“I hate living in California!” You don’t often hear this statement, but there are a growing number of people who have expressed their regret moving to California once they have settled down.
We investigated these trends and interviewed several people who currently live in California or have moved out recently because they couldn’t stand it any longer.
We listened to their stories and put together this list of 7 issues that you should consider before you decide to settle here.
Is moving to California a bad idea? It may sound pretty bad after reading some of the concerns that we will outline, but there are still many great things about California that make it a dream for some.
You need to be aware of these pros and cons so that you can manage your expectations and don’t end up saying, “I moved to California and I hate it.”
We hope the insider knowledge we gathered below can give you a balanced view of the state that you may think is just beaches, surfing, and tacos.
California may seem perfect in movies and on TV, but we are here to give you the truth behind the scenes.
These issues may not be deal breakers for all of you, but it is certainly good to know about these reasons not to live in California before you commit to your next move.
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I Hate Living in California – 7 Reasons Not to Move to California
1. Skyrocketing Cost of Living
The first reason why people regret moving to California is due to its astronomical cost of living, especially the prices of houses. Now, this may not be breaking news to you, but we want to highlight exactly how steep the costs are by comparing it to the rest of the US.
The cost of living in California is roughly 50% higher than the US average.
The main reason behind this inflated number is due to the cost of housing being almost 2.5 times more than the national average.
A normal house in the US costs about $230,000. In California, it is over $550,000. The major cities cost even more. For example, the average home in Los Angeles and San Diego costs about $700,000. In San Francisco, the median home price is almost $1.4 million. Rent prices are not much better, either.
That’s not even that bad compared to some of the more exclusive towns and neighborhoods across the state. In fact, California is home to the most expensive city in the nation, where home prices average over $6 million.
What practical impact does this have on residents? For starters, it means that, unless you have a very healthy salary or a large stash of cash saved up, you will unlikely be able to afford buying your own home in California anytime soon.
That means that many people rent. But, since rent prices are also quite high, it means that many folks need to find a roommate to live with.
We spoke to Patrick, a 27-year old production assistant who currently lives in Los Angeles after moving from Indiana. We asked him about his experiences in California and about his living arrangements.
“I moved here about 3 years ago to work at one of the big studios. The job pays pretty well, but it’s still not enough for me to rent my own place. I live in a 3 bedroom townhouse with 2 other roommates and we each pay about $1,300 per month.”
“I thought I would be able to live on my own by now, but it’s just not possible with my salary. I don’t know how other people my age can do it.”
He added, “Do I hate living in California? I wouldn’t say ‘hate,’ but I get the feeling that my money could go further somewhere else.”
Those are certainly valid reasons not to live in California.
We also contacted Claire, a 25-year old account executive who moved to San Francisco 2 years ago, but has already moved away to Texas in the last few months.
She said, “During the time I lived in California, literally 70% of my salary was going to rent, and I still was sharing an apartment with another girl. Groceries and restaurant prices were also way too expensive.”
“I found a similar job for the same salary in Houston and now I have my own place and I can even save money every month. I definitely haven’t thought twice about moving away from California.”
These elevated costs have helped fuel the “California Exodus” movement. In 2020, California’s population declined for the first time in its entire history. You may want to consider these reasons not to move to California as more and more people are moving out.
2. Nightmarish Traffic
If you can afford to live in California, then your reward is being stuck in never-ending traffic. It features 3 cities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose) in the top 10 for the worst traffic in America.
In 2019, researchers found that the average Los Angeles commuter spent 119 hours a year being stuck in traffic.
There doesn’t even seem to be any breaks throughout the day, either. It’s like rush hour lasts the whole day from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
Additionally, with rising housing costs, people are living further and further away from the city, which means that their commuting times are also going up.
We think the trend of working from home will help alleviate some of the congestion, but your commute will probably still take at least 30 minutes each way to one of the large cities in California.
3. Limited Public Transport
Okay, so instead of driving and being stuck in traffic, you decide that you will take a train or a bus.
Unfortunately, public transportation networks are not very developed across California.
The city with the best public transit system is San Francisco, which features cable cars as well as the BART light rail system and a fleet of buses. It earned a transit score of 80 out of 100, which is pretty high for an American city.
But, cities in the rest of the state do not offer such an extensive or reliable public transportation system. For example, Los Angeles, which is California’s biggest city, only earned a transit score of 53.
San Diego’s score is even worse. It only received a 37 out of 100.
We spoke to Emily, a 36-year old singer and songwriter who moved to San Diego from New York City. “I moved to California and I hate it. I was so used to using the subway or walking everywhere in New York, and it’s just not so easy here.”
“I hate living in California because I have to drive everywhere and then look for parking and also pay for it. It was so much easier in New York. That is one of the biggest reasons not to move to California.”
4. Life is Not Like the Movies
Everyone thinks of California as a hippie paradise with no stress and a serene culture. But, this stereotype is not entirely accurate. In fact, it may actually be the opposite.
Many people report that the culture in California is quite fast-paced and hectic, especially in the big cities. The working culture can also be quite brutal.
People working at tech startups in the Bay Area dedicate countless hours to try to launch their idea while aspiring actors and actresses in SoCal juggle multiple jobs while waiting for their big break.
We interviewed Kayla, a 27-year old marketing manager from Los Angeles. She noted, “Cali is not as laid back as you may think. There’s this busy vibe that everyone gives off that makes you think that you should always be doing something. It’s definitely more stressful than other places in the US.”
“A lot of my friends told me they regret moving to California because it wasn’t as they imagined. They wanted to relax on the beach and shop on Rodeo Drive everyday, but you never really get the time to do that.”
This dream vision of California is also becoming less attainable for most as the rich continue to get richer, causing a larger divide among the classes.
5. Crowded with Locals & Tourists
One of the downsides to California’s popularity is that it is overly crowded in many places you go. That includes both locals as well as tourists.
Residents of California’s major cities don’t really have much land to themselves and many of the suburban developments are quite dense.
Meanwhile, California attracts the most number of tourists out of any state in the whole US.
That means long lines at all your favorite restaurants and theme parks, extra traffic, and even congestion at the beaches and parks.
Bree, a 29-year old sales representative who lives in Los Angeles, gave us her opinion on California’s crowdedness. “I hate living in California when it is tourist season, which seems like it lasts all year long.”
“You can’t find a single place to yourself in this city. The tourists are everywhere. The beaches are packed. Even the hiking trails have lines these days.”
We asked her, “Is California a bad place to live now?” and she responded that “It’s not as bad as people may say on the news, but it’s not getting better.”
If you really can’t stand the crowds and prioritize having your own space, then these reasons not to move to California could be the difference maker for you.
6. Low Performing Schools
California may have a thriving economy, but it may not be the best place for families. While it has the largest public school system in the nation, it routinely underperforms compared to other states’ schools.
A recent study ranked California schools at #35 out of 50. The main reasons for this low ranking were due to a below-average high school graduation rate and a low spending rate per student.
Although California is home to many of the top private schools in the nation, they will come at a price.
For example, the highly regarded Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles costs $41,000 per year for tuition.
7. Extreme Weather
Yes, it is true that Californians enjoy plenty of sunshine and it almost never rains in some parts of the state. But, what you don’t hear about so much are the extreme conditions that have plagued the state recently. There are intense heat waves that can reach up to triple digit temperatures during the summer.
There have also been more severe droughts and floods popping up within the last few years. For example, the El Niño weather pattern may become more frequent in the future, leading to more excessive rainstorms and landslides.
We spoke with Rich, a 57-year old pharmacist who has been living in California his whole life. “I’ve certainly noticed some changes within the last few years.”
“The summers are now unbearably hot and there are periods where we get so much rain that it’s like a monsoon. If it continues like this, I would definitely consider moving. It’s definitely one of the major reasons not to live in California anymore.”
“But, I know I would probably miss it all. I’ll just have to find another place in the state that offers less extreme weather.”
Summary – I Hate Living in California
So, is moving to California a bad idea? These issues should certainly make you think twice before heading to the Golden State. However, there are many positive aspects of California, which include great job prospects, tons of outdoor activities, and some of the best food in the world.
But, you should weigh those pros against all of the potential concerns that we have listed here before you make your choice.
If you are still interested in moving to California, then be sure to read our latest update on the best places to live across all of California.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is California a Bad Place to Live / Why is California so Bad to Live in?
We don’t necessarily that California is objectively a bad place to live. It is such a large state with some many different cities, communities, and cultures that it is likely that you could find a nice place to fit in.
However, in many of the large cities, it only seems possible if you have the means to do so. Yes, California offers many high paying jobs, but the competition for them is also high.
If you are able to secure one of these jobs, then you may have a better time living in California.
I Want to Leave California Where Should I Go?
Using data from the Census, the top 3 states that people have been moving to from California are:
- Texas – 82,235 people
- Arizona – 59,713 people
- Nevada – 47,322 people
There is also one surprising city that many ex-Californians have been moving to – Boise, Idaho.
It offers a much lower cost of living and still gives you access to the great outdoors. Business Insider even wrote a whole article about people transitioning to Boise.