Moving from California to Florida: The good, the bad, and the surprises.
Moving from California to Florida can be one the hardest decisions to consider because packing your home to move across the country can be a total shock to the system. Boxes upon boxes, moving trucks, new schools, different taxes, different cultures, and everything in between can make the journey difficult.
We believe that moving from California to Florida can one of the most rewarding moves–financially, mental wellbeing, and socially. Let’s dive into the good, the bad, and some pleasant surprises along the way.
What you will miss about California moving to Florida (The Bad)
As they say, let’s eat the frog first and talk about what you will miss in California. We like California and there will be some great things you’ll leave behind.
California’s weather is probably better than Florida’s
California is known for its mild, Mediterranean-style climate. There is a reason people all over the world think of California for the weather. To better compare, let’s highlight two popular areas: Los Angeles Vs. Orlando.
As you can see below, Orlando has a higher average temperature nearly every month of the year. The winter tends to be less drastic, but the early to mid summer months can see 15 degree differences between the two locations.
Does 10 to 15 degrees make a difference? Well, that depends on who you ask. But, when you factor in humidity, it can make quite a difference.
The overall humidity in Orlando is much higher than Los Angeles. Depending on what resource you use, you might see different ratings for humidity. We will use the Weatherspark data for this example.
As you can see below, Orlando has a much more humid and muggy climate. Weatherspark.com classifies muggy as a dew point greater than 65 degrees F. May, June, July, Aug, and Sept in Orlando are all incredibly humid and depending on your tolerance may decrease your comfort outside.
Humidity can be tough for people to get used to Orlando when moving from California. And, you must keep in mind we are comparing a humid Florida city with one of the more humid areas of California.
While every city in Florida is humid, inland California doesn’t experience much humidity at all and would further increase the gap between Florida and California weather comfort.
To add insult to injury, California cities will also give autumn lovers amazing weather in the winter. Florida? You might get 50-65 degrees a few weeks per year, but it’s not consistent nor predictable. Let’s not even talk about San Diego’s near year-round autumn-spring thing its got going on.
California is better than Florida for the nature lovers
If you are moving from California, we don’t need to tell you how beautiful the outdoors are on the west coast. We lived on the west coast for three years and experienced it first hand.
California is truly an amazing place for anyone who loves to hike and explore the outdoors. Florida is good, but it’s not even close. You won’t find the variety of terrains and climates to explore, from lush redwood forests to jagged deserts and mountain peaks in Florida.
I mean…the hikes in California are outrageous. Lake Tahoe in the summer? Unreal. Hiking the Pacific Coast Trail? Once in a lifetime experience. Climbing Mount Shasta at sunrise? Unforgettable.
California has 280 state parks compared to Florida 175 state parks. California has the most national parks in the U.S. with nine while Florida has three. There simply isn’t any comparison people who want to see as much diverse nature as possible.
Yes, Florida has beaches and the everglades, but mountains? No. Breathtaking national parks? Just a few. Skiing, snowboarding, and winter sports? Not in the tropics my friend.
California’s sheer number of hiking trails that range from short strolls through nature preserves to high-altitude treks greatly outnumber the options in Florida. What makes California especially special for hikers is its diversity of wildlife; visitors can see everything here, from wild bobcats and black bears in the Sierra Nevada mountains to sea lions lounging on beaches along the coast.
Now, if beaches are your thing, we will get to that below…
California has better big cities
Do we love Orlando, Miami, Tampa, and Jacksonville? Of course, we travel there all the time. There is so much to do in all of these great Florida cities.
But can they compare to the options you have in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara? Of course not. I mean look at these places…
Now before you gripe about overcrowding, crime, homelessness, and politics–we get it. We moved from Chicago to Orlando for the same reasons. We also lived in Seattle and New Orleans and understand that not everywhere is perfect.
Let’s focus on the amenities.
Think about Los Angeles for a moment. With a population of nearly 3.9 million, Los Angeles is the second most heavily populated city in the United States and offers countless restaurants to its residents and visitors.
From traditional Mexican dishes to exotic Asian flavors, the sheer number of eating establishments in Los Angeles can be staggering to comprehend. According to recent estimates, there are over 10 thousand restaurants located throughout LA county.
While that estimate might be high, restaurant.com has over 5,000 active LA based restaurants listed in its database.
Now let’s take Florida’s biggest city, Jacksonville, and compare to Los Angeles.
Jacksonville is home to some great restaurants. From international cuisine to classic favorites, Jacksonville has something for every palate. However, Jacksonville only has about 1600 restaurants in the database or 1/3 the options that LA has.
Do we think there is still plenty to do in the great Florida cities? Yes. Do we think there is a better zoo than the San Diego Zoo or a more photogenic city in Florida than San Francisco? No.
What you will love about moving to Florida from California (The Good)
Florida is a complete change of pace. Many people who relocate from California to Florida brag about their new stress free lifestyle. We couldn’t agree more.
Florida is much less expensive than California
When people talk about leaving California, one the biggest issues and concerns they consider is the high cost of living in California. But how much cheaper is Florida than California? Let’s dive in.
The average home holder in Florida pays $1,752 in property taxes per year, with the amount varying between counties.The Florida Agents
According to Zillow, the average home value in Florida as of 2023 is $377,816. In the last seven years, that’s an increase of about $200,000. Of course we have to consider a mass exodus to Florida from other states as well as pricing increases from the work-from-home boom starting in 2020.
California on the other hand has an average home value of $716,909 as of 2023. That number is nearly double the price of Florida. And while Florida jumped up $200k from 2016 to 2023, California jumped $300k within the same time period.
Now you might be thinking, California has cheaper areas (Bakersfield) and insanely expensive areas (Santa Barbara). Yes, but Florida also has inexpensive areas (Jacksonville) and incredibly expensive areas (Palm Beach).
However, the difference is seen in “how much” house you can buy and for how much money it will set you back. According to a report in 2023 by fool.com, the average square footage of a home sold in Florida is 1,960 for an average cost per square foot of $265.08. Compare that to California where the average home sold has a square footage of 1,860 at $442.70 per square feet.
This cost per square footage data shows you that your dollar goes far further in Florida than in California.
Depending on where you live in California, there is a good chance your home sale price will result in significant savings for a larger home in Florida
The difference in sales tax between Florida and California is quite stark. In Florida, their statewide sales tax rate is 6%.
However, in California the rate is much higher at 7.25%. This means that when making purchases in either of these states, citizens can expect to pay a higher amount for items purchased in California than they would if they went shopping in Florida.
It’s important to note that both of these states also have local taxes included on top of the standard state sales tax rate which could affect the total cost of items purchased in either region substantially. In some areas of California, the total sales tax rate may reach as high as 10%, while select parts of Florida have rates between 6 – 8%.
For example, Alameda County has a 9.7% sales tax rate, Los Angeles County has 10.25% sales tax rate, and Contra Costa County has a 9.25% sales tax according to the alavara.com tax database. Below is a list of different tax rates and counties.
State Income Taxes
The difference in state income tax between Florida and California is quite significant. Florida is one of only six states in the country with no state income tax. Quite simply, the more money you make, the more money you keep in the sunshine state.
In the state of Florida, any income made over $1,000 must be reported to the state, and no taxes are actually due unless your income reaches certain thresholds. This is why so many professional athletes and celebraties chose Florida as their residence.
California on the other hand is not an income-tax-free state. It’s a complicated mess.
California’s graduated income tax rate is a system of taxation that taxes different levels of income at varying rates. This type of system allows lower-income individuals to pay less in taxes while still collecting adequate revenue from those with higher incomes.
It also means that more affluent people pay a higher percentage of their total income in taxes than do those with lower incomes. Depending on individual circumstances, California taxpayers can be subject to either the basic or advanced rate structure.
The basic rate structure consists of seven brackets ranging from 1% to 12.3%, whereas the advanced structure has ten brackets ranging from 1% to 13.3%. Additionally, California has some of the highest income brackets topping out at 13.3% on incomes over $1 million dollars per year when filed jointly by married couples together.
The following are examples using the Forbes Advisor calculators:
California $150,000k per year ($7,037 state income taxes)
Florida $150,000k per year ($0 state income taxes, keep $7k more per year)
California $250,000k per year ($16,337 state income taxes)
Florida $250,000k per year ($0 state income taxes, keep $16k more per year)
Because federal income tax levels won’t change, you will keep more money at nearly every income level in Florida. And the more you make, the more drastic the difference becomes as a result of California’s graduate income tax system.
The bottom line is Florida is a far less expensive state to live in than California because it has less expensive homes, lower sales tax on things you buy, and lower income taxes on money you earn.
Florida has far better beaches than California
Ahhhh…the Florida beaches. Florida doesn’t just have better beaches than California, it has better beaches than any other state in the continental United States.
Florida has some of the best beaches in the United States. With two coastlines, along with over 1,500 miles of shoreline, it is easy to see why Florida has become such a popular choice for beach goers. In addition, Florida is known for its pristine sand.
Not to mention, no matter where you are in Florida, you are never more than two hours from a beach.
We have traveled to beaches all over the world, and we can say that very few places compare to the powdery, white-sand beaches of Florida. Read in our FAQ’s below to learn more about the sand quality in Florida.
Check us out at Treasure Island near Tampa.
The warm ocean waters of the Sunshine State are sure to provide an unforgettable experience. According to seatemperature.org, the temperature of the water is generally between 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit (21-29 Celsius) depending on when you visit and where in Florida you plan to go.
In summer months, temperatures can reach even higher, as they are known to peak around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) in shallower waters. Talk about perfect water temperatures.
Let’s compare Florida’s ocean temperature with San Diego: California’s most southern city and warmest water.
In August at the height of summer, San Diego’s water will peak at 69 degrees. Warm? Kinda. And, San Diego generally stays around 60 degrees through out the year. Travel north along the coast in California, and the water will only get colder from here.
Now, let’s talk about Florida water. Miami, Florida’s most southern city before the Florida Keys has AMAZING water. The average Miami water temperature in August is 86 degrees. Warm? You bet. Perfect? Pretty much.
In addition, the Miami water temperature in the peak of winter (February) is still warmer than San Diego’s warmest month in August.
And, the water temperature along coastal cities in Florida is mostly the same. If you go to one of the northern most cities, Jacksonville, the August water temperature is still 83 degrees. In other words, no matter where you live, the water is going to be nice.
The warmer the water, the more pleasant the experience, and the more ideal conditions for a variety of aquatic activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, paddle boarding, kayaking and more.
Florida has a higher quality of life index
According to worldpopulationreview, which ranks countries and states based on high quality of metrics such as cost of healthcare, lifespan, education, economic outlook, infrastructure, opportunity and more.
Florida’s 50 state rank: 10
California’s 50 state rank: 24
Florida receives its high rating due to an education ranking at 3, economy ranking at 8, and a healthcare ranking at 25. Essentially, you get a lot for your money in Florida and you may not have to work quite so hard to achieve the easy life.
On the other hand, California drops 14 spots below Florida due to a low ranking in education costs at 20th, economic outlook at 10th, and healthcare costs at 5.
While the healthcare outlook ranking looks better for California (5) than Florida (25) through worldpopulationreview, it may not be quite as big of a difference and you’d believe.
A large multivariate study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention provided a state by state ranking based on 16 measures of health through verified public health reporting data. They found that California ranked 22nd out of 50 states while Florida ranked 27th out of 50 states.
In other words, your likely to be just as healthy in Florida as you would in California. In case your wondering, New Hampshire ranked 1 and Massachusetts ranked 2–but you’ll lose the sunshine tax breaks.
Surprises in Florida awaiting you
Before we moved to Florida, we like you started to look at the pros and cons of moving from a big city outside of Florida to our new home in Florida. But where was the question. Here are some fantastic surprises that we discovered along our journey of relocation.
The beach access is wonderful in Florida. You are never more than a few hours from a beach anywhere in the state. So what does that mean for you? Locational freedom to choose your best community.
This locational beach freedom in Florida is unlike California where an inland location like Truckee, CA by Lake Tahoe might take you 4-5 hours to get a beach. And, if you are in northern California, that beach you finally arrive at will have cold water waiting for you.
We chose Orlando, FL because we can be at a warm Atlantic coast beach in 1 hour or a world-class Gulf of Mexico beach in 1.5 hours. Either way, we can leave in the morning and arrive in the morning with sand in our toes and coffee in our hands.
Florida cities have a laid-back charm to them. Whether you are in the old Spanish coastal town of St. Augustine with its beautiful European-centric downtown or the beach-swept vibe of the Florida Keys, you are sure to find a town with your exact vibe.
We happened to stumble upon the beautiful town of Clermont which has been our home for years. We have dozens of lakes, an amazing downtown, rolling hills, and beautiful homes.
We love the lake eating experience. Take a look at the Tiki Bar which is just minutes from downtown Clermont. Pull you boat up and have cocktail and lunch.
Your Social Life Will Flourish
It has been so surprising how many friends we have made since moving to Florida. Maybe it’s the sunshine or maybe it’s luck, but Tom and I have made more friendships here than at any other place we’ve lived.
A few things really helped us form quick friendships. First, we chose to move to Orlando because we knew it was very active city. Sure, we love Disney, but that’s not why we chose Orlando. We chose Orlando because we were close enough to beaches (1-2 hour drive), could live affordably, and found that people lived very active lives here.
We joined walking groups at Disney, pickle-ball meetups, and local groups for common interests. Our clients have become like family as well because Orlando is one big melting pot.
I mean…how can you not love a place that looks like this?
You Will Feel Safe
Florida is a really safe place to live. Coming from California, you may have experienced or know someone who has experienced drought, earthquake damage, or wildfire destruction. But Florida is quite a safe place.
We have written extensively about Florida’s safety record when it comes to earthquakes (hardly any), droughts (not here), wildfire destruction (it’s rains a lot), and how to avoid the hurricane prone areas (yay Orlando).
In addition, there are many safe communities, such as Clermont, where you can raise your family with full confidence in the local municipalities to keep you safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does Florida have white sand beaches?
A trip to the beach always brings feelings of peace and joy. For me, that feeling is especially heightened when I’m on the white sand beaches of Florida. The sand feels so comforting beneath my feet that I can’t help but smile as I look out into the horizon. But why is Florida beach sand so unique?
Much of it has to do with centuries of sediment erosion from rivers flowing into the ocean and other bodies of water. When limestone sediment erodes over time, it leaves behind pieces of quartz and feldspar which are white in color. This combination helps make up those iconic white sands that make Florida’s beaches stand out so much! It also helps that Florida has a warm climate throughout most of the year, allowing for more erosion to occur compared to colder climates with waves crashing against shores all year long.
Why does humidity make Florida feel hotter?
When humidity rises, it tends to make us feel hotter than what the actual temperature is because our sweat isn’t evaporating as quickly. This creates a thick layer of moist and warm air that can be difficult for many to tolerate.
Humid air also doesn’t cool down at night like dry air does, meaning that temperatures stay higher for longer periods of time. The combination of heat and humidity makes it especially challenging to not only be comfortable but also properly regulate our body temperature.
Does California have higher property taxes than Florida?
Property taxes in California are generally higher than those of Florida, but not because of the tax rate. In fact, the average effective tax rate for all real estate in California is 0.78%, while the rate for Florida is 0.98%.
However, because the property tax rate is based on the assessed value of the home, Californians will often pay more in property taxes because their homes are worth considerably more.
This doesn’t mean that all Californians pay more than Floridians, it depends on where you live in California. Homeowners in some parts of the state can benefit from a lower property tax rate due to local assessment rates and exemptions from Prop 13 and other laws.
Meanwhile, homeowners in Florida may be subject to additional local taxes that can make their overall property tax burden much higher than those found across California.
When considering whether it’s more expensive to live in California or Florida when it comes to property taxes, it really depends on what part of either state you reside in.
Is Florida full of part-time residents and is the summer empty?
Not at all. Florida has over 21 million full-time residents in the Sunshine State. That makes Florida the third most populous state in America after California and Texas. This is no surprise since it has one of the strongest economies in the country and plenty of job opportunities for those looking for work.
In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, Florida was the most moved to state in 2022 at 318,855 new residents.
The population of Florida grows each year as people move more often due to economic changes or just wanting a change of scenery. In addition to this influx of new faces, there is also an increase in retirees moving into Florida for its mild climate and attractive tax incentives.
No matter what your reason may be for choosing Florida as your home, you will find that it offers a wide range of activities that can keep even the pickiest person entertained all year round!
Are there hills and elevation in Florida?
Yes, and we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Communities like Clermont, FL which has an average elevation of 300 feet makes you feel like your in Tennessee. Check out the view from on top of Hooks Rd. in Clermont, FL. You can see for miles.
While that may not be as much as the towering peaks and mountains in California, you won’t have to pay the price for a higher view in Florida. North Florida has also some rolling hills along the Alabama and Georgia border, but we think Clermont is probably the best bang for your buck when it comes to hills, livability, and views.