Contemplating a move from the balmy beaches of Florida to the laid-back California coast? Though you can anticipate equally sun-filled skies in most parts of the Golden State, California has some distinct differences from the Sunshine State. While you can look forward to magical trips to Disneyland, trekking through the woodsy trails in Sequoia National Park, or chasing down movie stars in the Hollywood Hills, you have some substantial work ahead to plan your relocation and ensure you’re ready for the changes it entails. Here’s your guide to planning a smooth East to West Coast relocation.
Should I Move to California? Things to Know Before Relocating
If you decide to move from Florida to California, you’ll find that while the beaches and climate of both places are similar, there are several differences between the two states. Here are some things to know before relocating to the expansive, scenic state of California.
1. You’ll Need the Car
Apart from the Bay Area, most of California is not known for its public transportation. Just as in Florida, you’ll need a vehicle to get around, and if you’re living in a major metro area, brace yourself for a lot of traffic and long commutes. At least the state’s notorious traffic jams will give you an excuse to blast music, sing carpool karaoke, and catch up on your favorite podcasts.
2. Distances are Long
Florida only encompasses about 40% of the landmass of California – 65,755 square miles to the Golden State’s 163,696 square miles. California is also about 320 miles longer. While the distance between most of the major cities in Florida is drivable in a single afternoon, the same doesn’t hold true for California. For example, L.A. is over six hours from San Francisco, while San Diego to Sacramento is over eight hours. In many cases, it’s easier and cheaper to fly between cities. If you do decide to drive, always account for the rush hour and traffic.
3. The Cost of Living is High
Compared to Florida, California has a much higher cost of living. It will take more to live, study, eat, work and play in your new home state. For example, if you’re moving from Miami to Los Angeles, Bankrate’s comparison tool indicates that the cost of living in L.A. is almost 25% more than that of Miami. If you’re moving from Tampa to San Diego, expect to pay 58% more to maintain your standard of living. Before you relocate, make sure you have a job lined up that enables you to afford the added expense of sky-high living costs.
4. Tax Rates are Exorbitant
Low tax rates across the board spoil Floridians. In addition to zero income tax, the state also boasts a reasonable 6% state sales tax rate and a 1.06% effective property tax rate. Californians pay a lower effective property tax rate of just .81% but pay a higher state sales tax of 7.25%. The real clincher is income tax – the California income tax rate ranges from 1% all the way up to 12.3% (the highest percentage of any state in the country). So, in addition to paying more for living costs, also expect a big bite out of your paycheck to go towards lining the state’s coffers.
4. It’s a Different Time Zone
Florida has two time zones. Part of the Panhandle follows the Central Time Zone, while the rest of the state is in the Eastern Time Zone. California follows Pacific Daylight time, which means that it is two or three hours behind what you are used to. Since only 14% of the United States lives in this time zone, imagine the hassle of calling family and friends back in Florida, or elsewhere, for that matter. Make sure they know about the time difference and plan conversations to avoid someone waking you up in the middle of the night or calling you at work.
5. You’ll Need to Wear Layers
Northern California has distinct seasons, but Southern California has more-or-less the same weather year-round, much like Florida. Be sure to prepare for whatever weather might come your way. Keep any heavy winter wear at home and bring light layers and rain gear for everyday use. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, then stock up on hiking and exercise clothes. California’s climate tends to be less humid than Florida’s. While many days are sunny, the temperature often falls at night. Stick to lightweight fabrics and versatile layers that you can pile on, or take off if needed.
6. The Culture is Laid-Back & Friendly
Californians are friendly, and the pace of life here is more relaxed than in other areas of the country. At the same time, people are focused on their careers. People tend to eat healthily, due to the ready access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Those who have any dietary restrictions will find specialty foods easy to come by, due to the large population and high demand for alternative foods.
7. Attractions are Endless
There are plentiful opportunities for exploration in The Golden State. Hike and relax in Yosemite National Park or Sequoia National Park. Spend a day at Disneyland. Stay in a resort on Lake Tahoe. Walk the Golden Gate Bridge. Spot some celebrities in Los Angeles and go surfing in Malibu. Visit the animals at the San Diego Zoo. Whether you prefer the outdoors or are more into cultural attractions, California has it all.
If you can live with the expensive living costs, traffic, and high tax rates, then you can enjoy the scenic views and good times that await you in California, your new home. Make the most of it!