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Getting Established in Julian, CA

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

A woman unpacking as she settles into her new cabin in the small-town of Julian, CA.
This photo is copyright of Jennifer Gutierrez. © 2019 - 2022 by Jennifer Gutierrez.

Welcome to Julian! My name is Eva. I am a born-and-raised Julian local. (You can learn more about me here.) Moving to a new town can be a bit overwhelming, so I’m here to help you get started on the right foot. When most people envision moving to San Diego, beachfront living is what comes to mind. The cool thing about Julian is you get to live in a four-season mountain environment while being only a little over an hour away from the beach. The desert is just a short drive away too. Let's talk about a few things you need to know as you settle into your new Southern California mountain lifestyle.


As you have probably figured out by now, backcountry roads are confusing. Having a clear physical address sign can help ensure that your guests and packages arrive. It is also extremely helpful for first responders. There’s a high probability that navigational apps have your address wrong. You can correct this by submitting correctional changes to the platform.


The biggest lesson I learned while growing up here is that what you put into the community is what you get out of it. The sooner you get involved, the quicker you will adjust. Volunteerism is the heart of Julian. We care for each other and the success of the community. Just about every need is filled by volunteers. There is not an organization in this town that will turn down a helping hand. This is also a great way to make some great friends, learn some effective habits, and you’ll probably come to love this place as all us “old-timers” do.


Shopping locally is essential for the long-term survival of our community. By remaining loyal to local businesses, you help en­sure a healthy and balanced economy, and happy residents, employers, and employees. Local businesses are owned and operated by our neighbors, who care about and are invested in the well-being of the community and its future. Supporting them is a great way to show you care about the town. This is also a great way to meet other locals. Regular shopping at local businesses is a sign of respect towards the efforts of business owners who work every day to make an honest living. The more we shop locally, the greater the variety of unique products business owners will be able to carry. By buying local goods, we can help secure our neighbors’ jobs and ensure that Julian’s small-town charm is preserved for people to enjoy for generations. Without local business on (and off) Main Street, the Julian we all know and love couldn’t survive.


As you settle in, you will probably need utilities hooked up and a handyman to help with this and that. Being removed from the hustle and bustle of city life means that services available are few and far between. Your desire to be in a remote country town has to be greater than your desire for big-city convenience. I’m giving you a heads-up now, you will probably have a hard time finding help. Click here to see the available services.


The San Diego Backcountry is full of wildlife. Living among the wildlife has many pros and cons. Unprotected pets are easy prey for medium to large wild animals. Small animals like rabbits, chickens, cats, and lapdogs should be kept in sturdy enclosures that raccoons, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions cannot get into. Pets should not be left out past late afternoon. Pet food left outside will attract wildlife. I highly encourage dog owners to put their dogs through rattlesnake training.


Living here is a constant balancing act between staying safe and preserving the natural ecosystem. There are wild animals, bugs, and lots of unwanted house guests. Be prepared to share your land—and sometimes the road—with wildlife. In our modern-day, urban culture, it is customary to exterminate animals, but in the country, we must take into consideration how extermination will affect the entire ecosystem. It is possible for humans and animals to coexist as long as you are willing to make a few lifestyle changes. Personally, I have not had too many negative encounters with wildlife in San Diego County. There have been a few times when we needed to address infestations and unwanted guests. For the most part, we leave the animals alone. Julian residents have to learn to live with the wildlife. There are many simple changes that residents can make to help eliminate pest problems. You can learn more about how to live among the wildlife here.


Urban areas have a myriad of rules and regulations, instructing residents what they can and cannot do. One of the many benefits of country living is that these regulations may not exist. For the rules that do exist, we have a looser interpretation...within reason of course. In the city, there are overly nosy tattletale neighbors who call all sorts of bureaucrats to make sure you’re in line. In small towns, we do not turn people in for every little thing. Living in a less structured environment gives you and your neighbors the freedoms that may not exist in the urban areas. The deal is kinda like this: As long as no one is disturbing the peace, I won’t turn you in, so don’t turn me in. You aren’t in the city anymore. It is acceptable to have livestock, a few extra cars, and maybe make some modifications under the home inspector’s nose. Do not be the tattletale of the neighborhood. Pissing off your neighbors is not a situation you want to be in. There will come a day when you need their help.


Wildlife, beautiful night skies, peacefulness, cleanliness, and friendliness are just a handful of reasons why the country is so desirable. In order to keep it that way, we must make adjustments to preserve it. This means you can’t kill every wild creature you come in contact with. You can’t leave bright lights on at night. The region is quiet because residents don’t drive loud cars, let the dog bark, or blast their music. In order to keep the land clean, we don’t litter; we pick up any trash we see and maintain our yards. Julian has a friendly, small-town culture because we are friendly and neighborly towards each other—again, you can’t piss off your neighbors. Downtown Julian looks historic because there’s an architecture review board. The neighborhoods are charming because we avoid bright paint colors, don’t install chain-link fencing, and build homes that fit the feel of the neighborhood. These habits aren’t just an effort to preserve. They are also basic signs of respect for nature and your neighbors. Everyone around you lives in the country because they enjoy the peace, tranquility, and lifestyle of country living.


Julian has its own culture. Locals sum it up by saying, “It’s Julian.” It’s the only way to explain why things are done in a certain way. Our unique geographical location and circumstances allow residents to live a one-of-a-kind lifestyle. People live here because they like it just the way it is. This can be good and bad. Sure, there are many areas that need improvement, but it’s almost impossible to get anything in motion. As a newcomer, you will be expected to learn and live within the norms of the community. I encourage all new residents to find their place within their new hometown. If you feel that you have to change the town to fit in, maybe you should find a new place to live. The vast majority of residents moved to the region for freedom, privacy, and our old-fashioned ways. You can try to change the way things are done, but speaking on behalf of all those who tried, you probably won’t get very far. Our small-town culture is quirky, unique, one of a kind, and summed up in two words: It’s Julian, and that is why we love it so much.


In sleepy little towns like Julian, things move at a slower pace. That includes the merchandise on store shelves. Independent store owners have a tough task trying to keep a large variety of fresh options on their shelves. Out-of-date items often fall through the cracks. (I’ve also received out-of-date items from big box stores, so it’s not solely a Julian thing.) It’s best to get in the habit of checking dates before you buy items. For some newcomers, it’s a bit of a cultural shock, but in the big scheme of things, it’s only a minor inconvenience.


There is no such thing as a quick trip to “the city.” Every errand takes time. Yes, we have all driven an hour to the store only to find out we forgot something when we got home. The only way to preserve your time is to plan ahead. Use a calendar to stay on top of community events and to plan city errands. Keep a running grocery list. Be prepared to shelter in place. Always order online packages way in advance to allow for delayed shipping. You’ll get the hang of it.


In the San Diego Backcountry, the United States Postal Service (USPS) delivers mail only along state highways and to the post office. You will have to list your P.O. Box number and physical address on every package you order. In general, expect to get your mail on the far end of the estimated delivery period. It’s almost like the Pony Express is still operating in small towns. There’s nothing you or the postal workers can do about it. Please be patient with them, as they work hard to make sure you get your mail as quickly as possible.


Many benefits come with living in a four-season environment. Each season brings natural beauty and recreational activities for residents to participate in. For those who have never lived in a four-season climate, there will be a bit of an adjustment. It does snow in Julian. Residents need not only to equip their house for winter, they also need appropriate clothing and all-weather vehicles. Preparation also includes having a bulk supply of food on hand in case you are snowed in. It is not uncommon for a delay in the roads being cleared after a snowstorm. Residents who commute to work often make sleeping arrangements prior to the storm or work from home when snowed in. On the contrary, the summer temperature gets to a high of around 115. In each season, you will learn how you can better prepare for next year.

Alternate Routes Around Julian

There are two main roads to get around the greater Julian area, Highway 78 and Highway 79. Being that there are only two main roads, road closures and delays are just a part of backcountry living in San Diego County. I highly encourage everyone to become familiar with alternative routes during normal conditions. It is critical that you know these routes without the use of Google Maps/Apple Maps/GPS. These programs are not aware of the roads that some roads do not go through. The last thing you want in an emergency is being directed down dead-end roads.

The Big Picture

Julia is a charming town. I hope I haven’t scared you but rather given you a glimpse of what’s to come and how to thrive here. There’s so much more I’d love to share. That is why I created the Mountain Made Blog. Over the last couple of years, I have been slowly building the Mountain Made brand and blog as a resource for all things Julian. I create content for Julian visitors and residents. Everything I share is based on my personal experiences and honest opinions. Please use it for your benefit.

And hey! Don't be a stranger. I look forward to getting to know you.


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