Thinking about moving to California?

California Dreaming?

Moving to California is a concept as American as apple pie. Here is a guide to make it more than just a dream.

@edmelton

Moving Advice

Before moving to California, you should know one thing: there are a lot of people living here. At last count, almost 38 million. This isn’t to say that you’ll have to learn to fight for elbow room just to get around.

In fact, there are many places in the state where you can lead a life with plenty of breathing (and elbow) room. And if you’re coming from a sizable metropolitan area elsewhere in the nation, you might not even notice much of a change.

If, however, you’re moving to CA from a comparatively sparsely populated region, you’re likely to take one look at the vast freeway-bound throngs and wonder how more people don’t succumb to ochlophobia (fear of crowds).

If you’re moving to California and headed for one of the state’s bigger metro areas like San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego or Los Angeles, you’ll do well to arrange your schedule around the high probability of freeway traffic.

You’re not always guaranteed to run into gridlock, but the occasional traffic jam can even be found on Sunday nights. Here are a few insider tips to help make your migration to California go smoothly.
  • Heaviest freeway traffic occurs between the hours of 6AM and 9PM in the morning, and 3PM to 7PM in the afternoon.
  • Carpool lanes are established to allow vehicles with more than one passenger access to a more free-flowing traffic lane; however, many of them are only carpool lanes during certain hours of the day. Pay attention to this.
  • An adult riding with a child is considered a carpool.
  • Due to California’s pervasive “car culture,” there are very few places within the state that can’t be accessed via paved road.
  • San Francisco’s hilly streets are known the world over for their unusual layout, but if you’re moving to CA with your sights set on Fog City (or a city with a similar, hilly orientation), be sure you know in advance what the parking situation adjacent to your new home will be.
  • Moving van permits aren’t required, but are a smart thing to have in order to secure a temporary “no parking” zone where you or your movers can unload easily. Requirements vary throughout the state. To obtain a moving permit, contact the city offices or police department of the city you’re moving to for more information on fees and availability.
  • California’s state university system is the biggest in the country, with close to 450,000 students. If you are moving to California, it may be wise to seek housing that’s located outside the immediate vicinity of its most densely populated universities: the City College of San Francisco, UCLA, CSU Fullerton, CSU Long Beach and San Diego State University. You can find more information on the various universities in California here.
  • With a climate that can vary greatly depending on your location, be sure to check weather forecasts ahead of your planned move-in to avoid the possibility of heat exhaustion and dehydration in the hot, dry areas of the state, and to avoid snow delays or cold exposure at higher elevations.
  • Complete a change of address form with the USPS a week prior to your move to allow for the 7- to 10-day lag that can often accompany the necessary completion of paperwork.
  • When hiring a moving company, always check the company’s record with the Better Business Bureau, and be on the lookout for the possibility of frequently perpetrated moving scams.
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