Skip to main content

The Pros And Cons Of Living In California


Why California?

I say, Why NOT California? California is not just a place. It's a way of life. Cliché, I know, but true. I say that having come from a small farming community in Indiana, which is a completely different way of life than California. We just follow a different drumbeat than other people here in California. To break it down a little further, Southern California is a different way of life than Northern California. As with any other location, there are both pros and cons to living there. Here I'll list some of what I see as being pros and cons of living in Californa. Obviously this isn't a comprehensive list, and it's based on my personal opinions. I would love to hear what you consider to be a pro/con of living in California, as well!

Cons of Living in California:

1. Traffic. There are a lot of people in California. Most of these people have cars. Most of these car-owning people drive said cars. This results in traffic. Traffic in Southern California is significantly worse than it is here in Northern California. Traffic in Northern California is significantly worse than it is in my small farming community home of Jay County Indiana.

2. The weather. It's hot. It is hot in California. Period. We can have full weeks of 100-degree weather. I know there are plenty of other places in the United States where the weather is just as warm, and warmer, but we're talking about California. It's hot here. In the winter it rains in Northern California. Again, not nearly as much rain as can be found in the upper Northwest regions of the country. But too much rain for my liking.

3. Pressure to look good. Mostly this pressure to look as fabulous as a celebrity can be found in Southern California, but it's inched it's way to the North as well. If you walk out to your mailbox without your hair done, makeup fully applied, and 3" stiletto heels on, you will garner utterly confused looks of astonishment.

Pros of living in California:

1. The weather. It's warm in California. Yes, I know we've established the weather to be a con of living in California. What can I say? We Californians are complex beings...for the most part. The weather in California is nice for a majority of the year. This means we get to be outside for a majority of the year. More trips to the beach, more outdoor concerts, more swimming, more barbeques. More tans.

2. The beach. I live in the Sacramento area, which puts me a mere 2 hour drive away from a beach. If you live in Southern California, chances are you're a little closer to a beach. With the sunny, warm weather, you have ample opportunity to make your way to whatever beach your little heart desires.

3. The Bay area. We have San Francisco. No one else can say that! If you're into anything artsy, San Fran is the place to go. Great shopping, there, too. An eclectic mix of people, to say the least. Never a dull moment in San Francisco.

4. Lake Tahoe. Beautiful Lake Tahoe. The water is always clear blue...and freezing. But beautiful. There is a wide variety of activities to keep you occupied in the Tahoe area. On South Shore you'll find the casinos. On North Shore there are great places to shop, eat, and all sorts of water-activity-equipment-rental locations. I've personally parasailed at Lake Tahoe, and it is a gorgeous view from the sky. Kayaking on the lake is great, as well. If you wander a little ways away from the lake itself you'll find a plethera of other activities, including bike trails, hiking trails, and Emerald Bay.

5 Proximity. As I said before, I live in the Sacramento area. This puts me approximately 1 1/2 hours driving time away from San Francisco, 3 hours driving time to Santa Cruz and the boardwalk, 1 1/2 hours driving time away from Lake Tahoe, 9 hours driving time / 1 hour flying time to Los Angeles, 2 hours flying time to Las Vegas, NV, 2 hours flying time to Seattle, WA, less than a 2 hour drive away from some great ski slopes...I could go on. We're within a couple hours of almost anything you could want to see or do.

Comments on March 23, 2015:

Visit st george ut. Enough said. Sorry st george but the secret is getting out.

HubSnub on October 14, 2014:

I was born and raised here (58 yrs.) and I both love and loath California. It is arguably the most beautiful state in the union but it is being ruined by idiotic politics and crime. Wait, aren't these one in the same? California isn't the only state in this predicament, but it is the biggest. As one poster here said, soon the whole country will follow suit due to the idiotic politics of our federal government. I truly believe that the left and right have irreconcilable differences and we should split into two separate countries so that both left and right can live in peace without persecution. We would soon see which philosophy is better. The right would keep the original constitution and the military and the left can run around wearing organic fig leaves and riding bamboo bicycles!

birdsaredying on August 23, 2014:

I just got back from an ill-fated job interview in the Bay Area. I lived in LA for 5 years and San Diego for 4. San Diego used to be really nice but it's just so crowded now and only becoming more so each day. It's also hotter now for some reason. LA is a giant parking lot. Gridlock is happening 24/7. It's impossible to move around. SF is the most expensive place of all. It's like a giant money pit. As soon as you land your money is being sucked into a giant hole. It's way too crowded. There are too many people there. It's just no fun at all. And yes, for all practical purposes CA is Mexico now but this goes for the whole US. I am not a racist person but the people that are coming are coming to take and not create anything of value. It's kind of sickening to see the top 1 percent in Malibu and Berkeley tooling around in their lambergini with all the homeless people surrounding them. The world is becoming so depressing. And now Robin Williams has committed suicide to top it all off. His ashes were spread in the SF Bay by the way. What fun is it when you have to wait hours to get seating and pay a small fortune for everything and get pushed and shoved and get run over while riding your bike or have your house robbed or your car hit in the middle of the night or stay at American's Best Inn in Oakland which is a budget hotel and has no less than 50 cameras set up all around it guarding it at all times. CA is what will happen everywhere in the US eventually and it's super depressing. I went to an open house at JPL at CALtech in Pasadena. They had all their stuff on display-- Mars Rover, educational movies, etc. The lines were so huge with everyone bringing their kids to become astronauts one day. People waited for hours in these lines and parents started fighting over the free posters that were available to their kids--- screaming at each other and ripping these free posters out of one another's hands. Yes, some of the wilderness is still amazing but you have to get away-- far away from the cities. When you go hiking anywhere in So. CAL expect to be hiking right along with 50 others which kind of ruins the experience.

Our poor USA---- it's getting too crowded out there and it kills the soul.

birkie on June 03, 2014:

Scroll to Continue

When I started to read the first comments at the beginning I was totally shocked at the bizarre excuse for reality they conveyed. I was born in California when it was a great state in the 1970s. I have lived there and found it to be startlingly different from the rest of the country--both good and bad. When I was young I thought it was the best place in the world. There are a lot of PROS and CONS. It depends on your particular taste. However, one must be honest and quite a few of the previous postings are very dishonest and totally biased. My specialty is in northern California but Southern California has some things in common with the north, but both are very,very different places. PROS:California in general is the place to be if you like nature and natural beauty. There is no place on earth that has a more beautiful array of natural beauty to behold.

CONS:On a spiritual and emotional level, California is a superficial, sordid, sleazy mecca of materialism, racism, classist and pretentious snobbery.

CONS: The state is bankrupt and they keep raising taxes instead of cutting spending.

CONS:The taxes and cost of living are sky high.

CONS:You cannot have a chimney because it is illegal, nor can you have a BBQ in the Bay Area. It is the quintessential nanny state.

CONS:There are huge income gaps and the middle class is dying fast. A small hovel in the Bay Area easily sells for 300K. And your neighbor's house may look like a crack house or be tastefully renovated. Often many of both can be seen on the same block.

CONS:The people in the Bay Area are really weird and antisocial. Going to California now is like going into the Twilight zone. I have traveled the world and I have never seen so many homeless people with mental illness all over the place--in any city or town I was in. There is graffiti everywhere. The police are nowhere to be found when you need them but the second you violate the smallest infraction they will be on you like white on rice without fail. The cool thing about California is the cultural diversity makes for some great restaurant experiences.

CONS: That is because it once was a melting pot. It not longer is. It truly is a very cultural diverse place. But why don't people speak English anymore? A lot of people just walk in speaking Spanish. I was in a flower shop in Fremont, California and this happened. This is arrogant, rude and disrespectful.

CONS:Most people in northern California are really standoffish. They will never say high or acknowledge you randomly. I walked into a Wells Fargo and everyone except the managers was cold and distant. I felt like I was in a different planet.

CONS and PROS:When you use the BART rail system you realize it is very efficient and will take you anywhere in the Bay Area for a reasonable price because, as a taxpayer funded boondoggle, it costs BART something like 80 dollars per person to use.

PROS: Once of the nice things about northern California is that people really actually care about their health and take care of themselves and are really into healthy clean food without toxic chemicals. They educate themselves. They like exercise.


People are really healthy looking and in shape in northern California. I have never seen so many beautiful women in my life.

CONS: They will not even look at you but that is part of the California snobbery and pretentious, superficial mentality.

CONS: Unless you have a job lined up and make six digits, you will not make it.

CONS: California is very crowded. The houses are tiny. This gives me a feeling of claustrophobia every time I am in California, unless I am driving to the Bay Area from L.A.

PROS: You can sell your house and move to another state like Florida or Texas and buy 5 houses.

CONS: More billboards in Spanish and Spanish required for jobs. (Interesting how all the middle and upper classes in Mexico learn English but the working class Mexicans never seem to know it. And for those of Mexican origin, the discrimination starts the second they go to Mexico with people calling them "pochos" "pelados" or "nacos", which are very nationalistic, discriminatory insults for Americans of Mexican origin. Anyone with family in Mexico knows this to be true. They are the Mexican version of being called "white trash and uncultured".

CONS: Since California is so homosexual friendly, there are more homosexual predators who want to get to know you, or in the case of San Francisco, hate you without even knowing you because you are not homosexual.

CONS: Huge Mexican flag waving near the BART station between San Jose and Oakland, I don't know why since 98% of all crimes in Mexico never get solved (and often involve off duty police) and many of the rich or the tiny middle class have fled extortion and kidnapping for safer places like California, Texas and Florida. If Mexico is so great, why are they in California? Just wondering. My ancestors came to the U.S. and respect and appreciated the opportunities they had.

CON: Unless you have a job, you will be struggling over the few available jobs with the other people.

CONS: Your neighbors will actually complain that the back of your yard smells like dog feces if you have a dog. This is another sign that yards are way too small. And that is a yard that is small and corresponds to houses that cost at least a quarter of a million dollars.

CONS: When people get on BART (BAY Area Rapid Transit) they do not even acknowledge other people. When I was a kid an used BART to travel to San Francisco for the day people would talk to each other and have a grand ol' time. Now it is like a surreal movie.

PROS: You can take BART and explore all the cities and towns of the Bay Area and go to San Francisco.

PROS: San Francisco actually took care of its horrendous homeless problem, which was really unexpected. ( In the old days they were taken care of in mental hospitals but liberals said that was cruel and inhumane and set them "free" on the streets. Go figure.)

CONS: If you are conservative, California is not liberal but raving lunatic liberal. They have no respect for differing view points. It is their way or no way at all. Democracy and free speech are gone. They will hate you for any center or center right thought or action.

CONS: Though they recycle they still haven't realized that they are not the only place on the planet that recycles. And they way Californians drive, they waste a lot of gas. There is no casual cruising around.

PROS: The major of S.F. has taken steps to stop ban smoking at outdoor public events. Smoking kills and Californians understand and do not want to contribute to it.

CONS: There are cases of kids getting rare, strange cancers and neurological disease in the central valley of the state. This is because of all the farming and the dangerous pesticides used.

PROS: Californians know that GMO crops are dangerous and work to make them listed on consumer goods.

CONS: There is a very high tax for anything and everything and a state income tax to boot. People with money are leaving in droves. I would, too.

CONS: The public school systems are a dismal failure and you will not have enough money to send your kids to private school, not in a million years.

CONS: In daycare centers, welfare mothers have priority.

CONS: The rich people who are eco friendly think their 100K Tesla car is good but fail to realize the electricity for those cars is made from fossil fuels.

CONS: People are always talking about money, and what people do, and what people have and what they look like. This applies to the south and north of California, but not the far north. They are down to earth rustic types. It is good to look healthy but to worship it is bizarre and really shallow.

CONS: Californians love their unions and like all true extortion loving, job destroying unions, California has its fair share of them. In fact, the International Longshoreman Union in northern California made sure that Walmart opened its mega warehouse in Corpus Christi, Texas instead of California. You have to love them jobs shipped out by unions.

CONS: No matter how hard you work, you will never make it. Some will, but most will not.

Ethal Merman on March 05, 2014:

SoCal is a Mexican enclave now. It doesn't matter if you are coastal or inland. Nothing is in English and if you are not bilingual you cannot get a job. Preference is given to Mexicans also so that is something to bear in mind when thinking of looking for work in SoCal.

Crime has increased big time, theft being the number one issue. My van has gotten broken into seven times since November and I live in a decent neighborhood. I had a garage sale and a group of illegals came up and stole several things including a baby stroller. Nothing I could do and the cops did nothing because they are overwhelmed with the increase crime.

If you are blue collar and work in anything construction they steal your tools then work as a "handyman" for half the price that anyone licensed can do the job because they do not have bonding. And because of the majority illegal population, they get hired over you because that is how they roll.

Over 250 business left SoCal in 2012. The reason is simple. SoCal has turned into a ghetto. Raising kids there is a nightmare, drugs everywhere.

You cannot grow anything in the ground, the drought is killing any vegetation. Palm trees are not even kept up anymore by the cities nor are the roads. My van has gone through an entire set of tires in one year from the pot holes in the roads, even major highways.

SoCal used to be the place of dreams but today it is nothing but an extension of a border town and the riff raff that dwells within.

I highly advise anyone thinking of moving to SoCal to think again, especially if you are going to open a business. You will lose your shirt. trust me. I had a multi million dollar company and watched a 24 van fleet dwindle to one van and only me working it within two years. Now I am trying to get out of SoCal and after losing everything and it is a challenge.

All the fantasy about SoCal is fake. There is no SoCal anymore. It's all Mexico and the people coming in do not care about true opportunity and the state caters to them like you would not believe.

Do not move to SoCal unless you are independently wealthy and can afford to move into a multi million dollar home with security up the wazoo. If you are a business owner or plan on working as a non Hispanic, Good luck. You're gonna need it.

Some Stranger Over the Internet on November 29, 2013:

I cannot speak for all of California, but born and raised in Socal I can give you my two cents. P.S.. I live inland.

1) Heat. We use umbrellas for this sole purpose. It may not be sticky, but you can't enjoy the outdoors during these months without becoming toast.

2) Smog. The above doesn't help this. We have official warnings tell us not to go outside and breathe the air unless you absolutely have to. Can't even put my window down by my work without the fumes going straight to my head. It hardly ever rains, there is nothing to wash it away, except for the Santa Ana winds once a year.

3) Traffic. My work is 4 miles from my house and it takes me 20 minutes to get there. Walking would not be any faster (nevermind the heat and the smog..) because of all the stop lights, overpasses and just mere winding your way through the streets.

4) Little Mexico. Over half of everything anywhere is in Spanish. From cable, to billboards, the instructions on the box of a coffee maker. You cannot get a job without being bilingual.

5) Scenery. Our only saving grace is we have mountains ( the crater walls) to look at in the distance. It is either all built up,(back to back cities) or rock, sand and brush. Most of our forests have been burnt down by "wildfires", or as I like to call them.. idiots with cigarettes.

6) Seasons. What seasons? The leaves on our trees don't even turn color anymore. There is no real Spring or Fall. Everything is either hot dead, or cold dead. Nothing changes. The only thing that gets us close to the Holiday spirit is the music on the radio. How do you try and explain to your children what a White Christmas is?

7) People. Nobody cares. People are rude, reckless, loud and don't give a damn about their surroundings. Even the creek which supplies our water and is the only natural, open water source anywhere near here has been polluted, trashed, and graffiti'd.

8) Expensive. Taxed to death. Permits for everything right down to a lemonade stand. Houses beyond your means, yet are not worth the materials used to make them. I guess someone thought we wouldn't need insulation, or earthquake proof structure, for that matter. Nope. You're paying for the fact that you can see the ground all year round.

That has been my experience. My dream is not to die here. Have a lovely day.

Gods Daughter on July 17, 2013:

In the Cons #3 Is a Lie, I live in Los Angeles California. There is no pressure to look good at all you can be you. No pressure to look good, Its whatever you want to wear or do.

Love Jesus Christ forever and always.

Yulie on April 25, 2013:

Those are all the "cons" you've got? Really? You are incredibly short-sighted. What about unimployment? Joblessness? High cost of living? Illegals? High demand for Spanish language fluency? Earthquakes? High taxes? I've been living in LA for 18 years and I can't wait to get the hell out. Anybody who wants to come here in hopes of finding their dreams, you can forget it. Here is the reality: if you're lucky, you will find a 1 bedroom apt for under $1000, and then you'll be spending your days sitting on your behind and wasting your spendings while no employer will respond to your resumes, and then you'll end up asking Mom and Dad for more money because you couodn't find a job on time.

Sabrina on March 12, 2013:

I was born and raised in Southern California til I moved to the mid-west at the age of 26. I miss California weather the most plus having it all at your fingertips when it comes to going and doing anything. When I visit California I am in hog heaven because I do not have to drive 2 hours to shop at Old Navy. Where I live it is like blast from the past. I love how California is where everything begins and is created. The people are so much more relaxed. I will say the crime rate is terrible so you better be street smart and know which places to avoid. It's a great place for people to live and grow and learn!

OCoast_Vibes on September 06, 2012:

Non- California's STAY WHERE YOU ARE! Cali is already too over populated... It's not as materialistic as all these people make it seem to be...not superficial like the lame's just when people from other states come in they assume we are all a certain way so they end up acting like total douche bags. Pretty much if you like cannabis, nature at its finest & at its worst, & you're NOT a homophobic, sexiest, nazi then you are more then welcomed here but if you are just stay home in the snow. Oh & it gets REALLY REALLY humid in SoCal & from what I have witnessed in Oakland it's pretty rainy..but hey surf is fantastic down here in SoCal....just a heads up from an I.E/O.C perspective

Julia on August 09, 2012:

Do not move to California even if you have a "high" income. My husband and I make a combined $380,000 a year in our high-stress corporate jobs in the bay area. We are forced to live in a 1600 sf dump with 3 kids that cost $800,000 because we can't afford anything nicer (nicer homes here easily go for $1.5 million and up). When I say it's a dump, I mean it's a dump. It was built in 1957 and needs new everything. If I could afford to, I'd tear it down. The sad part is that its not even in a good school district. The district is virtually bankrupt and recently increased class sizes in k-12 to 35 kids per teacher. It is also an hour commute to SF on Bart. There are no jobs out here so you have to commute. If you want to live closer to the jobs, you will pay well over $1 million for a small, old house with no yard and even worse schools. Also, our house is on a hill (like much of the bay area) so there is no real yard for the kids to play outside. Also, apparently they hadn't invented sidewalks in the 50s as they generally do not exist here. There are basically two temperatures here - boiling hot and cold. The sun is so hot here in summer you have stay indoors. Most of the rest of the year, you have to wear long pants and a jacket. Everything is expensive. Everywhere is crowded. People say the like a dry heat vs. humidity. I'll take a little humidity any day to avoid this desert hell.

cruz on May 21, 2012:

I think the one con that seems to be such a greatly overlooked problem in CA is the amount of latino gangs. I cannot believe the amount of disrespect of personal and public property I see from them. Spray painting homes, businesses, cars, hwy signs, etc, overpasses, etc. Shooting at each other in public. Salinas is the birth place John Steinbeck. Might sound like a nice place to visit to an outsider, but don't go there. Might want to read the truth first:

Have had over $5000 worth of my business equipment stolen by these cockroaches and the police do nothing about it. They are a festering disease and a HUGE problem that is being ignored. Santa Cruz has a website devoted to the amount of stabbings that have been a growing trend over the past decade.

I also think there's a fine line between being viewed as an "eclectic" state and being a bastion for homeless drug addict communities. I left the midwest because I thought I was a bit more liberal than most of the people I lived around and needed a change of scene. It took coming to CA to realize just how conservative I am. Have been here for 9 years and have NEVER made a true friend. Not one. Could go on for a while about the problems in this state. The one pro that I will miss is the national parks and recreation. Really second to none. If you are thinking about relocating here, think long and hard. The problems are such that they won't be apparent even if you visit first. If not for meeting my wife here and starting our family, my move here would be the biggest regret of my life. Cannot wait to get out of here. California is really another country. VERY different than back east. A nice place for a vacation, but if you don't make at least 6 figures annually, I wouldn't even think about it. I'll take the cold of winter for friendly people, nice communities to raise a family, and the possibility of owning a home any day over this mess.

Rachellepepper on April 07, 2012:

I grew up in the Bay Area for twenty years and am now living with my husband in Denver. Honestly this article is at most, only half true and is full of A LOT of stereotypes. Northern and Southern California are extremely different and most people do not move from Northern to southern or vice versa by choice, it is that different ( mainly the personalities). I grew up an hour south of San Francisco and have been to the city many times and honestly despise the city. Since I am currently living in a land-locked state, the worst part about not living in California, is the severe lack of random areas of water and how you do not have to deal with getting up earlier in the morning to go scrape ice off your wind shield for twenty minutes in the freezing cold. The weather in california got under my skin after a while because in the summer, it was often too cold to wear shorts and in the winter, it was often too warm to wear a substantial jacket so it was hard to dress on days.

Some of the things I found very unique to california is the extremely clean environment due to how progressive the state was and most people who chose not to recycle where looked down upon. Unfortunately it is true that people are slightly more mean in california than other places, but honestly it really is not that bad. For the record, the majority of people in California, about 90 % DO NOT KNOW HOW TO SURF, you need to go to Hawaii for that or very small parts of so cal.

I honestly do not recommend blindly moving to Cali unless you have a job lined up or have a place to stay because in my town, a one bedroom apartment was about one thousand dollars a month and it is one of the most expensive states to live in in the country. It is also one of the most beautiful especially in March during the rainny season ( the only time of year when the hills are not brown).

There really is no stereotypical image of someone from California, it depends on where you go, but there is so many people from so many places it is really easy to find your niche. One thing is very true though, it is that there are a lot of foreigners especially in San Francisco.

I really cannot stress how much better the mexican food is than anywhere else. Living in Colorado, the closest thing to the mexican food is Chipotle, which is not even close to the taco shacks in California where the workers can barely speak English. When I went back to visit my family, I missed it so badly, I ate it for every meal for about three days straight.

Honestly if you are considering moving there, take a week long trip, take a lot of pictures and notes about what you like and dislike and visit, everywhere that you can from Sacramento, to San Francisco to San Jose to LA to Orange County.

Jeff on March 29, 2012:

This article is somewhat incorrect because you are from northern california and although its nice up there, San Diego and LA are probably the 2 nicest cities in the US. Southern Cal is the place to be, but dont come here, too many immigrants as it is. o.O

Howard H on March 20, 2012:

I have lived in NY, Chicago, So Cal and Seattle, here is the scoop.

Everyplace has it's positives and negatives. First of all, you will be there wherever you go, so whatever hang ups or attitudes you have, you will still have when you get where you are going. So Cal is the best for real beaches, sunshine, and good food. Chicago rivals L.A. on food and entertainment, and has the Lake. Seattle has rain, overcast skies, wind and power outages. My area east of Seattle has a rising crime rate.

Negatives, CA has state income tax, so if you have a good income or fixed income from investments, CA will be happy to tax it. Seattle, being in WA last I looked, has no state income tax, but property taxes and special levies and fire district fees and water management fees are getting way out of hand. My vote, go for Malibu.

Sammi on March 03, 2012:

Pretty good list, except the "pressure to look good."

I have lived in or around the Los Angeles area my entire life and I can assure you that is a load of rubbish.

People go to the grocery store in sweats with their hair tied up all the time and nobody bats an eye. Might I also add the majority of us don't cake on the makeup daily. You are actually more likely to see someone dressed as Jack Sparrow (having been in Hollywood taking pictures with tourists al day) than dressed up in their stilettos and fifty pound makeup and mini dress.

Other than that fantastic list, but take it from someone who's lived here their entire life, that one is rubbish.

Daniel Martinez on February 20, 2012:

Born and raised in southern california. When I was little, my friends who went to public school actually graduated high school and knew how to read. Most spoke english as a first language, and those who didn't learned. We had freeways and roads that were in good repair and a public school system (all the way through state colleges and Universities) that were the envy of the world. We had three counties that together had a higher GNP than most countries in the world. Don't get me wrong, if you are a screaming socialist with eurotrash upbringing, or a mujado from down south, you may think this is the land of milk and honey; until all of your good intentions come crashing down on your head. Pros: Best Weather in the entire world, currently. Cons: All the damn liberals! Thanks for ruining it for us you beard strokers. This coming from a third generation American of Mexican decent (but isn't mexican a nationality, not an ethnicity?) By the way, I've faced more racism in Mexico from Mexicans than from good ol' boys in Fresno and Bakersfield.

Mary on January 29, 2012:

I lived in the Bay Area for years. Real Estate is a nightmare, one of the most expensive in the country and internationally, up there with Tokyo and New York. California has a sales tax. You have to wait in line for everything. Driving is a challenge. You may find yourself in gridlock due to traffic accidents. It costs eight dollars one way to cross the GG Bridge. Crime and homelessness is a problem. SF pulled out all of the public seating to discourage homeless loitering so you can't sit down on your lunch hour. Cost of living is very high. Better save your pennies if you want your child to get a decent education in -- private school. Many public schools are failing, unless you live in the 'burbs with multi million dollar homes or in the ritzy enclaves like Ross or Mill Valley. And you'd better feel comfortable moving in circles where people make a lot more money than you and let you know it -- California is a "display" culture -- especially Southern California. Young professionals move in and then out of the city -- they hit a wall when they realize they can't ever buy a house anywhere near The City and start a life. Unless you want to be middle aged and living in a multiple roommate situation, or pool your money and buy a shared house with several people, unless a wealthy aunt dies and leaves you her riches where money is not an object, I highly suggest you investigate the truth of the physical and emotional cost of living in California. It's the main reason why people leave the state. You can't pay the rent with the scenery. If you live in California, you must pay.

cheapestinsurance from California, USA on December 17, 2011:

I think the pros way out weight the cons. Just my opinion though.

Bruce on December 01, 2011:

Everyone seems to have dreams but...dreams are not real. The low pay, especially in San Diego, Monterey County and other areas in California make it HELL. My friend worked for Sony fixing laptops in San Diego and guess how much money he was making with many years of experience? $8.50 per hour. They have too many people in California and not enough jobs. Taxes are sky high. Rents are sky high. I can go on and on. I've been in California for many years..over 40years and I can tell you that California is quickly turning into Mexico. big SLUM soon. Even San Diego has a SLUM but about 35 years ago, California was one of the best States around but not anymore. California, to me anyway, has turned into the "armpit" of the Universe...BG TIME. So Many qualified and skilled people have moved out of California and why? I think that many of us feel Alienated here. It's a very bad feeling and unlike a dream, the feeling is real for many of us.

Nolen Hart from Southwest on October 16, 2011:

I love northern California. High taxes and high real estate costs will prevent us from moving there most likely. It is a nice place to visit even if we can't live there. Sonoma is my favorite place.

imawesome on October 12, 2011:

i agree with dan

wendi on October 12, 2011:


wendi on June 28, 2011:

I like nor cal weather. It's just fine for me. Southern cali is like, in lame terms, hell! i despise it :(

JEN on June 25, 2011:

I lived in California my whole life and I loved it but then we moved to Texas because everything is so darn expensive in California which is a big Con, there aren't many jobs out there. You are honestly fighting for the one position they open at the hospital..But the biggest Pro is their weather. I hate the weather here in Texas! You cannot do anything out here! I'm more of an outdoor person so that is honestly driving me crazy because in the winter it snows and in the summer its so humid 110 degrees. I can't stand it out here and I will be moving back to CA for many reason but I will have to give it to Texas that the cost of living here is REALLY good and so are jobs. I ended up getting a job that pays $7 bucks more than what I made out there in CA and i'm only in my early 20's ($17 an hour) and you can afford houses here like no problem. but I am still young and I want to live my life happy! so back to CALI it is! :)

yakapo on June 10, 2011:

oh... I also would love to live close to somewhere that has a small town feel. If anyone has been to Grand Lake, CO in the summer - that's what I'm dreaming of. Riding your bike to a little cafe and eating outside in the sunshine. *sigh*

yakapo on June 10, 2011:

I currently live in Dallas. This past week (1st week of June) we had temps as high as 107. I used to visit Anaheim for an annual summer conference. Every time summer comes around in Dallas I daydream about moving to CA. I'm not necessarily set on living in coastal SoCal. I don't mind if it gets in the 90's in the summer - especially if it's dry heat. I would love to eat dinner on the back patio w/o sweating like crazy. I love to bike and I would probably bike daily if I didn't have to do it early in the morning or in the evening to avoid getting scorched.

I've talked with my wife about it and I mentioned that if we lived anywhere near the coast that we could never own a home. She wasn't so happy about that. Maybe someone could suggest some cities in central or northern CA where they have 4 seasons and we could purchase a new 3 bedroom home for around $250k. If that's impossible maybe we can just stick to vacation rentals.

RealPerspective on May 05, 2011:

I grew up in the midwest, Kansas City, MO, moved to Orlando, FL by myself with what I could fit into my car. Lived in Florida for almost 7 years. Then moved from Florida to Washington,D.C. I lived there for almost 6 years. I have moved since back to Kansas City, MO. I miss the bigger city atmosphere. I have been in KC for 2 years now, in about 60 days I will make my move to San Diego, CA. I honestly think it's a matter of perspective. I have family in SD willing to give me a grounding to get grounded in CA. I have wanted to live there for years. Every city has it's stereotypes and pro's and con's. You really don't know what it's like until you get there. And there are some things you won't realize until you become a local. D.C. was expensive but the jobs paid more. I lived in a studio in Arlington, for $1035.00 a month all utilities paid. But I made pretty good money.. What's your perspective on certain things? Ask yourself these questions when moving to different areas. Do you have children? A family in the area? Friend? Are you single, the priorities change with each individual.. Something could be a drawback that some consider a pro. Happiness lies in your own mind. If you keep that in your mind, you can make it anywhere.

Randolph III on April 13, 2011:

California is beautiful but lacking in soul. There's a disconnect and lack of community between people in the larger counties. On top of that, there's not enough work, high taxes, crowded parks in the summer, and it can be quite dull if you pick the wrong place. The mostly perfect weather is difficult to resist, especially around the central coast, as well as the scenery from Big Sur all the way up through Marin. But is it worth it? The million dollar question everyone's been trying to answer. Depends. My heart is in another home, one of modest Blue Ridge mountains and a certain hickory twang in the air, but if your heart has no home, California's not a bad place to rest. Nothing compares to a perfect day in California. I will give it that.

Zach on January 25, 2011:

Oh California, your sunshiny Californian dream seems like paradise, the palm trees, the weather and the climate all hint at paradise. Your crimes, strife, and being Densely populated all hint at a large inner city high school.

Jenn on January 25, 2011:

I grew up in Lake Tahoe and currently have lived in Atlanta for the past 11 years. I'm 150% ready to move back to California. What holds us back is the extremely high unemployment rate & high taxes. We are still strongly considering just biting the bullet and move anyway and see how it all plays out. But it's still scary. As far as climates go, California has it all. I visit my family there as much as possible and love the different seasons. As much as I love Southern California, Northern California will always be my home.

luvalee1 on January 23, 2011:

My husband and I are really thinking of moving to California. We have lived in the Chicago area all our lives but we feel that it is time for a change. Away from the cold, snowy winters. Some former SoCal residents told me that San Diego, Irvine, and Newport Beach is very family friendly. Also, less earthquakes there than Northern California. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

WKford on January 12, 2011:

My wife and I have been considering a move to California off on and off again for about 2-3 years now. We are now in the planning phase but still have reservations at times. The thought of living in California is both exciting and at times terrifying. At first it was my wife's idea seeing her family is there and I rapidly warmed to the idea over time. However, its a coast-to-coast move and still a gutsy call to say the least. We are not doing bad where we are and do not have to move. Although, we are both looking for something different than where we are now. We currently live in the DC area which is not a bad place per se and I enjoyed my time here, particularly during the first few years in town. I think I have allowed the politics, certain personality types and the constant flux of DC to get to me and I need to make a change or risk being stuck in stagnation. DC does have some of the negatives of California such as a high cost of living, fairly high taxes though not quite as high as California State and high crime (higher than anywhere in California except for Oakland, DC proper and Oakland proper run about neck and neck). Additionally, some people here in DC but probably anywhere, will mow you down to claim an opportunity first. Maybe it's just my perception or because of the ultra-ambitious types that are attracted to living in the capital region. As a result, I find the uniqueness and laid-backness of California, Oregon and Colorado exceptionally appealing. (Oregon and Colorado are out because a few reasons). In general, parts of California has much of what I'm looking for such as a funky vibe, good weather, plentiful outdoor activities, mixed politics and a reputation for trying new ideas. I have done a lot of research and know quite a bit about the state's downsides including ...high taxes, scarce affordable housing, poor economics-shrinking middle class, a paralyzed state government facing enormous hurdles, earthquakes and ify schools among a few others. Despite the negatives I still want to move my family there and give it a try! It's a little bit of a risk but you'll never know until you try.

I am studying the East Bay and Sac the most because of relations nearby. I have an adventurous spirit so I will feel a little unfulfilled to an extent if I do nothing and stay in DC. We have all been given a stay here on planet earth for a time and I want to enjoy the natural beauty and splendor the creator has given us.

will on December 21, 2010:

I was born in San Luis Obispo California and have lived on the central coast my whole life. I agree with the people who don't like the congested life of LA or San Fran, however you CAN'T assume the whole state sucks. For example the central coast where I live is very laid back with a temperate climate that is quite comfortable. Also California is the most diverse state in the United States meaning you have more options in picking where you want to live. Some of the most spectacular places are located in California as well, including Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it depends on what you like and in my opinion California with it's tall mountains, long coastline, and beautiful scenery is the best state of ALL!!!!!

Ricky on December 15, 2010:

I wish i could move to California because the weather here in vermont is crap. the only thing bad about the weather in VT is winter. sometimes, it goes below zero and it gets really cold! but the spring and the summer is great considering the fact that it never reaches 100 degrees in the summer. the fall has good foliage and you can ski or snowboard here in VT.

Kris on December 03, 2010:

Some places in California can get really cold in the winter and really hot in the summer; You get the best of both worlds... or worst. I live in California (right outside the Bay Area, in the valley) and this is how the weather is. I live one hour from the beach... speaking of, the water is freezing, even in L.A., at times. But, California is a nice place. :D

Cee on December 03, 2010:

I wish I could move out there, but since I have a chronic illness, I cannot move there :(

dan on October 25, 2010:

Hi all,

There were a lot of comments about San Diego on here, so I just thought I'd share as well, since I am considering moving out of California. I grew up in Illinois, but have lived in San Diego for 17 yrs.

I can say that when I was in my twenties, I enjoyed living here very much. I used to hike and mountain-bike a lot, but now in my thirties and with a family, I find it extremely difficult to continue living here. Even with a decent salary (~$90k) I can barely afford to rent a house on a single income. Forget buying. I look at how some of my colleagues and friends have afforded their homes, and either they are two-income (with their spouse bringing home as much or more bacon) or they have significantly better paying jobs. So if you are in the $150k + bracket, or have a huge down-payment, then no worries. Alternatively, if you are single and don't mind finding some roommates, then San Diego is a fun place to live.

San Diego is not, however, the lush paradise that a lot of people make it out to be. The climate here is desert. The lawns, trees and vegetation around the city are maintained artificially. Aside from that, you will rarely see green here. The reservoirs are drying out, the water from the Colorado is expensive, mandating regular restriction. There are a few lakes around (the very same reservoirs) a few of which support some local fishing and/or watersport, but they are nothing like a natural rain (or spring) fed lake. There are lots of places to bike or hike, but they are often very dry, and if you want nature, this requires about an hour drive out east, but again it's very dry, often hot, and be prepared to be coated in "moon-dust." There are no relaxing hikes or camping trips until you get as far north as Jacinto or Big Bear.

The other side of the coin... I myself am more of a "mountain & stream" guy, whereas most of the people who are really happy with San Diego seem to be either really into ocean sports; swimming, surfing, body-boarding, boating, kayaking, sailing, etc. or desert sports; dirt-bikes, atv's dune-buggies, sand-rails, off-road trucks, etc. The first camp generally seem to pull-themselves out of bed at 4 or 5 every morning to catch a few waves before hitting the office. The latter seem to be weekend warriors & enjoy hitting the desert with their toys every chance they get. I kinda fall between the cracks there, as I've never managed to get into either group of activities. I feel that living 3 blocks from the beach is wasted on me, really.

There are many rude, inconsiderate, and just plain nasty people around any city, and San Diego is no exception. It feels far more crowded than it was a decade ago. The attitude and sense of entitlement that Southern California drivers seem to wear on their sleeve make commuting an act of will power to avoid re-enacting the freeway scene from "Falling Down" I feel that San Diego is basically safe, but I don't let my kids run around the neighborhood, nor do I even let them play in the yard without a chaperon. My friends feel the same about their kids, and this is in poor neighborhoods, rich neighborhoods, and suburbs alike. Just too many weirdos around bigger cities.

I find my self much more attracted to the natural beauty and greenery of Northern California, or even further north still, into Oregon. Lush forests, streams and lakes everywhere... Given that the taxes are less, housing is less, and I can still make the same money, I feel better that my kids will have more room to play, grow, explore... live! These were the freedoms that I took fore-granted, coming from a small, rural town.


kris on October 20, 2010:

i agree with Opinion Duck :)

veryconfusedk on October 18, 2010:

I am relocating to San Diego soon; however, I do not have to and I am so torn on the decision as it is a big one! I have lived in TX, Atlanta, grew up in MN, VA, and now live in Charleston. I love the fact there are arts, theatre, sports, and endless outdoor activities. However, I love seasons and I am not too keen on the tight property lines. I found from visiting that people generally do not say hi. Traffic is not that bad and I actually found it pretty easy to navigate coming from Atlanta and Houston. I do not want to stay in Charleston but I am torn moving to San Diego. I am ready to put down roots and I am either California bound or back to the Midwest to MN and fully prepared to freeze my butt off (it is worth it). Very different options. I am interested in pursuing public policy and want a place where if I managed to get elected (armed with common sense, no party support and no willingness to bs - basically going to be impossible) - I want to make a difference. Water was very expensive as well. I'm torn. The comments above have been helpful and any further insights into San Diego - the good, bad, and ugly - would be so appreciated!

OpinionDuck on August 25, 2010:

The biggest con are the taxes, and the state government.

Colleen on July 19, 2010:

It's funny to hear everyone complain about the high cost of living and housing. I am moving to San Diego from Washington, DC and by comparison, everything in San Diego is so much cheaper! I get excited just thinking about how much I am going to save in rent!

Alyson on June 28, 2010:

what about the cost if living in Cali? Heard it was extremely expensive.

Cpt. Beatty on June 08, 2010:

After a LOT of research, I'm finding almost completely polar opposite views of living in California (San Diego specifically). I try to disregard all CA generalisation, as it's such a diverse state (from what I've read) that there's both a place for everyone and a place for everyone to not be.

In narrowing my research down to San Diego, it almost seems like it's all a matter of perspective. Sounds like it's made for some people and others... not so much. Is it really all that great/bad?

I'm trying to move to experience more culture, and living in Northern Virginia / DC metro area, I have no problem with a higher ratio of asians/hispanic to white. I think that the culture there might be something that interests me and gives me a new perspective.

As for the weather, I'd LOVE spring all year round, though I do love rain. But if you get tired of it, can't you just go out to the woods/mountains/lakes/etc?

I'm so torn; the more research I do, the more amazing/terrible the potential move sounds.

Jane on May 03, 2010:

I live in England with my family (hubby and 2 kids) and we are seriously thinking of moving to California in 2 or 3 years. It's such a big decision! The kids would move tomorrow, and hubby wouldn't be too far behind!! It's just me who can't decide. Any thoughts greatly appreciated. Thans!!

Ashley on April 26, 2010:

I lived in the Bay Area for 2 years and absolutely loved it. I want to move back! I lived in Santa Clara which feels more like a small town than a city; plus, it's just a short drive from so many great things. I grew up in a small town where anything that's worth doing was at least an hour drive. The Bay Area has so much to offer within a short distance. (Ah fond memories) Now I really want to go back.

Avinash Machado on April 24, 2010:

SoCal is now like a Mexican colony.

wsp2469 from Alta Loma, Ca on January 09, 2010:

It's getting hard to live in California. I have lived here since 1989 and it's still hard. . .for a lot of reasons. I am thinking of moving and have to say you can find the "pros" elsewhere with the exception that most people in CA never have to deal with driving in snow. It's also easier to get work in the entertainment industry here although that is rapidly changing also since unions keep striking for more money.

Carol on December 30, 2009:

I agree with Jessica.

Jessica on September 03, 2009:

this might be the dumbest article ive ever read. "chances are if you live in southern california you live closer to the beach"...? How about...chances are if you live closer to the COAST you live closer to the beach. there are plenty of people in southern california who live inland as well.

and the pressure to look good? sorry, but i was born and raised in northern california and almost everyday we go out to garden or get mail in our robe and slippers and guess what?! the neighbors aren't in shock!

i think the biggest pro to living close to a big city is having something to do. you cant say that about rural america. growing up in the bay area or sac there is always SOMETHING to do.

Charles on August 09, 2009:

Southern California is not the mecca it is imagined to be. california has NO weather. In San Diego county the last rainfall was over 6 months ago.And it is HOT. The evenings are sometimes freezing.99% of all the rental units here in southern CA. ar built shabbily, with zero insulation. With the majority of the population not middle class, but below that now, the cost of utilities is SKY-HIGH! So you will not only pay excessively hig rent but you will get soaked for any heat or air conditioning. And all this excludes the cost of trash and water. So, California is no longer the golden state. Unless you require a 24/7 tan and skin cancer.I find all this hype of California really exaggerated. The soil is so dry here that very little will grow unless you pay for continuous irrigation. Give me a good thunderstorm and some rain. I have lived here 39 years and now I am retiring and looking forward to going elsewhere before the taxes strangle me. Sorry Arnold, you

will not be able to tax me to death much longer!

Troyster on August 05, 2009:

Another good thing about living in California is you are within driving distance to almost any type of climate you might enjoy. Snow, deserts, giant redwood forests, beaches, mountains, grassland, lakes and pretty much everything except jungle.

Miguel on March 23, 2009:

I find this very informative and amazing. I plan to move to California when im older and reading these facts really helps me with my decision making!

Thank you

stephen on November 26, 2008:

i am planning on movin to the bay area in january, so i found your list very informative and helpful. thank you for writing it and sharing!

shibashake on October 07, 2008:

I think the weather is a big draw for CA, esp. northern CA. Even though it may get hot for a small number of days during the summer, it is almost never humid. Dry heat is much easier to tolerate than humid heat. It is also really nice that there are so many parks around. I have a couple of dogs, so having so many parks nearby to choose from is a big plus. Finally I love not having to deal with salt on the road, and icy sidewalks.

Related Articles