When you hear someone say they’re moving to California, you probably think that they want to jumpstart their film career. Or perhaps get in on the ground floor of the latest disruptive tech startup. Or perhaps you are the one who wants to start a new life and career in California.

Whatever your motivations might be for moving to this positively massive state, there are some things you need to know before you take the leap. There are also certain things you need to do to ensure that your move, no matter how far cross-country it may be, goes smoothly. Here’s what you need to know about moving to California.

Living in California Isn’t as Glamorous as It Looks

When you see the enormous mansions and high-rises of Hollywood A-listers and other celebs, it’s easy to think that life in California is a show of nonstop glamour. However, the average person won’t so much as sniff the perimeter of these mansions.

It will be hot during the summers. There will be droughts and there may be intensive wildfires, which can and will drive up your insurance costs. However, living in California gives you easy access to mountains, beaches, diverse entertainment districts, and tech centers.

It’s up to you to decide whether those positives are enough for you to enjoy living in California even through difficult times.

Make Sure You Have Your Living Arrangements Ahead of Time

Gone are the days when you could catch a Greyhound bus across the entire country, stumble into Los Angeles, and find someone willing to let you crash with them. You need to have your living arrangements sorted out before you make the move. Do your research about renting apartments and homes in various areas throughout the state.

Make sure you’re living in an apartment that’s within your means or sharing those costs with roommates and other cohabitants. Or else, that you make more than enough money for your rent to take up less than a third of your monthly income.

Bringing Your Car? You May Need an Emissions Certificate

California is on the bleeding edge of the nation in many regards, especially green energy and pollution containment. That’s great for the future of the planet. However, if you’re moving to California and bringing your car with you, you may need to get an emissions certification.

This certificate states that your vehicle conforms to the standards for emissions. If you have a hybrid car, an electric, or something under 4 years old, then you can eschew this requirement.

We’d also recommend checking your car’s city MPG. Why? Well, if you drive to and from work, you’re going to spend more than a little bit of time in that infamous California freeway traffic.

Get Your Workplace Set Up ASAP

Needless to say, you shouldn’t move anywhere in the country without having a job lined up for you. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a ridiculous amount of savings behind you, you need work as soon as possible. While the job market in California has a lot to offer, many of those jobs require special certifications.

Make sure you’ve planned ahead for where you want to work when you start living in California full-time. It’s expensive there, and your savings will dry up before you know it.

Label, Pack, and Insure All Your Belongings

Any time you’re planning a move, you need to ensure that all the belongings you bring with you are packed tight and labeled clearly. Nothing is more annoying than not being able to find your favorite piece of dishware in the boxes you left packed up months after moving in. (We know they’re not all getting put away the day you move in.)

Packing your boxes with the right materials can keep your sensitive electronics, glassware, and other fragile items from breaking. And, with the proper insurance coverage through the moving company or your homeowner’s policy, you might be able to recuperate some of your losses. If anything of yours were to break, anyway.

Hire Professional Movers, Especially for Cross-Country

Hey, we get it. Moving companies can be pricey, especially on longer moves. However, it is precisely because cross-country and interstate moves are so long and complicated that you need to have professionals on hand.

Professional movers can save you and your friends the time and energy of traveling back and forth between two states for all your belongings. Plus, they can handle the heavy lifting once you arrive at your new home.

Plan Your Budget for the Cost of Living

When you think of the California lifestyle, you likely think of days relaxing on the beach. Of skiing at resorts, or wandering in downtown Los Angeles for some shopping. Whether you engage in these behaviors or not, living in California can be a bit pricier than in other locations.

Before you plan your move, make sure that you’ve budgeted for the actual cost of living. This includes rent, utilities, internet, TV, groceries, and yes, discretionary income. If your budget doesn’t include all of this, you should prepare yourself for some lean times.

Let’s Review What You Should Know Before Moving to California

Moving to California can be a life-changing event for those that work in the film, art, and tech industries. However, before you get too star-struck, you need to get your living arrangements and job situation sorted out. Then, with the aid of professional movers, pack and label your belongings before bringing them into the state.

As long as you temper your high expectations with a dose of reality, living in California can be a great opportunity.

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