California vs. New York: Which State Should You Live In?

Comparing California and New York

If you're torn between moving to California and relocating to New York, the decision can be exciting yet challenging. Each state offers unique opportunities and lifestyle choices, from sunny beaches to bustling streets. But which state holds the key to your ideal living situation? It’s worth exploring the factors that may sway your decision and help you find the perfect place to call home—whether on the East or West Coast.

5 Key Comparisons Between Living in California vs. New York

  • Lifestyle: California tends to be more laid-back, while New York has a fast-paced environment
  • Climate: California supports year-round outdoor activities, while New York is more seasonal
  • Cost of Living: Both states have high costs of living, with NYC being more expensive than San Francisco; however, both states also have lower-cost areas
  • Economy: California is known for its tech, entertainment, and agriculture industries, while New York leans toward finance, healthcare, and media
  • Real Estate: The median home value in California is over $700,000, compared to over $400,000 in the state of New York

California Lifestyle vs. New York Lifestyle

When deciding between California and New York lifestyles, consider California's plethora of outdoor activities, enabled by its consistently sunny climate. Whether you prefer beach days, hiking trails, or exploring national parks, California's weather encourages an active lifestyle. In contrast, New York's fast-paced environment might appeal to those seeking career opportunities and a bustling city life.

Things to Do

Things to Do in California vs. New York

Basking in the California sun, you can immerse yourself in outdoor activities like surfing, hiking, and beach volleyball—all of which can be done right in Los Angeles County! Alternatively, you can enjoy a cultural extravaganza in New York City with Broadway shows, concerts, art museums, and diverse cuisine options.

A typical laid-back schedule of activities in California might include wine-tasting tours, farmer's markets, and food festivals focusing on wellness and organic food trends. On the other hand, New York City's energetic city life can provide a vibrant nightlife scene with trendy bars, clubs, and live music venues, catering to those seeking excitement and entertainment after hours.

Whether you prefer the tranquility of outdoor adventures or the excitement of cultural experiences and lively nights out, California and New York offer various activities to suit your preferences.

Outdoor Activities

If considering outdoor activities, California and New York offer diverse options that cater to different preferences. There's nothing like catching waves on the Pacific Ocean or hiking in the beautiful mountains in Southern California. The sunny weather promotes year-round activities such as beach volleyball and mountain biking, and California’s best beaches are world-famous.

Alternatively, New York State has long-time favorites like hiking in the Adirondacks or boating on the Finger Lakes. Even though the outdoor activities in New York are characterized by seasonal changes, with fall foliage tours and winter sports like ice skating and skiing, both states boast national parks and natural reserves for outdoor enthusiasts to explore and enjoy.

Each state provides unique opportunities to connect with nature, catering to a host of outdoor interests.


Considering the lifestyle differences between California and New York, one notable factor to evaluate is the climate. California boasts a consistently sunny climate, promoting an active outdoor lifestyle no matter the time of year; Northern California is consistently milder in temperature than in the south, and the state even has a hot and arid desert in Riverside County and beyond. 

At the same time, New York experiences all four seasons, including harsh winters, shaping a fast-paced and dynamic lifestyle. Your preference for weather patterns—from sunny and mild to diverse and seasonal—will significantly determine which state aligns with your desired lifestyle.

California Economy vs. New York Economy

When evaluating California and New York, you'll want to take into account their cost of living. The job market and industries vary from state to state, affecting employment opportunities and economic growth. Understanding these factors can help you figure out where to build your career and financial future.

Cost of Living Comparison

Living in California versus New York presents a significant contrast in the cost of living. California generally has higher expenses, particularly in housing, though it depends on the city. The overall cost of living in California—including groceries, utilities, and transportation—is far above the national average.

On the other hand, New York's cost of living varies across regions, with NYC standing out as one of the most expensive cities in the country. While both states offer diverse job opportunities, the housing affordability gap is notable. New York residents face a higher overall tax burden compared to Californians, impacting disposable income.

When deciding between the two states, it's essential to consider how the cost of living aligns with your financial goals.

Job Market & Industries in California

Diving into the economic landscape of California and New York reveals a stark contrast. California's job market is vibrant and diverse, offering opportunities in major industries such as technology, entertainment, tourism, and agriculture.

Silicon Valley stands out as a global tech hub, providing a plethora of job openings in the tech industry. Los Angeles is renowned for its entertainment sector, encompassing film, television, and music, creating a wide array of employment prospects.

The state's tourism industry—fueled by attractions like Disneyland in Anaheim and the iconic Hollywood neighborhood—generates further jobs in hospitality and tourism. Additionally, agriculture plays a vital role in California, with the state being a top producer of various crops, offering employment in farming and related fields.

Job Market & Industries in New York

While California has one of the world’s largest economies, New York is no slouch. The state’s economy thrives on key industries such as finance, healthcare, technology, and media.

Home to the New York Stock Exchange and located in Lower Manhattan’s Financial District, Wall Street stands out as a global financial and investment banking center, drawing professionals worldwide. The state's robust economy ranks among the nation's largest, making a substantial contribution to the country's GDP.

Job seekers in New York can explore various roles in the healthcare sector, from hospitals to research facilities. Additionally, the state's media and entertainment industries—including Broadway, publishing houses, and major television networks—offer a dynamic landscape for career growth.

Real Estate Market

Real Estate Markets in California vs. New York

The cost of housing in California and New York could be one of the most important factors to consider before moving. California is known for its high property prices, especially in popular cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. California’s most affordable cities, however, do offer significantly more accessible options. On the other hand, New York offers a diverse market with options ranging from high-end properties in Manhattan to more affordable housing in upstate regions.

Cost of Housing in California

One might find it staggering that the median home price in California exceeds $700,000, solidifying its position as one of the priciest real estate markets in the U.S. California's housing costs have led to an affordability crisis, especially in major cities like San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. California’s most expensive cities take luxury living to the next level. Homes in Beverly Hills, for example, average around $5 million in price, while Newport Beach offers a median price of more than $4 million.

Renting in California is also expensive, with average rents well above the national average.

Cost of Housing in New York

The real estate market in New York presents varying housing costs influenced by factors such as location, amenities, and demand. The median home value in New York is over $400,000, with prices fluctuating depending on the region and proximity to major cities.

Average rental prices in the state are around $1,300, with variations based on location and amenities. New York City's competitive real estate market drives up housing costs, making it on par with the cost of living in Los Angeles. While affordable housing options exist in upstate New York, they are generally more budget-friendly compared to metropolitan areas like NYC.

Best Places to Live in California

When considering the best places to live in California, explore the bustling urban scene of LA, the tech-oriented culture of San Francisco, and the relaxed beach vibes of San Diego. Whether you prefer city living or coastal charm, California's top spots cater to a variety of tastes and preferences.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a vibrant city offering a diverse urban experience and a Mediterranean climate with abundant sunshine. As the second-most populous city in the United States after New York City, LA is a major hub for the entertainment industry, hosting Hollywood and numerous film and television studios. While the median price for homes here is more than $1.2 million, more accessible options exist, including Los Angeles condos.

The city boasts museums, art galleries, and a thriving music scene. Iconic landmarks like the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, and the Santa Monica Pier—all of which offer some of the best views in Los Angeles—contribute to the city's unique charm. With over 300 days of sunshine annually, LA provides an ideal setting for outdoor activities and exploration.

Whether you're drawn to the entertainment industry or sunny weather, Los Angeles can offer a dynamic living experience.

San Francisco

San Francisco stands out as one of California's best places to live. With its mild climate featuring cool summers and humid winters, the city offers a vibrant arts scene and a thriving tech industry.

Residents enjoy breathtaking views of iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. With a median home price of more than $1.3 million, San Francisco provides easy access to outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and surfing.

The city's unique blend of natural beauty and urban amenities make it a desirable location for those seeking a dynamic and culturally rich environment. Consider San Francisco if you appreciate a mix of innovation, nature, and city life.

San Diego

Best Places to Live in California vs. New York

Known for its mild Mediterranean climate and diverse neighborhoods, San Diego is another option worth considering. Located 120 miles southeast of Downtown Los Angeles, the city boasts warm, dry summers and mild winters, perfect for fun in the sun.

San Diego provides ample employment opportunities with a job market focused on industries like biotechnology, defense, manufacturing, and tourism. Residents enjoy world-class attractions such as the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park and beautiful beaches for relaxation. Median home prices here hover around the $1 million mark, with average rent ranging from $2,000 to $2,400 for a studio or one-bedroom apartment.

San Diego has something for everyone, whether you prefer urban living with a vibrant nightlife or a laid-back coastal lifestyle. Embrace the sunshine and thriving job market that makes San Diego a top contender for those seeking the ideal California lifestyle.

Orange County

Orange County presents a picturesque blend of beautiful beaches, upscale neighborhoods, and dynamic school districts. The county offers diverse housing options, from oceanfront homes in Dana Point to suburban single-family homes in Irvine, catering to various lifestyle preferences. Residents enjoy a high quality of life with easy access to outdoor activities, shopping centers, and cultural attractions.

Orange County boasts a strong economy fueled by industries like technology, healthcare, tourism, and manufacturing, providing ample job opportunities. The Mediterranean climate of Orange County offers mild winters and warm summers, ideal for those seeking a sunny lifestyle.

Whether you're looking for a beachside retreat, a sense of community, or a thriving job market, Orange County stands out as one of California's best places to live.

Best Places to Live in New York

If you're considering the best places to live in New York, take some time to explore New York City, Buffalo, and the upscale Westchester County. These areas offer various neighborhoods, cultural attractions, and excellent career opportunities, so whether you're drawn to bustling city life or charming suburban communities, New York has you covered.

New York City

In New York City, diverse neighborhoods like Chelsea, Williamsburg, and Harlem offer unique living experiences. You can immerse yourself in Chelsea's vibrant art scene, enjoy Williamsburg's trendy boutiques and cafes, or explore Harlem's rich cultural history.

The city is home to world-class cultural institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Broadway theaters, providing endless entertainment options. With a convenient, affordable, and far-reaching public transportation system, including the iconic subway, getting around the city is a breeze.

Take a break from the hustle and bustle in Central Park, where you can enjoy recreational activities and find a peaceful retreat. And remember to explore NYC's diverse culinary scene, ranging from street food vendors to Michelin-starred restaurants. Despite being drastically different cities, many prospective residents compare living in NYC with LA due to the breadth of their cultural offerings, economic vibrancy, and range of job opportunities and industries.


Buffalo stands out as one of the best places to live in New York due to its affordable cost of living, vibrant cultural scene, and location on Lake Erie. These factors offer residents a unique blend of urban amenities and outdoor opportunities.

Buffalo offers a more affordable lifestyle compared to other major cities in the state, with a median home price in the $200s. However, it still provides diverse cultural experiences, including art galleries, museums, and theaters. The city's location on Lake Erie and its proximity to Niagara Falls (20 miles) and Lake Ontario (40 miles) allows for easy access to outdoor activities and water sports, perfect for those who enjoy nature. Outdoor amenities include Buffalo Harbor State Park, Times Beach Nature Preserve, and much more.

Buffalo is also undergoing revitalization efforts, with historic neighborhoods being restored and new developments emerging. These efforts are fostering a strong sense of community and local pride among its residents.

Westchester County

With an excellent location just north of The Bronx, Westchester County is celebrated for its high quality of life, stunning waterfront communities, and beautiful suburbs. The county offers diverse housing options, from historic homes to modern apartments, and boasts a strong economy with job opportunities in healthcare, education, and technology.

Residents enjoy easy access to nature with parks, hiking trails, and the Hudson River waterfront. Westchester County also offers a rich cultural scene, including museums, theaters, and restaurants, providing ample entertainment options.

Westchester County could be the ideal place to call home if you value educational options, a strong economy, access to nature, and cultural amenities.

Choosing Between California and New York

As you weigh California and New York, remember that each state offers unique opportunities. California is famous for sunshine and outdoor adventures, while New York can embody hustle. Ultimately, try to follow your heart to the state that resonates with your values and aspirations.

Want to live in California? Call The Brad Korb Real Estate Group with LA Homes at (818) 953-5300 to find your dream home.

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