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California property guide for ex-pats

California property guide for ex-pats

Are you moving to California and are now in need of a home? Relocating to a new country is always difficult. Add to that the process of finding a new home, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. However, there is no need to feel stressed because you are in the right place. We will cover everything you need to know in our California property guide for ex-pats.

Foreign property purchases in the United States

There isn’t too much to worry about here. In fact, non-American citizens are treated no differently than US nationals when it comes to purchasing and owning property in the United States. However, depending on where you come from, there might be differences in the duration and conditions of your stay in the US. Other than that, you are pretty much free to purchase real estate. Even if you are looking to buy real estate as an investment property, the United States can be a good choice. Many places are attractive to tourists, and California has always been a popular destination.

Why pick California?

Well, if you are reading the California property guide for ex-pats, you probably already have your mind set, but we will still give you a quick rundown. California is a great place to call home regardless of what your interests are. The weather is primarily a Mediterranean climate, and most coastal cities have a cool feel to them even during the summer. Furthermore, if you are looking to do business, there are tech companies galore. Do you want to go exploring the outdoors? There are plenty of national parks and places to go rafting, skiing, and surfing. Moreover, entertainment and nightlife are covered by the vibrant scenes in LA, San Francisco, and San Diego. California also has by far the most professional sports leagues of all other states. Property prices have been relatively stable, and major cities have seen a minimal fluctuation in real estate value.

Should you rent property in California?

Even if you want to buy property, it still makes sense to rent at first. Renting isn’t as much of a commitment as purchasing real estate is. You can be mobile and move from place to place until you find a location that you finally want to settle in. California is huge, and there tend to be significant differences in climate, neighborhoods, business opportunities, and of course, prices.

The cost of rent in the major cities can be pretty high compared to the rest of the United States. If you want to save on money, perhaps consider avoiding city centers and look to the suburbs or even smaller cities. Large cities and coastal settlements are in high demand for rent during the entire year. There will likely be an application process that you will need to go through. Flat sharing and sub-leases are also common in California. If you aren’t against having roommates, renting with someone else could be a money-saving option too. Nevertheless, before committing to anything, be sure to see it in person first. If you need additional help, you can check out our ex-pat renting guide.

Purchasing real estate in California

When purchasing property, we highly recommend hiring a local real estate agent. Having someone who is on your side and knows the local scene is invaluable when buying a house. A buyer’s agent will help you find the right property and tell you which neighborhoods to avoid. They can also navigate the price negotiations and recommend professionals from other fields if you end up needing them. When purchasing property in the United States, the purchase price will cover the associated taxes and fees, and the seller also covers some expenses.

Although we have mentioned that prices have been relatively stable, they have also been steadily increasing. Some of the largest cities are very popular, and there is interest in all kinds of properties. It isn’t uncommon to bid above the asking price, especially if you find the property you like and someone else is also interested in it. Be aware that California’s real estate prices are higher than in most other places in the United States, but we did mention that the Golden State is a popular choice.

Where to buy property in California

What location is best suited for you can really depend on your priorities. Do you plan to permanently relocate to the United States, or will you just be spending your holidays there? If you are in the market to buy a holiday home or a second house, your best choice is probably somewhere along the coast. You will surely enjoy having easy access to California’s beautiful beaches.

If you want to purchase an investment property that won’t depreciate in value – pretty much anywhere in California is fine. If you haven’t made up your mind on where you would like to live in California, you can take a look at the list of cities many people want to live in to help you decide.

See Also

Moving for business is somewhat conditional on where your work is but commuting long distances to work is common for most locals. Job options are numerous as tech companies have a strong foothold in California, and so do the entertainment industry giants. Still, home offices have become a common occurrence since the global corona pandemic struck, so you can even consider purchasing a cheaper property that isn’t located in a large city central neighborhood.

Moving to California

Once you have finally chosen where you would like to settle in California, you also need to consider how you will transport your belongings there. Thankfully, many moving companies do long-distance relocations, and Mod Movers can help transport even specialized items like pianos and fine art.

Importing your vehicle from another country is also a possibility, and you can register your car once you establish residence. The Department of Motor Vehicles allows 20 days for the registration to avoid late fees, so don’t forget to register in time if you are importing a car to California.


California is a great place to visit, and many ex-pats choose to call it home. We hope you got some good ideas from our California property guide for ex-pats. Whatever you are looking for, you will surely find it in California. From busy cities to relaxed beaches and secluded national parks – there is something for everyone in America’s Golden State.

Meta description: Purchasing real estate in the US? California property guide for ex-pats has you covered with all the tips you need to get started.

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