Comparing the Coasts: East vs. West

Before moving to a new retirement destination, it\'s important to compare more than costs.
Before moving to a new retirement destination, it's important to compare many factors.
Before moving to a new retirement destination, it’s important to compare more than costs.

When looking to move to an active adult community in an area you’re not familiar with, it’s important to consider many factors. Those who want to move to the coast but cannot decide which one, should always compare the pros and cons of the East and West coasts.

Earthquakes versus winter storms. DK’s Donuts versus Dominique Ansel. Flaky Californians. Uptight New Yorkers. You don’t have to go far to find cliches about the East and West Coasts. Here, we compare and contrast the opposite ends of the country, but we’re also taking a peek behind the usual tropes and maybe even bridging some of that 3,000-mile distance.

Let us entertain you

There’s no question that both coasts are rich in culture, though for different reasons. The East Coast is a treasure trove for early American history buffs — especially the Washington, D.C. area, national battlefield parks in Virginia and Georgia, and colonial architecture throughout the region.

The West Coast is a destination for people who like to memorize the years of great bottles rather than battles. California is the fourth-largest wine producer in the world, and Oregon and Washington state are also home to thriving vineyards that welcome millions of visitors every year.

The performing arts are strong on both coasts. There’s Broadway in New York, of course, but all along the Eastern Seaboard you’ll find theater camps and festivals dedicated to up-and-comers and stage veterans alike. In California, film festival season is year-round, from Sonoma to San Diego.

Across the culinary divide

Years ago, California cuisine was considered the freshest and healthiest in the nation thanks to an abundance of local produce, while comfort (read: bad-for-you) foods were more prominent out East. Whether or not those generalizations were accurate, what’s clear is that today, the farm-to-table movement has crossed the culinary divide. Started in the 1970s by chef Alice Waters of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, locally grown food for restaurants, hospitals, schools and your table is expected to gain even more popularity in 2015 — according to several top Atlanta chefs.

Modern food trucks are another trend that’s moved from West to East. Roy Choi is credited as the one who started it all with Kogi in Los Angeles, though Portland, Oregon, which has embraced the movement by designating food pods all over the city, is arguably the food truck capital of the United States. In 2014, The Village Voice named ten top food trucks in New York City, including Luke’s Lobster, Wafels & Dinges and The Eddie’s Pizza Truck (so maybe there is a sliver of truth to that comfort food stereotype after all).

Change in the weather

When you think of differences in coastal weather, the most obvious are the well-defined seasons on the Atlantic coast and the year-round Mediterranean climate along the Pacific. While this generally holds true, both coasts saw extremes of a different kind this past winter, and not in a good way. The East Coast was hit with record storms and snowfall (even the Southeast had its share of ice storms), while the West Coast experienced record-breaking heat and drought with no relief in sight. In the Pacific Northwest, the Cascade snowpack has also been at its lowest point in years.

‘Retire Here Not There’

Despite the mercurial weather patterns, both coasts remain popular destinations for active adults. The cost of living tends to be higher in these regions than other parts of the country, but MarketWatch has been running a series called “Retire Here Not There,” which includes lists of budget-friendly coastal towns that offer the same benefits and amenities as their more expensive counterparts. Bellingham, Washington, for example, is a charming, outdoors-oriented town north of Seattle, but without Seattle’s high price tag.

And many of these MarketWatch recommendations are either home to or located near active adult properties. The Villages at West Neck is in Virginia Beach, “one of the fittest cities in the nation,” according to Men’s Health magazine. It’s situated near miles of shoreline and nature parks and features a lively performing arts scene, several museums and shopping and dining.

The highest concentration of active adult communities on either coast is in Florida — including The Villages, Sun City Center and Lely Resort — and Southern California, where you’ll find the Four Seasons at Palm Springs, Sun City Palm Desert and Trilogy at Glen Ivy, just to name a few.

Now it’s your turn. Which coast has better food? Entertainment? Lifestyle? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Can you spot the $207,744 difference between these identical homes?

Financing is the difference!

Get the details in The 62+ Loan Homebuyers Guide.

55places Mortgage is a joint venture between Mutual of Omaha Mortgage and
Details here.

We're here to help! (800) 928-2055

Call us to speak with a customer service representative.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get Weekly Updates

I agree that 55places and its affiliates, partner providers or agents may call, text, or email me about my inquiry, which may be made with automated means. I understand that my consent is not a prerequisite for buying a property. I may revoke my consent at any time by contacting Message/data rates may apply. I also agree to’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

The Best Places to Snowbird in 2021

We’ve gathered 25 of the best places for snowbirds, including cities in Florida, Arizona, California, Texas, South Carolina, and Nevada. For each entry, we’ve also provided a list of recommended 55+ communities in the area. If you’re ready to find your own winter retreat this season, here are some of the best places to consider.

Closed up on a tiny wood home model on green grass with sunlight background.

This Month in Real Estate: A Housing Market Summary

The housing market continued to see a growing trend through the month of August. For 55+ homebuyers, there’s some competition still and some changes to look out for as the summer ends.

Landscape view of Glendale, Arizona in the summer.

Benefits of the 55+ Lifestyle in Glendale, Arizona

As the locals know, Glendale is also a spectacular place to call home. But what’s it like living in this sun-soaked city just eight miles outside of Phoenix? We’ll take you through what you should know.

About 55places

We’re changing the way people 55 and older are searching for their perfect next place. With a national network of hand-selected real estate experts, plus comprehensive information, unbiased content, and on-the-go insight about thousands of communities across the country, we’re a trusted resource paving the way from here to home. Whether you’re interested in a low-maintenance single-level residence, an active lifestyle or age-qualified community, an intimate enclave, or anything in between, we can help you make your next move the best one yet.

Scroll to Top