20 Things That Americans Absolutely Hate About California

California is often considered a symbol of the American Dream, but it is not without its critics. Despite its breathtaking landscapes and dynamic culture, many Americans have legitimate grievances with the Golden State. Life in California can be challenging, from soaring living costs to seemingly endless traffic. So, we’ve compiled the top 20 factors that frustrate Americans about this seemingly perfect state. Read on and discover the less-than-glamorous side of California; who knows, you might even be persuaded to live in the middle of nowhere compared to here!

Environmental Catastrophes

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California, the sunny state known for its beautiful weather with sun, surf, sand, and mountains, suffers greatly from natural disasters. Climate change has greatly damaged the state, making it even more prone to wildfires, extended periods of drought, record-breaking heat, smog, contaminated waterways, rising sea levels, and more.

Steep Tax Burden

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When you consider a state to move to, you should not only consider the job opportunities you’ll have, the people, and the weather; you should also look at the taxes it’ll require you to pay. TurboTax shares, “For 2023, states with high income tax rates include California at 13.3%.” The 13.3% tax is for individuals earning more than $1,000,000 annually. However, beyond that, sales taxes are also high in California at 8.66%—pushing it as part of the top 10 states with the heftiest average sales tax rates.

Exorbitant Cost of Living

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The sun in California might make you smile, but the cost of living there probably won’t. The cost of living in this sunny state will make you shell out an amount that’s 38% higher than the national average. In fact, it’s estimated that you’ll spend an average of $53,082 annually. Almost $10,000 would go to housing and utilities, more than $8,000 would go to healthcare, nearly $4,000 would go to grocery expenses, more than $1,000 would go to gas and other energy goods, and almost $30,000 would go to all other personal expenditures.

Elevated Crime Levels

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California has a mix of affluent neighborhoods and areas with high poverty. This, alongside its large population and law enforcement challenges, makes for high crime rates in the state. Spolin & Dukes explains, “The violent crime rate in Los Angeles is 732 per 100,000 people. There are approximately 258 murders, 2,274 rapes, 9,652 robberies, and 17,216 aggravated assaults per year in Los Angeles.”

Gridlocked Traffic

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California’s traffic jams are a big headache; there are many people, many damaged roads, and insufficient public transport, making it challenging to get around. Cities are growing fast, but there aren’t always enough new roads or trains to keep up. That means long waits in traffic, which can make it hard to get to work or go anywhere quickly.

Insufficient Access to Clean Water

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Extreme heat plunges California into repeating cycles of drought, which leaves the state scrambling to provide enough water for its ever-growing population. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough clean water sources or treatment facilities to meet the demand.

Deteriorating Air Quality

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California’s air quality is worsening due to vehicle emissions, industrial activity, and wildfires. However, the worsening heat and drought also contribute to dirtier air. PBS shares, “The Lung Association found that counties in California and several western states received failing grades for air quality despite states putting stronger emissions standards in place and cleaner vehicles being on the road.”

Soaring Housing Expenses

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Housing in California is expensive due to demand exceeding available supply in the state. People also attribute the rise in housing expenses to strict building regulations and soaring construction costs. The high land cost, especially in desirable areas, contributes significantly to housing prices.

Widening Economic Disparity

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High earners work in Silicon Valley, tech-related industries, and Hollywood. However, everyone else usually only works simple, ordinary corporate jobs. Worse, more and more people are becoming homeless or unable to find work. As the gap between different socio-economic levels becomes more apparent, more and more people find it hard to live and stay in California.

Diminishing Job Prospects

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Technology, automation, and AI are some of the leading causes of diminishing job prospects in California and other states and countries. Other factors, such as outsourcing, strict business regulations, and industry decline, also contribute to this dire situation. Sadly, California still hasn’t gotten back on its feet in providing its residents with better job opportunities. Newsweek reports, “California’s jobs market has been struggling, despite the US economy booming, with the state trailing behind the rest of the country for job growth and reporting a higher unemployment rate than the national average.”

Decaying Infrastructure

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California’s infrastructure is in disrepair, as the roads, bridges, and water systems are old and poorly maintained. Unfortunately, fixing all these problems requires a considerable amount of funds, and there’s often a shortage of funding to tackle these issues quickly. Without proper maintenance, the state’s infrastructure will continue to deteriorate, causing more problems in the future.

Extensive Ecological Damage

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Ecological damage stems from pollution, deforestation, urbanization, and frequent wildfires, harming both people and wildlife. Though California is considered an epicenter of environmental policymaking, making the right changes on time is hard. Cal Matters explains, “California will fail to meet its ambitious mandates for combating climate change unless the state almost triples its rate of reducing greenhouse gasses through 2030.”

Flawed Healthcare System

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California is undoubtedly an expensive state, and one of the main things that can serve as evidence of this is its expensive yet flawed healthcare system. Millions of its residents don’t have adequate health insurance, and there’s also a rising number of uninsured people in the state. The average premium for health insurance can range from $486 to $942 monthly, which is understandably a big ask for middle and lower-class residents.

Surge in Homelessness

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High housing costs and diminishing job prospects are among the top reasons for the surge in homelessness in California. These, along with other factors, make it difficult for people to make ends meet. Aside from this, the rise of mental health issues and drug abuse in the state pushes people who don’t have access to support and help over the edge, eventually leading them to homelessness.

Lack of Adequate Shelters

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Another big issue that contributes to the rise in homelessness in California is the lack of adequate shelters for those in need. Many shelters suffer from overcrowding and lack of basic amenities, which further discourage homeless individuals from seeking help and refuge from them. Aside from this, because some shelters have strict entry requirements, access to them can be challenging for most people living on the streets.

Persistent Opioid Use

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In California, drug use, and specifically opioid use, is a big problem. Many people still use opioids regularly because they get hooked on the relief it brings when in pain and don’t have other ways to cope. However, like most other drugs, overuse of opioids can cause multiple short and long-term health consequences, such as seizures, psychotic behavior, or even death.

Declining Educational Standards

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Budget cuts and insufficient funding have continuously declined California’s educational standards. A shortage of good teachers has also resulted in a high student-to-teacher ratio, meaning teachers can’t focus as much on giving their students high-quality education.

Ineffective Governance and Political Discontent

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California, a state brimming with potential, boasts a favorable climate, diverse geography, prime location, and multiculturalism. Yet, the state-level governance has fallen short, resulting in a series of failures. These include rampant crime, declining educational standards, exorbitant housing and living expenses, alarming rates of poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and burdensome taxation. The stark contrast between the state’s potential and current state of affairs and the rising political discontent underscore the need for change.

Immigration Challenges

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California has found itself in a significant financial bind, owing a considerable amount of money. The primary reason behind this is the state’s immigrant problem. The state’s agricultural industry relies heavily on immigrant workers to pick crops, as no other locals are willing to do this job. Central California is the country’s largest producer of vegetables, fruits, and milk, and the industry heavily relies on the cheap labor provided by immigrants.

Attitude of Superiority and Elitism

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California is a diverse state with people from various backgrounds, professions, and places of residence. However, some individuals in California exhibit snobbish behavior that sparks a nerve for others living in different states or countries. This sense of elitism can result in others feeling excluded or less significant, creating a negative image and reputation for California as a state.

Read More: 20 Common Traits Poorly Educated People Usually Have

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Poorly educated individuals may exhibit certain noticeable characteristics that set them apart from others. On the flip side, some may also compensate for their lack of education by pretending to be knowledgeable in certain areas. This behavior is often a way for poorly educated individuals to maintain their self-image and self-esteem.

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20 Behaviors and Traits That Are Dead Giveaways of Having Low Intelligence

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Speaking loudly, being overly confident, or even gossiping can all be signs of someone having low intelligence. However, by recognizing these markers, people can become more proactive in addressing their limitations and weaknesses, eventually improving their overall mental and emotional capacity. Read on and learn more about the top 20 dead giveaways of low intelligence!

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20 Things You’re Doing That Make You a Bad Neighbor

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People have different personalities; that’s a fact. When you move somewhere with a tight-knit community, you will get to know many people who will either clash with your personality or make you feel like you’ve found a new friend. However, no matter what it is, remember to establish boundaries. If you don’t, you might soon see a lot of bad blood between you and other people in the community!

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20 Signs You Have Little to No Emotional Support in Your Relationship

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Navigating a relationship without enough emotional support can feel like being caught in a storm without shelter. Constant feelings of isolation, misunderstanding, and loneliness indicate a loss of balance in the emotional aspect of your relationship. Thankfully, it’s not too late to get help because we’ve gathered the top 20 signs that can help you determine whether or not you’re receiving the emotional support you need for a healthy, thriving relationship.

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20 Christian Practices That Confuse and Puzzle Others

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All regions differ in some way. Catholics collect saint cards and plan their vacations around religious sights, and Buddhists believe in karma and reincarnation. Like them, Christians also practice some things that are simply unheard of or puzzling for others. They practice tithing, cast out demons, and more!

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Author: Karen Danao


Karen is a writer and also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, she is someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics she loves writing about! However, her true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.