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Moving from New York to California | Costs & Benefits

Our guide to moving from New York to California covers the perks of relocating from the east coast to the west coast and highlights some of the best places to live in the Golden State.

A Californian style two-story beige/light peach house, with a two-car garage, muted orange shingle roof, and a well manicured lawn with tall palm trees Adobe

Over the last several years, many New York residents have left the east coast to settle down on the opposite coast, specifically in California.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 40,000 residents of the Empire State relocated to the Golden State in 2019 alone. In fact, California has become the fourth most popular destination out of a list of the top 30 locations for New York residents.

If you’re one of the thousands of New York residents ready to change coasts and swap time zones, it’s important to begin planning your trek with a careful review of the best long-distance moving companies.

To help you get started, we have compiled our picks for the best moving companies serving both states below. We have also highlighted the benefits of a move from New York to California and featured a few of the best Golden State cities to live in.

Best New York to California Movers

Benefits of Moving from New York to California

Moving from the east coast to the west comes with more than just a change in scenery. While the culture in California can be quite distinct from that in New York, there are many reasons New Yorkers are making the major lifestyle shift to a California state of mind.

Here are three of the top reasons to move from New York to California:

  • Mild weather
  • Job opportunities
  • Outdoor recreation

Mild Weather

There’s a reason California is called the Golden State. With an average of only 21 inches of rainfall a year, California is awash in sunshine most days of the year. And for those who have braved the frigid winters of New York, California’s moderate year-round temperatures might be a welcome change. While summer months can be hot, fall and winter temperatures in California are usually mild, depending on which part of the state you’re in. A typical January in San Francisco, for example, averages 53 to 66 degrees.

Job Opportunities

Although California’s cost of living is relatively high, it can still be an attractive place for people in certain professions. Silicon Valley is a draw for those in the tech industry. Located in the south Bay Area, Silicon Valley houses some of the world’s tech giants, including Facebook, Tesla, Apple, and Google. Los Angeles and Hollywood are still two of the best places to live if you work in the entertainment industry for those looking to make it big on camera—or make a living behind the scenes in TV and film. However, Central Valley’s agriculture industry is still the largest contributor to the state’s overall economy, and healthcare is fast becoming the largest employer statewide.

Outdoor Recreation

There are few places that offer the diverse natural surroundings that can be found in California. From the towering redwoods and rolling hills of wine country in the northern part of the state to the desert landscapes and national parks in the south—not to mention the hundreds of miles of beaches and countless cliff-top views—California is filled with opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. For those looking for year-round recreational opportunities like biking, surfing, hiking, and mountain-climbing, the Golden State is a great place to live.

Top Movers: New York to California

Before you make a move to California, you’ll want to consider the cost of relocating. Picking the right professional moving company comes down to which services you’ll need and how much you plan to spend. We recommend reaching out to at least three moving companies before making your decision.

International Van Lines: Best Overall Full-Service Mover

International Van Lines (IVL) tops our list of recommendations because it is a well-established company with widespread availability and services that specifically cater to customers making long-distance relocations.

In business since 1933, IVL is available in all 50 states and provides standard packing, unpacking, loading, and unloading, as well as add-ons to help you fully customize your moving experience. Optional services like special handling of fragile and/or high-end pieces may provide some added assurance that your antiques and family heirlooms will arrive in California safely. International’s optional contents protection plans with adjustable coverage caps more fully protect you should any of your items be damaged or lost during transport. IVL offers an All Risk Insurance plan that covers the total declared value of your belongings, up to $250,000. This option comes with either a $500 or $1,000 deductible.

International Van Lines Pros & Cons

✔ Offers a 15% discount for senior citizens

✔Includes all-risk insurance, which covers the full value of items at a 4% cost, with the purchase of packing services

✔ Ranked by Newsweek and Statista, Inc. as best customer service in the moving industry for 2021

✘ Working with local agents within a larger network means procedures, policies, and customer service could vary based on location and provider.

✘Requires a 25% deposit to schedule a moving date

Cost

International Van Lines can provide you with an estimated cost range online and will give you a detailed binding estimate (the exact amount you can expect to pay on moving day) following a review of your home and belongings, either virtually or in person.

Using IVL’s online moving calculator, we got an estimate of $4,200 to $6,150 to move a three-bedroom home from Syracuse, New York, to San Diego, California, in late April. This is a rough estimate, however. As stated on International’s website, the actual size of your move, additional services required, and availability can “greatly affect” your moving costs.

Fill out this simple online survey to get started on a personalized quote from International Van Lines.

Learn More: International Van Lines Review

1-800-PACK-RAT

If you plan to make a minimalistic move from New York to California or prefer to handle moving on your own, we recommend 1-800-PACK-RAT.

The self-service company will deliver waterproof portable steel storage containers to your home at your selected date. They are available in three sizes: 8 feet, 12 feet, and 16 feet. After you’ve loaded your container, PACK-RAT will deliver them to your new destination. DIY movers will find lots of helpful resources on the company’s website, including short how-to videos and a regularly updated blog.

1-800-PACK-RAT Pros & Cons

✔ Offers price matching on PODS estimates

✔ Customers have 30 days to fill containers at their own pace

✔ Has an online tool for customers to schedule container drop-offs and pick-ups, submit payment, and make any needed changes to their order

✘ Has a C+ rating with the Better Business Bureau due to unresolved customer complaints

✘ Does not provide deliveries on Sunday

Cost

Using the online calculator tool, renting a 12-foot storage container to move from New York City to Los Angeles in mid-May would cost approximately $5,179. That estimate does not include any add-on services, such as moving assistance. A 12-foot container, for context, is about the size of a 10-foot by 10-foot storage room and can hold 6,000 pounds of belongings, or the equivalent of about three rooms of furniture and other items.

Take this quick questionnaire to receive a free online estimate from 1-800-PACK RAT.

Learn more: 1-800-PACK-RAT Review

Allied Van Lines

Allied Van Lines could be a good fit if you need to transport a car, SUV, van, truck, motorcycle, or boat from New York to California. The company has more than 90 years of long-distance moving experience and operates its own fleet of vehicle carriers. Customers can choose either an open carrier—a cost-effective method that exposes your vehicle to the elements and roadway hazards—or an enclosed car carrier. While more expensive, an enclosed carrier is a smart option if you want to move a high-value vehicle, such as a classic car.

Allied Van Lines Pros & Cons

✔ Provides vehicle coverage of up to $100,000 with no deductible

✔ Offers mobile storage containers (similar to PODS containers) for smaller moves

✔ Provides optional furniture disassembly and reassembly

✘ Requires advance notice (at least four weeks) for long-distance moves

✘ Doesn’t have 24/7 claims support

Cost

We received an online estimate of $12,766–$14,118 to move a three-bedroom home from Buffalo, New York, to Sacramento, California, in late June. Allied Van Lines provides binding estimates after an in-person or virtual home assessment. You will need to give Allied a detailed list of the items you plan to move as part of the assessment process.

Find out how much a move with Allied Van Lines will cost by completing this online form or calling 877-483-9424.

Learn more: Allied Van Lines Review

North American Van Lines

Through its own fleet and staff, as well as those of moving agents within its extensive network, North American Van Lines (NAVL) can accommodate long-distance moving needs nationwide through standard full-service options like packing, loading, unloading, and unpacking, as well as add-on services such as debris removal and appliance disconnection and reconnection.

NAVL stands out for its streamlined claims process. If your items are damaged or lost during your move, you can file your claim online. The company’s claims forms and related resources are posted on its website. Dedicated claims support lines are also available for those who prefer to file their claims by phone.

North American Van Lines Pros & Cons

✔ Allows customers to customize their coverage to match the specific value of items

✔ Provides a Not-to-Exceed Pricing package that ensures actual cost will never be higher than your detailed personalized quote

✔ Offers discount programs to American Legion and union members and their families

✘ Requires an up-front deposit as much as 50% of the total estimated moving cost

✘ Receives varied customer feedback depending on location and the local moving contractor in NAVL’s network

Cost

According to North American Van Lines’ online moving calculator, it would cost between $7,483 and $8,936 to move a three-bedroom home from Albany, New York, to Irvine, California, in late March. Like most full-service moving companies, NAVL determines costs based on the distance and size of your move, as well as the time of year you plan to relocate and any special handling or add-on services you request.

The American Legion discount program provides up to $100,000 in replacement coverage protection on household items while in transit for a bottom-line savings of $850. American Legion members who sign up for NAVL’s discount program also receive access to exclusive moving and storage discounts, non-peak rates year-round, and guaranteed quotes.

A similar program is available to union members and their spouses and immediate families that provides up to $50,000 in replacement coverage (a savings of $560). The union discount program includes all American Legion membership benefits and packing discounts.

Take this online questionnaire or call 877-624-0912 for a free quote from North American Van Lines.

Learn more: North American Van Lines Review

JK Moving

JK Moving is a full-service moving company that offers a wide selection of add-on options that allow customers to customize their move. In addition to packing, unpacking, loading, and unloading, JK Moving offers more specialized services such as vehicle relocation and handling difficult items like pianos, artwork, and antiques. The company assigns personal moving coordinators to assist customers with creating a package that best suits their needs.

Customers can also add or change services and make payments without assistance through the company’s user-friendly mobile app.

JK Moving also offers in-house financing, with rates as low as 0%*. However, it’s important to review your rate to avoid paying significantly more for your move in the long run.

* Subject to credit approval.

JK Moving Pros & Cons

✔ Has live 24/7 customer support

✔ Assigns a personal moving coordinator to assist you throughout the moving process

✔ Offers in-house financing

✘ Will not match competitor prices

✘ Does not offer an instant quote online or by phone

Cost

While JK Moving doesn’t provide instant quotes without first conducting a home assessment, the company did give us a ballpark estimate of $8,000 to move a three-bedroom home 750 miles, with furniture disassembly, wrapping, and padding, as well as loading and unloading all household items and full-replacement valuation coverage, included, For context, the driving distance from New York to California averages approximately 2,800 miles.

To find out if JK Moving can meet your relocation needs, complete this online form or call 571-487-8929.

Learn more: JK Moving Review

PODS

We recommend PODS to those who prefer convenience over full service. Like 1-800-PACK-RAT, PODS is a self-service moving provider that delivers portable steel containers to your home, allowing you to load and unload items at your own pace. Containers are available in eight-, 12-, and 16-foot sizes. PODS will pick up your containers from your current location and transport them to your new address. Although loading and unloading assistance does not come standard, PODS can connect you with a third-party provider should you decide to hire hourly labor.

If you know you want to move to California but haven’t yet found a place to live, PODS’ built-in storage options allow you to safely stow your belongings until you have a new address at which they can be delivered. PODS also has a flexible rescheduling policy that allows customers to change their container pick-up and delivery dates with little advance notice.

PODS Pros & Cons

✔ Has a patented container-lifting machine, Podzilla, that is designed to keep containers and belongings level while being loaded onto and off of PODS transport trucks

✔ Operates facilities across the country for temporary and long-term storage

✔ Can ship vehicles

✘ Only gives online estimates for local moves

✘ Containers and storage facilities are not temperature-controlled

Cost

For long-distance moving quotes through PODS, you must call the company directly and provide details regarding your relocation, such as the size and distance of your move. Quotes are valid for up to seven days and include the first month’s rental fee for your containers as well as any delivery and pick-up charges and transport from your current location to your new address.

We were quoted approximately $5,700 to relocate from Rochester, New York, to Santa Monica, California for the use of a 16-foot container for one month.

Take this short online survey to find out if PODS is right for your move.

Learn more: PODS Review

American Van Lines

If you are concerned about the safety of your items during loading, transport, and unloading, American Van Lines has some of the most experienced moving crews in the industry. American Van Lines employs all of its movers full time and requires them to receive ongoing education through the company’s training facilities. According to American’s website, the average experience level for its crew members is ten years, and crews are trained and certified in specialty services like packaging and handling of large and/or fragile items.

American Van Lines Pros & Cons

✔ Provides price matching

✔ Movers are certified to handle pianos and antiques

✔ Does not outsource long-distance moves to a third-party provider, so you have direct contact with the company throughout your relocation

✘ Requires a deposit that can be as much as half of your total moving cost

✘ Does not provide online instant quotes

Cost

American Van Lines won’t give you an instant quote, but the company will give you a binding estimate after completing a virtual or in-person review of your home’s layout and contents. This fixed-rate pricing approach reduces the risk of surprise fees and helps customers

stick to a moving budget, but it’s important to be transparent and thorough regarding your household items during the home review to avoid a cost increase on the day of your move.

American Van Lines gave us a ballpark estimate of at least $6,000 starting price to move a three-bedroom apartment approximately 1,300 miles. A move from New York to California averages about 2,800 miles, depending on where you are moving from and the region of California to which you are relocating.

Complete this quick questionnaire or call 877-960-3186 to request a personalized estimate from American Van Lines.

Learn more: American Van Lines Review

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I prepare for a move from New York to California?

We recommend getting at least a three-month head start on moving day. The best way to streamline the process is to first create a master list of all moving tasks, including setting your budget, getting quotes from at least three moving companies, and determining how you will travel from New York to California and how much time you will need to get there.

In the weeks leading up to moving day, you should pack up anything you no longer need or want and make plans to sell or donate them. Create an accurate and detailed inventory of the belongings you are going to move to assist with getting accurate quotes and ensure you have a way of keeping track of all of your items from pick-up to delivery.

Check out this article for more helpful moving tips.

What should I do if my bill is higher on moving day than previously estimated?

If the moving cost is higher on moving day, you are not necessarily obligated to pay the additional charges at that time. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), you are not required to pay more than 100% of a binding estimate (or 110% of a non-binding estimate) for any price increases after the moving truck has been loaded. The mover is required to bill any additional charges 30 days after delivery of your goods. A company cannot refuse to deliver your items due to non-payment of any added charges, which can be incurred if the inventory you provided ahead of moving day is incomplete or inaccurate. If you feel you have been hit with extra fees unfairly or a company will not deliver your possessions, you can file an online complaint with the FMCSA or contact the organization at 1-888-368-7238.

What steps should I take after relocating to California?

One of the first things to do after moving to the Golden State is to establish California residency. This can be done simply by renting or buying a home or apartment in California.

With residency established, you can get a California driver’s license and register your vehicle in the state. You will need to apply for a driver’s license within ten days of becoming a resident of California. The California Department of Motor Vehicles website provides step-by-step instructions on getting a state license, registering your car, and getting a new license plate.

You will also need to update your car insurance policy. Each state has slightly different requirements when it comes to car insurance, so it’s important to review your coverage with your existing insurance provider to see if your current policy meets California’s requirements or if you will need additional coverage.

Other important steps to take as a new resident of California include registering to vote, researching local health care providers, updating your banking information, and learning more about filing a tax return.

Most Popular Cities in California

Our Rating Methodology: How We Chose the Best Moving Companies

The This Old House Reviews team is committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers. This means earning your trust through transparent reviews and having the data to back up our ratings and recommendations. Our rating system for moving service providers is on a 100-point scale based on seven factors:

  • Moving Services (30): Does the company offer its services for local, long-distance, and or international moves?
  • Additional Services (29): What additional services does the company provide, such as packing and unpacking or loading and unloading?
  • Coverage (10): Does the company offer any additional insurance plans, such as full-value coverage?
  • Scheduling (7): Are customers able to schedule online, over the phone, or on both platforms?
  • Trailers/containers (7): How many trailer or container sizes does the company offer?
  • Additional Benefits (12): What additional benefits does the company provide, such as storage options, moving truck rentals, and financing?
  • Reputation (5): What rating does the company feature on popular review sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.