I am always asked about what it’s like living in California, so today I put together a list of the pros and cons of living in California.

The Pros and Cons of Living in California sarahkayhoffman.com Palm Trees

Common things people say to me are,

I could never live in California because there are too many people.

You are so lucky to live in California with all those celebrities.

Wish I could see Palm Trees every day like you do in California.

I hate winter. I want to move to California.

People in California are super laid-back, right?

I could go on for days with different things people say and ask me about as it relates to living in California.

The Pros and Cons of Living in California sarahkayhoffman.com Biking

I have spent most of my adult life here and during this time have learned so much.

The Pros and Cons of Living in California sarahkayhoffman.com

The Pros and Cons of Living in California

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  1. Palm Trees. I won’t lie, seeing these beautiful trees every single day out my backyard window still makes my heart skip a beat.
  2. The ocean. I’m more of a mountains girl than ocean, but one time (before Samarah), Ryan and I stayed on the beach overnight. We left the sliding door open all night, and there was something super magical about listening to the ocean waves crashing all night long. These days, we get to the ocean when we can because Samarah really loves it!
  3. The mountains. The last time we went up to the mountains (just a couple months ago), I snapped a picture during the drive and texted it to my mom and brother with, “Never gets old.” I could go to the mountains weekly and I’d still be in awe. It’s so peaceful and beautiful. We are going again soon, and I can’t hardly wait!
  4. The weather. For most of my life, when I lived in Minnesota, each year I suffered from SAD badly. While I feel like that’s pretty common, it didn’t make it any easier. In California, our “worst” season is happening now when it rains. We have gotten more rain than in the past few years this year, and I have been perfectly okay with it because typically it is still 60+ degrees and sunny. It was 70 degrees on my birthday last week. Year round the weather can’t be beat. {Note: All of the images for this post were taken yesterday around 4:30 pm when we went on a little bike ride around our community, and right down the road. But that weather:)}
  5. The lifestyle. For me, I do believe it’s much easier to heal here than in many places of the country. I have access to some of the best functional medicine in the country, but way more important than that is the fact that the weather helps me carry on while finding diverse ways for healing (bike rides outside year round, reading my bible on the porch year round, etc.)
  6. Never far from anything. I can be at the coffee shop in 5 minutes or among rolling hills in 10 minutes. Both the mountains and the beach are about an hour. I can go wine tasting in Napa within just a couple hours or be at Disneyland (by car) in about 7 hours. Everything I could imagine is quite literally at my fingertips.
  7. It’s not just Hollywood. Trust me! If you love that scene, then you can find it by heading to Southern Calfornia – Beverly Hills (which I used to live in, the “adjacent”), Hollywood, Century City, Laguna, etc. But California is a big, big state. In fact, did you know that California is the top dairy state? You were thinking Wisconsin, probably, but they come in second. And where we live, in the “Valley” of Northern California there is a ton of agriculture, cows, horses, farm life, sunsets, less smog and yes, even manure smells. If I had to see Hollywood every single day, I would never have made it here this long. And I know this, too, because I did have the chance to live there for as long as I wanted.

The Pros and Cons of Living in California sarahkayhoffman.com Biking in February

The Cons of Living in California

  1. Too many people. This is true. There are far too many people.
  2. The cost of living. If you’ve heard that it’s expensive to live in California, then you heard correctly. We live about an hour from San Francisco, and the cost of living is still ridiculous. We watch House Hunters all the time and cry a little inside for how far money goes in most other states.
  3. It’s not the same. We have met some really wonderful people out here on the West Coast, don’t get me wrong, but even after almost 8 years, we still don’t think it’s the same as the good old Midwest. This is something we can’t describe to anyone, but if you’ve lived primarily in the Midwest, then ventured out West, you likely know what I’m talking about. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s better or worse, but it’s just not the same. This is a con for me, but I also realize that it’s something fairly normal.
  4. Family. If your family is not in California with you, then this is a huge, huge con if you love them as much as we do. The day my mom left to go back to Minnesota, Samarah and I headed to MOPS immediately. I got there, sat down and tears just started falling. The mentor moms told me it would be okay, and that while we were here they could be my “adoptive mamas.” I loved that, and it helped in those moments, but it’s not the same. I miss my parents, my brother, in-laws, huge extended family and all of Ryan’s family daily. That will never, ever go away. Ever.

The Pros and Cons of Living in California sarahkayhoffman.com Redbridge Tracy

Is living in California right for me forever? No.

I am from gravel roads, and I do believe that our forever roots will be planted back in the homeskillet Minnesota.

But for today, California still feels like home. At the end of each walk, drive or bike ride when we return home to our house, I have excited butterflies for all that we have (namely each other) and all that we have built and created here in the beautiful state of California.

p.s. If you have more questions that you’d love to know about the pros and/or cons of living in or moving to California, please let me know. I’m happy to answer anything! If you’re looking for a great professional moving company, we suggest that you look into Vector Moving.

And p.s.s. In December of 2017, we moved back to Minnesota.

The Pros and Cons of Living in California sarahkayhoffman.com Our House


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  1. After spending 10 years there myself, you are exactly right! There aren’t too many cons…..but they are big ones!

    1. I’m currently living in Rochester Minnesota. And was wondering if moving to Long Beach California is any good. I’m always getting as much review as I can from people that have actually lived there. Some recent, some as long as 20 years ago. So my questions are, is California getting better or worse? I get it’s expensive, sure, but as far as crime rate goes, Long Beach in the north, I’m supposed to avoid? Here I have a great job in the medical field as a technician. Paid well but this cold is killing me. Lol

  2. Yes, yes and yes. Totally agree with you on this one. As someone who moved here from Florida, my biggest hold-up is the PEOPLE back home. But the Bay Area would be hard to ever leave now that I’ve tasted what it has to offer. Expenses and all!

  3. I think it is hard to really narrow down California to a specific niche because it is so big! Northern California is entirely different than Southern California, but as I’ve lived in both areas, I can honestly say I love them both. I think at the end of the day I’m a So-Cal gal purely because of the weather, but Nor-Cal always will hold a special place in my heart as well.

    I cringe watching House Hunters too! That show always makes me want to pack everything up and move to Texas where I could get a house 3x as big for half the cost!

    1. Yes, I agree! And don’t get me wrong, I love So Cal, but so often I think people who don’t live here think that (even So Cal) is just all Palm Trees and Hollywood:) And I TOTALLY agree about Texas, 3x the house for half the cost:)

      1. We currently live in Texas (originally from Chicago). We live just north of Dallas. We have been here for 4 years and are getting out. We have the big house with the big electric bills. The summers are brutal. I can’t get outside with my kids from July until almost the end of October due to the heat. Also, there lacks diversity. We miss that from living in Chicago. Another downside are the gun laws. Texans love their guns and hunting. We live in an upper-middle class neighborhood and most of our neighbors have guns (and kids). Many of the kids go hunting with their parents. Not us! Whenever there is a playdate, we always have to ask if there are guns in the house (and 99% of the time, they answer is yes) and are they locked up (and 50% of the time they are not). Scary here. Take Texas off your list. We are currently house hunting in So Cal. Love what we see there and can enjoy the weather and getting out all year round. Ready to make the move!

        1. So true! We are currently in Austin, even though it’s a blue dot… it’s a long way from feeling liberal. Considering going to San Francisco for a job offer; would love to hear more

        2. Just so you know that summer is So Cal is terrible hot! This summer was 123F for like 4 days in a roll… all other days were better, like 99F. Just TERRIBLE!

        3. It gets hot in California also. June to part of September. Then again it depends on what part of So. Cal you are looking at closer to the beach the better off for the weather. Then you have the cost of living here. Rents and Home prices are much higher than Texas and you get a lot less for you money. Driving, The cost of fuel is much higher, and having to fight traffic Monday thru Friday. Crime, This is a big issue. Taxes, just empty every pocket because you will be paying thru the nose on everything. I could go on and on but I will leave you just these to dwell on.

  4. I’m a born-and-raised California girl, and I love California. But agree that there are WAY too many people – my hometown wasn’t super small growing up but it was definitely much smaller and more quaint than it is today. The ever-growing sprawl is sadly killing those charming farm towns. But something else about California that you didn’t mention and personally I love is not just the diversity of geography, but the diversity of people and all the wonderful cuisine that comes with it. So many delicious dining options!

    1. Thats exactly what i love about California. Diversity! I live in texas, was raised in Florida, lived & went to California for college years, have lived in North Carolina and Hawaii. California is my favorite. With all of it’s drawbacks, you can’t beat the weather, the open minded people (less clique going on due to how transient and worldly, well traveled people are there). Thats what i don’t like about Texas… (texas pride, unhealthy people, unhealthy food…..boring in my opinion). I want me a slice of Cali, even if it is a little slice! I am not excited about the taxation in Ca but you get what you pay for!

  5. California girl, here! I spent the first 27 years of my life in Fresno. 25 years ago I moved 200 miles south. There’s so much to love about this state, but Fresno summers is not one of them 🙂 Our most common question, from out of state family, is “How do y’all live out there with all those earthquakes?” We bite our tongues and don’t ask how they live with hurricanes or tornadoes or blizzards. Each state has it’s own beauty and beast. Of course my family is in California, so my heart will always belong here.

    1. We get asked the earthquake question all the time, too. We have lived her almost 8 years, and we still have not experienced one for the most part. Thanks for sharing, Kathy!

  6. Nail on the head, my friend. We moved back to Baltimore in October from the Bay Area after 2 years. While we’re SERIOUSLY missing the weather, the easy access to the water, mountains, amazing food, etc, it’s definitely nice to be back with family and friends. My husband says if we could move all of our family and friends to California, he’d move back in a heart beat.

    1. We may be relocating to the Sacramento area from Maryland b/c of an employment move. I’m super anxious about a coast to coast move! Im originally from Michigan , but after being in Maryland for 15 years, i have grown to LOVE the east! Thanks for this blog and the comments! It helps!

  7. Im from both Detroit, Michigan and Jackson, Mississippi and my fam lives in Atlanta. (I live in Starkville, MS cause I attend Mississippi State) I have been thinking a lot about the best places to move for my career (animation/screenwriting) but everyone where I’m from thinks moving to California is a bad idea because of earthquakes and the drought and competitive work market and cost of living. My goal is to never live in Mississippi again. There is literally nothing here (maybe a little bit but still nothing). What are your thoughts on all of those reasons?

    1. Hi, Tiara! I would not worry about earthquakes and drought. The drought is not likely to go away, but we have lived here almost 10 years and I’ve never been through an earthquake yet. The cost of living is a legitimate concern, though. Where in CA are you planning to live? The Hollywood area is expensive. All of that said, moving to CA for 10 years was the BEST decision. Go, do, explore!

      1. Hi Sarah! I was thinking based on Career preferences to either move to Los Angeles or the Bay Area. I was told for a person who wants to animate and write LA might be better depending on my personality or the bay area might be better.

        1. Good advice. Both are expensive, but if you search around you can find areas outside of both that could be affordable. We are about an hour from San Francisco.

        2. I was a Film and Television Major with an emphasis in Animation. My second degree is in Graphic Design and Illustration. I can tell you that after living 20 plus years in the Northern California Bay Area, job market is brutal. Depending on your school you could potentially land a job at Pixar. But it is very difficult and unlikely. Nickalodeon recruits in So Cal quite frequently and you may have better luck there. I was a military child stationed 8 years in Montana before coming to Cali. I’m miss Montana every day but love California winters!

  8. Are there any “affordable” areas between Murrieta and Temecula? My son is considering a move from MI to CA in 1-2 yrs. He is an R.N. and has 4 young children with a stay at home wife. Thank you.

    1. Hi, Rick! I’m not familiar with that area so I wouldn’t be the best person to ask. That said, I think you can make it work anywhere:) Good luck to them!

    2. Hi Rick! Lake Elsinore, Riverside, and Hemet are good areas for your son to look at. Close to Murrieta and Temecula and not expensive to live. Hope that helps

  9. I’m going to be an exchange student next year, and I am trying to find the best place to spend my year as 17 years old. Do you think California would be a nice place? Is it easy to get friends and stuff?

    1. Hi, Solveig! Yes, I think you would love it here. In fact, we have a foreign exchange student from Italy coming here this Saturday. 🙂

  10. hello, im from chicago looking to move to cali, me, my boyfriend of 10 years and our three children, we both have a relative in chino hills, they say nothing but great things about it, but im scared that having small children, we wont fit in right away. from me seeing how cali is more for the single people on the run, so my question is where would it be a nice safe area in cali to raise them

    1. Hi Vanessa! I currently live in chino hills and let me tell you that it is the best place to raise a family. Actually the city of chino was awarded a couple years back one of the top cities in the U.S to raise young children. It’s not too big of a city and almost everyone knows each other. It’s a little on the pricey side and would probably be looking at $400k – $700k for a good sized home. If that is not in your price range you could also try looking into Chino, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Eastvale, Diamond bar or Brea are all pretty close by chino hills area. I’ve lived here for 23 wyears and I can say it’s one of the best places to raise your kids! I do plan on moving to the Los Angeles area for my career which is a very bittersweet feeling but I know one day when I start having kids I will most definitely be moving back to chino hills 🙂

  11. I love this article..seriously thinking about moving to California. Problem is…I’m a single mom and I only have a few (3) family members there. So I worry about working too fat away to get to my child (9 years old)in case of an emergency because I won’t have that family support. Public health is my back ground and California is big on health and protecting the environment which I love..I honestly hate SC….born and raised, and divorced. Im looking to move to either walnut Creek, Pleasanton, or pittsburg. I’ve been out there at least 6 times in the past 11 months. I cry everything I have to come back to SC. Literally cry. I love my family but I am looking to grow and SC is still backwards in diversity…lol. anyone have any suggestions of support groups for single moms?

  12. Hello,

    My name is Bri. I have dreamed of living in California for as long as I can remember.. I have family that live there & every time we went on vacation to see them, I just couldn’t get enough.I grew up in a tiny town of less than 500 people in Illinois. Right now, I am 19 years old & I just can’t push the urge to move there aside. What are your tips on moving across the united states? Also, how much money would you recommend I save before making the leap? Lastly, what would be the safest area for a single 19 year old with a cat to live in? Thank you in advance. (:

    1. I’ve moved across the country more than once . If you have the feeling then don’t fight it. You are young . Take chances and live. I’ve learned so much about myself and life moving around . I’ve wanted to give so cal a try myself. South Florida was too hot but I think so cal would be perfect . So when your ready , I’ll go with you. Hehe!!!

  13. I want to move to California once I’m 18 is there a specific city you recommend for people who are just starting out? Also, what are some of your favorite hikes/mountains? I am going there this summer as well.

  14. Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for writing this blog and sharing your experience. My wife and I love traveling out to CA. We live on the east coast and we are tired of the hustle and bustle of the east coast, the winters, and the high taxes. We desire a better quality of life, while trying to still succeed in our purpose. We have a young family and we have a two year window before our daughter goes to high school. What resonated with me in your blog was, the ability to get outside to the beach and mountains in a short period of time, the quality of the food, the holistic medicine, as well as traditional options, and the overall better quality of life. On the flip side, I hear you, we give up a ton too. My family will probably never visit – at least my mom will not, our nice home with plenty of space (we watch house hunters too, lol) access to NYC or Washington DC in 2 hours or Philadelphia in 25 minutes, and any other excuse I can make up in my mind. I have this urge to do it and trying to choose between FL and CA. My mind says FL, but my heart says CA. We have been to San Diego, LA, and San Fran and we love all three, however, if we had a preference, it would probably be San Diego followed by LA to give us the big city feel that we will miss. I’ve rambled, but you get the my drift. Any additional tid-bits would be appreciated.

  15. I am looking to move to California from Atlanta but not sure of the best areas being a single mom. Also I work in purchasing so not certain what areas would be good to live to find this type of job. Just need a major change and ready to make this move.

  16. I love this post! I was thinking about moving to California when I graduate high school and move out. I kind of wanted to see the benefit and some of the best things about California while being realistic with the cons as well. I’m sure it’ll take some work and effort but I think I could totally live there for a while. Thanks for a great post!

  17. Hi Sarah, I’m from Boston and have been looking to move to California, particularly the Northern part. It would be really nice to have some fun in the sun, but I’ve been hearing some crazy things in the news about how terrible the roads, bridges, and infastructure is there. From your view, how accurate is that? Also, since I’m big on sports culture being from Boston, how much do the people like the sports teams out there? Thanks!

  18. Hello Sarah,

    I’ve read your post and I loved it! I recently just got a promotion and moving from Springfield, Ma to Southern California (alone). I’ve visited California before so I’m not a stranger. Leaving my family behind will be one of the toughest thing to do. They understand why I’m doing and I appreciate them for that. I know you had a tough time with missing the family also. How did you cope? Any suggestions?

    Thank you in advance!

  19. Hello Sarah,

    I’ve read your post and I loved it! I recently just got a promotion and moving from Springfield, Ma to Southern California (alone). I’ve visited California before so I’m not a stranger. Leaving my family behind will be one of the toughest thing to do. They understand why I’m doing and I appreciate them for that. I know you had a tough time with missing the family also. How did you cope? Any suggestions?

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi, Julio! You can do it, but here’s the truth – right out of college, I moved to southern CA alone. I didn’t make it long before I moved home. It was hard doing it alone. Then, my (now husband) and I moved out to northern CA together a couple years after and we have been here 11 years. I have him (and now 3 children) so the experience has been wildly different (and great) 🙂 All my best!

  20. Hi! I moved from Maryland to Los Angeles in 1989 and I’ve never looked back! I love California. I love Los Angeles, and I love the little town I live in, Signal Hill.

    My perspective as an “immigrant” to the area. First off, almost everyone is from somewhere else, so it’s always a good way to start conversations with strangers and you can learn about other places as well.

    There are too many people, the big downfall to Southern California. And they’re always out when I am, no matter where, on the road, in the store, at the movie theater, etc. Too many people.

    But I love the people here! See we fit in here where we wouldn’t in other places. Socially and politically this for us is the best place in the U.S. to live, and I love my native Maryland. It’s nice to always be around others that think like me. And we still maintain a diverse population. In the Los Angeles area, you can hear so many languages anywhere you go!

    Southern California is expensive, but incomes (at least in my industry and company) are higher also. My counterparts in my company in other U.S. cities earn a lot less than me and that’s partly due to the higher cost of living here.

    The weather is perfect! What I don’t miss about anywhere else is the weather. Everywhere else, the weather determines what you wear, where you go, what you do, when you go and if you go. Not here. Everything can be done just about every day of the year.

    Many people have this romanticized opinion of California. We’re just like everyone else, it’s just that we have great weather.

    1. Hi Ken.. I currently received a call for a possible job in Long Beach California. Is that place any good to live? I’m told to avoid northern Long Beach California. I’m told to avoid a lot of areas. Yet, I still want to move for the weather and for my own health. Start over with my life. Crime is everywhere I get it. But I feel like I’m moving to a place that even though my job will be great. Living in a spot I don’t know safe or not is unknown. Have you ever been to Long Beach?

  21. It’s definitely true about missing the Midwest. I moved to CA when I was 20. I loved it out there but then I came back to visit family about a year later. Things just felt so much simpler when I came back to the Midwest. I could talk to a girl and the first thing she looked at wasn’t how fancy my car was or trying to gauge my income. Instead, more interested in if we simply enjoyed one another. This phenomenon may be true in California because it has so much to offer, people want even more. I love California to death and would recommend someone live there even if for only a year. But also understand it’s more than just weather, palm trees and ocean (which are all great). California is a very competitive place. The more beautiful a place is in California, the more money it costs, the more competitive the culture and the less down-to-earth the people are. To put this in perspective- little old Midwestern boy here – the people I relate to most in San Francisco are the people not from the US at all. I can relate better to people from China, Mexico, the Philippines, anywhere else much better than I can Americans in SF. Including tourists. They just seem more down-to-earth. Anyone else ever feel that way when in the bay area?

  22. i was thinking about moving to california, its been a wish for awhile one downside i heard besides the expenses is turuantulas being there, im not sure if they are all over california or just in southern california but this is a huge fear of mine and wanted to ask u if they were where you lived ?

  23. Hey. Loved your take on Cali. I was wondering, what area has good (non-expensive) apartments for recent college grads? Also,looking for somewhere safe. Im from Maryland and was thinking about making the move after I graduate this fall.

  24. I am 41 and left California, my birth state last year. Why? The cost of living is the very first, second is the people and lack of feeling at home anymore. Lastly the crime rates and laws are affecting far more people than it should. Everyone is biting the bullet for the low life’s that are destroying what California use to be. I am from Northern Cali. Average house rent for a 2 bed as of now is about $1400 in the average class areas. Low income areas etc! Sacramento north area. I now live in Louisiana and of coarse I’m hating the weather, the bugs and insurance prices. But I find that this state has everything Cali is missing. Mainly good people that say hello how are you, and mean it. Homes are far cheaper. Tax sucks too. I will go back to Cali I’m sure. But not until I take a long deserved break from the extreme pace of Cali. Cons are few but Massive. Pros are many and great!

    Good luck guys.

  25. White and 35 years old man, me and my family have been in Tennessee all of our life and we really haven’t gotten anything accomplished, it lacks diversity, my stepmom is from California, we are wanting to ultimately move to California and/or Arizona, I’d like to get married to a god-fearing Asian woman and have kids, plus a complete reset in our lives. And a far greater rest of life in god.

  26. I really loved how you mentioned that in California, the weather can’t be beaten. My husband wants us to move to California because of a job opportunity, so I am doing some research on why we should move there. I will have to talk to a real estate agent to help me figure out what our options are and how to make the best out of our stay there.

  27. Im originally from N. Cali, more specific Marin county, then once graduated moved to petaluma in Sonoma Co. A small town with about 55k pop. It’s the first town to initiate population control back in the 60s. Once I became an adult I ended up working in L.A. then after 15 years I move to Pensacola Fl. again a small town with about 50k pop. The weather in the S.F. Bay Area is beyond fantastic. Cool, windy, fresh ocean breeze and 40 min to S.F…Cant beat it.. but rush hour is easy 1.5 +2 hours to go 20 miles and gas is 4$ and rent is easy 1500 for 1 bedroom studio. People are mixed and it is liberal..which is fine w me. but unless you telecommute you get swept up in traffic, …taxes are high as is the cost of living..tough life for a 65+k a year job…ouch……but since I moved to Pensacola Fl. I have gathered that slowing down and simplifying life has had a great affect on me. Pensacola has miles of beaches…Miles and miles of pristine beaches and all withing 10 min drive or 1 hour bike ride …. rents are low 700$..unlike petaluma where homes are 600k$ median…P’cola is 250K$ and taxes are low. and no state income tax….gas is 2.35$..utilities are cheap and life is slow…although it does get hot here…right now it’s 50 and tonight it will be about 43 degrees.

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