Cost of living in Florida vs California

If you love the tropical climate and are keen on living the laidback beach life, you’re probably debating moving to either Florida or California.

But how do you decide between the two?

One is the Sunshine State, and another is the Golden State. Both fare well on weather, culture, outdoors, and standard of living. But one aspect where both these states diverge is the cost of living.

Cost of living is a quick and comprehensible way to analyze whether you can afford to move to a certain city, state, or country.

So, to help you figure out the Florida vs. California debate, here are some cost of living factors that will help you make a well-informed decision for your next big move.

Cost of Living Comparison: Florida vs. California

The minimum living wage for an adult living alone in California is around $30,392 before taxes.

California ranks third on the list of most expensive states in the US, while Florida comes 24th on this list.

These rankings, although helpful, do not show the complete picture.

From transportation costs and housing to utilities and groceries, there are numerous factors that may not apply to each individual.

Therefore, we’ve narrowed down only those essential factors that make up the cost of living for the majority of the population to help you assess which state would be the best choice for you.

Florida vs. California: Housing Costs

Housing costs make up a large chunk of our budget. Here are the housing costs and numbers to give you a better idea.

Florida:

  • Median single-family home price – $348,000
  • The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment- $1,670

California:

  • Median sale price for a home – $898,980
  • The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment – $2,000

Overall, housing is more expensive in California than in Florida unless you’re moving to some of the most expensive cities in Florida, such as Miami.

California also has a higher risk of natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, flooding, droughts, etc., which can affect the housing market.

Due to their popularity, both Florida and California real estate markets are heavily hit during recessions and other economic downtimes.

Florida vs. California: Food

The average cost of groceries in the US is $355.50 per month for one person. This cost increases to $370.96 in California and $364.25 in Florida.

California boasts some great spots for food lovers to enjoy. However, if you love dining out often, Florida’s restaurants are 7.6% cheaper than California’s. And if you’re the kind to cook at home more often, Florida is still the best choice and 1.9% cheaper than California.

Food preferences might differ from person to person, so it is wise to do some math by going over your weekly grocery list or restaurant preferences.

Here are some popular grocery items and restaurant menu items and their average costs in both Florida and California.

Florida: Grocery and Restaurant Costs

  • Bread loaf – $3.06
  • Eggs (1 dozen) – $2.93
  • Potatoes – $3.13
  • Tomatoes (1 kg) – $4.77
  • Apples (1 kg) – $5.08
  • Boneless chicken breast (1 kg) – $10.85
  • Bottle of water (0.33 liter) – $1.63
  • Fast food combo meal – $8.05
  • Bottle of Coca-Cola (0.33 liter) – $2.06
  • Basic meal with a drink at an inexpensive restaurant – $15.93

California: Grocery and Restaurant Costs

  • Bread loaf – $3.40
  • Eggs (1 dozen) – $3.59
  • Potatoes – $3.07
  • Tomatoes (1 kg) – $4.60
  • Apples (1 kg) – $4.57
  • Boneless chicken breast (1 kg) – $12.17
  • Bottle of water (0.33 liter) – $1.75
  • Fast food combo meal – $8.77
  • A bottle of Coca-Cola (0.33 liter) – $2.22
  • Basic meal with a drink at an inexpensive restaurant – $16.89

Whether you choose to live alone or have a family’s budget to manage, shopping for groceries or eating out in Florida is cheaper than in California.

Florida vs. California: Taxes

Florida has no state-level income tax, whereas Californians end up paying some of the highest taxes in the country, with a state income tax of 13.3%.

If you’re planning to start a business in either of these states, Florida offers a better deal. With its low tax returns and a combined state and local tax of around 8.9%, Florida is a more economical decision for entrepreneurs.

Florida has an average combined state and local sales tax rate of 7.01%, whereas California’s average combined state and local sales tax rate is 8.82%.

Surprisingly, California’s median property tax rates are lower than those in Florida.

Florida has a median property tax rate of $859 per $100,000 of assessed home value. California, however, enjoys a median property tax rate of $742 per $100,000 of assessed home value.

The Golden State has a tax burden of 9.72%, and the same in Florida is 6.64%.

Overall, Florida is where you want to go if you want to earn more income while paying a lower income tax.

Florida vs. California: Utilities

The national average cost of essential utilities in the US is $290.79 per month. This amount is only for essential utilities and can change depending on your personal needs.

Here are some common utilities and how much they cost per month in Florida and California to help you calculate your total.

Florida: Utility Costs

  • Natural gas – $61.69
  • Water – $45.44
  • Electricity – $128.64
  • Sewer – $66.20
  • Internet – $59.99
  • Phone – $114
  • Streaming services – $46

California: Utility Costs

  • Natural gas – $61.69
  • Water – $45.44
  • Electricity – $116.94
  • Sewer – $66.20
  • Internet – $59.99
  • Phone – $114
  • Streaming services – $49.25

Of course, the larger your house or yard, the more you’ll have to shell out on monthly utility expenses.

Overall, utilities in Florida and California cost around the same, except for minor differences in electricity and streaming services.

Florida vs. California: Childcare

Childcare is only an essential cost of living expense if you’re a parent, so single adults living in California or Florida need not consider it.

If you’re a parent or planning on becoming one at some point in the future, it may help to understand the cost of raising a child in both these states.

Childcare costs in California are not only higher than those in Florida but are also among the most expensive in the country. On the other hand, Florida ranks high as one of the most affordable states for childcare.

In the US, childcare makes up anywhere between 10.9% and 26.3% of household income, with infant care costing $216 per week.

The numbers are more affordable for older children around four years old, costing approximately $175 per week in daycare.

To compare this with the two states’ averages:

Infant care in California makes up 24.9% of the median family income, with the average annual cost coming up to $16,945.

On the other hand, infant care in Florida forms 17.2% of the median family income, with an average annual cost of $9,238.

The cost differences between the states remain the same, although childcare is cheaper for 4-year-olds than for infants.

Getting childcare for a 4-year-old in Florida can cost parents an average of $7,287 per year, while it costs nearly $10,300 per year in California.

It suffices to say that Florida is more pocket-friendly for parents than California.

Florida vs. California: Crime Rates

In both California and Florida, the crime rate is above the national average.

In 2021, California’s violent crime rate was about 466 crimes per 100,000 residents, which is higher than the national average of 387 per 100,000. The same year, the violent crime rate in Florida was around 378 per 100,000 residents.

California places 31st in the overall crime rate ranking of US states, while Florida places 45th. Although both states have some dangerous cities with high crime rates, Florida is marginally safer than California.

Despite being a state average, the crime statistics vary significantly for every city.

The safest cities in California are Danville, Rancho Santa Margarita, Rancho Palos, Verdes, Aliso Viejo, Moor Park, Thousand Oaks, Laguna Niguel, and Yorba Linda.

Some of the safest cities in Florida are Cooper City, Pembroke Pines, Cape Coral, Hialeah, Weston, Sebastian, Port St. Lucie, Port Orange, and Wellington.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to enjoying the laid-back life in the US, California and Florida are popular destinations.

And although both states are quite expensive compared to other US states, when you consider the cost of living, Florida makes the best case for anyone planning to move to either of these states.

You should note that we have provided average state statistics that might not apply to all the cities in Florida and California. So, make sure you consider other factors such as the city’s diversity, entertainment, and culture before making your final choice.

We hope this guide was useful and helped you add some more pros and cons to your California vs. Florida debate.

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