Want to trade long, snowy winters for endless sun & fun? Moving from MI to CA is the way to go! Sandy beaches, awe-inspiring coastal travel along the PCH, vibrant nightlife, epic nature adventures (from Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park to the Mojave Desert), unmatched retail therapy, the highest diversity in the US, tons of variety & opportunities… California has it all. But, before you start packing up your place in Michigan, there are a few key factors you should consider. Check out your guide below for a seamless interstate relocation.

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What to Know About Moving from Michigan to California

There’s so much to be excited about when relocating to California, but it can also be a big adjustment compared to living in the Great Lakes State. If you’re considering the move from Michigan to California, here’s what you’ll want to know before committing to a change of scenery.

Taxes

Yay, taxes. Not a super fun topic, but it’s essential to know how much of your paycheck is going to the government. When it comes to tax burden by state, California is surprisingly not in the Top 10. But it’s pretty close at #13 with an overall average tax burden of 9.27% of income. In comparison, Michigan lands at the #30 spot with an average tax burden of 8.27%. Though California has a lower effective property tax rate (.77% in CA vs. 1.64% in MI), you can expect to pay more in sales tax (7.25% base rate in CA vs. 6% base rate in MI) and income tax (graduated rates up to 13.3% in CA vs. 4.25% flat rate in MI).

Economy and Job Growth

California is an economic powerhouse. Just to put things into perspective, if California were its own country, it would have the fifth-largest economy in the world! Taking a look at economy rankings by state by US News, the Golden State is currently ranked #4 overall in the United States. This score derives from three subcategories: business environment (#1), employment (#26), and growth (#14). By comparison, the Great Lakes State comes in at a respectable 19th place. At the beginning of 2020, California and Michigan had the same unemployment rate of 4.2% (compared to the US average of 3.9%). Models project future job growth in California to be 34% over the next ten years and anticipate 32.5% growth in Michigan over the same period.

Weather and Climate

That California sun – it has to be #1 in most people’s books. Coming from Michigan, you’ve probably had your fair share of what seems like endless winter. No doubt, the Golden State is vast and has plenty of areas that get snow. But you’ll also find many areas, especially those along the coast, with year-round temperate weather. With an overall winter low of almost 40°F (and summer high of 87°F), the West Coast state offers comfy wintertime living compared to Michigan’s winter low of 14°F, summer high of 81°F, and at least 64 inches of snow per year. As for rainfall, California sees an average of 22 inches, while the state of Michigan gets 34 inches. Plus, you can expect nearly 260 sunny days vs. 170 sunny days in the midwestern state.

Geography

When it comes to geography, there’s a lot to cover in California. At nearly 163,700 square miles in total size, the third-largest state in America (behind only Alaska and Texas) is one of the most geographically varied states around. It offers everything from sunny coastal towns and temperate metropolises to expansive deserts and the soaring Sierra Nevada. In contrast, Michigan is situated in the Great Lakes region in the Midwest, offering well-defined seasons and plenty of snow (especially in the north). The great part about the state of California is that if you want a change of scenery, you don’t have to go outside the state to find it!

Housing and Cost of Living

California has a lot to offer. It does come at a price, though. When looking at the cost of living in CA, we find a current index of 149.9. This index is much higher than the US average index of 100 and Michigan’s index of 89.6. When it comes to median housing prices, it’s the same story. While the median list price in Michigan is only $175,000 (and median monthly rent cost is $1,150), California has a median list price of $533,500 (along with a median monthly rent cost of $2,775). Yes, it’s expensive to live here. But when you consider the quality of life and opportunities, it can be well worth the price of admission.

Things to Do

When it comes to stuff to do, it’s pretty hard to get bored in California. If you’re in Northern California, there are the mighty & majestic redwoods in Redwood National & State Parks, which are home to a collection of protected forests, grasslands, and beaches. Central California is home to San Francisco, the Bay Area, and Silicon Valley (home of tech giants like Google, Apple, and Intel). Whether you’re looking for a coastal escape, desert excursion, or urban adventure, Southern California offers a plethora of fun in places like the City of Angels, Joshua Tree, or famous oceanside spots like Venice Beach and Coronado Island.

Educational Opportunities

When considering educational opportunities, it’s wise to keep in mind this is highly dependent on your future location in California. The state is huge. That said, when it comes to education rankings, California comes in at a respectable #21 (compared to #37 for Michigan) based on the quality of Pre-K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions. As for higher education, the Golden State makes the Top 5 at #4 with numerous top-rated schools! Top colleges & universities include Stanford University (Stanford), Caltech (Pasadena), UCLA (Los Angeles), UC Berkeley (Berkeley), and USC (Los Angeles).

Culture, Diversity, and Demographics

Do you want variety in every category? It’s hard to find a better place than California – not only in the United States but also the world. When it comes to the most diverse states, the Golden State easily takes the crown. Breaking down diversity subcategories, it scores high socioeconomically (#3), culturally (#1), economically (#11), and politically (#8). For comparison, Michigan is found a bit down the list at #36 overall. Interested in population distribution by race & ethnicity? California is 39% Hispanic & Latino, 37% White, 15% Asian, 5% Black, and less than 1% indigenous American. Michigan is an overwhelmingly 75% White, 14% Black, 5% Hispanic & Latino, 3% Asian, and less than 1% indigenous American.

Transportation and Traffic

When it comes to transportation, California isn’t exactly a contender for the best commutes. According to recent transportation rankings, the state comes in a less-than-spectacular #41 out of 50 states. Looking at the subcategories, CA is currently ranked #46 in commute time, #9 in public transit usage, #48 in road quality, and #19 in bridge quality. For comparison, Michigan doesn’t do a whole lot better at #34. A breakdown of categories shows MI ranked #23 in commute time, #27 in public transit usage, #30 in road quality, and #35 in bridge quality. As for commute times, California has the fifth slowest commutes with an average of 29.8 minutes. Michigan, on the other hand, lands the #29 spot with an average commute of 24.3 minutes.

Crime Rates

When moving to a new state, it’s a good idea to check out public safety rankings. California excels in many areas, but it does have room for improvement in overall crime rates. The state comes in at #35, while Michigan is ranked #20. This ranking depends on two subcategories: low property crime rate (#27 for CA and #12 for MI) and a low violent crime rate (#36 for CA and #37 for MI). When comparing a major metropolitan area in each state, Detroit has a violent crime index of 94.3 and a property crime index of 66.7. The much safer Los Angeles has a violent crime index of 29.1 and a property crime index of 35.1.

Food

By now, you should know that California offers everything. Food is no exception. The types of food you’ll find here include Honduran and Ethiopian cuisines, Gastropubs, fresh seafood, organic produce, vegan variety, surf & turf, California-style pizza, burritos, “animal style” at In-N-Out Burger, the list goes on and on and on. And yes, even avocado toast. Keep in mind that not all parts of the state offer the same level of diverse cuisine. Food in Los Angeles, for example, is an entirely different world compared to offerings in many parts of NorCal. Simply put, you’ll never get bored with the wide selection of tasty dishes & treats in the Golden State!

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Best Places to Live in California

From San Diego to San Francisco, there are a lot of beautiful places to call home in this West Coast state. Here are the top locations to consider moving to in California:

Carlsbad

Carlsbad is known as The Village by the Sea, and it’s every bit as charming as the title implies. Just 35 minutes north of San Diego, Carlsbad has seven miles of serene white sand beaches connected to three tranquil lagoons – all excellent for watersports or just soaking up the sun. Learn more about living in this slice of paradise here.

Irvine

Thoughtfully planned out in a ‘villages’ concept during the 1960s, the City of Irvine was initially part of The Irvine Company, a 110,000-acre cattle, olive, and citrus ranch. With a population of 282,572 residents, Irvine covers about 66 square miles and has a density of over 4000 people per square mile. Learn more about living in Irvine with our helpful moving guide.

Los Angeles

A cultural hub with limitless entertainment options, ideal climate, and proximity to the ocean, Los Angeles is an exciting place to call home. Whether you’re moving here for a career change or personal reasons, there’s no doubt you’ll be glad you did. Find out more with our L.A. moving guide.

Oakland

The 3 L’s of real estate apply to Oakland: Location, location, location. Lying directly east across the Bay from San Francisco, Oakland boundaries start at its eclectic waterfront and rise to oak and redwood-covered hills. Walkability, proximity to the Bay, and fantastic public transportation are just a few of the reasons to consider moving to Oakland.

Sacramento

As a major educational hub with affordable housing, a healthy job market, and the ability to telecommute, Sacramento is in the midst of its most substantial population growth since the Gold Rush. Young professionals and middle-class families are moving to the city in droves. Find out why in our Sacramento relocation guide.

San Diego

The west is the best, and of all the places you could have chosen to live along the Pacific Coast, San Diego is a terrific choice. With its ideal year-round temperate weather, a highly developed infrastructure, a robust economy, and its strong sense of community, what’s not to love about San Diego?

Berkeley

For many, living in California is a dream, and Berkeley rises to the top of many ‘best-of’ lists due to its unique lifestyle options, culture, art, and education. Ideally situated on the east side of the bay across from San Francisco, residents enjoy a more intimate city vibe but also reap the benefits of living near a large metropolitan area.

Huntington Beach

It’s no secret that Huntington Beach is a fantastic place to live. Between its stunning Pacific Ocean beaches, perfect year-round weather, and happening nightlife and food scene, moving to this sunny southern Californian paradise is a real treat. 


Cost of Moving from Michigan to California

On average, it costs about $3500-$4000 to move from Michigan to California. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff about 2400 miles across the country. The total cost of your move will depend on several variables, including your origin and destination cities, the time of year you’re moving, the size of your household, and which services you require. The best way to get an accurate estimate is by scheduling an in-home or virtual (no contact) walkthrough with a licensed and insured interstate mover. Get free moving quotes from the best Michigan to California movers now!

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Devin Barroga

Ever been bitten by the wanderlust bug? It's a powerful force, one which has captivated Devin for his entire life.... Read More