Moving from California to Florida (2024 Guide)

By Sean Donnelly Updated March 26, 2024

Living in California is the dream for many Americans, but population growth has slowed and even began to decline in 2021 for the first time since the state’s founding. One possible reason? It’s much less expensive to live in equally sunny Florida. Read our guide below for tips on how to make the cross-country move from California to Florida if you’re considering trading one beachy atmosphere for another.


Relocating from California to Florida

Americans in the tech or entertainment industries still have many opportunities in California, but the cost of living has become increasingly difficult for many residents to afford. According to a February 2024 poll from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), 34% of surveyed Californians said the cost of housing was making them seriously consider moving out of state. Unaffordable housing has also amounted to a statewide homelessness problem, particularly in major cities such as San Francisco.

The increasing frequency of remote workspaces has compelled many Californians to flock to nearby Oregon, Nevada, or Arizona, while others are moving to Texas or Florida for the warm weather. Moving also means avoiding the risk of wildfires and earthquakes that have become increasingly common in California.


Golden State residents have plenty of choices for new residences in the Sunshine State. Here are some of the most popular destinations:


Cost of Living Comparison

There’s a substantial cost of living difference between California and Florida. Florida is the 31st most affordable state, while California is the 49th, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC). Florida also has a superior score to California when it comes to the national average cost of living index. Finally, median incomes in California are higher, but a greater percentage of this income must go toward housing.

Within Florida, the cost of living is highest in Miami, Boca Raton, Coconut Creek, and Fort Lauderdale. It’s lowest in Tallahassee, Daytona Beach, Gainesville, and Pensacola. Even the most expensive city in Florida, Miami, is less expensive than most major cities in California.

Here are some cost comparisons:

FactorCaliforniaFlorida
Food (one adult)$4,686$3,926
Average annual taxes$6,312$4,581
Average annual healthcare$10,299$9,865
Minimum living wage (one adult)$44,175$36,848
Average salary$73,220$55,980
Median home price$747,00$392,000

Note: Cost data in this article was sourced from Salary.com, Living Wage, Statista, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Zillow, and KFF.


Moving Logistics

No matter your exact point of departure and destination, moving from California to Florida will be lengthy. You can save money by performing the move on your own, but a DIY move requires a great deal of time and effort. If you have young children or are moving large or fragile items, it may be well worth the extra price to hire professional movers.

If you request a full-service move, professionals will pack your belongings in boxes, wrap and pad them for shipping, load them on the truck, drive the truck across the country, and unload and unwrap everything at your destination. This option is expensive but the most convenient.

There are also partial-service options to consider that exist between full service and DIY. You can rent your own moving truck and hire professionals for packing and unpacking, for example. You can also hire a container unit that you pack and unpack yourself, and leave moving to the transportation company. Many long-distance moving companies offer fragile-only packing services to protect your most valuable items.

We recommend getting quotes from at least three moving companies before making your choice.


Adapting to Lifestyle and Climate Changes

California and Florida are both warm, but Florida heat is more pervasive and humid. Breezes are hot rather than cool, and there’s more rainfall in Florida than in California. Rainy weather is typically hot weather, too, so you’ll want to trade rain boots for a pair of flip-flops that dries quickly.

Florida traffic is less intense than in Los Angeles or San Francisco, but traffic still backs up throughout the Miami area. Parking is generally easier to find in Florida, and you have to pay for it less frequently than you would in California. The population density of Florida cities is much lower than in California cities, and most downtown areas don’t have large residential districts.

East Coast beaches are also different from West Coast beaches. The Atlantic Ocean is substantially warmer than the Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico will feel like bath water to Californians who are used to chilly waves. Florida beaches have finer sand and smaller waves, and you’ll find swamps and glades in Florida rather than hills and rock formations that are typical of California.


Schools and Education

U.S. News and World Report ranks Florida No. 1 in the nation for higher education with options such as the University of Florida, Florida State, and the University of Miami. California comes in third for higher education and is home to vaunted institutions such as Stanford University, Cal Tech, and UC Berkeley. The same source ranked Florida 14th in the nation for prekindergarten through 12th-grade education and ranked California 38th.

The educational landscape in Florida is changing, though. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has led a push to defund Florida schools and programs related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The long-term result of these efforts isn’t yet clear, but the short-term changes have resulted in the removal of materials that discuss race, gender, and sexual orientation from classrooms.


Additional Relocation Resources

There are many organizations and resources that can help you make the long move. Federal and state governments have relocation assistance programs that can offset some moving costs, but you’ll have to meet eligibility criteria. Survivors of earthquakes, forest fires, and other natural disasters are often eligible for assistance, as are low-income individuals, unhoused veterans, and survivors of domestic violence. Call 211 or visit the government’s Benefit Finder site for more information on available programs.

Create a moving checklist to help you get organized before your big move. Moving is often stressful, but reading up on moving advice from people who have been through the process can help put your mind at ease. If you stay organized and give yourself time to work through each step, your moving experience is more likely to go smoothly.


The Benefits and Drawbacks of Living in Florida

Here are some of the benefits of moving to the Sunshine State in case you’re on the fence:

Here are some drawbacks to moving to Florida:

Whether a move to Florida is in your best interest will depend on your own needs and priorities, so make sure Florida is a good fit before starting the moving process.


Our Recommendation

You should consider a move from California to Florida only when you’ve performed thorough research, but it can be well worth the cost and effort. As you plan, explore your options for hiring professional movers for all or part of the process. Request quotes from several companies, and don’t base your final decision exclusively on price. Ensure that you’re working with a quality company that uses experienced professionals.


Moving from California to Florida FAQ

What are property taxes like in Florida?

Florida has an average effective property tax rate of 0.91%, which ranks 26th in the nation.

What factors affect the cost of moving from California to Florida?

The cost of moving from California to Florida will depend on your household size, the time of year, and the cities you’re moving to and from. We recommend comparing quotes from at least three moving companies before booking.

What is the most affordable city in Florida?

The most affordable city in Florida is Titusville, which is on the Atlantic coast near Kennedy Space Center, according to Florida news outlet WFLA. Winter Haven, Lauderdale Lakes, Daytona Beach, and Sanford round out the top five.

How humid is Florida compared to California?

Although Florida’s average relative humidity (87%) is not that much higher than California’s (76%), a better measurement of the feeling of humidity is dew point, which tracks the lowest possible temperature given the amount of moisture in the air. Florida’s average hourly dew point ranges from 55°F to more than 60°F, compared to California’s 25°F to 45°F.

What are winters like in Florida?

Florida has among the mildest winters in the 48 contiguous states. Even Tallahassee, which has some of the coldest winters in the state, has an average winter low temperature of 41°F and an average high of 80°F.