the rainy season.
California is a large tourist state. As such, during the summer and on weekends, many local attractions are terribly busy. If you can visit these places during the week, you will miss crowds and may even save money. Most destinations have off-season or resident prices, and it is important to take advantage of them.
Popular Cities to Live In California
If you’re planning on moving from NJ to CA but aren’t sure which city to move to, here are some of the most popular cities to consider.
- San Diego: This vibrant city is known for its beautiful beaches, excellent weather, and rich cultural attractions. Around 3.3 million people call this laid-back area home, and the median home price is around $879,000.
- Los Angeles: As the largest city in California, LA is known for glitz, glamor, and the thriving entertainment industry — this is the home of the stars! The median home price here is around $817,000, and the population is roughly 12.5 million.
- San Francisco: San Francisco is a history-rich city known for its steep hills, stunning views, and unique neighborhoods. This is the 4th biggest city in the state, with a population of around 716,000, and the median home price is about $1.6 million.
Cost of Moving From New Jersey to California
The price of moving from NJ to CA depends on the moving company, the exact moving distance, how many items you’re moving, and what services you choose. However, the cost can range from $2,100 to $9,500. If you want to work with our NJ to CA movers, you can request a free price estimate to help you plan your moving costs.
How Far Is California From New Jersey?
California is about 2,888 miles from New Jersey, and it takes roughly 42 hours to drive between the two states.
Long-Distance Moving Guide for New Jersey to California
When it comes to moving from New Jersey to California, you can do a few basic things to help you prepare beforehand.
Two Months Before
- Research Jersey to California movers and get a moving quote.
- Declutter what you won’t need in your new California home.
- Start packing lesser-used items.
Six Weeks Before
- Notify utilities and other service providers that you’ll be heading to the Golden State.
- Plan long-distance travel plans.
- Continue packing up your home.
- Confirm and finalize Jersey to California moving details.
- Finish packing everything but the necessities.
- Start cleaning your home and making any minor repairs.
- Confirm travel details.
- Pack your essentials and last-minute items.
- Set up utilities and services for your California home.
- Be present to answer questions as needed.
- Double-check everything is loaded on the moving truck.
- Say goodbye to Jersey and head to sunny California!
Find a more in-depth moving checklist here.