What You Need To Know If You’re Moving to California


From California Dreamin’ to Hollywood Nights, there are more songs about California than you can shake a Spotify playlist at. This is the state that inspires people to dream big and idealists from all over the world to move here for a better life.

California has a population of 38 million and is 158,648 square miles. To put that into perspective, the entire country of Canada has a population of 35 million and is a vast 3.8 million square miles. Here’s another way to look at it: it would take you about 15 hours to drive from the northern border to the southern border, while it would take a mere 45 minutes to drive across Rhode Island.

Being as expansive as it is, this state offers a variety of different landscapes (from desert to forest to beach) climates (from Mediterranean to subarctic), and culture (from world art to Mayor Joseph Spinney of Fresno who was so corrupt he was in office for only ten minutes).

So if you’re planning on coming to The Land of Milk and Honey and you think you know what to expect, you’re probably wrong. Here’s what you need to know if you’re moving to California—and the first thing is, don’t ever call it “Cali.”


Believe it or not, California’s seismic activity has actually been fairly tame in the last 100 years. (Yeah, I know, try telling that to the people who were here during the 1992 Northridge Earthquake or the 2010 Baja California Earthquake.) But considering that there are thousands of quakes—most too small to even be felt—every year, you should actually feel pretty darn safe. If the idea of quakes makes you shake in your boots, you’d best stay away.

In-n-Out Burger

If there’s one thing that unites all Californians, it’s In-n-Out Burger. Whether it’s the fresh-made French fries or the limited menu (three burgers, fries, soda, and three flavors of milkshakes), In-n-Out is more popular than Disneyland. It’s also one of the few fast food restaurants to pay its staff a higher rate than minimum wage, which is why their employees are always so ridiculously happy.


If you don’t enjoy avocados on everything—from omelets to burgers—you have no business moving to California. Here on the west coast, this pear-shaped fruit (yes, fruit) is not an ingredient, it’s a lifestyle. This state boasts an official Avocado Society, Avocado Commission, and countless avocado festivals. In fact, Fallbrook, a little town in northern San Diego county, is known as the Avocado Capital of the World because they grow more avocados than anywhere else in the nation. Which means, of course, their moniker should be Avocado Capital of the Country.

Silicon Valley

Not to be confused with the enormous porn industry in the San Fernando Valley, Silicon Valley is the pet name for the southern half of the San Francisco Bay area in which a huge portion of the world’s high-tech companies and startups are located. If you are a programmer, web developer or software designer, California is a great place to work. If not, there’s always porn.

There’s More to California than LA

When most people think of California, they think of SoCal (what we cool kids call Southern California) and, more specifically, Los Angeles. But there is a whole spread of land outside of L.A and San Diego known as Northern California (which includes San Francisco and…Eureka). It’s really like two different countries. NorCal lays claim to the farm-to-table movement, wine country, and gloomy weather, while SoCal has Mexican food, Hollywood, and endless sunshine. 

Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Any state that would voluntarily elect a former action movie star née professional bodybuilder from Austria has clearly been smoking too much wacky tabacky. But that’s just the kind of state we are. I mean, with fellow gubernatorial candidates such as porn actress Mary Carey, performance artist Trek Thunder Kelly, and former child star Gary Coleman, The Terminator was actually the best choice.

California Law Prohibits the Sale of Booze at Self-Checkout Lanes

As of October 2013, you can no longer purchase alcohol at self-checkout lanes in supermarkets. You now have to buy your booze at the checkout run by a human being. This is a crying shame and shows what a bunch of Puritanical teetotalers this state is run by. What next, Prohibition?? If you’re thinking about moving here, just remember: you’ve been warned.

Legalized Medical Marijuana

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, way back in 1996. And in 2010 Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill that decriminalized the possession of one ounce to eliminate jail time and limit the fine to $100. That’s a pretty cool state we have here, huh? True, both medicinal and recreational marijuana is fully legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, but those are also among the coldest, wettest states, so we still win.

Alpine County

Alpine County is the 8th smallest county in California and is without any high schools, ATMs, dentists, banks or traffic lights. I just thought that was interesting.


And finally, what list about California would be complete with a mention of Hollywood? If you’re planning on moving to Chowchilla, you can ignore this last section, but if you’re brave enough to take a stab at Tinseltown, check out these interesting facts:

  • The Hollywood Bowl is the world’s largest outdoor amphitheater.
  • The first person to personally receive a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood was actress Joanne Woodward. She received it in 1960.
  • The first motion picture theater opened in Los Angeles on April 2, 1902.
  • Castroville is known as the Artichoke Capital of the World. In 1947 a young woman named Norma Jean was crowned Castroville’s first Artichoke Queen. She went on to become actress Marilyn Monroe.
  • The famous Hollywood sign was erected in 1923 by a real estate agent named Harry Chandler to advertise properties. It cost him $21,000 to raise the Hollywoodland sign that was initially meant to stay up for only a year and half. In 1949, the sign was edited to read just Hollywood.


Selena Templeton

Selena Templeton is a writer and editor who sees the world through Giggle Glass, a type of wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display plus false nose and mustache. It reveals the absurd, amusing, and inappropriate goings on of daily life and displays it in a lap top-like hands-on format, from which she posts to various blogs such as Self Storage Finders, Romantically Challenged, and SelenaTempleton.com. As a former professional organizer and a current Virgo, she is a self-diagnosed authority on storage, packing, organizing, and general neat freakishness.

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