East Coast vs. West Coast: Pros And Cons For Raising Families

When considering a trip or move within the United States, you might ponder the age-old question: East Coast vs. West Coast? Each coastal region offers unique lifestyles, climates, and experiences, making it tough to choose just one. To help you make the choice, I’m covering the basic differences!

East Coast vs West Coast pin image

If you want to trade in one side of the country to move to the other, you aren’t alone! In recent years Uncle Sam has seen a rise in individuals packing their bags and tracing new paths across state lines. U.S. Census Bureau figures highlight this trend–showing a bump in interstate moves.

In the past few years, roughly 7.9 million people changed their state of residence – notably more than the 7.4 million in 2019. Populous states bore the brunt of this shift – redefining the demographics of the U.S.

On the East Coast, cities like New York and Boston provide history, culture, and fast-paced urban living. You’ll discover charming towns, vibrant nightlife, and a rich melting pot of cultures.

However, if you enjoy a more laidback and temperate climate, the West Coast might be more up your alley. States like California and Oregon boast incredible natural beauty, a strong connection to technology, and a more relaxed pace of life. Here, the proximity to the Pacific Ocean creates milder seasons and endless possibilities for outdoor adventures.

As you explore these differences, consider which coast resonates with your personal interests, aspirations, and lifestyle preferences. Remember that no matter where you find yourself, both the East and West coasts of the United States have plenty to offer.

Remember, this is no small undertaking! According to MoveBuddha, an interstate move can take between 1-2 weeks (given everything goes smoothly). Take the time to consider all these factors before making such a big decision.

Selling or Renting?

If you need to sell your home, consider the time of year you want to move. The real estate market heats up in spring and summer and cools down in the fall and winter as fewer people want to move in the middle of the school year or during the holidays.

If you’re renting–it’s time to start thinking about your lease. Re-think its terms, mull over its conditions, and assess whether it aligns with your moving timeline. Make sure to remember this detail, as it can help you avoid a lot of stress during this period.

Also, here’s a nugget of information: early lease termination fees are illegal in California, as referenced in the California Civil Code Section 1951.2. This nugget can surely save you from the agitating, unwanted bites of extra costs and save you some major headaches!

Geographical Locations

East Coast Features

The East Coast, also known as the Eastern Seaboard or Atlantic Coast, comprises states that border the Atlantic Ocean, including Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. You’ll find:

  • Diverse landscapes: From the rocky beaches of Maine, the bustling urban cities like New York and Boston, to the warm sunny beaches of Florida, the East Coast offers a distinct variety of environments.
  • Rich history: As the birthplace of the United States, the East Coast is filled with historical landmarks, such as Colonial Williamsburg, the Freedom Trail, and national monuments.
  • Seasonal climates: If you enjoy experiencing the beauty of all four seasons, the East Coast is the perfect place for you. From vibrant fall foliage to snowy winters, it offers a range of weather patterns.
governor's mansion in Colonial Williamsburg

West Coast Features

The West Coast includes the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Hawaii, and offers:

  • Stunning natural beauty: The West Coast is home to breathtaking landscapes, such as the rugged coastline of Oregon, the towering redwood forests in California, and the dramatic volcanic mountains of Washington.
  • Outdoor recreation: Whether you love surfing, hiking, or skiing, the West Coast offers a wide range of outdoor activities for you to enjoy year-round.
  • Mild climates: The majority of the West Coast (apart from Alaska) experiences a more temperate climate, with mild winters and warm summers, making it a comfortable place to live for many people.

In summary, both the East Coast and West Coast offer diverse features, ranging from their unique landscapes to their different weather patterns. Your preference will depend on what aspects are most attractive to you.

Cultural Differences

East Coast Cultural Identity

When you explore the East Coast, you’ll notice that some of the distinct features include a rich historical background, densely populated urban areas, and an overall fast-paced lifestyle. East Coasters often pride themselves on their directness and work-driven attitude.

The cities here, like New York and Boston, usually have well-planned public transportation systems, enabling you to navigate the bustling metropolis easily.

While the East Coast is known for its diverse population, its cultural identity also draws inspiration from European roots. You might find that people here strongly emphasize etiquette and social customs. Dining experiences are more formal and structured than the West Coast.

NY skyline east coast

West Coast Cultural Identity

On the West Coast, you will experience a more laid-back atmosphere, with an emphasis on outdoor activities and natural beauty. People here are known for their friendly, relaxed demeanor.

Contrasting the dense urban life of the East Coast, West Coast cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco offer a more spread-out environment, giving you a uniquely Californian vibe.

The West Coast prides itself on a spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, and eco-friendliness. Silicon Valley, the tech haven, reflects this progressive culture.

In terms of food, the West Coast is famous for its farm-to-table ethic and fusion cuisine, combining flavors, and ingredients from different cultural backgrounds to create innovative dishes.

San Diego west coast

Overall, each coast has its unique charm that appeals to different people.

Climate Comparison

East Coast Weather

As you explore the East Coast, you’ll notice a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and cold winters. The weather varies depending on where you are along the coast.

With warmer temperatures in the south (like Florida) and colder climates in the north (like New England), it makes for diverse experiences throughout the year. Some characteristics of East Coast weather include:

  • High humidity, leading to heavy rainfall and occasional thunderstorms
  • Snowfall and freezing temperatures in the northern regions during winter
  • Hurricane and tropical storm risks, particularly in the southeastern areas
atlantic ocean beach

West Coast Weather

On the West Coast, you’ll experience a more temperate climate, with milder seasons overall. The Pacific Ocean significantly moderates the climate, making it generally more pleasant and stable.

A Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm summers primarily characterizes the West Coast. Here are some aspects of West Coast weather:

  • Cooler ocean breezes tempering the heat during summers
  • Relatively mild winters, with rare instances of snowfall
  • Occasional fog and rainfall, with drier conditions in Southern California
Laguna Beach west coast

In summary, while the East Coast offers a more distinct range of weather experiences, the West Coast provides a milder and more consistent climate, thanks in part to the influence of the Pacific Ocean.

Historical Background

East Coast History

You’ll find that the East Coast of the United States is known for its rich history and deep European roots. As the first European settlers landed in this region, they began building their colonies, which influenced much of the architecture and culture still evident in cities such as Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia.

The East Coast towns and architecture often resemble the European homes of those who built them, offering a fascinating walk through history.

West Coast History

On the West Coast, history tells a different story. Although there were Native American settlements long before, the West Coast saw a rapid population growth starting with the California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century. This led to a blend of cultures as people from all over the world arrived in search of fortune and new opportunities.

Cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle have developed a diverse and innovative environment, with a strong focus on technology and arts. The West Coast’s history is comparatively shorter than the East Coast, but it has a vibrant and dynamic culture that continues to attract dreamers and adventurers from around the globe.

Economic Perspective

East Coast Economy

The East Coast Economy is diverse, with major industries that include finance, technology, and government. When you think about the East Coast, you’ll likely associate it with powerful financial and political centers like New York City and Washington, D.C.

These areas are known for their abundance of public and private sector jobs, and higher costs of living compared to other regions in the country.

The East Coast is also home to some of the nation’s top universities and research institutions, such as Harvard, MIT, and Princeton. These schools play an important role in driving innovation, attracting talented individuals, and boosting the region’s intellectual capital.

  • Major Industries: Finance, Technology, Government
  • Cities: New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, Atlanta
  • Top Universities: Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Yale
NY skyline east coast

West Coast Economy

In contrast, the West Coast has its own set of strengths and defining characteristics. A key feature of the West Coast economy is its strong emphasis on technology and innovation, particularly in areas like California’s Silicon Valley.

This region of the West Coast thrives as a hub for technology giants, startups, and venture capital activity.

Another unique aspect of the West Coast economy is its agricultural prowess. California, for instance, is a major producer of crops such as almonds, grapes, and strawberries. As a result, the West Coast plays a significant role in the nation’s food supply chain.

  • Major Industries: Technology, Agriculture, Entertainment
  • Cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego
  • Top Universities: Stanford, CalTech, UC Berkeley, UCLA
Los Angeles west coast

As you explore the economies of the East Coast and West Coast, it’s important to remember that these are just general observations. Both coasts have diverse and dynamic economies that are always evolving.

Cost of Living Considerations

This one’s significant. The West Coast and the East Coast are two different beasts when it comes to expenses.

Generally, the East Coast, particularly places like New York City, are famed for their higher cost of living. This hefty difference is reflected in housing costs, transportation charges, and everyday expenses.

According to  Numbeo, you might need between $5,000-7,695 in New York, NY to maintain the same standard of life that $3,900 would afford you in CA. Of course, other parts of the state and other states on the East Coast can vary from that.

So, in this financial tug-of-war, it’s crucial to brace yourself and stretch your financial flexibility as much as you find it possible. 

Urban vs. Rural Distribution

East Coast Urban Areas

On the East Coast, you’ll find a densely populated urban corridor stretching from Boston to Washington, D.C. These cities, along with others like New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, are major economic and cultural hubs. They attract diverse people seeking education, career opportunities, and cultural experiences.

East Coast urban areas tend to have a higher population density, which can lead to challenges like congestion, a higher cost of living, and limited access to affordable housing. However, these cities also offer various amenities, vibrant nightlife, and excellent public transportation systems to cater to your urban lifestyle needs.

West Coast Urban Areas

The West Coast is home to vibrant urban areas, with cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and San Diego. These cities are known for their innovative technology industries, a unique cultural scene, and a more relaxed atmosphere.

While West Coast urban areas may not be as densely populated as their East Coast counterparts, they still face challenges like high housing costs, traffic congestion, and social inequalities. Nevertheless, you’ll enjoy a more laid-back vibe, diverse food scenes, and access to outdoor activities thanks to their proximity to natural beauty.

When comparing urban areas on the East and West Coasts, it’s essential to consider each region’s lifestyle, culture, and opportunities. The choice between them largely depends on your preferences and priorities. Whichever you decide, know that both coasts boast thriving urban communities that cater to various personal and professional needs.


In the end, choosing between the East Coast and West Coast ultimately comes down to your personal preferences and lifestyle.

While the West Coast offers the allure of a Mediterranean climate, with mild temperatures and sunny skies in places like California, it also features the often-gray and rainy weather in cities like Seattle. On the other hand, the East Coast showcases bustling, compact cities like New York, which contrast greatly with the sprawling vibes of Los Angeles.

Culturally, there are also significant differences between the two coasts. The East Coast is known for its history and distinct traditions, while the West Coast embraces a more laid-back, innovative atmosphere. This can impact your experience and opportunities in both regions.

Economically, it’s important to consider each region’s job markets and industries. California’s massive economy spans diverse fields like technology, entertainment, and agriculture. The East Coast, particularly in the northeastern United States, offers numerous professional opportunities in finance, education, and healthcare.

So, as you weigh the pros and cons of living on either the East Coast or West Coast, remember to consider the weather, lifestyle, culture, and job opportunities that are most important to you. It’s ultimately up to you to decide which coast feels like the right fit for your needs and aspirations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main cultural differences between the East and West Coast?

On the East Coast, you’ll find a faster-paced lifestyle as people are often more focused on their careers and achievements. On the other hand, the West Coast is generally known for its laid-back atmosphere and emphasis on work-life balance. Moreover, the West Coast’s climate is milder due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, which also influences the culture.

Which coast has a higher population density?

The East Coast has a higher population density than the West Coast, with cities like New York City and Boston being especially densely populated. However, this isn’t to say that the West Coast’s major cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, are not densely populated; it’s just less so compared to their East Coast counterparts.

How do personality traits differ between East and West Coasters?

East Coasters are often perceived as more assertive, ambitious, and direct in their communication styles, while West Coasters are seen as more relaxed, easygoing, and open-minded. Remember that these are generalizations, and it’s essential not to assume a person’s personality traits based solely on their geographic location.

What are common stereotypes of people living on the East and West Coast?

East Coast residents are sometimes stereotyped as fast-talking, ambitious professionals, while West Coast residents are often seen as laid-back and environmentally conscious. Again, it’s important to keep in mind that these are merely stereotypes and may not accurately represent all individuals in these regions.

How do the major cities on each coast compare?

New York City, the most iconic East Coast city, is known for its dense population, skyscrapers, and public transportation system. In contrast, Los Angeles, on the West Coast, is famous for its sprawling cityscape, reliance on automobiles, and sunny weather.

Each coast offers distinct architecturally and culturally diverse major cities, such as Boston and San Francisco, which differ significantly in layout, history, and lifestyle.

Are there differences in cuisine between the two coasts?

Yes, there are certainly differences in cuisine between the East and West Coast. The East Coast is known for its seafood, especially lobster and clam chowder, while the West Coast offers a wide variety of fresh produce and Asian fusion dishes. Additionally, the East Coast has a strong Italian and Irish culinary influence, while the West Coast features many Hispanic and Asian-inspired flavors in its cuisine.

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