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Ohio vs. California: Living Comparison

If ever a place was the literal definition of Midas’s touch, it would be California. 

The Golden State has more to it than the grand Golden Gate Bridge or the shiny Hollywood sign. Its landscape, tinted gold with golden poppy flowers and a brilliant yellow-orange sunset, dazzles in its Western U.S. location along the Pacific Coast.

On the other hand, when it comes to Ohio, think rolling hills, sandy beaches, and scenic lakes. The Buckeye State features the pebbly Appalachian plateau, with some regions being mostly plains. 

Now, if you’re wondering, why the Ohio vs. California debate? 

Both states offer vastly different lifestyles, and you might get torn between the beaches of California and the charm of Ohio. 

Let’s weigh the differences and break down the peculiarities between living in Ohio and California.

Ohio vs. California: Comparing Everyday Expenses

When it comes to daily expenses, Ohio and California are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Ohio’s cost of living is 8% lower than the national average, while California’s is a record 38% higher.

There’s a much more affordable lifestyle in Ohio just looking at the numbers. 

Your morning latte might cost double in California compared to Ohio, and those extra bucks could easily buy you a delicious buckeye donut. You might want to consider these when booking your trusted local movers for your relocation move.

When you draw a parallel comparison between the average living in Ohio vs. California, you begin to see evidence in the disparity in the cost of groceries, transportation, and fine dining.

More details on these differences:

Compared to the National AverageOhio Cost of LivingCalifornia Cost of Living
Housing 22% lower97% higher
Utilities2% lower22% higher
Food3%15% higher
Healthcare5% lower8% higher
Transportation6% higher28% higher

Owning or Renting: The Housing Market in Ohio vs California

Housing is where the difference between Ohio and California becomes most apparent. 

The cost of housing in California is 76.2% higher than in Ohio, marking a considerably more affordable real estate in the Buckeye State. With four million plus housing units available for buying and renting, over 65% of residents in Ohio are homeowners.

California, known for its sky-high housing costs, owes most of it to the thriving entertainment industry there. Cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles push well beyond the median home sales price in the state. 

For instance, renting a one-bedroom apartment in these urban centers can cost upwards of $2,500 per month.

Average Rent$1,406$1,914
Median Home Value$237,766$790,084

A Look at Schools and Childcare Insights

For families, the quality of schools and availability of childcare are critical considerations. Ohio boasts a strong public education system, with many highly-rated schools served by 995 school districts. 

Although the student-to-teacher ratio in Ohio is higher than the national average, there’s still enough room for personalized attention. Plus, there’s the advantages of educational costs in Ohio being relatively cheaper at about $16,139 per student.

California also offers excellent educational opportunities, particularly in affluent areas with top-rated public and private schools. 

However, the state’s education system faces challenges such as overcrowding in urban schools, with the student-teacher ratio exceeding the national average by over 20%.  Regardless, about 54% of students achieve reading proficiency by 11th grade, and childcare costs per student are about $17,602. 

For performance in the Ohio vs. California education system, Ohio ranks higher than California with lower costs and over 60% of students from 3rd to 11th grade achieving reading proficiency.

Taxes and the Economy: How Ohio and California Stack Up

Another factor to consider in the Ohio vs. California cost of living is the tax rate and how well the economy works. 

Taxation and economic opportunities differ between these two states. Ohio has a more modest tax structure, with four state income tax rates: 0%, 2.75%, 3.68%, and 3.75%. The rate you get taxed with depends on your taxable income and residency status.

Meanwhile, California’s tax rates are among the highest in the nation. State income tax rates can climb to 12.3% for high earners or be as low as 1% for low-income earners. Like Ohio, this depends on your taxable income, filing, and residency status.

  • Ohio Sales Tax Rate: 7.24%
  • California Sales Tax Rate: 7.25%

California’s economy is the fifth largest in the world and the largest of all U.S. states. It offers vast opportunities in healthcare, retail, tech, and entertainment. Finance, transportation, and professional services also contribute significantly to the state’s economy. 

Ohio’s economy has grown slowly but steadily over the years. The state has gradually diversified its economy into flourishing sectors like healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.

Median Household Income$66,990$91,905
Unemployment Rate4.0%4.8%
Poverty Rate13.4%12.2%

The Fun Side: Nature and Nightlife

Both states offer unique recreational opportunities.

Ohio, with its picturesque parks and lakes, is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. 

The state is home to:

  • the Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  • the Cleveland Museum of Art
  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Ohio’s nightlife, especially in cities like Columbus and Cleveland, features a vibrant mix of bars, music venues, and cultural events.

Meanwhile, the Golden State—famed for its diverse landscapes—boasts stunning beaches and the majestic White Mountains of California. 

Other iconic natural attractions include:

  • Yosemite National Park
  • Getty Center Art Museum 
  • Sequoia National Park

California’s nightlife is legendary, particularly in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Here you will find world-class offerings in dining, clubs, and entertainment shows.

Crime Stats in Ohio vs. California

Ohio experiences lower crime rates compared to California. 

There is a 1 in 341 chance you may be the victim of violent crime, which are better odds than in about 60% of U.S. states. Cities like Dublin and Solon in Ohio have particularly low crime rates, making them appealing to families.

California, while offering many safe communities, does have areas with higher crime rates, especially in larger cities. The overall crime rate is higher than the national median for both violent and property crimes. 

However, there are also plenty of safe and secure neighborhoods in places like Irvine and Valley Ford.

Generally, smaller towns in both states boast lower crime rates. Big cities may have higher crime rates, but most areas have safe neighborhoods.

Some of the safest cities in Ohio are:

  • Broadview Heights
  • Rocky River
  • Solon

A few of the safest cities in California include:

  • Rancho Santa Margarita
  • Irvine
  • Laguna
Ohio Average California AverageNational Average
Violent Crime2.944.994.0
Property Crime17.83 23.4320.0

Final Verdict—Ohio vs. California

Choosing between Ohio vs. California boils down to what you value most. 

Ohio is safer than California and boasts a higher quality of education under more conducive learning environments. Moreover, if affordability, lower living costs, and a family-friendly environment are your priorities, Ohio is an excellent choice. 

But if you crave economic opportunities, diverse landscapes, and a slice of Hollywood living, California might be more your speed. It offers more stunning attractions and high-end houses if you’re into real estate.

Make your pick, good luck!

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