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Is California More Expensive Than New York?

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Unless you have experienced a significant move from a city with one overall cost of living to another that has it all different, you might not think or compare the prices of rent, groceries, or clothes.

When people trade one coast for another and move from New York City to Los Angeles or vice versa, they are generally surprised or amazed for many different reasons. Aside from the obvious things like the weather, and cultural differences like subways and convertibles or avocados and bagels, finances can be a real wake-up call.

With this in mind, let us explore how much these two enormous cities are different in areas important for an everyday person.

Housing Winner: LA by a Long Shot

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New York is infamous for its rents, as even a small apartment in West Village, can be around $1,000 per month. What is more, this is extremely low for Manhattan. Think of it as a closet-sized apartment on the 4th floor, and the building does not have an elevator. The kitchen, living room, and dining room in such places are in the same, 10×10 foot space for example.

In Los Angeles, the same $1,000 can get you a 12×14 foot bedroom in a sizeable massive house with a whole backyard, in the equally popular or desirable neighborhood as well. It is the same overall, but what you get is vastly different. There are also much cheaper housing options in LA. For example, you can live in a larger apartment building with a roommate, and pay $800 a month. In NYC, you will have to be somewhere deep in Brooklyn for that rent.

Transportation Winner: New York without any Doubt

Img source: nationalgeographic.com

Manhattan easily wins here, which should not come to you as a shock. In New Yorker, I with a small amount of luck, you could walk to work each day for zero dollars. For commuters, the subway for $104 per month, and that is an unlimited amount of rides in a month.

In LA, however, you will need a car payment, and around $200 per month is considered very low. Then you need insurance, so let say another $100, again on the lowest of sides. $117. That is $300 per month already, without the astronomical gas prices. Gas is $4.35 a gallon, so depending on what you drive, you will need another $100-200 per month. If you do not have a car in LA, you cannot get anywhere, while Uber and similar solutions will cost you as well and are not a permanent solution.

Business Environment Winner: Los Angeles

This one is a relatively close call, but LA inches out New York by a slight margin. Although most business factors were very close, two particular areas tilt the win over to Los Angeles: Office-space affordability and the cost of labor. This deviation is particularly highlighted because a business’s office space and staff are typically the two highest expenses on the P&L statement.

Similar to how residential rent is more expensive in New York, rents for commercial office spaces are equally as cost intensive. In addition, the cost of labor in New York is much higher, especially for blue collar workers. Although the minimum wage in New York is slightly lower, the owner of a janitorial service in Los Angeles tells us that very few people in blue collar work make minimum wage. Thanks to the recent labor shortage, wages have been pushed in an upward trend in both cities, but more so in New York.

Food and Drink Winner: Draw

This is a tough one, as there are many important factors to consider. Let us start with the groceries. LA wins by a mile here. For example, one box of Special K is $5.15 in Manhattan, while it is $3.95 in Los Angeles. Liquor is the same, as you pay $9.99 for a Corona six-pack in NYC, and $6.99 in LA. ). Cleaning supplies as well, $5.99 for a Tide in New York, compared to $4.99 in La La Land.

However, nothing can beat the fast food industry in NYC. While fantastic and healthy options are available in LA that is affordable, there is not a place in the world with Manhattan’s quantity, variety, and low prices of your favorite grab-and-go food. Thai take-out in LA, for example, is not that widespread, and there is usually one per neighborhood. In New York, just walk out, pick a direction, and you will come across several amazing options in one block.

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With dining out, LA is the winner but not by that much. There is much less alcohol consumed with a meal in New York, probably because people drive much more in LA. Also, there is much more fresh food available in LA, since California is the biggest grower and distributor of fruit, vegetables, and nuts in America. Therefore, mid-level restaurants offer incredible meals, while in New York, only the established and expensive restaurants are available to do the same.

Clothing Winner: Los Angeles Easily

This is also different, because you will still need boots, jeans, and coats for cold nights and winter in LA, but you will not need that much diversity in clothing type in California. Also, this is a city of minimalism compared to the multi-piece fashion outfits of Manhattan. Shoes are the same, as the cobblestone streets and all the walking wear and tear the shoes, while in LA, because of driving, you will not need that many pairs. Life is easier in LA when it comes to clothes, and much more casual and relaxing. Lastly, flip flops are much cheaper than leather boots.

Conclusion: Los Angeles Wins Overall

From this review, it turns out that LA is the clear winner. However, you cannot simply call LA cheaper than New York. Both of them are expensive cities generally and have a higher cost of living than most of the other places inside the borders of the USA. On the plus side, you can get much more for your money on the West Coast than the East Coast. Extensive research should be done before you move to either one and depending on your like or need regarding the amenities and neighborhood, you might find a more affordable and convenient home than an average person!