Whether you're just starting to consider relocating for another state or you've already planned the logistics of your interstate move, uprooting your life and settling down somewhere new can be as stressful as it is exciting. To help you decide where to move and get to know your know state, our Where To Move in 2021 guide explores the unique attributes of some of the most popular states people move to, including cost of living, climate and geography, employment, and cultural attractions.
1. Fast facts
Find out where the over 501,000 Americans who moved to California in 2018 relocated from.
We've collected data on house prices, household income, and cost of living for California.
Compare the Golden State's average temperature and precipitation against the national average.
Discover the best cities in the state for jobs and top industries in California.
Learn about California's unique food and drink, arts and culture, outdoor activities, and sports.
|Total population: 39,512,223
Median age: 37.0
Largest city: Los Angeles
California is the third most popular state to move to, with over 581,000 Americans making the move to the Golden State in 2018. Where exactly do all these new Californians come from?
2. Cost of Living in California
*Cost of living data is not available at the state level. In this article, cost of living data is based on the largest city in the state.
House prices in Los Angeles, California’s largest city, are about 66% above the national average.
The cost of living in Los Angeles is 32.3% higher than the national average, with a median household income of $80,440, 28.3% higher than the national average.
Here's how the cost of living in Los Angeles breaks down:
Cost of Living
|Los Angeles, CA||United States||Difference|
|Basic utilties (based on 915 sq ft apartment)||$139.25||$161.61||-16.1%|
|Food (per person, monthly)||$379.28||$343.43||+9.5%|
2. California Climate and Geography
California is home to a diverse array of landscapes, from giant redwood trees and snow-capped mountains to red-rock landscapes and miles of sandy, palm-tree lined beaches.
The Golden State also boasts the widest range of elevation in the nation. In Central California, Mount Whitney stretches 14,494 feet tall, making it the highest point of elevation in the Sierra Nevadas and the contiguous United States. Just 85 miles southeast lies Badwater Basin—the lowest point of elevation in North America, lying 282 feet below sea level. In addition to these extremes, California lays claim to:
- Portions of the Mojave and Colorado deserts
- Stretches of the Coastal and Sierra Nevada Mountains
- Lake Tahoe
- The Colorado River
FACT: The Colorado River provides 55-65% of southern California’s total supply or irrigation and urban water.
As a result of the wide range in geographic features, California also has a diverse climate. The state contains some of the hottest and driest areas in the country (Death Valley), while higher elevations see lower temperatures and heavy snowfall.
4. Employment in California
According to Forbes, California is the 31st best state for business in the country, with a job growth rate of 1.6%.
31 cities in California appear on WalletHub’s 2019 rankings of the best cities for jobs, with San Francisco leading the list in the #3 spot (despite earning the title of “Longest Commute to Work”) and Stockton bringing up the rear in 179th. According to the WalletHub study:
- THE GOOD: San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont all tie for highest monthly average starting salary.
- THE BAD: Fresno and Stockton rank among the worst cities in the nation for number of job opportunities. Stockton also has the highest unemployment rate. In terms of employment growth, Irvine and Santa Clarita were ranked among the worst cities surveyed.
Here’s how all 31 cities that made the list rank:
Top industries in California include:
- Tourism and hospitality
Many major employers and corporations are headquartered in California, including:
- 20th Century Fox
- Adobe Systems
- American Apparel
- Hilton Hotels and Resorts
- Wells Fargo
5. California Culture and Entertainment
Food and drink
From local classics like In-N-Out Burger to top-notch Mexican food, California is a foodie’s paradise. The Golden State also has a massive agricultural economy, producing half of the entire country’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables. California wine country is also world-renowned—it’s the nation’s largest producer of wine, with over 100 varietals.
Arts and culture
California’s cultural roots are rich and diverse, from the starstruck bustle of Los Angeles in the south to the laidback lifestyle of San Francisco in the north. There are also tons of festivals to check out throughout the year, celebrating everything from renaissance fairs to internet cat videos.
The Golden State offers something to satisfy any outdoor enthusiast. Cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway—arguably the most beautiful drive in the country, or explore one of the state’s many state and national parks, including Yosemite and Death Valley. From Lake Tahoe and the gigantic redwood forests to the miles of sandy beaches, you can enjoy everything from skiing to surfing.
California is home to more pro sports teams than any other state:
- MLB: Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants
- NFL: Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers
- NBA: Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings
- NHL: Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks
- MLS: LA Galaxy, Los Angeles FC, San Jose Earthquakes