California Vs. New York Living Options: Which State Offers the Best?

A rivalry has always existed between California and New York. It’s a topic that sparks a lot of conversation that often leads to an exchange of bitter words. It’s not surprising why residents of both these areas clash over superiority. Perhaps, it’s because both New York and California fight for the affection of the restaurant industry, entertainment business, and fashion. When it all boils down to it, only one location can claim to have the best living conditions.


There are several reasons why people review their living conditions, from long-distance relationships, change of environment, the spirit of adventure, or a new job opportunity. With that in mind, what would make you choose California over New York or vice versa?

New York is fast-paced; it’s synonymous with achieving dreams. Despite its cramped-up living quarters, it’s a place that inspires people to do great things otherwise not achievable anywhere else. California, on the other hand, is laid-back, ostentatious, casual, warmer weather, with more space to spread out. It’s got a vibrant art and culture scene, and not to forget, you’ll get to walk toe-to-toe with the rich and famous.
Still, choosing between New York and California isn’t a walk in the park. Fortunately for you, we’ve made a comparison of the two states reviewing both their living options.



California wins this by a long shot. In case you live in a part of America with reasonable housing rates, your jaw will drop at the estimated New York rent prices for apartments in FiDi. With a $1,000, which is incredibly affordable for Manhattan, you could be lucky to get a 5th-floor closet-size apartment in a non-elevator building.
In California, $1,000 will get a massive house with a backyard, in an equally desirable neighborhood. If a fancy a radiant life, there’s plenty of luxurious apartments for rent in Northridge, with a lot more prestigious features.


New York takes the lead on this one, California doesn’t offer competitive public transportation, but you’ll save a lot if you own a car. The average monthly payment for a used car in California is about $350. Car owners are likely to spend approximately $120 on car insurance depending on the location. Add gas, registration, and fees; you’ll be spending about $600 a month to own a car.


New Yorkers don’t get cars; they have an expansive Metro system. You can get an unlimited Metrocard for $127 monthly or $1,524 annually. If you are using the Long Island Rail Road, it will cost between $150 and $500 for a monthly pass.

Food and Drink

Dollar for Dollar, the spending is the same when it comes to food and drink. But there is a lot to consider. You’ll pay more for groceries in New York than in California. The tides change when it comes to fast food, in NYC, it’s a lot cheaper. While there’s a variety of amazing healthy food options in California, it’s nothing compared to variety, quantity, and low prices of grab and go food in New York. It’s incomparable!

Average Income and Salary

While California is the home of startups and big tech companies, New Yorkers rake in a bit more on average. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median New Yorker household income is about $3,000 more than those in California, which isn’t as significant. A comparison made by Payscale on salaries that require a bachelor’s degree showed a wider gap, with average income for NYC at $69,600 and California at $62,800 in 2019.

Recreation and Entertainment

It’s an easy win for California, and residents get everything from swimming, surfing, skiing, hiking, and even camping in the desert. It’s laid back, and a short drive will get you to the most beautiful outdoor locations in the world, not to mention Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world from the best concerts and clubs to Hollywood.

New York offers great entertainment too; you’ll get discount prices for the best theatre tickets, amazing cheeseburgers at the famous Madison Square Park. There’s a lot to see just walking from Manhattan, witnessing the iconic features the city offers from the Statue of Liberty, through Wall Street, to Greenwich Village and Chelsea. Not to forget, the iconic Waldorf Astoria and Gansevoort Hotel.

Bottom Line

When it comes to living options, California beats, NYC hands down, and it’s safe to say, a lot of New Yorkers dream of living in California and specifically Los Angeles. But, preferences are subjective, and a lot comes into play when you consider living options. We hope our comparisons help you make a proactive decision choosing between these two amazing states.

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