Sun, sea, surf… it’s hard to think of any strong arguments against calling up U-Haul and hitting the highway until the smell of salt water, good (and strong) coffee, sunscreen, and orange juice hits you like a warm wave.
Yes, we may be overlooking a few of those practical considerations – unfortunately, we can’t all just roll out of bed one morning and decide to head down to the golden state for, you know, the rest of our lives – but the fact remains that, for many, eventually starting a new life in the splendor of California is the quote-unquote dream.
Still, even with those rose-tinted glasses, we can’t overlook the fact that moving to a new state is a big deal – and that, in order to make the very best go of it possible, we need to pay a good deal of lip service to those administrative tasks and considerations first. For that reason, we’ve put together 5 essential questions to ask yourself as you prepare to move to California. Read more below.
1. When Will I Take Out Insurance?
There’s no question about it: anyone renting an apartment or home in any state needs to make certain that they are covered by the appropriate renters insurance. California is no exception – and there’s plenty of ‘worst case scenarios’ that can happen in this state, from those that can happen anywhere, at any time – such as theft – to those that pose a more pressing concern than on, say, the East Coast – such as wildfires.
Put bluntly, building a life in a new state means understanding the downsides and, more importantly, preparing for them.
For that reason, an essential question to ask yourself as you lay down the groundwork for your move is, how much is renters insurance in CA? No budget is complete without the appropriate lip service to an insurance policy that covers all the potentials that will be waiting for you in California.
In short, the answer to this first questions should be: as soon as possible.
2. Will I Invest in a Car?
California is big. It’s really big. It’s around 423,970 KM2, and a lot of it is only reachable by car.
That’s not to say that anyone moving to San Francisco should make a sprint for their nearest dealership – in fact, you’re probably better off sticking to the sidewalks and public transport. But, if you’re calling the hills your home – or one of the many smaller towns and communities spread across this vast state, you will find it pretty hard to get around without a reliable set of wheels.
So, unless you know you are definitively exempt, the answer to this second question should probably be along the lines of: absolutely, and I’ll factor it into my budget.
3. Have You Factored in Higher Income Tax?
Californians will know this all too well – income tax is, in the golden State, not all sunshine and roses. As of 2020, in fact, California boasted the highest income tax rate at 13.3% — not far of 2% higher than the state in second place, Hawaii.
In many ways, this can balance out. Overall, wages tend to be higher – and property tax is often lower, although renters will likely find this state a pretty expensive place to live.
Budgeting for this higher rate of income tax is essential, particularly if you’re driving in from a state with a tax rate below 10%.
So, our recommendation for this question is: yes, I have factored tax of 13.3% into my financial plan. If not, get to it – sooner rather than later.
4. Which Area is Right for Me?
Remember when we said that California is huge? Well, the good thing about that is the fact that there is an area to suit anyone, no matter what stage of life they’re at.
For instance, the city of Camarillo is quickly turning into one of the most desirable destinations for those with young families. It’s safe, well-kept, and boasts plenty of good schools and lots of areas of interest for younger visitors. For the career-focused, however, San Francisco is the obvious port-of-call – unless, of course, you’re inexplicably drawn to the unique sort of freedom attached to Los Angeles.
In essence, the state is your oyster.
What should your answer to this final question be? We don’t know – and we can’t answer on your behalf – and that really is part of the beauty of it.
Good luck, and enjoy this next stage of your life in the golden state.