I have lived in Florida for about 12 and a half years. And while I’ve never actually lived in California, I spent enough time there about two months collectively over a couple of vacations and staying in some Airbnbs longterm and the neighborhoods there to really get a feel for what it’s like to live there. I give that same advice if you’re looking to move to Florida, like I mentioned here in this video.
So since I’ve spent a decent amount of time in both places, I wanted to kind of compare and contrast the two, because there are some things I like about both places. This is sort of going to be like a pros and cons list or a compare and contrast. And I’m not really saying that one is better than the other. These are just differences that I’ve noticed after spending a lot of time in both places. So let’s get into my list and check out some of the differences and the pros and cons of living in Florida versus California.
This first one, I have mentioned in a few of my videos in the past, and it is worth being the number one thing to mention here in this video. And one thing that probably would prevent me from moving to California, and that is Florida has no state income tax and California state income tax can be as high as 13%.
If you make over a million dollars a year in California, they are raking in the income taxes from you, let me tell you, and that is just an insane amount. 13% of your income just for the state is a lot of money versus 0% here in Florida, no matter how much you make. I think the difference with that is completely night and day. That one factor alone is probably enough to keep me in Florida.
I could see myself visiting California for a few months out of the year, because then I get to enjoy some of the best times of year to be in California and get away from the extremely hot summers in Florida, but still not be susceptible to paying California’s extremely high income tax.
California has about 40 million people and Florida has about half that amount of people at about 21 million. Although I must say this, California is a gigantic state and just size wise, it is well over double the size of Florida. And so even though it has doubled the amount of people, it also has more than double the amount of space. Versus here in Florida, since it’s a much smaller state and having half the population, a lot of that population is congested into big cities here like Miami, and Tampa, Orlando, and places like that.
Florida does have a lot of the same problems that California has like traffic jams, and crime, the price of housing going up, and all sorts of things like that that come with high populations and high population density. And then also, this whole thing with the illness going on, this is one of the hotspots here for that because the population density is high in places like this. So I guess in that sense, both of these things are sort of relative to each other because even though California has a lot more people, they have a lot more space.
California is susceptible to tsunamis, earthquakes, and wildfires. Florida, has the threat of hurricanes and we have sinkholes and we also have severe thunderstorms with lightning and lightning does kill you, even though it sounds like something that you probably would never think of, but it does kill people. And so, I think Florida and California are sort of at a tie for this one. You kind of have to go with the natural disasters that you feel more comfortable with because with earthquakes, you don’t get a warning.
The earth just starts shaking and it gets you out of bed and maybe your house falls into the earth or cracks in half. But most of them aren’t that bad. It’s not that severe. The wildfires though are one of those things that I think can be really scary and that’s something that can also just pop up out of nowhere. Tsunamis, you do get warnings for. You kind of know a tsunami is coming before it comes, so that’s good. And also, you probably don’t have to worry about that too much unless you live right near the coast.
But similarly here in Florida, those severe thunderstorms can do a lot of damage with high winds and lightning and severe rains which cause flooding. The entire state of Florida is susceptible to flooding from rain showers, at least, and hurricanes do a massive amount of damage. Every time a hurricane strikes the state of Florida, it usually does a significant amount of damage and it levels houses. Also, I recently did make a video about sinkholes here in Florida so if you missed that, make sure you go ahead and check it out right here.
Cost of Living
Now, this one is definitely going to have to go to Florida and that would be the cost of living. The cost to live a nice lifestyle here in Florida is just hands down cheaper than it is in California. To buy a nice house here, close to the beach like you might’ve seen in some of my recent videos, you can buy something like that for $200,000 or less and that is just impossible in California.
$200,000 in California will get you practically nothing, unless you move way far east away from the coast, then you might be able to get something decent. But to be anywhere near the beach anywhere in California, it’s just not going to happen at that price point. You’re talking double or maybe even triple that price point just to be near the coast. This one definitely goes to Florida. If you want to live near the beach, Florida is the place do it on a budget for sure.
Homelessness is rampant in California and it’s becoming an epidemic, basically. And every time I go to California, I feel like it’s getting worse and worse. You see these entire tent cities and shantytowns built up underneath overpasses and even by Venice Beach and no one’s doing anything about it. That’s the saddest thing. It’s like everyone knows it’s the problem there, but no one’s really doing anything to fix it.
The obvious thing to fix it is to provide housing for those people so they have a place to live. Obviously, then the problem comes to who’s going to pay for that, but you know what, guys? If you live in California and you’re watching this, then you should realize that it might be smarter to hand over a few of your dollars to have somebody live in a house and not have the filth and problems that come with people living on the street and also the eyesore and the smell that it causes.
We do have homelessness here in Florida, but it is nothing like in California. I live here in Miami Beach and I do see homeless here, but we don’t have shantytowns. We don’t have tents popped up everywhere. We don’t have an entire city underneath one of our overpasses here. It’s just not like that. That’s something that you guys got to get under control, California. Now, I know it might sound like I’m giving Florida the upper hand here, especially with this one, but just wait. I have a few more coming that are going to make California sound good.
In Florida, I feel like the most popular beaches here are just a lot cleaner and nicer than the beaches in California. I’ve been to a lot of the beaches in California and I can’t wait to go there again and do some beach review videos like I’ve been doing here in Florida. I have been to some beautiful beaches in California, but the popular ones like near Santa Monica or Venice Beach, those areas in particular I’m referring to are very dirty. It seems like the water is very dirty. The beach itself is sort of dirty and it’s just not the best environment to go to the beach.
In case you are interested I did a few Florida Beach review videos which you can check out here.
I did find when I was over there, that some of the nice places to go to the beach were away from the crowds, like in Malibu for example. The ocean is much cleaner. It’s like night and day and it’s not nearly as crowded. So if I go to the beach in California, I prefer to go to one of those lesser known and less crowded beaches because the hotspots over there are just kind of disgusting. And in Florida, I noticed that’s mostly not true. All the beaches I’ve been to here that are popular places to go to the beach are very nice and very beautiful.
Alright, so here’s where California is going to start winning in my opinion. California has some restaurants to go to and I believe that they are all just cheaper than Miami in particular. I’m not saying all of Florida, but I’m relating it to Miami because I live in Miami. There are a lot of good restaurants in the rest of Florida that you can go to that don’t cost a ton of money. This point right here is more like an LA versus Miami thing. Basically, LA has so many great restaurants that are just cheaper than the restaurants here in Miami. I’ve been to many of them. I think the food is better. The service is better and it costs less. I can give you a couple of examples right now off the top of my head.
I like Mel’s Diner, right on the Sunset Strip. Another good one on the strip is the Aroma Cafe. There was another place, a ramen noodle place, not far away from the Aroma Cafe that’s also really good. You get a gigantic bowl of ramen noodle soup for like 10 or 12 bucks and it’s enough to feed two people. Stuff like that just doesn’t exist here in Miami and I think it’s largely due to the fact that the rents are so high for these restaurants here, and the people that open restaurants are not from here and maybe they’re being a little bit greedy or don’t really know how to run a business properly in Miami.
It just doesn’t feel like the price you pay for the food most of the time adds up to the value that you’re getting. Whereas every time we went out in California, I felt like the price of the bill matched the meal that we just ate and it was much more satisfying. Here, I have a few spots I like to go to now and I pretty much avoid the rest of the restaurants because I’ve been to so many of them here and I think most of them are just a rip off compared to what you get for the money. That one definitely goes to California.
Diversity of Activities
Here is another win for California, in my opinion. I think California has a much more diverse amount of activities to do, especially in any given day. You can go to the beach, you can go hiking up one of the mountains, you can go to Santa Monica Pier which has the arcade and an amusement park and fishing and all kinds of things right there on that pier, plus you have the beach surrounding you. You’ve got Muscle Beach right there. They also have very unique tourist areas like Hollywood Boulevard with the Walk of Fame and the wax museums, and they have other cool museums like The House of Death over there. And that’s just cool stuff that we don’t have here in Florida.
You can also take a little bit of a road trip and go to the mountains and literally go skiing and then go back to the beach all in the same day. And for that reason, I really like California and being able to just kind of have your choice of anything you want to do that day and the fact that it’s available is pretty awesome. That’s just not a thing here in Florida.
And similar to that point, California also has something that Florida does not have called micro-climates. And that’s one of the most interesting things about California. In case you don’t know what a microclimate is, it’s basically when the weather can just change dramatically from spot to spot, meaning temperature wise and how things look, how sunny it is, how foggy it is, et cetera.
I remember driving through Monterrey and that area, and I remember we were driving and it was about 70 degrees and sunny for a moment. And then once we got a little bit further down the road, it ended up going down to about 50 degrees and foggy within about 10 minutes down the street. It would fluctuate like that, depending on where you’re at.
I think that’s kind of a cool thing because when you’re in California and if you want to experience some nice weather for the day, you just drive a little bit to a different micro-climate. And if you’re feeling like you want to have a jacket on and have a fire, you can drive probably 20 minutes down the road and experience that too. That is definitely something we don’t have here in Florida. You can drive anywhere right now in the State of Florida and you’ll get one type of climate, hot and humid!
The Beaches (Again)
Another quick thing to point out back to the beach thing is that the beaches here in Florida are generally pretty warm so if you like nice warm water, especially in the summertime, you’re going to like it here better. But in California, the water is very cold. Actually, I don’t mind that because when it’s 80, 90 degrees outside and I’m at the beach, especially in the summertime, like in California, I like when I get in and the water’s cold but that’s my preference.
When it’s a hundred degrees here in Florida, like it is now, you get in the water, it feels like jumping into a jacuzzi almost because it’s that warm. It’s not a very big relief from the heat. In the summertime, it’s kind of hard to cool off just by going to the beach. It does work, you get wet and you get a little bit of a breeze on you and it cools you down but just getting into the water is kind of warm. You kind of have to pick and choose your poison on that one too.
Now, here is another sort of very niche Miami versus LA aspect to it and I’m going to have to give this one to California, for sure. The nightlife and the nightclubs that are available in California, particularly in LA are so much better in my opinion. I play guitar. You guys see my rig behind me all the time in my videos.
And I love being able to just walk into the clubs over there for free a lot of nights. Most of the time, there’s no cover charge or anything. You can go to the Whiskey a Go Go, The Viper Room, The Troubadour, places like that for free and just walk in and see the local bands playing, have a couple drinks and have a cool night out on the town for very low prices.
We don’t have stuff like that here in Miami. Okay, and the fact that they play real music over there, it’s not a bunch of this …boop data boop dat boop data boop dat. That’s how every song sounds here in Miami. Trust me, that’s how every song is. You go to the beach here, you go to the clubs, you’re going to hear boop data boop dat boop data boop dat.
In California, you’ll get all different kinds of music and I really love that. I thought it was so neat. I went to the guitar stores over there and met real guitar players who were in real bands. I actually went and saw some of them at the clubs that very same night and watch them play in their bands. It was so fun, man. It was just awesome. This is a scene that we just don’t have here in Miami and it’s something I always miss about LA. It’s one of my favorite things about LA. You might not enjoy that if you’re not into music, but if you do like music, LA is the town for you, in my opinion.
Not only does LA have the music, they also have a bunch of comedy clubs on the strip and they also have the ability to go and watch live TV shows for free. I’m a big fan of watching Real Time with Bill Maher. I watch it every Friday. I really enjoy his show and I got to go see that show in person for free. I was in the third row, didn’t have to pay for a ticket and being able to go to that show live and just do that, especially for free, I thought was just the coolest thing.
That’s something that just doesn’t exist here, guys. This a huge advantage and is really cool to have in California. If you’ve been living there for a while, you might take this for granted but I think if I was living there, I would make it a point to at least once a month, go watch a live TV show for free because I think it’s a really cool way to entertain yourself and it’s free. It’s something that almost nowhere else in the world, this exists. I know they do that in New York for some of the big TV shows too, but you’re probably looking at just New York and LA to be able to do stuff like that. You guys are lucky. California is not all bad, guys.
Another thing that I guess is a Miami versus LA thing is language. Here is another win that’s going to go to LA for sure. That is everywhere you go, people speak English in LA. That is not true in Miami. I never went to one single place where I walked into a store and the person started talking to me in Spanish, automatically assuming I know Spanish or anywhere where I asked someone a question in public where they didn’t speak English. That just doesn’t seem to be a thing in California. In Miami, this is a big problem.
You can go a lot of places and people don’t speak English, or if they do, they just prefer not to and they expect you should be the one who speaks Spanish. That’s something that has always drove me nuts about Miami. I kind of hate that about it here and I thought that was a really nice thing about being an LA because it is a huge diverse city with a bunch of different populations from all over the world similarly to Miami. But guess what? Everyone spoke English, so I’m giving this one to California for sure.
Climate and Location Diversity
Now, the last I want to bring up is also a win for California in my opinion and that is the ability to choose where you live based on what you like to do. If you like the desert, you can live in the desert. If you like the ocean, you can live near the beach. If you like the mountains, you can live in the mountains, either a secluded mountain area or a big mountain town. There’s a lot of different choices available in California.
You can even live on a farm if you want to in California. You can live in a downtown high rise area, or you can live in a small town that feels like you’re living somewhere in the Midwest where I am from. Just the diversity of all of those living options available in one state is pretty incredible to me because it’s not like that throughout the rest of the country.
A lot of the other states have a pretty uniform way. It’s like most states are built up of a bunch of small towns, one after the other, especially like in Illinois where I’m from. Everything starts looking the same. You drive down the road and it’s nothing but corn fields and wheat fields and soybean fields and farm houses, one after the other, big grain silos. Every town looks the same.
But in California, you can pretty much choose to live in any type of format you want and that is pretty neat. Florida does have a little bit of that here. You can live on a farm in Florida. You can live in a small town in Florida, or you can live in a high rise here in Florida just like I do, but we don’t have mountains here and we don’t have deserts here. Those are just a couple of options that are off the table if you’re going to be living in Florida.
If you want the maximum amount of options for where you’re going to live and what type of environment, California is definitely a good choice for that.
I feel like I really had so many things to say about both places and I really don’t think one is better than the other. I really think it just comes down to what you’re trying to get out of life and probably your budget. Of course, that is a factor here. We’re not going to lie, but I see a lot of people in the comments, trashing California, saying all these bad things about it, but I just gave you guys a lot of cool things about California that Florida does not have and a lot of other places in the world don’t have.
You need to feel lucky and maybe take advantage of some of those things if you are in California still, and you’re not in Florida yet, but also it is pretty great to live in Florida. And we have about two thirds or 75% of those things here, and you can still have a really nice quality of life here in Florida for way less than what it would cost in California. I like both places and I plan on spending time in both places in the future. Much love to both places✌️