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While I've lived elsewhere for business reasons, I've been a permanent resident of California for 50+ years. The problem with relocating to California for most people is that the largest selection of jobs are co-located with the most expensive housing. Very pricey compared with most of the rest of the country (particularly central places like Iowa). If you can find a job in one of the smaller cities or towns before you move (like Bakersfield, San Bernardino, Sacramento, etc.), you can find more affordable housing. If you have to move to a big city for work, commuting is the thing in CA. I know people who commute 2+ hours each way just so they can live nicely and affordably.
Even so, living in any of the three major cities still allows you to be close to beaches, mountains, deserts, etc. The central coast is the best, but its both hard to find work and away from major services.
thank you for your post regarding life in California. Bakersfield seems to keep coming up as far as a good place for me to settle. I ask myself, can the job market be any worse than it is in Iowa? I know it's bad all over. I will check into Bakersfield - thanks again! Bobbi