When you think of gorgeous beaches and sunny weather, two states that likely come to mind are California and Florida — cross-country locales with a lot in common. One thing they don’t share? The cost of living. So, is it cheaper to live in Florida than California? You betcha! Compared to the national average, the cost of living in California is 41% higher, while it’s only 1% higher in The Sunshine State. It’s no surprise then, why so many people are packing up their SoCal sweatshirts and moving to Florida from California.
While many will still name California as a state they’d like to move to in the future, when it comes to states people are currently moving from, California ranks number one. Florida, on the other hand, is the top state to move to (score one for The Sunshine State). If you count yourself among the tens of thousands of Californians choosing to swap the West Coast for the Gulf Coast (or the Atlantic Coast), you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know before moving to Florida from California. From the best Florida cities, local climate, lifestyle, and cost of living, to how to actually make the move a reality. Let’s jump in!
Pros & Cons: Is It Worth Moving to Florida from California?
In a word, yes! A lot of what people love about California can be found in Florida — sunny weather, pristine beaches, surfing, and lively nightlife. Add to that a significantly lower cost of living and (for most) it’s definitely worth it to move to Florida from California. Some things you might miss? Close proximity to mountains and winter sports, low humidity, bumping into Hollywood celebrities at local coffee shops, and sweater weather.
In case you’re still on the fence, let’s take a look at some pros and cons of moving to Florida from California.
Pro: Strong Economy and Good Job Opportunities
Florida’s economy is the fourth largest in the United States, behind California, Texas, and New York. This — in addition to a competitive tax climate and thriving infrastructure — makes it the ideal home for companies from various industries. Some of the major players include, aviation and aerospace, financial and professional services, IT, and manufacturing (among others). All this is to say, Florida is a great place to find a job.
Con: Lower Median Household Income
While it’s true your cost of living will go down when you move to Florida, it’s also true that your income may go down as well. Of course, this depends on whether you’re starting a new job or continuing remotely with your old one. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Florida for 2016–2020 was $57,703 compared to California’s $78,672. Still, those dollars go further in Florida than they do in Cali so you could still come out ahead.
Pro: No State Income Taxes
A big perk about living in Florida is that there’s no state individual income tax. This is a big deal when you consider that California has a tax rate of up to 12.3% (depending on your income).
Your overall tax burden will be less in Florida, but be aware that you will pay slightly more property taxes in the Sunshine State. The effective real-estate tax rate in Florida is 0.89%, and in California, it is 0.76%.
Other taxes in Florida include the state sales tax (6%), local sales tax (up to 1.5%), and the 5.5% corporate income tax (for corporations that do business in Florida).
Con: Homeowner’s Insurance Is Pricey
It may come as a surprise, but one thing that isn’t cheaper in Florida is homeowner’s insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute, average premiums are higher for homeowners in Florida than in any other state. In fact, Floridians pay almost three times the national average. You might be thinking, “Oh, yeah. Because of the hurricanes,” but these high premiums are mostly attributed to unchecked roof-replacement fraud and an abundance of costly litigation.
Pro: Homes Are More Affordable
One thing that can ease the sting of your homeowner’s insurance bill is the fact that homes in Florida come with a much lower price tag than those in California. The typical home value in Florida is about $407K, while California’s is closer to $765K. That’s nearly double!
Con: Tourists Love Florida
If you decide to relocate to one of the many tourist hotspots in Florida, it won’t be long before you notice that the influx of Spring Breakers and Summer Vacationers lasts much longer than you might have expected. People come from all over the country (and the world) to visit Florida’s beaches and theme parks. Different schools and different countries take their breaks at different times, but they all end up here eventually. Just be ready for some traffic and consider investing in an electric bike if you want to visit your closest beach without being delayed in gridlock (or having to pay for parking). Though, since you’re coming from California, it shouldn’t be too much of an adjustment.
Pro: Orlando’s Amusement Parks
If Disneyland is something you think you’ll miss, you can put your mind at ease. Central Florida is home to Disney World along with a slew of other amusement and theme parks. Universal Studios alone has three parks to keep you entertained, and then there’s SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, LEGOLAND, Epcot, and Gatorland — to name just a few.
Average high and low temperatures in Florida:
Con: Hot and Humid
As you probably know, Florida is known for its warm weather and high humidity. The summers are always muggy, no matter where in Florida you are. And, while the winters aren’t as bad, Central and South Florida are still more humid than California any day.
Across the state, you can expect the average summer high temp to hover around 90 °F, and the low to sit between 75 °F and 80 °F. The winter temps vary a bit more, but you can bet that the further north you go, the cooler it will be. However, even in North Florida, the average low temp in the winter doesn’t drop below 45 °F.
Pro: Highly Rated Beaches on Both Coasts
Florida is a peninsula, which means it has beaches galore. From the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, to the surfer-approved Atlantic Ocean, there’s a Florida beach to fit any lifestyle. If you’re used to the chilly Pacific waters, go ahead and store your wetsuit because you’re not gonna need it here.
Con: Hurricane Season Is a Fact of Life
Some joke that Florida only has two seasons, summer and winter. However, there’s a third season you need to be aware of — hurricane season. Every year, from the beginning of June through the end of November, conditions are perfect for the development of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic. While some parts of Florida are more likely to experience a land-falling hurricane than others, every bit of Florida’s coastline has been impacted by at least one hurricane since 1850. The southeast coastline and panhandle are most likely to suffer a direct hit, while cities like Tampa and Jacksonville have a lower risk (but not zero risk).
Regardless of whether you end up in a high-risk or low-risk city, it’s important to educate yourself on hurricane safety tips, so that you can be prepared no matter which way the wind blows.
Pro/Con: Florida Is Flat
If you’re used to the hilly, mountainous terrain of the West Coast, you’re likely to notice a huge difference when you start driving in Florida. The Sunshine State wins the prize for being the flattest state in the country. This can make driving a bit boring, but it can also save you some money on gas. The highest natural point in the state is only 345 feet above sea level and it’s just south of the northern border (which is no surprise).
The Best Cities to Move to in Florida
Florida is actually a pretty diverse state — it’s not all flip-flops and Disneyworld. From the north to the south, you can find quite a variety of cities to fit any lifestyle. Let’s take a quick preview of some of the best cities to move to in Florida.
Jacksonville – North Florida (Atlantic Coast)
If you’re looking for hot Florida summers with lower humidity, but still want a taste of “winter weather,” Jacksonville might be the perfect city for you. This North Florida city on the Atlantic coast boasts 22 miles of beaches, top-class fishing, an impressive park system, and beautiful historic neighborhoods. Check out Brooklyn, a neighborhood in Jacksonville’s downtown area that dates back over 100 years.
Daytona Beach – Central Florida (Atlantic Coast)
Known for incredible beaches, motor sports, and being the festival capital of Florida, Daytona Beach is a paradise on the East Coast. You can get revved up at one of the many races that take place at the Daytona International Speedway and then cool down at the beach in the temperate Atlantic waters. If you enjoy getting festive, take your pick of over 60 music, art, and pop culture festivals hosted here annually.
Orlando – Central Florida
If roller coasters and wizard-themed attractions are your thing, then Orlando may be the place for you. Home to Disney World, Universal Studios, LEGOLAND (and many more), Orlando offers more theme park entertainment than you could experience in a lifetime (maybe not a lifetime, but you get the point). In addition to the parks, this city has amazing shopping opportunities, an international airport, and world-class cuisine. It may not be super close to any beaches, but it’s not too far either. In just an hour, you could be catching waves at famous Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Tampa Bay – Central Florida (Gulf Coast)
Tampa Bay comprises three major cities — Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg. Depending on where you choose to settle in Tampa Bay, you can live the metropolitan life or beach life and enjoy a hoppin’ restaurant and nightlife scene regardless. Residents are just as likely to attend a pro sports game or take in a live show as they are to spend the day sailing out on the Gulf. The beaches in Clearwater and St. Pete attract tourists from around the world, and with good reason — can you say warm waters and fluffy white sand?
Miami – South Florida (Atlantic Coast)
Miami is an incredible city known for being a “melting pot,” and home to residents from Cuba, Haiti, the Caribbean, and even Central and South America. In addition to great culture and atmosphere, it boasts a bustling nightlife scene, amazing art museums, music festivals, and incredible food. Grab a Cuban feast in Little Havana and follow it up by feasting your eyes on the amazing sights of the Art Deco district. From shopping and golf, to deep-sea fishing and dancing, this city has something for everyone. And for all you frequent travelers, Miami has its own international airport and one of the busiest cruise ports in the world.
Naples – South Florida (Gulf Coast)
Naples is known for its high-end shopping, top-class culture and arts, fancy dining, and family-friendly environment. Naples has beaches as well as a bay which makes waterfront dining almost a given. There’s a variety of natural attractions to experience, from the Botanical Garden to the Swamp Sanctuary and the Bird Gardens. Naples was ranked as the 12th best place to live in the country in 2022-2023 and the 6th best place to retire (U.S. News & World Report).
Tips and Tricks: Moving to Florida From California
Before you pop open that carton of Florida orange juice and head southeast, take a look at our list of tips and tricks for moving to Florida from California.
1. Take Care of the Basics
This tip isn’t particular to moving to Florida so much as it is to moving out of state. Some things you don’t want to forget are: change of address, new license and registration, canceling your utilities in California and enrolling with companies in Florida, and getting a SunPass (pre-paid toll) if you expect to use the toll roads often.
2. You May Want to Trade in Your Surfboard
There is definitely some decent surf on the Atlantic Coast, but if you’re moving to one of the cities on the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll be better off with a kite board. Of course, you could always drive 3 hours to the other side of the state to catch some waves.
3. Invest in Some Good Ol’ Flip-flops
While you’re probably accustomed to wearing sandals for at least part of the year in California, flip-flops and the like are pretty much a year-round thing in The Sunshine State. Get yourself a Tampa Bay Buccaneers shirt while you’re at it and you’ll fit right in.
4. Prepare to Hydrate
Florida is really, really humid. Whether you care to admit it or not, you’re going to sweat a lot more over here than you did in California. Just be prepared with plenty of water for when you need it. Some people add electrolytes as well and find that to be helpful.
5. Check the Weather
Florida is sunny and beautiful (albeit hot) most of the time, but there is a hurricane season (June to November) and a wet season (May to October). The last thing you want is to get caught in a 3 o’clock downpour just as you start unloading your stuff into your new home, so keep an eye on the weather report and plan accordingly.
Making the Move
One of the big perks that comes with moving to Florida from California is the opportunity to see the country on your way. Moving with a PODS portable container means a flexible move on your schedule. PODS will drop your container off right in your driveway where you can pack and load at your own pace. When you’re ready, they’ll pick it up and transport it to your new home while you take your sweet time getting there. A few cool places to check out on your way? The Grand Canyon, Austin (BBQ baby!), and New Orleans’ French Quarter! Have fun!