Is California A Good Place to Live? Pros and Cons of Living in California.
Are you an expat looking for a new place to live with a lot of sunshine, tantalizing food and easy access to the ocean? California is an excellent option. As one of the biggest states in the USA, California offers a huge range of exemplary places to live. But, California is also among the most expensive places to live in the nation. Therefore, be ready to spend more of your salary on necessities such as housing and transport than you might have in your previous locale.
Is California a good place to live? California has fine weather, sumptuous delicacies, and an easy-going culture. Due to the warm weather, residents enjoy a wide array of outdoor activities including hiking trails or visiting the beach. Moreover, the population of this area is remarkably diverse. As a matter of fact, California is the 2nd-most ethnically diverse U.S. state and it has the highest number of immigrants.
Are you are planning to move to California soon to look for work, start a family or retire? Since you have come to this post, it is highly likely that you have some questions.
- What are the best neighborhoods?
- Is the area safe?
- How are the schools?
- What is the cost of living?
- How do people move from one place to another?
In this article, we aim to answer most of your questions to help you with your moving decision.
Is California a good place to live?
California, also known as the Golden State is a large state with plenty of excellent places to move to. Some of the best cities to call home in this state are Fremont, Irvine, Los Angeles, Mill Valley, Palo Alto, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, and Santa Rosa.
Similar to other states, California also has some neighborhoods that are not-so-good. Such places include Emeryville, Oakland, Stockton, San Bernardino, Richmond, and Compton.
In terms of crime, Neighborhoodscout.com reports that the odds of becoming a victim of violent crime in California are 1 in 223. The chances of being a victim of a property crime are 1 in 40.
For those moving to California with children, or planning to start a family, California offers plenty of above-average schools. Dapplegray Elementary School, San Jose Charter Academy, Huntington Seacliff Elementary School, Eastbluff Elementary School, and Arroyo Vista Charter School are some of the best elementary schools in the state.
There are great high schools too such as Mt. Everest Academy, Pacific Collegiate Charter School, Dublin High School, American High School, and Mission San Jose High School.
Furthermore, California is home to numerous colleges and universities suited for anyone who would like to pursue an undergraduate or post-graduate degree. Some of these institutions include the University of California, California State University, Academy of Art University, California College of the Arts and California Health Sciences University.
What about transportation? In the vast majority of the Golden State, most people get around by car. Therefore, there’s a need for buying or renting a vehicle, getting gas, and purchasing insurance. Gas prices in California are high; they are about 30% higher than the average for the whole nation. That puts it ahead of all other states in the USA for gasoline costs apart from Hawaii. The car insurance rates in the area are also pricey.
Instead of using a private vehicle, residents also get around using public buses, trains, planes, and ferries. The are many airports in California such as Burbank Bob Hope Airport, Fresno Yosemite International Airport, Long Beach Airport, Orange Country Airport and Sacramento International Airport.
Almost every county in the Golden State has a local bus line. Additionally, subway and light rail systems are in plenty, e.g., Metro Rail, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Sacramento Regional Transit District, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Diego Trolley, and Sprinter line. Commuter rail lines are also available including Altamont Commuter Express, Coaster and Metrolink.
Many residents living in California also move from point A to B by bicycle. The state offers several bike routes e.g., Los Angeles River bicycling path and San Francisco Bay Trail. A lot of public transportation vehicles accommodate the use of bikes. For instance, many buses come with bike racks and numerous railway systems allow commuters to carry their bicycles onto trains.
How do Californians spend their free time? Most parts of California experience consistent warm weather throughout the year. And there are numerous opportunities to take advantage of that fine weather. The Golden State offers plenty of national parks, beaches, and hiking trails. Moreover, the Californians also enjoy high-quality food from the Central Valley.
Living in California Pros and Cons
- The weather: California enjoys favorable weather for most of the year. Therefore, Californians get to spend time in the great outdoors for a majority of the year enjoying beach activities, swimming, concerts, etc.
- The beach: In addition to the sunny weather, residents living in California also have an ample chance to make their way to whatever beach they desire. The state has an expansive coastline along the Pacific Ocean, which offers residents exemplary beaches, and boating and fishing opportunities anywhere.
- There’s plenty to do: The Golden State is home to beaches, deserts, forests, mountains, lakes, world-class ski resorts and vibrant cities. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento are very popular.
- The people: Californians tend to be more liberal and tolerant of each other’s differences. Additionally, they care about the environment.
- Better health: Living in California is good for one’s mental and physical health. The mortality rate in this state is lower in comparison to many other places, and Californians tend to live longer.
- Great diversity: As of the largest states in the United States, it is no surprise that California has lots of diversity. With numerous big cities and a long history that includes persons from different ethnic groups; this state is a melting point of culture.
- Excellent education: California has plenty of public and private universities and colleges that lure people from different parts of the world. People living in this area tend to be more educated than those in some other areas of the U.S.
- Numerous bike lanes: It is possible to get anywhere in California easily using bike lanes.
- Excellent food: The Central Valley in California is an agricultural hub offering residents fresh produce.
- Affluent neighborhoods: For people who have a lot of money to spare and love fun in the sunshine, this state has several affluent neighborhoods where families can make lifelong homes.
- Traffic congestion: California’s is home to a lot of people and most of those people use personal cars to get around. That results in traffic. The traffic is Southern California is worse than in Northern California.
- Cost of living: It costs more to stay in California than nearly all other U.S states. The housing costs are expensive and the taxes are outrageous.
- The weather: Sometimes, the weather can become unbearably hot. Heat and humidity can be an issue for some people.
- Natural disasters: The beauty and sunshine of the Golden State might be outweighed by the high risk of a natural disaster. From wildfires to mudslides and earthquakes, California’s natural disasters are a huge drawback.
- Air pollution: Unfortunately, the Golden State faces air pollution issues more than any other state in the nation. Smog clouds are the norm during daylight hours.
- The pressure to look good: There’s a sudden pressure to look as stunning as the celebrities living in California. Half of the usual wardrobe becomes useless after moving here.
- Poor governance: California’s state government has been a laughing stock for a quite some time. There’s a deficit in the management of public systems and schools.
- High population: For those who are not accustomed to too many people California can be shocking.
- Lack of A/C units in most homes: Thanks to the fine California weather, most homes in the area do not have Air Conditioning.
- Too many laws: In California, there are laws for almost everything. Someone could be breaking the law without even knowing it.
Is California a good place to work?
California offers an almost countless variety of employment opportunities for newcomers. Its gross state product is $2.7 trillion. That simply means if California was a nation, its GDP would be the 5th best globally. The state also features a diverse collection of industries that contribute to its robust economy. Agriculture, trade, and tourism are the most significant industries in the area.
California is home to many big companies including Apple Computer, Google, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Kaiser Permanente, Amazon.com, Tesla Motors, Facebook, and The Walt Disney Company.
The median household income in California is among the best in the nation at $77,000 (as of June 2019). Those with a degree in Bachelor of Engineering earn $103,528 on average and Ph.D. holders make an average of $115,087. However, high salaries are offset by a high cost of living.
As of June 30, 2019, the unemployment rate for California stood at 4.2%. That figure is above the national rate of 3.8%.
Is California a good place to buy a house?
The sunny state of California captures the attention of many house hunters, and there’s no mystery why. California has many wonderful cities and scenic areas where many people want to establish their roots. Some of the best places to buy a home in this state are Lake County, Orange, Irvine, Coronado, La Palma, Palo Alto, Santa Barbara, Seal Beach, Beaumont, and Yorba Linda.
The cost of living in the Golden State is consistently among the most expensive in the country, particularly in desirable areas such as LA and San Francisco. It is very hard to find a cheap place to live in this state. The median price of a home is $549,900 (as of July 2019), which is one of the highest in the country.
A home with one bedroom can cost $249,000 and a larger 3-bed property can come at a price of $373,000. A five-bedroom house can cost $1,199,000.
Unfortunately, renters also have it hard. The median rent is $2,598 in California. A typical resident in this area might be spending almost half of their median income just to pay for rent. The average rent of a one-bedroom home for sale is $1,358 while a three-bedroom home can cost $2,375 per month.
California has numerous credit unions, banks and mortgage lenders. For anyone looking to purchase a home on credit, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage plan is 3.81%. However, the mortgage rates in California change frequently.
Is California a good place to retire?
In terms of the quality of life, the Golden State is a great option for expat retirees. The pleasant weather, opportunities to engage in abundant outdoor activities and the availability of top-notch healthcare enable for a high quality of life. California is an enormous state with a wide range of diverse communities and environments from which to choose.
On the downside, the cost of living is very expensive, so retiring here depends upon one’s wealth. It is difficult to find affordable housing and there’s a wide variety of taxes. Nonetheless, considering the fantastic weather, cultural attractions, and healthcare research hubs, the benefits outweigh the expenses.
California is also a worthwhile retirement place because of the abundance of retirement homes. There are over 9,000 senior living providers in the area, which include at least 800 retirement homes. Retirement home living costs typically range from $542 to $4,950 per month. That is higher than the monthly national median cost of $1,925.
In general, the metropolitan area of Santa Maria-Santa Barbara has the highest retirement home costs in California. The monthly costs here range between $935 and $3,438 per month. For lower retirement home expenses in this state, the Yuba Cit area is the best option. The costs in this area range from $1,293 to $3,438 per month.
Is California a good place to visit?
The Golden States beckons tourists with sunshine, breathtaking landscapes, and modern sophistication. As a place of dreams, California has it all: stunning beaches, snow-capped mountains, ancient redwood groves, flourishing farmlands, expansive desserts, and vibrant multicultural cities.
Tourists flock to this alluring state for sightseeing, exploring museums, gourmet dining, shopping, golden-sand beaches, balmy weather, and Hollywood glamour.
For lovers of nature, the Golden State is a place to explore the amazing outdoors. The Yosemite National Park offers visitors a chance to marvel at magnificent granite cliffs and dramatic waterfalls. Additionally, the scenic alpine setting of the Sierra Nevada Mountains at Lake Tahoe offers countless opportunities for engaging in outdoor sports. Near the Pacific Ocean, the exquisite Redwood National and State Parks have ravishing trails for hiking, which are shaded by the tallest trees in the world.
Other popular tourist sites in California include The San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Monica Beach, Coronado Island, Sausalito, Sierra Nevada Foothills, Sonoma County, Mendocino Coastline, Big Sur coast, and Palm Springs.
Shopping is also one of the main attractions in this state. Visitors get a chance to shop at the Embarcadero Center, Santee Alley, Horton Plaza, Rodeo Drive and Specialty Shops in San Jose.
Accommodation centers for visitors are also in plenty. For budget-friendly options, visitors should check out Lone Oak Lodge, Coventry Motor Inn, Carmel River Inn, Hotel Azure, and Cow Hollow Inn and Suites.
Tourists who want luxury accommodation are in luck as California has an excellent offering. Some of the best luxury hotels in the area are Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Monarch Beach Resort, Pasea Hotel & Spa, La Quinta Resort & Club, and La Playa Carmel.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.