19 Pros and Cons of Living in California Right Now

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Is California A Good Place To Live?

Today, let’s examine the pros and cons of living in California. Then you can decide if moving to California is suitable for you.

Pros And Cons Of Living In California: Side-By-Side Comparison

Living in California ProsLiving in California Cons
1. Nice weather11. Expensive homes
2. Diverse sub-climates12. Costly rental units
3. Fantastic National Parks13. High gas prices
4. Ocean access14. Excessive income taxes
5. Nearby mountains15. Real estate taxes
6. Diverse recreation options16. Paying sales taxes
7. Excellent local foods17. Questionable governance
8. High quality of life18. Impact of urbanization
9. Economic opportunity19. Natural disasters
10. Jobs and business diversity
Table 1: Pros and Cons of Living or Retiring in California

Next, let’s dive deeper into these points and go through California’s pros and cons one at a time.

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Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Pros Of Living In California

1. California Has Nice Weather

California’s major cities, including San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego, have pleasant weather conditions. The state’s abundant sunshine, year-round spring-like warm weather, modest rainfall, and low humidity create enjoyable outdoor conditions.

Residents experience daily high temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees year-round. Thus, you can leave your snow shovel and winter wardrobe behind because you won’t need either after moving to California.

2. Experience Diverse Weather Sub-Climates In California

California has several microclimates and plenty of diverse weather conditions for anyone seeking variety.

A 300-mile drive to the North East out of Los Angeles will find you in Death Valley, California. Death Valley is near the Nevada border and claims to be one of the hottest places in the world.

Conversely, a 250-mile drive West of San Francisco will put you in the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. These mountains are one of the coldest parts of the state, with plenty of snow.

3. California Is Home To Some Fantastic National Parks

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After moving to California, you can explore the state’s National Parks. Here are a few highlights to consider.

Yosemite is a national treasure in the Sierra Nevada mountains, with waterfalls, giant trees, and granite cliffs.

Joshua Tree is located just 100 miles north of the Mexico border and a similar distance from Los Angeles. The park offers a mix of high and low deserts and is a habitat for unique trees, cacti, and animal life.

Kings Canyon and Sequoia. These two parks are located side by side in central California. You can camp amongst the massive trees and explore the mountains and deep canyons during the day.

Redwood is a cluster of national and state sites along the coast of Northern California. The area is perfect for all of you tree lovers.

Channel Islands is a group of 5 islands clustered off the Pacific Ocean coast near Oxford and Ventura, California. There are no stores, lodging, or restaurants on the islands. What you will find are wild and rugged coastlines to explore.

Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park. If you like hot temperatures and desert landscapes, these vast expanses will fill your needs.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Enjoy the views of the iconic suspension bridge from this beautiful national recreation area.

4. Living In California Means Access To Ocean And Water Sports

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California has 840 miles of coastline along the Pacific Ocean.

This is the perfect state for hitting the beach, surfing, boating, fishing, or just feeling the ocean breezes.

5. California Residents Enjoy Access To The Mountains For Skiing And Hiking

On California’s eastern border in the central part of the state, you will find dozens of world-class ski resorts.

The local resort may not boast the greatest snow on earth, like the Wasatch mountains in the great state of Utah. However, they delight snow rippers and shredders looking for open terrain and white powder.

During the summer, residents love to explore the hiking trails.

6. Californians Are Spoiled With Diverse Recreational Options Like No Other State

California has so many things to do and explore. Allow me to highlight several of the many options.

Wine country. Enjoy the nice weather and beautiful scenery and sip the state’s wines.

Theme parks. Treat the kids or your inner child to California’s many theme parks. Some of the most popular include:

  • Disneyland
  • Universal Studios
  • Sea World

Hollywood: After moving to California, visit Hollywood. The city is located just a few miles north of Los Angeles and boasts some iconic American attractions, including:

  • The Walk of Fame
  • Hollywood Boulevard
  • The “HOLLYWOOD” sign
  • Griffith Park
  • The Hollywood Bowl

College and pro sports: California has nearly 20 major professional sports franchises and plenty of elite college athletics.

7. Your California Lifestyle Means Easy Access To Excellent Local Foods

California’s abundant natural resources, moderate climate, and entrepreneurial spirit have made the state a leading producer of excellent food.

First, California’s Central Valley is an agricultural hub that provides residents with fresh produce. During the summer, the fruit is some of the most flavorful you can find.

A sampling of California’s top-notch produce includes:

  • Almonds
  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Lemons
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Olives
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pistachios
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Strawberries
  • Walnuts

Second, living in California means loving the fresh seafood from the local waters, including:

  • Black Cod
  • Crab
  • Oysters
  • Prawns
  • Rock Fish
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Seabass
  • Spiny lobster
  • Squid
  • Swordfish
  • Tuna

Next, indulge yourself at In-N-Out Burger, headquartered in Irvine, CA, with restaurants statewide. And enjoy California-style pizza featuring thin crust with nontraditional toppings.

Finally, you probably know about the state’s wineries. But how about a bit of cheese with that wine?

California is one of the largest dairy producers in the U.S. and home to many artisan cheesemakers. Map out a trip along the California cheese trail to sample some of the best artisan cheeses in the world.

Related reading: Pros and Cons of living in Oregon

8. California Offers Residents A High Quality Of Life

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Californians enjoy a high quality of life. Several factors that we have touched on will contribute to your lifestyle here.

Healthy living. Fresh foods plus lots of outdoor activities means access to healthy options in California.

Lifestyle. Pleasant weather with access to the ocean, mountains, and diverse entertainment options.

Environmentally friendly. California emphasizes its recycling programs and protecting its natural resources from harm.

Tolerance and diversity: California is one of America’s most racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse states. There are communities for people of all ages, genders, orientations, and ethnicities. Residents are known for being tolerant and open-minded.

9. There Is Plenty Of Economic Opportunity In California

California has the largest economy of all states in the U.S.

There isn’t even a state that is a close 2nd. Texas measures up well at number 2. But, the Texas economy is just a little more than half the size of California’s.

10. California’s Greatest Economic Asset Is Business Diversity

California’s economic scale and breadth mean you will find an employer that needs your skills and meets your interests. Furthermore, California workers make more money than workers in most other states in the nation based on studies of median annual income.

Here are some of the state’s most productive economic sectors.

Agriculture. The state is a leader in dairy products and a significant producer of cattle, grapes, nuts, strawberries, and lettuce.

Entertainment. Hollywood’s show business opportunities are top-notch.

Technology. The state’s Silicon Valley is a tech hub. Many highly skilled and well-paid technology professionals call this area home.

Start-up businesses. California has a historically high rate of new business openings. The state is known for its density of startup companies.

Healthcare. Physicians, surgeons, nurses, pediatricians, and dentists are in high demand. California is a popular retirement destination, increasing the need for health services to meet the needs of an aging population.

Take advantage of the opportunities. Make sure your resume is in tip-top condition. MyPerfectResume is a great resource. to put your credentials in the best light and land your dream job in California.

Okay. That concludes the pros of living in California. Next, it’s time to cover some reasons not to move to California in the first place.

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Cons Of Living In California

11. California Houses Are Very, Very Pricey

California homes are expensive, especially in Southern California. For example, the median home price in California is almost double the comparable nationwide figure.


U.S Federal Reserve – Median U.S home values

Redfin – California home prices

12. When Residing In California, Rentals Are No Bargain

California rental units are some of the most costly in the country. Specifically, they are 41% higher than the nation’s average (Source: World Population Review).

So, if buying a home in California is out of your budget, unfortunately, you won’t catch much of a break renting a unit either.

13. California’s Gasoline Prices Will Leave You Broke At The Pump

California has some of the highest gas prices in the country.

First, a large chunk of the cost is due to taxes. The gas tax adds more than 50 cents a gallon, one of the highest tax rates in the country.

Second, the state’s environmental regulations require a unique blend of gasoline. The law restricts supply, adds to the cost of production, and further increases prices at the pump.

The other costs of living in California are not too bad. Specifically, groceries, health care, and utilities are similar to U.S. averages.

Finally, we offset some of our everyday living costs by using the cash-back app from Rakuten. Using Rakuten is an excellent way to save money on your online purchases.

14. Living in California Means Sky-High Income Taxes

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California will never be confused with a low-tax state like Wyoming, Nevada, or Washington. Simply put, the state has high income taxes.

First, California has a progressive tax system. That means the more money you make, the higher your tax rate. For example, the state’s top income tax rate is one of the highest at 13% for income over 1 million dollars.

Now, if you are like me, you make nowhere near a million dollars a year. But even if you earn an average wage, your California income taxes will ramp up fast. You can quickly find yourself in a tax bracket of more than 9% of your income.

15. Real Estate Taxes When Residing In California

California’s real estate taxes will take another bite out of your finances.

First, here is the good news. The average real estate tax rate in California isn’t that high.

Now for the bad news. The high cost of homes means the tax rate is applied to an inflated number.

What is the result? California homeowners pay high real estate taxes, putting the state in the country’s top 10 most costly.

16. California’s Tax Woes Continue With Sales Taxes

California checks in with one of the highest sales tax rates in the country. The combined state and local rates will cost you roughly 8% on every purchase.

Okay. That’s enough about California taxes. Suffice it to say that if you make and spend a lot of money, California will take a large share.

The high tax burden and high cost of living are two reasons to leave California. Some residents are relocating to Nevada right across California’s eastern border. Others have been moving to Idaho or packing up for Arizona.

17. California Politicians And Questionable Governance

state map of The Golden StatePin

California is in the top 10 states based on its debt level (Source: Forbes). Other studies I have read rank the state even worse.

A state with such high taxes should be better at balancing budgets. Just like you and I have to do with our household finances.

Furthermore, businesses are taking notice of the taxes, regulations, and high living costs for employees and then considering other states for their operations.

Conversely, California has improved in recent years. For example, this study shows California in the middle of the pack regarding best versus worst-run states in America.

18. California’s Large Metropolitan Areas Contribute To The Negative Impact Of Urbanization

California is the most populated state in the country. For example, California is home to 4 of the country’s top 13 most populated metro areas (Source: The Poynter Institute):

  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego
  • San Jose
  • San Francisco

The large number of people brings on the unfortunate effects of urbanization. Here is what you will discover when moving to California.

Bad traffic: The California highways are notorious for heavy traffic and traffic jams. Los Angeles and San Francisco routinely rank as some of the most highly congested cities partly because public transportation options are limited.

Pollution: All of the traffic creates pollution and poor air quality.

Crime: California’s crime rate ranks in the upper third of all states in the nation.

Homelessness: The state has a high homeless population, partly due to the moderate temperatures in the urban areas.

Related reading: Pros and Cons of living in Colorado

19. Living In California Means Risk Of Natural Disasters

For all of California’s pleasant weather conditions, there are some dangerous things to watch out for.

Your chances of being severely impacted by a natural disaster in California are low.  However, there is a range of threats to be aware of.

Drought: California has desert landscapes, so drought is common in these areas. The lack of rain has led to water shortages and increased conservation efforts.

Wildfires: The dry conditions contribute to wildfires. A fire in recent years destroyed the entire town of Paradise, California.

Floods: When it rains, it pours. Thus, many areas of the state are prone to flooding.

Landslides: Because of the topography of the land and flood conditions, landslides and mudslides occur.

Earthquakes: California has hundreds of active faults capable of causing damage. The major population centers are not far from these fault lines.

Okay. That wraps up our discussion of my top pros and cons of living in California. Please allow me to wrap up with some parting thoughts.

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Is California A Good Place To Live?

California residents benefit from the state’s vibrant economy, fun things to see and do, pleasant weather conditions, and high quality of life, making “The Golden State” an excellent place to live. However, the heavy tax burden, high cost of living, and risk of natural disasters mean moving to California won’t be the right choice for everyone.

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Why move to California?

More Reading About Living In California And Beyond

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Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

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The Pros And Cons Of Living In California Explained