The San Diego French American Chamber of Commerce is happy to welcome newcomers to California. This guide is a convenient and easy of use tool to make your move in California smooth, pleasant and fun.

The headings and the content have been written by people who have experienced this before. Feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions.

Quick Facts

Just to give you some information about the economy!
California is the 3rd biggest state of the USA, after Alaska and Texas. The Californian State is divided into 58 counties and 478 cities. In terms of inhabitants, the city of San Diego is the 2nd in the Californian state and the 8th in the United States.

San Diego’s economy, once dominated by military and defense endeavors (now the city’s second largest economic sector) is led by manufacturing, particularly in the areas of shipbuilding and repair, industrial machinery and computers, metals production, and the manufacture of toys and sporting goods. The presence of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), with the affiliated UCSD Medical Center, has helped make the area a center of research in biotechnology.

Key economic figures

California is a national leader in job creation with 285,000 new jobs created in the last year and 746,800 new jobs created since the recovery began in February 2010

California has the highest number of ‘Green jobs’ in the U.S. with over 318,000 people employed in high paying green and cleantech positions.

3.5 million California small businesses account for 99% of the state’s employers and employ 52% of the workforce.

California saw funding increase by 81% year over year to total $26.8B in 2014. Deals increased by a more modest 13%, but still hovered around 400 deals each quarter.

California is the #1 destination in the United States for foreign direct investment (FDI) projects and the EB-5 Program is one of California’s most effective ways to attract FDI into the state. (

California, just for Fun!

California spans a surprising variety of landscapes and cultures. San Diego is close to the Mexican borders, you can go skiing on Saturday and lay down on the beaches on sunday, drive for days all along the CA1 from South to North,  enjoy the beauty of the famous National Parks : Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Joshua Tree, Anza Borrego, Grand Canyon….Official website to organise your gateaway is

To help you organizing your trips, here are some useful websites

Tips and Tricks

Remember that in the United States, any professional or salaried who provide you with a service expect a tip.

This includes

  • taxi drivers: 15%
  • hair dressers: 15-20%
  • waiters and waitresses: 15% of the check, the tip has to be calculated on the amount before taxes.

An easy way to calculate the tip is just to leave

  • Restaurants: a tip of about double the amount of the sales tax on the check. Make sure they haven’t already added a “service charge” or “gratuity” on their own, something that is common if you have a party of five or more people.
  • Bar keeps: just leave the loose change on the bar unless it was a large bill, in which case think 10% or more
  • Valet parking attendants: 1 or 2$ per car retrieved, depending on the size of the car and the difficulty and efficiency of retrieval
  • Bell hops (hotel luggage handlers): $1 or more per bag depending on bag size and how far they’re lugged
  • Sky caps (the baggage handlers outside airport terminals): tip them rather more than bell hops

You do not usually tip in fast food places, in grocery stores, nor do you tip sales assistants.

Sales tax: California has a base sales tax of 7.50%, and can total up to 9.00%. Sales tax is applied to nearly everything except services and certain items of food. Unprepared food, bakery items, hot beverages, livestock, crops and seeds, fertilizer used to grow food, certain devices related to alternative energy, and one-time sales are exempted from sales tax.

The N11 numbers

(911, 511, etc.) are special: 911 is for emergencies, 311 for non-emergency access, etc. but see the California N11 Guide for details


Like the rest of America, California is still entirely on US units: all road distances are measured in miles; speeds in miles per hour (MPH); and gas (petrol) is sold and consumed by the US gallon. There are no concessions at all to metric users — virtually no one will understand you if you try to use kilometres, litres, kilograms, degrees Celsius, etc…

San Diego Map Link:

Frommers Map Link –