norcal vs socal pay & living expenses


I live in California and unfortunately it's expensive here. Suggesting to leave the state is just not an option a this point. That said, here's my question at hand. I know that the new grad pay in the bay area is significantly higher than in some of the equally nice areas if socal (ie: orange county & san diego areas). Does the cost of living difference make up for the pay disparity? I have seen starting (new grad) pay in the bay area over $40/hr, but the new grad pay I have found in socal isn't even $30/hr. So, does it cost over $20k more to live in the bay area? Has anyone here lived in both areas? I have a lot of school loans and used the bay area pay as a gauge for if I'd be able to pay them back. I am very familiar with the cost of living in the most expensive parts of the bay area. I live in a nice area on the peninsula. I know its cheaper in southbay (ie: San Jose), but I don't really care for that area. What I have no idea about is how much it costs to live in socal in areas like Orange County to San Diego. I really want to move there. Anyone know if as a new grad: is it more, less, or equally affordable to live in Orange/San Diego County or in San Mateo County?? If you've lived in both areas recently, please tell me your experiences. Thanks :)


1,237 Posts

Specializes in critical care, PACU. Has 2 years experience.

I was waiting for someone more experienced to apply, but since they didnt I will jump in. I have lived in the bay area, other parts of nor cal, south orange county, and long beach.

I think that the cost of living for the expensive areas of the bay area (houses from 600-800k) is pretty consistent with the cost of living in south orange county.

If I had a choice, and the bay area wasnt saturated, I would be happy as a clam residing in one of the cheaper areas in the bay (like the east bay) and commuting where the money is. But as you may know, there are way too many new grads and the poor economy is creating a tough job market for new grads like myself.

I find it RIDICULOUS what nurses in OC make in comparison to the RIDICULOUS inflated cost of housing.

Good luck.


38,333 Posts

I've lived in both areas and prefer the bay area to socal. I was forced to leave norcal in order to get a job. I could no longer stay there unemployed. There are more employers and thus more job opportunities in socal, but the pay is lower. I am living in an apartment that is only a little cheaper than my apartments in the southbay, but the atmosphere is bordering on "nasty". Nice places are just as expensive as in norcal. I also don't like the weather down here and have noticed more earthquakes than when I lived up north. Have no experience with Orange county/San Diego. Am in the west valley. If I were you, I would do anything possible to stay in norcal. I would go back in a heartbeat if I could support myself there.


10 Posts

I grew up in the Bay Area and then have lived in LA and San Diego for the last 8 years. They are the same in cost of living. You pay less to live in nastier areas and you pay more to live in nicer areas. I think the job market in San Diego sucks in my opinion, but I think its not too far behind other areas in Norcal or Socal. You need to go off of where you feel most at home and what scenery and weather you like more. Hope that helps!


122 Posts

Specializes in L&D,Lactation. Has 28 years experience.

Unions are newer in Socal and thus the pay lags behind the bayarea where most have been unionized for a while.

Unions are newer in Socal and thus the pay lags behind the bayarea where most have been unionized for a while.

Do you think it's likely that they'll soon catch up now that they have the unions too?

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