Better State California or Florida?

Which is a Better State to Live In, Florida or California?

To find out, I did a state to state comparison of the differences between California and Florida on 10 quality of life factors.

I used factors that important to most of us such as a state’s healthcare quality and cost of living.

These factors have been measured and reported by reputable government and nonprofit sources.

Here’s a comparison of living in Florida vs California, based on these 10 quality of life factors.

  1. Cost of living
  2. Economy
  3. Taxes
  4. Health care quality
  5. Crime rates
  6. Education
  7. Weather
  8. Beaches
  9. Resident happiness
  10. Natural disasters

Our first quality of life comparison: The cost of living

people shopping farmers market

1) California Vs Florida Cost of Living

The cost of living in Florida is higher than it is in most US states according to public government reporting, including the US Census Bureau. The cost of living in California is the 2nd highest in the entire country. Only Hawaii is more expensive. So although Florida is an expensive place to live compared to most states, it still is less expensive than living in California.

Cost of Living Advantage: Florida.


2) California vs Florida Which has the Better Economy?

The majority of people reading this article are probably not independently wealthy. Most of you will probably have to find employment to pay your bills, or you’re retired counting on fixed income payments to pay your bills. So a good economy for those who need jobs and those who who are retired who may think they will never need another job (unfortunately this can change), may consider the state that offers better job opportunities, as the state with the best economy for them.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in California in October 2017 in Florida was 3.6%. This was the 16th lowest rate in the US. California’s unemployment rate was 4.9%, putting it in 41st place.

Better Economy Advantage: Florida

florida move guide book cover and discription

Next comparison: Taxes

3) California vs Florida on Taxes

According to the Tax Foundation, Florida’s combined state and local tax burden is 8.9%. This places Florida at the 34th highest rate out of the 50 states. So taxes take a lower bite out of your income in Florida than in most US states. California’s overall tax rate is estimated at 11% total making it the 6th highest of all US states. Florida also does not require citizens to file a personal income tax because it doesn’t collect one which makes it easier and cheaper for Florida residents at tax filing time. The higher your income, the more of an advantage living in Florida is when it comes to taxes.

Tax Advantage: Florida.


Next comparison: Health Care

hospital emergency entrance

4) California Vs Florida Health Care

According the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Florida’s healthcare quality is lower than most states, coming in with a #30 ranking out of 50 states. This is an improvement over much lower rankings in years past, so the state seems to be on the right track even though it’s still ranked lower than most states in the country. The quality of care in California is rated even lower than Florida at #42.

Better Health Care Quality Advantage: Florida.


Next comparison: Crime Rates

5) California Vs Florida Crime rate

How safe will you be as you walk along the beach or take a walk in your neighborhood? According to public reporting by the FBI, the overall crime rate in Florida makes it the 39th safest state in which to live. California has a higher crime rate overall that most other US states, but its 31rst place ranking puts it ahead of Florida.

Lower Crime Advantage: California.


Next comparison: Education

6) California vs Florida Education K-12

If you have school-age children, the education you kids will get from kindergarten through high school in both California and Florida will be below average according to the research center Education Week. The report does place Florida a few notches above California.

However, ratings of individual schools can vary widely by school district, and even within the same district. Ratings also vary greatly from one rating organization to the next. I recommend through before moving kids away from family, friends and schools until you consider the effects it may have as well as the chances of the move working out. Too many move to Florida only to move again after realizing it was a mistake.

Education advantage Florida


Next comparison: Weather…

7) California Vs Florida Weather

Many people think of California and Florida as both being warm and sunny. However, if you look at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data on humidity and days of sunshine, these two states do not have very similar weather. California has far more sunny days per year, and the humidity is far more likely to be in our human comfort range daily.

Better Weather Advantage: California.


Next comparison: Beaches

sunny day white sand beach

8)  California Vs Florida Beaches

Dr Beach has named more Florida beaches on his top 10 best beach’s list for both 2016 and 2017, than California beaches. Actually, Coronado Beach, San Diego, California is the only California beach named. Florida had multiple beaches named.

Better Beach Advantage: Florida.


Next comparison: Happiness


9) California Vs Florida Happiness

Despite all of the advantages in individual quality of life factors discussed above, more Californians report being happy with their lives and where they live, than do Floridians. More California residents said their state was the best to live in in a national Gallup poll in 2013, than Floridians answered that way about their state. When recent community well-being surveys were conducted by the same long time pollster, California easily bested Florida with positive responses. These polls were taken prior to the devastating hurricanes in Florida and wildfires in California.

People Are Happier Here Advantage: California.


Next: Natural Disasters

10) California Vs Florida Natural Disasters

Florida homeowners pay the highest homeowners insurance rates in the country according to Insurance Business Magazine. Why? Because Florida homes face higher rates of catastrophe. California wasn’t on the list of ten states with the highest rates. Florida has a hurricane season that can include devastation and multiple evacuations every year. Florida also has wildfire and drought issues of its own.

Fewer Natural Disasters Advantage: California.


Living in California Vs Florida, Which is a Better Place to Live?

In the quality of life comparison above, Florida had more advantages, but surveys show that people living in California are happier overall.

The Bottom Line…

  • Both California and Florida are popular high growth states during better economic times, drawing new residents from other states that push home prices skyward.
  • Both states lose residents, bleed jobs and see real estate values plummet during recessions and tough economic times.
  • Both states are perceived to be “warm and sunny”, although there are far more possible days of sunshine and comfortable lower humidity levels in California. That could be why Californians may be more satisfied with where they live overall than Florida, despite Florida having slightly better quality of life ratings on financial matters.

I have researched and compared quality of life factors of all 50 states.

There is a strong association with high quality of life scores and resident satisfaction.

Both California and Florida rank lower than most states overall on quality of life factors (such as crime rates, healthcare, etc.) and resident satisfaction.

There are other states that you may be far happier living in, but aren’t even considering.

I’ve worked with lots of buyers moving from California to Florida.

Right after the move, most were happy with their move but that’s typical with people from all states during the first few years of the “Florida honeymoon”.

This changes for many as they realized what living in Florida is really like, compared to what they pictured it would be like.

Florida is not just like California, only cheaper.

Florida and California are two very different states with different climates that share a few similarities such as beaches and palm trees.

Do California Wildfires, Taxes, Droughts, Etc., Have You Thinking Of Moving? Perhaps to Florida?

There are some states that we ship a lot of Florida Move Guide books to, because there always seems to be a lot of people from those states thinking about making a change. New York State is one.

There are also other states that we rarely ever get an order from from. Utah is one of those.

For the first few years after the first edition of the book was first published in 2011, California was a state that we would get some orders from occasionally but the number was extremely small for its size.

After all, California is the most populated state in the US, yet very few people seemed interested in moving from there to Florida.  Then something changed.

When the not too long ago California drought hit, the number of orders from California didn’t change right away.

However, as the drought and the water use restrictions began to bite the citizens of the state, the orders started to flow in.

I suspect that may be the case again due to the recent wildfires and evacuations.

Additionally, I predict the the number of Californians thinking about moving from the state will be higher and the exodus will last longer this time.

Here’s a few reasons why…

  1. Wildfires, droughts, etc. in California Will Be the New Normal. Even California’s Governor Jerry Brown has been quoted as saying as much. Climate change produces winners and losers. If there will be more drought conditions and wildfires in California’s future than in the past, people who lose all of their possessions to fire or are continually forced to evacuate to save their lives will eventually decide there has got to be a better place to live.
  2. Someone will pay for the all of that wildfire damage. It may be the insurance companies now, but ultimately it will be California homeowners, if they stay. Large wildfires that burn 1000’s of homes and vehicles cost insurance companies a lot of money. As those larger bills to cover increasing damage come in, these companies are going to have to raise their rates. Or leave the state if they feel it has become to risky to insure. Higher homeowners insurance rates could make many California homes even more unaffordable. Leaving California could mean reducing or eliminating the risk of wildfires (and those evacuations) while also reducing their housing expense.
  3. The recent change to a $10,000 deduction limit of state and local taxes on federal tax returns. 

Good luck!

Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

  • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.