Saturday, December 15, 2007

Moving To California - Is It Worth It?

Is it worth it to move to California? I'm in California now, ready to start my new job on Monday. Pretty excited about it. One of the things I struggled with was whether or not to leave Seattle and come back to California. I obviously made the decision to do it but how did I come to that conclusion? Is it really worth it?


I'm going to start with this one because taxes is one of my favorite topics. According to one survey, California and Washington state have a tax burden of 11.5% and 11.1% respectively. This is a virtual wash. However, they go about how they collect their taxes very differently. California income tax is pretty high reaching 9.3% at the top,They also have a pretty high sales tax which can reach upwards of 8.75%. California also has fuel tax ,property tax, and a cigarette tax.

Washington also has a pretty high tax burden, but structures it very differently. Washington has NO income tax. Seattle has a sales tax of 8.8% and a Restaurant tax of 9.3%. This is of course higher than in most places in CA. They too have a property tax, and derive 30% of all revenue this way. They have a fuel tax, but it is lower than California's. They too have a Cigarette tax which is MUCH higher than in California. I don't smoke, so this doesn't affect me.

In the end, most of the taxes are a wash. BUT the fact that I don't smoke, don't own property, I earn a high income, and I don't spend very much, Washington is the clear winner.I estimate that I probably pay about 5% more in total taxes in California than I do in Washington. Winner: Washington



I rent. So I'll start there.

This really depends on where you live in each area. So for sake of comparison I will use the two places I have lived, Pasadena and Redmond. Pasadena is much more "urban" which means that rents are going to be slightly more. When I left Redmond, they were about to raise the rent on my apartment to $1300 for a one bedroom apartment that was a little over 700 sq. feet. That was probably a little higher than the average, but it was close. So I would say market rate for this place was right around $1200. A similar place in Pasadena right now would probably be about $1400 right now. However, if you were to live in say Santa Clarita, a city closer to the type of town Redmond is, rents would probably be about the same.

Buying is a different matter. Despite the fact that housing prices are coming down in LA and are staying relatively flat in Seattle, buying a house is still more expensive in LA than it is in Seattle. I would estimate that buying in LA is still probably about 15-20% more expensive right now. But I expect this to correct itself in the coming year. Winner: Washington



As I type this, it is about 68 degrees in L.A right now and is very sunny. It is 43 degrees in Redmond and cloudy. I'm actually not a person who is affected that greatly by weather, but having left it and come back, I can say that it does make a difference in more ways than is obvious. First off, I don't have to plan around weather. In Seattle, I often have to change my plans or not make them at all because of the rain or cold. I have found myself reluctant to leave the house because it was so cold.

If you are a guy, a side benefit of the nice weather are the short skirts. I also contend, that the women are just better looking in CA than in other parts of the country. Sure, it may be fake, but what does it matter if you are only looking anyway :)

The one advantage Seattle has here is that it is not quite as hot in the Summer. There is a week where the heat might be really uncomfortable, where LA probably has about a month of that. But hey, isn't that why they invented Air Conditioning?

This is one thing money just can't buy. No matter how much money you throw at it, you aren't going to be able to make it sunny or warm outside. Winner: California, by a lot


Cost of Living

I've already gone over housing, so I won't factor that in here. A common thing you hear about living in California is that your salary will be adjusted because of the higher cost of living. I can tell you right now it's a big lie. I am going to be making more money here than I was in Washington but that is because I'm taking a better job. I had similar offers and positions in Washington that I was considering, and I can tell you that the salaries can't adjust for the fact that it is just plain more expensive to live in CA than in WA.

At my last job in CA, my company was acquired by a company based in Ohio. I was talking to the head of the CA operations who had moved from OH and we were talking about salaries. I asked him if he was interested in moving more of the engineering jobs from CA to OH to save on the salaries. He let me know that he wasn't because, much to his surprise, the salaries weren't all that different. In the end, CA loses because it is more expensive to live here but you won't get compensated for it.

Other than that, goods cost the same. Food and other items are a push. Gas is slightly more expensive in CA by a couple of cents. Winner: Washington



If you are looking for a tech job, California wins here hands down. Seattle tech jobs are dominated by Microsoft and Amazon. Google is also starting to make strides in the area. But if you decide, like I did, that you don't want to work for one of these firms, you are going to be out of luck. You could take a tech job in a company like Boeing, Washington Mutual or Starbucks but if you are like me you want to work for a tech company, not do tech work at a company.

The Southern California job market is just much more diverse. No one employer dominates the area. This hold true outside the tech industry as well. If you are looking for jobs in Entertainment, defense, finance, bio-tech, or any number of other industries you will have better luck here. If you are like me, and your partner is not in the tech industry, this becomes a crucial fact because your partner has to be able to find a job too. Winner: California


Things to Do

This is barely even worth talking about. Southern California just has more to do. Almost anything you can find in Seattle, you can find in Southern California, but the reverse is just not true. Seattle has some great outdoor activities, but so does California, and in California they are accessible year round. California has better arts and entertainment, museums, beaches, shopping, restaurants and attractions. Winner: California

LA Traffic


However much Seattlites like to complain about the traffic, California is worse. If you don't like traffic, if it grates on your nerves, then LA might not be the place for you. I try to live close to work to minimize this effect, but the fact remains. Traffic is a bitch in L.A. Winner: Washington

Bottom Line

There can be many factors which way in on your decision to move. The above are mine. I also have family in the L.A. area which is a factor. I also grew up with the smog, so it doesn't bother me at all. I figure it is probably about 8%-10% more expensive to live in California than Seattle. If you make six-figures like I do, that can be more than $10,000. For that money, you get the nicer weather, more things to do, more job choices, and of course, the short skirts.

What's that worth to you?


  1. Damnit, you're just trying to get me to quit my job and move to L.A.!

  2. If it works ...

    I don't need to try and convince you to come down here. Just come down here, LA will do all the convincing on its own.

  3. This might fall under "Things to do," but I'm a food person, so I'm going to call this out as a different category: Diversity of Authentic Ethnic Foods. I love that about CA!

  4. Guess the ladies would need the warm weather to wear short skirts. Hmm... you've got me thinking about my next vacation spot.

  5. I'm not a food person, hence my reasoning to lump it together with the "Things to do" category. It's a good point.

  6. I cannot live without snowboarding.
    Winner: Colorado

  7. [...] It seems like Double Journey has moved to California!  In this post, he talks about whether it was worth it to come down. [...]

  8. Terrence, I just found your blog via a FMF comment. Your comparison with CA and WA sparked my interest because it sure feels like a lot of Californians are moving up here!

    I do want to respond to your point on cigarette taxes: "They too have a Cigarette tax which is MUCH higher than in California. I don’t smoke, so this doesn’t affect me."

    I'd agree with this statement if you revised it to say "directly affect." Unfortunately, politicians use this sentiment to get increases pushed through and new taxes created.

    The reality is taxes always remove money from the public sector where they can be used productively to the government side of the equation where they likely won't be used productively. Even when our tax dollars are used well, a percentage of the funds is lost to bureaucracy).

  9. Having lived in both places myself, the comparison is spot-on. The terrible traffic in LA leads me to another conclusion: considering that LA is so spread out, jobs are also more spread out. Bad traffic is something you don't get used to, and can have a lasting negative effect on your happiness (source: The Happiness Hypothesis by Haidt). This means purchasing a house is probably a bad idea in the LA area, unless you think you're going to work for the same place for more than 5 years, or get lucky enough to find multiple appealing jobs close to your house. I'd ask everyone, how long have you been in *your* current job?

  10. Hi Aaron, Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I know what you mean about it seeming like a lot of people are moving to the NW. It is probably true, especially the last few years because of CA's ridiculous house prices. But given Seattle's now equally ridiculous housing prices, and I expect that trend to slow own.

    About the cigarette tax. If you know me, you know I hate almost all forms of taxes. I realize they are a necessary evil to live in our society, but think it is silly for government to try and pick sides by making special taxes. It was a point, for the sake of the post, I did not want to make.

    Also, being an economist by training, I know that the incidence of the tax is not the same as who is paying for it. So even though I "don't smoke" I am probably affected by it more than what appears on the surface. Again, not a point I wanted to make in this particular blog post.

  11. Terrence, I've noticed a significant slow down in house and raw land sales in Kitsap county so the demand for housing is definitely slowing to a more reasonable pace.

    Regarding taxes, I'm glad I subscribed. I suspect your insights will be interesting. Have you run across EconTalk before? It is a regular "Economics podcasts for daily life" hosted by Russ Roberts. Roberts, a professor, is particularly interested in making economics accessible to the public and has published to novels to that end.

  12. [...] @ Double Journey compares living in California to Washington state. Overall, he’s happy with his decision even though it seems like Washington won more [...]

  13. Just thought of something else I really love about CA (albeit food related): In-N-Out (burgers) and Juice-It-Up (smoothies). If anyone ever visits CA, definitely add those two spots in your trip planning.

  14. You can snowboard in California. Might not be quite as good as Colorado, but the snow isn't bad.

  15. Very nice writeup and comparison...almost had me convinced to leave Cali. :)
    I wish you focused more on the one crucial fact:
    "If you make six-figures like I do" ...hmm chances are most people don't.
    This is a bare min. of income in order to rent and not feel as if 70% of your income goes for these "sunny privileges" of having a place to sleep.
    Buying a house in Cali is really not an option unless you were born with a bank account or willing sign away next 50 years of your life. Sure, living in outskirts is an option but be ready to hop into your car around 5 am to make it to your 8:00 job. Not to mention the fact that getting there is almost like playing Russian Rule with the rest of the sleepy drivers on the freeways. You should make it home around 8 pm to see your children asleep who probably are more connected to their babysitter than you.
    Fake girls are really easy on the eyes and summers are just stare at their "investments" while they gage yours located in your back pocket or chrome reflected of your car and accessories.
    Bottom line...bring the coins and you will have a time of your life. Come here with intent of earning prepared to do a lot window shopping and have no quality of life.
    Sure there is a lot to do and see in this 'candy land'...beaches, mountains,rivers,deserts...all in 50-100 miles radius (read 5-6 hours of a road trip)...oh and 5 million other people trying to do the same weekend thing.
    At the end of the day it is a rat-race...the only difference is you are rat wearing a short sleeves.
    I am here because they make good burgers and smoothies just like Liz said...well, I said "almost had me convinced".

  16. Thanks for the comment OC Joe.

    I do agree, it is definitely harder here to get by on less money. Even with my higher than average salary, I don't live luxuriously, but part of that is admittedly by choice.

    Buying a house is definitely out of the question for most people, but part of that it just inflated housing cost. I think it will go down over the next few years. Look for my post on that subject soon.

    All that said, cost of living is expensive in a lot of places outside California. Almost anywhere on either coast is going to be expensive. If you can live in the midwest, and it doesn't drive you crazy, you can definitely live better for less money. i've actually wondered why more people don't do this.

    1. The weather I assume...

    2. Take it from someone from Indiana planning to move to california, the weather sucks. Job markets aren't always great and there's nothing to do in Indiana most of the time to enjoy staying.

  17. [...] that I think about it, I actually don’t spend much more money living in California vs. Washington. My rent is $1700 per month. That is about $300 more than a similar place in Washington. Add to the [...]

  18. [...] been a little bit over three months since I moved back to California.  Was it worth it?  Well there are a couple of things to consider.  Let’s talk about the negatives [...]

  19. hope you don't plan on having kids...

  20. [...] have no plans to move out of the sunshine anytime soon, but they are making it very hard for me to justify living in California.  All I hear on the radio is how L.A. County is about to layoff thousands of teachers.  At the [...]

  21. [...] to California if you have no money.  I have actually never blogged about this, I blogged about the advantages California has as a place to live, but I think it is a pretty interesting idea so I decided to actually write a blog post about [...]

  22. [...] this mostly because there have been many things on my mind, not the least of which has been if it is really worth it to live in California.  For the most part I think it is.  I love most of the things that California has to offer and I [...]

  23. when i graduate high school i am moving to california for college and after that i guess im going to stay! =)

  24. [...] on to the question.  Was it worth it to move back to California from Washington?  Ironically I answer this question the same day that it was pouring rain in Los Angeles.  But [...]

  25. My husband is from Washington state and he wants to move us (me and our 4 young children) there in a couple of months. I grew up in Southern California and I'm not sure I want to move up there. The weather is a concern and my family is here in CA. He wants to work for Boeing and is tired of the traffic here. Will I get used to the weather or will I hat it? Please advise.

  26. Sorry if this is not timely enough. I had some site issue.

    Having done what you are proposing, I would suggest you not do it if you don't have to. If your husband is going for a much better job, than maybe. To give you the most complete advice I could I would need to understand your specific circumstances and your likes/dislikes.

    My wife did not like it. She hated the lack of sun. It seriously does not come out for months at a time. I did not mind it as much but still prefer to be down here.

    The cost of living is not as different as you would expect, although it was nice not to have state income taxes.

    Also, traffic can actually be worse depending on your situation. There are still some pretty big bottlenecks in Seattle because there are essentially only two roads that connect Seattle to its suburbs.

    Best of luck and I hope it works out for you.

  27. Personal opinion..
    I am normally from Socal Westminster.
    I am living up in northern California.
    Yes The true northern california near the oregon border.
    If your from Socal I would probably state visit there.
    I am trying to debate on moving to sacramento or somewhere.
    due to sun heat & not raining 3/4 of the yr.
    weather here is 30-75 yr round. average. days in winter is about 45-65

  28. I live in the midwest and is considering moving to socal for the weather. I am having a very difficult time making up my mind ( I need to find a good job too!) . I can buy a good house for around $300k where I live now vs $700k for a comparable house in OC. I couldnt make myself settile here because of the weather and lack of jobs outside my employer. I make $100 k + where I am now but I am wondering whether I will pay too much for the weather? Comments?

  29. I'm currently living in Renton (bought a house), just outside of Seattle. I grew up in San Francisco for the majority of my teens to 20s, and after college, moved to the OC for my first job. My wife and I both worked so we can start our lives together, and soon we realized buying a house in so cal wasn't the best option. We looked elsewhere, and so Seattle it was. I knew some college friends here. So now we're in WA, and I do enjoy life here. The weather doesn't bother me too much, as San Fran has it's share of fog. It's just that I'm a city person. Yes, i can drive to Seattle, but Seattle doesn't offer much as what I'm used to in San Fran, or LA, or the OC. It's more laid back, and much slower paced. Traffic here is just as bad as anywhere, just a different animal, but is indeed less of a burden than Cali. But for me, I've come to realize that I miss our families (extended as well), back in the SF Bay Area. I can afford a big house up in WA, but what good is a nice big house when no one visits? On our most recent trip to CA, it reminded us how much we miss CA and all it has to
    offer, even with all it's drawbacks.

    For me, the money I saved living in WA (compared to CA) can't buy me a family. But I'm sure the story would be different if our roots (family) was in Seattle instead.

  30. Henry,

    thanks for your insightful comments. I would probably agree with you. The housing situation is not very good in California. If owning a home is the most important thing to you, than California is not a good option.

    But I would ask you this, is owning a home really worth it? I know people feel as if they "have to" own but I don't own and I'm quite happy. I've rented my whole life. I've stated numerous times on this blog, I'm better off for it. No way have I "thrown money out the window". My bank account would say otherwise. It can be quite affordable to rent a place in California, even rent a house.

    I rent a condo, and I'm getting a steal compared to what my neighbors are putting down for their mortgage. When you throw in the fact I have no maintenance and I don't pay the HOA, I come out WAY ahead.

  31. Terrence,
    Thanks for your response. We currently own a brand new home (our first), but the idea of owning is wearing off fast. Up till owning this home we rented an apartment in the OC. When we arrived in Seattle we stayed with friends while our home was being built. We were excited as it was our first home and part of a goal to be so called "homeowners." But now, I'm having buyer's, or precisely, mover's remorse. My home has become an anchor for me. My medium term goals of moving back to CA is a bit more difficult now as I am obligated to a mortgage (one that is valued more than what the home is worth). It's not entirely important that I have this home, as my lifestyle wouldn't change if I did or didn't.

    I can totally agree with you that renting is totally fine for some people. I wouldn't mind that at all if we moved back to Cali.

    What captivated me about your blog: I have a similar upbringing as you. I too am 1st gen Asian-American, parents were immigrants, I am one of three children. I'm not a doctor, but an engineer. they've driven into my head all these years about all those all-too-stereotypical aspirations, and one of them was owning a home. Now that I have one, I don't see what the big deal is. I'd be just as happy renting.

  32. Hi Terrence, I'm an engineer currently living near Virginia Beach, Va and I am considering a job opportunity in South El Monte, CA. I just wanted to ask, what kind of quality of life I might expect on a salary between $60K-$90K a year? I'm still interviewing, so I don't know the final salary but I would anticipate it to be in that range (hopefully the latter). I have never been to CA and was born and raised in Philly, PA so I'd be it'd be something new and exciting but I'd be leaving all family and friends. I just want to make sure that I can live comfortably if I take on this little adventure and be able to travel back to East a few times year. (ie. rent, pay CC/auto/student debts, and still go out for fun) Thanks for the feedback!

  33. It is really hard to say how your quality of life will change compared to what you are used to since I don't know what it cost to live in Virginia Beach.

    I will say I know plenty of people who live just fine off of the #'s you have given. I wouldn't say you could afford your own 4 bedroom house, but if you are like me and don't mind renting, I think you can live perfectly fine on 60K a year and still have money left over. Considering I did it many years ago when I first started out, I speak from first hand knowledge.

  34. Hi terrence,
    amazing and nice article.
    I am in OC right now, and I can tell we are close to the heaven ... wow... whether / traffic / money / restaurants / fast drive to LA / Santa Monica / San Diego ... Disneyland ... sure... why not ... my kids love Mickey Mouse.
    Houses are pretty expensives, but possible ...
    The Government could decrease a little bit the taxes and bring many companies back, who has left this (piece of the heaven) to survive with the hardest and low players.

  35. Howdy,
    Any opinions on moving from the North OC to the San Juans? My wife and I are both Socal natives and we're tired of it here. The orange trees are gone and have been replaced by rude and pretentious people. Having kids changes your perspective, we are not keen on continuing to have a nanny raise our kids. My wife is in healthcare and I'm in aviation/real estate management.

  36. Currently living in St. Louis,I am planning to move either to Los Angeles(my hometown)or Seattle.Either one will suit me a long as i depart where I am currently at.

  37. I grew up in Seattle, then moved to San Diego and lived there for 12 years and recently moved back to WA. I agree with you on most all of this but have a few observations:

    Tech: I work in tech and you are 100% spot-on. CA wins.

    Traffic: Horrible in Seattle. It is also horrible in LA, but outside of LA, most of California isn't really that bad at all due to the roads / routes being constructed for tourism. Everywhere in Seattle you see someone being pulled over and getting a citation. I don't understand where this money goes; It most certainly does not go into making WA a better place to drive. CA wins.

    Utilities: You didn't mention this. This is huge for me. In SoCal, the weather is usually around 70 most of the year. You can get by without using heat and air conditioning. Here in Seattle, utilities are totally outrageous. You stay in more, so you use more heat and electricity. CA wins.

    Food: CA wins.

    Health: People are fatter in WA due to being locked indoors and the food is more of a comfort food, rather than lighter options for warmer weather. You really have to work on yourself here in WA. CA wins.

    thanks for this great article!

  38. @ John,

    I couldn't agree with you more! I grew up in CA for 20+ years, and recently moved to Puget Sound. Although the quality of life is pretty good up here, I'm biased because of my CA roots. As much as it is wet most of the year up here, people here suck as driving when it's wet out. As for utilities, I'm getting by fine w/o AC, but the winter heating bill is the killer for me. The traffic here sucks too, yes there's less people here overall compared to CA, but there's less freeways and high flowing BLVDS too to get you through town. Job-wise, CA is waaay more diverse. Since I'm saving some college money for my child, CA has way more schools to choose from, not just a handful compared to WA.

    So I'm in the early stages of planning my move back to CA. I'll miss the all the trees of WA, but I won't look forward to all the politics related to bankrupt CA.

  39. Hi Henry,

    Yeah we are getting hit pretty hard by Seattle City Light due to our heating bill over the winter. When winter comes and it get's much colder, they raise the rates and for my home it is about $600 every 2 months, between electric heat and my home office.

    We're planning our move back right now also. We should be back in CA Oct/Nov 2011. Excited to get back to surfing and feeling better. Cant wait to get acclimated to SoCal again so that my joints stop hurting as much and I have more energy overall.

    Good luck on your move!

  40. California dreaminJuly 27, 2011 at 5:35 AM

    I am divorced and have 2 kids ages 10 and 7 I grew up in CA and now live in Indiana. My new husband and I are wanting to move to CA but need to convince a court why it is in the best interest of the kids to relocate and take them away from there dad. Please help me come up with good reasons to convice a judge so I can leave this cold, blah corn field. Help quickly I have to be court in 2 days.

  41. Future jobs, Education, Experience of different lifestyle, Better opportunities for better paying jobs to help pay for flights back and forth for them to visit there day if needed.
    Better medical if child needs it. & if you have family they get to meet & spend time to get to know your side of the family & possibly his side of the family if they also live there.

    Just a few idea's & thoughts.
    As long as the child will be able to visit & see there father the judge will usually say go for it.
    Either he would be required to pay for it or you would be required.
    Such as summers & Holidays to send the kid/s back to spend time with him. & He would also need to be responsible & liable to ship them back to you.

  42. If you've been gone a while, you will be disappointed. If you don't have any jobs lined up then stay where you are. The state is bankrupt yet everyone continues to run around in denial. Find a more fiscally sound state to move to. More so than before the weather is the only thing CA has going for it and that shouldn't be your deciding factor in coming here.

  43. terrance~ I am seriously considering moving FROM California to Washington. I don't like high taxes nor the nanny/police state California has become. And while there may be plenty of things to do here, I find it a task and/or expensive to do most of them. The traffic and crowds are unbearable! I am a homeowner and will likely lease out my home. My only grandchild is moving to Washington and I have little reason to stay behind. I do have other relatives in the Seattle area who have been there since the early '60's. They don't remember what it's like to live elsewhere. It's been four years since you wrote this initial piece. Keeping in mind that I have lived here and only here since 1954, I am almost 60 and do not need to work, what is your view of California vs. Washington living today?

  44. I would really, really, really love to move to Cali from cold Chicago IL but I am afraid that I won't be able to find work. I don't make a six figure income. I'm barely making the two figure. So, with that said, I'd have to come there seeking a job. Taxes in IL are 9.3% (sales tax) I don't smoke so they can raise it to the roof. I don't care. I hear car fees & tags are based on the car. Which I don't have right now. I just want to be able to look for a job year round. Right now I work retail (two retail jobs) at the mall. Is it worth leaving with about $1,000 to get me started. I am very driven and I believe I can find a job so I won't starve. But, where should I live. I'm 57 (female) I want to be safe. I have an online business but I'm just getting started. I'm one year in the business and have 2 clients so far.

  45. Well I'm in IL and the neighbor to IN. I would think it would be a diverse mix of opportunities. Maybe have a Dr. say its better for the kids health overall.

  46. I came across this blog after doing search for cost of living seattle vs socal. My situation: I am a married guy 31 year old Electrical engineer. I moved from Portland to Irvine for better salary but after moving here the 50% raise seems to be almost gone after adjusting the potential to buy a house in socal. Thats why luckily I didnt sign the papers which would have bound me to stay here longer. Now I am able to get another increment in salary by 3 companies in northwest. 120K in Boise, 140K in PDX, 115K in seattle. I am more inclined towards Seattle due to the company MSFT although its the least pay of all but stability and careerwise seems better. I am still not able to choose due to big difference between the other offers especially more pay in cheaper cities like Boise and PDX but reluctant about Boise due to its citylife and location. Reluctant about sales aspect of job in PDX and travel it requires. I know its a mix of choice between locations and career but any advise is valuable. Thanks

  47. Weather isn't THAT bad here. Yes it rains a lot. And yes it can get a bit cold. But that isn't a problem to me, i love the rain here! After a nice good rain, you can smell it. It smells good. The fresh air is amazing to me. And I'll also put in that I'm not one to like really warm weather. Mid 70 degree weather is perfect to me. The summers in Washington I would say has an average temperature of 80. Or maybe that's just my sensitivity to heat. Even though sunlight and more things to do in California does catch my attention, I could never leave Washington. There's almost every type of terrain here and all kinda of weather comes around. If you can get past the idea of wearing jeans and a sweatshirt for most of the year, ( note most, not all) and if rain doesnt bother you too much, you should be able to like it in Washington.:)

  48. Nancy to move to california 1000 would only last you about a month tops.
    Northern California is cheaper But rains more often And has less jobs.
    For me sacramento & san francisco is central california. (North South Then it would be close to borderline. Easier & better to split it into 3rds as it is a long state. and everyone forgets everything above those area's.)

    If I was to move for the first time to California I would consider everything your interested in & needing before choosing to move. Then Take and Research the area's. What is the cost of gas, food, rent, insurance etc. Then plan 6months of that for how much you will need. Sometimes you could be lucky & have a friend you can stay with and start out lot's cheaper. There is no guarantee's on finding a job anywhere you move. Yes California expects alot from it's people.

    I was born in California and have lived here all my life & Currently Trying to figure out where I would like to move. As I like outdoors, Fishing & lot's of shopping. Oh ya And I like asian communities and also spanish & filipino area's.
    Sadly that brings me mainly back to california.

  49. I am from Southern California and have lived in Seattle for the past 13 years. I am "used to" the weather but I will NEVER feel like my normal self with so little sun. I also miss my family VERY much. We are looking for a way to move back. The things I dread back in CA...traffic, distances to drive, high housing prices, having to search for a job that I love as much as my current job.

  50. Dave~ I think you got me mixed up with Tracey. No matter. I have moved to Shoreline, Washington, barely north of Seattle. I am so happy to be out of California. I recently went back for two weeks to finish getting my house ready to lease out and my impression was brown, hot, dry, dead!! It is so beautiful up here with the Puget Sound, Lake Washington and all the foliage! Everywhere I go, I'm in the forest. I disagree about the traffic in Seattle areas. There is congestion certain times of the day on the freeways, but the back roads are so scenic and traffic is significantly less. It's odd to me that traffic goes INTO Seattle in the late afternoon. It goes into the city in the morning as well, but I don't think I've seen this occur in any other major city. The drivers are much more polite, letting you in the que and/or letting you turn from a stop sign while they wait. No one rides your hind-end and people here don't go around and cut everyone off. It's rather refreshing! With taxes undoubtedly going up in California in a major way and so much financial problems especially with welfare, education, poor test scores, 50% drop out rate in L.A. County, health care, illegals being allowed to remain, I'm just done with California! Some of that is everywhere I suppose, but it is definitely concentrated there. If I ever move from Washington, it won't be back to California.

  51. Hi, Im 29 and I am planning to move to California by this time next year. I would like to save enough money so I can be alright for at least 6 months. I believe by 6 months I should have at least found a descent job and a descent place to live. At that time I can start working on my career, that is one of the reasons I want to move I believe I can advance in my career there instead of here or NY. I am originally from NY but now live in Pa, and I find I could not work on my career like I needed to. NY I was really distracted I was always partying and drinking and I end up dropping out of school. Now in Pa Im lonely and depress and I dont feel like I will make it here. I have held good jobs in both states. I believe if I can make it as far as I did in these states maybe I can make it in Cali but without being distracted and depress. Need some advise on how to make this move work for me without being in a situation like I am now...Tired of moving and not having a career...

    1. I hope youll see this. was wondering if yo made it to cali and how did you menage to settle

  52. I can't believe you make six figures with such poor grammar.

  53. Terrence: Thoughtful article. People bitch a lot about taxation in CA. [Recommend saying "taxation is...." rather than "taxes is..." at the start of your BLOG. Also, "weigh in.." vs. "way in..." tripped me at the end.]

    I'm looking for a summary of services that we get for our tax dollar that other states don't offer. There must be something besides the often bitched-about dole that we pay for. Anybody know where to look?

  54. I've been wanting to move to Cali for so long. Now, that I've read this I want to go even more. Despite the prices, it's awesomely great!

  55. top individual income tax rate is 12.25% depending on where you live top sales tax is 10.25%. There are recycling and conservations fees. If you buy any wood at the lumber yard you get charges a conservation tax in addition to the shelf price. Same for the packaging on your food and you get charged a disposal fee on all appliances. If you move your TV out of state (just a tax for living in CA. Don't try to build or improve any real estate it will cost you a years salary in permits then they might say no anyway. What the hell do you need an additional sink for anyway. We're saying "NO" just because we can. You or your guest washing your hands in one room versus another will have too big of an environmental impact. (No you can't use your garage to paint art in and wash your hands there because we say so. CA is F*#@ed up.


  57. born and raised in Washington for 22 years. love it here. I don't like seattle but 3 hours away is awesome! never moved before. moving to California in a few weeks because boyfriend has a better job. don't know if moving is a good idea. should I? advice

  58. Though this is an old post, I swear it's the BEST one I've read on the comparison. I do pity the folks from California that are moving up to Seattle in droves... wait til they get a few winters behind them, and they are pasty shells of their former selves. Do not underestimate what happens when you literally do not see the sun for weeks on end. It's not rain, folks. it's drizzle, for months. The traffic since 2007 in Seattle has gotten much much worse. 4th worst in the Country. So traffic is an issue there, now, too. California is just better in most ways... yes, you can get a bigger house up here (though the prices are now comparable to California,) but the food is not good, the weather is abysmal, and the people are not warm at all.

  59. This is the latest and greatest 2015! A new wave of taxation by state government is going to take place soon. The left wing government is causing the state to circle the bowl. People are fleeing as well as businesses. Increased fees and regulation on business. Increased taxation to pay for free medical car for illegals, increased fees on vehicle registration ($75-$100 bucks) to pay for the loss of revenue due to high mileage per gallon vehicles paying less state gasoline taxes, higher DMV fees for licensing renewal due to the huge increase in illegals able to obtain driver licensing, it goes on and on. More fees, taxes (to pay for the 'poor') and losses of revenue due to Obamacare. Not as many people are renewing as government said would renew, (about 20% renewal). The liberals are giving the state away to those less 'fortunate' and those that work will be paying for it. It's a drag on everybody and state government is determined to make everyone poor! Now we have the drought! State government is demanding water departments fine it's own users hundreds of dollars for watering your yard and local communities are passing fines to those homeowners that are letting their lawns go brown. It's bizarro world folks.....the END TIMES is upon us. I'm getting out just as soon as I can retire which looks like next year........I'm outta here and so are many others that I know.

  60. don't forget marijuana is legal

  61. illinois is only nice from the months of may to september. Afterwards,its cold and windy. you have to really put on a thick coat /wardrobe just to take your garbage out on mondays and thursdays. Houses are average in the suburbs. 2 car garages 3 bedrooms ranges between 300k to about 380k ,and im talking about an hour and a half drive away form the city. I live in Arlington hts, about 30 to 45 min going to chicago . Worse case scenario if you drive on a rush hour it'll take you 2 hours to get there especially if there's a baseball game going on.
    California is a much better city for me since i can see the sun year round and go outdoors.
    Once you're old you don't want tobe living here in illinois. its just too cold and youll be stuck indoors year round.

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  63. I have lived in Northern California my entire life, and I don't think it's what it's cut out to be by everybody else who doesn't live here. For starters if you think cold weather is bad you can put on more layers of clothing, if its 90 degrees here in my house and I can't run the A/C because it costs so much I just have to bake alive. The outside isn't at all more comfortable and if you are like me and take certain meds that make you sensitive to the sun, you go outside for a day once to do outdoor activities and even with sunscreen your skin gets fried. Don't get me wrong California certainly has a lot of pros, but it's just too f**king hot here in the summer bottom line. I would rather deal with cold weather, and because it makes a little more Economic sense to live in WA. I don't know about others but every time I visit LA I feel like i'm in hell unless there is A/C ALWAYS.

  64. I'm a mechanical engineer in San Diego pushing 75k just two years out of school. I'm also starting with an empty cheking account, stay-at-home wife and 2 little mouths to feed. It is impossible to make it down here on one income unless you have inheritences coming your way or were among the lucky to get your $200k mcmansion before the housing bubble. I managed to buy my first house for $200k but live in a tiny 100 year old shack in a secluded mountain town about an hour away from my job (or the nearest major city for that matter). The average decent home in a modest neighborhood not too infested with illegals runs about $600k (I'm not racist, im latino myself, just want to live amount other professionals without hearing gangster music or Fiestas blasting through the night). On a 6 figure salary I'd still need $300k CASH. Then after pulling that out of my assignments I'll be spending an entire biweekly paycheck on just the mortgage.

    What kind of lifestyle can u expect with that? Of course I could settle for the 2 hours spent in the car each day but that isn't living either.

    BELIEVE ME! CALIFORNIA EMPLOYEES AREN'T ADJUST SALARIES TO ACCOUNT FOR HIGHER COST OF LIVING. Now that most cities around here want to increase min wage to 15 bucks, Mr and Misses burger flipper could easily be making more than the average single newgrad.

  65. Hello, I am from New Yourk and I am in loooove with LA/santa Monica. I am planing to move there next year by June, preferably close to Santa Monica. (culver City, El Segundo, Venice) I do not really worry about job as I'll be coming financially prepared. what makes me worried is that i am a single mom and I'll be coming there with my son. But since I have no one there, literray no one, I do worry about getting an apartment. So I guess my question is what is the best way to find a good school and apartment around school? what is my chance that i can lease a place without job? ( i can provide payy stubs and credit score.) Thank you all for replying.

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