Should You Move to New York or LA?

Jon Fesmire | Apr 24, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

If you’re looking for a major city to move to, you may be wondering which is better—New York or Los Angeles? While there are many criteria we could have used to compare the two, we focused on six major areas: weather, public transportation, cost of living, jobs, atmosphere, and pace of life.

Weather

Los Angeles is warm most of the year. Even in the dead of winter, it doesn’t snow. Summer temperatures average 85 degrees during the day and 66 at night, while in the winter daytime temperatures average about 66 and nighttime 49. New York has similar summer temperatures, but in the winter, expect it to be about 39 degrees during the day and 24 at night, with an average of 28 inches of snow yearly. Unless you love cold and snow, Los Angeles is the more pleasant choice.

Public Transportation

Here, Los Angeles and New York are close, but New York wins. The idea of a subway is practically foreign in Los Angeles. Heck, in New York, you don’t even need a car, but you’ll definitely want one in LA. The subway in New York will let you get just about anywhere, and quickly. The LA Metro Rail is adequate but doesn’t quite compare to the convenience of the New York subway.

Cost of Living

Don’t look to Friends or Seinfeld for a realistic look at New York City apartments. You’ll probably need to share a small apartment with one or two roommates. According to Rent Cafe, the average rent for a 700 sq foot apartment in Manhattan is $4,245, while in LA it’s $2,500 for an 800 sq foot apartment. Yes, both places are expensive, but you’ll pay a lot more in New York. Now, you may want to live in the Bronx where the rent is about $1,700, or where the average rent is $2,953.

On the other hand, as mentioned, in LA you will need a car, which means you’ll have a car payment, insurance payments, and you’ll have to have to pay for gas, car repairs, and so on. New Yorkers save a lot of money by not owning cars and taking the subway. New York wins when it comes to saving money on travel expenses.

What about food? First, since Los Angeles is in California, it’s closer to all those amazing west coast farms that produce about 13 percent of the nation’s food, meaning LA has fresh produce year-round and it’s cheaper. New York is known for having bodegas on most corners—what West Coast dwellers may think of as convenience stores—while in LA there’s always a supermarket nearby. The latter have fresher food and are less expensive. Los Angeles wins for the price of food and food convenience.

Jobs

Let’s look at the major industries in New York and Los Angeles. In the former, financial services, health care, and manufacturing are big. Los Angeles is more focused on agriculture, construction, and, like New York, manufacturing. Neither city is better than the other here. You may want to choose a city based on your field.

The median household income in New York City is about $57,000 a year, while in Los Angeles, it’s $60,000. Los Angeles wins here, though by a narrow margin.

Atmosphere

There are other considerations besides the weather when it comes to the atmosphere of New York versus Los Angeles. The island of Manhattan is basically tall buildings on square blocks. If you want to see any greenery, head to Central Park. By contrast, LA tends to have wider streets and there are trees everywhere. Yes, you’ll be living in a city, but you’ll feel closer to nature. By our metric, LA wins on atmosphere.

Pace of Life

The rumors are true. Life is a rush in New York. As such, people feel under stress and tend to be less friendly. Los Angeles tends to have a more relaxed atmosphere. With the greenery and year-round sunshine in LA, it’s easy to see why. We give the win here to Los Angeles.

Overall, we think that Los Angeles comes out ahead, but you may disagree. We hope this analysis helps you pick where you would like to live. And, if neither city is to your liking, we have many articles about great places to live across the United States.