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Moving From New York to California: Complete Guide (2024)


By Amanda Lutz |
March 26, 2024

Industrial long hauler classic big rig dark blue semi truck tractor transporting moving boxes to California from New York.Industrial long hauler classic big rig dark blue semi truck tractor transporting moving boxes to California from New York.

New York and California are large, diverse states, and the distance between them makes a cross-country move a daunting prospect. We’ve compiled some recommendations, tips, and checklists to help New Yorkers who are on their way to becoming Californians. This major interstate move can be less stressful and more exciting as long as you’re prepared.


Why Move From New York to California?

Some people move from New York to California for a job. The San Francisco Bay Area and its tech scene draw a huge crowd of aspiring entrepreneurs, while plenty of entertainers head to Hollywood and Los Angeles to try to hit it big.

The change in scenery is also a huge draw. The East Coast is beautiful in the fall, but it doesn’t have the year-round appeal of much of California, which boasts mild, comfortable weather more consistently.

Cost is another factor: It’s 22% less expensive to live in Los Angeles than it is to live in New York City, according to Salary.com. Housing prices are high in many parts of California, but you’ll still get more bang for your buck. The median home size in California is 1,860 square feet, compared to New York’s median of 1,490 square feet.


Cost to Move From New York to California

Moving costs will likely be substantial because 3,000 miles separate these two states. The price will depend on how many belongings you have, the distance from home to home, the time of year, and the services you need. An average move price is consequently difficult to estimate, but consider these moving quotes we received for a three-bedroom, long-distance move of 2,900 miles originating in Santa Rosa, California. This is the equivalent distance of moving between California and New York. All moving quotes include full packing.

Mover Sample Quote

IMRG

$10,800

International Van Lines

$14,500

American Van Lines

$17,000

A self-service move involves hiring a truck, packing your belongings yourself, and unpacking them on your own. Partial service may refer to boxing your own items but having movers load the trucks and pad your furniture and large items. A full-service move includes all packing, loading, unloading, and driving.

Long-Distance Moving Companies

The best long-distance moving companies can handle the hassle of moving for you. Full-service movers are typically the most expensive, but their service provides tremendous peace of mind, particularly when it comes to moving large or delicate items such as antique furniture, pianos, and electronics. Professional movers know how to pad and secure these items so they won’t shift during transport. They’ll also make the most out of the available truck space, so you won’t rent a larger truck than you need.

Here are some of our picks for the best interstate moving companies to get you from the Empire State to the Golden State. 

  • International Van Lines: IVL specializes in brokering long-distance moves, so you’ll be in good hands. They’re our top overall pick based on their quick quote process and robust cancellation policy.
  • American Van Lines: We recommend AVL for homeowners with antiques, art, or other high-value, fragile items, as they handle everything in-house.
  • Interstate Moving & Relocation Group: IMRG offers specific moving guides for major cities.
  • Allied Van Lines: Allied provides the best customer service experience available by offering a personal moving coordinator.
  • North American Van Lines: We recommend NAVL if you have high-end electronics or other specialty items.

DIY Tips to Save Money

A cross-country move is expensive, but there are ways to keep moving costs down.

  • Avoid moving during the peak season of May to August when moving companies are busiest.
  • Do as much as you can yourself, such as packing what you can and renting your own moving truck.
  • Downsize your belongings as you pack to save on truck space. Donations to Goodwill or other charities are tax-deductible.
  • Schedule everything as far in advance as possible to avoid extra fees.
  • Use suitcases, hampers, and towels before purchasing cardboard boxes and disposable padding.

Finding the Best Mover From New York to California

Remember these tips as you compare long-distance moving companies:

  • Get at least three quotes from different companies, and ask for binding estimates when possible.
  • Look at the company’s Better Business Bureau page for its rating, accreditation status, and customer reviews.
  • Look at the company’s cancellation policy to confirm your options for rescheduling or refunds.
  • Moving companies typically request a deposit up-front, particularly for large moves. Note that some deposits may be up to 50% of your total move cost.
  • Mention any specialty items you may have, including fine art, large musical instruments, hot tubs, vehicles such as ATVs or jet skis, or pool tables. These often cost extra to move.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation requires interstate moving companies to maintain a current license, so ask the mover to provide proof of this license or look them up in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration database.

Paperwork Needed to Move From New York to California

Prepare the following documentation as you prepare for your move from the East Coast to the West Coast:

  • California has its own Affordable Care Act healthcare marketplace called Covered California. Register here after your move if you don’t get healthcare through your job.
  • Change your address with your car insurance provider and update your policy. This insurance is often cheaper in California than in New York.
  • Check with the California Public Utilities Commission about setting up electricity, gas, and water. Most California utilities are provided by Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, or Southern California Edison.
  • Complete a change-of-address form with the United States Postal Service and begin mail forwarding on your moving date. You can sign up for this service online or in person. Complimentary mail forwarding usually lasts one calendar year.
  • Keep your important documents, such as Social Security cards, birth certificates, and passports, on your person.
  • Homeowners insurance isn’t mandatory in California, but it is a good idea, and the same can be said for renters insurance. We strongly recommend you pay extra for disaster insurance, as forest fires and earthquakes are more common in California than elsewhere.
  • You’ll have 10 days to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of your move once you arrive in California. The California DMV is heavily invested in online services, so you must navigate the website to schedule an appointment. Have your New York license, vehicle registration, and car title ready to bring with you.

Settling Into Life in California From New York

Coping with moving to a new city can be difficult, especially when considering the wildly dissimilar New York and California. Here are some tips to make this process easier:

  • California and the Bay Area, specifically, are known for microclimates. Dress in layers, and prepare for fog in coastal areas.
  • California has more changes in elevation than New York, especially in cities such as San Francisco. Be aware that walking several blocks may require you to go up and down steep hills.
  • California is a huge state that encompasses many different cultures and types of people. The beach culture of Southern California is different from the farming life of the Inland Empire, which in turn is very different from the tech focus of the Bay Area. Wherever you land, be open to new experiences.
  • Embrace the laid-back culture, and be patient with your new friends and colleagues.
  • If you like the outdoors, sample the many different environments California has to offer. Beaches, mountains, deserts, and forests will be within your reach.
  • Join new groups in your area instead of relying on social media for outreach. This may include professional organizations, churches, hobby groups, neighborhood organizations, and more.
  • Many California cities are far more spread out than those in New York, so give yourself extra time to get from one place to another. Remember that public transportation will likely be less available than it is in New York City.
  • Unpack quickly, and make your new home your own.

Most Popular Cities in California for New York Transplants

While California is more than just its major cities, consider these areas if you’re seeking a metropolitan home:

  • Los Angeles: LA is more than just Hollywood and the beach. It’s also home to a number of professional sports teams, research universities, and art and science museums.
  • Sacramento: Sacramento is one of the fastest-growing cities in California, thanks to its relatively low cost of living and numerous state government jobs. The state capital is also rife with Gold Rush history and is close to mountains, vineyards, and lakes.
  • San Diego: San Diego offers many historical landmarks that date back to the founding of California. The city is famous for its mild weather, naval base, proximity to Mexico, and yearly Comic-Con.
  • San Francisco: San Francisco is a densely populated peninsula located at the north end of the Bay. It’s famous for iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the Transamerica Pyramid. San Francisco also has a robust public transportation network and a big-city feel.
  • San Jose: San Jose sits at the south end of the San Francisco Bay and is home to Silicon Valley and the booming tech industry. Real estate is extremely expensive, so many people who work in San Jose live in suburbs throughout the South and East Bay.

Our Recommendation

Make the process of moving from New York to California easier by hiring an experienced moving company that specializes in coordinating long-distance moves. Get quotes from multiple companies, trust your gut, and enjoy your new home in the Golden State.


Moving from New York to California FAQ

How much does it cost to hire movers from New York to California?

A full-service move from New York to California is likely to cost between $10,400 and $17,000, depending on the size of your household. Partial and self-service moves will cost less.

What size truck do I need to rent for a DIY move from New York to California?

The size truck you need to rent for a DIY move from New York to California depends on the size of your home. According to U-Haul, a cargo truck or small 10-foot box truck will transport the contents of a studio apartment. A 15-foot truck is sufficient for a one- or two-bedroom apartment. A 20-foot truck is appropriate for a home with two or three bedrooms. You’ll need a 26-foot truck or larger if you have four or more bedrooms.

How far in advance should I book a moving company to get from New York to California?

You should try to book movers at least eight weeks out for a cross-country move. Book 12 weeks in advance for a move during the busier summer season.

How long does it take to drive from New York to California?

Driving from New York City to Los Angeles takes about 41 hours without traffic or rest stops.

What steps should I take to prepare for a move from New York to California?

To prepare for a move from New York to California, schedule movers at least eight weeks out, use a moving checklist to keep yourself organized, and expect a substantial difference in weather and culture in your new home.

What should I do first after relocating to California from New York?

When you move to California, you have 10 days to notify the DMV and get your address and vehicle registration changed.



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