West Coast vs. East Coast: The Workplace War

July 27, 2016 by Meredith Brandt

A lot of factors come into play when determining happiness at work: company culture, coworkers, growth opportunities, etc. But there seems to be a factor that is often overlooked but might be the biggest influencer of all: geography.


As someone who has recently transitioned from working in the Northeast to working in Southern California, I’ve seen the work world shift around me. Talking to colleagues both back east and here out west, those who’ve made a cross-country move for work believe the coast they’re on has played a factor in how much they enjoy work. I’ve gathered some of their responses as to why to try to see if there really is a correlation between a person’s location and how much they love their job.

I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work in two of the greatest cities in America on opposite coasts. I’d say the biggest difference I’ve seen between my time working in New York and my time working for the same company in LA is the environment. New York had a very corporate feel. Everything was urgent, everyone was exhausted. In LA, I’d say I work the same amount of hours, but everyone seems to value the work-life balance a little more. I feel infinitely less exhausted after my time in the office. I think that really has to do with the people. Not that the people back in New York weren’t lovely, but they just weren’t nearly as happy or active in that office as the people are here. Might just have to do with the sunshine!” – Charlotte*, Human Resources

So, for me I could tell a huge difference between the two coasts. I loved the rush and 9-5 energy on the east coast. However the west coast allowed for a lot more work life balance that I felt made my overall life a lot better. I would say I did get more work done on the east coast, but over the long run that intensity would cause burnout to where I would leave the company anyways. I also feel that the west coast is more accepting of innovation and creativity, so you see young people in positions of power. I feel in that region you’re promoted for your smarts and leadership. On the east coast I felt it was more of a suit and tie environment, where no matter how intelligent you were you would still have to wait your turn in order of seniority to get to the top.”- Leigh, Marketing

I think a big difference between working on the west and east coast is the level of stress. I’ve found that people on the west coast tend to accomplish just as much but go about their days with less stress. I’m so much happier working on the west coast because the weather and the scenery is always beautiful and the people tend to be friendlier so I’m happier when I’m at work.” – Jordan, Outreach Development

It might be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think working on the west coast is better than the east. I’ve found that people on both coasts work incredibly hard and work incredibly long hours. And honestly, from my experience, the whole idea that work/life balance is better on the west coast isn’t necessarily true. While people on the west coast might spend less time in the office, their jobs follow them home. They spend just as much if not more time thinking about and actually doing their work. Both coasts have a different feel, but the work/life balance thing is definitely something I think that depends on the company, not the location like so many people say.” – Tyler, Entertainment

The weather, vibe of the city, salary, work culture, and being at a satellite office vs the headquarters are all notably different between working in the east and west coast, but I’d say that the biggest difference for me is my personal comfort zone. I grew up in California, my parents and childhood friends are here, and I’m attached to the shorts and tank top getup. The west coast for me is the home base, a place where I have the safety to take risks and/or to rest up for the next big adventure. But, the east coast did give me more options about which area to live in, while the west coast generally is limited to the Bay Area and LA if you wanted to have the advantages of living in or near a metropolis.”- Alicia, Market Research

It doesn’t matter which industry, what position, or where they are now, if you’ve had the opportunity to work on both coasts, you have an opinion. And if you’re anything like the people interviewed above, you have a strong opinion at that. As I continue to explore the west coast workforce, I’m eager to see how my own personal opinions shift.

What do you think: is it better in the east or is the west coast truly the best coast? I’d love to know your response!

*Names changed for anonymity

Meredith Brandt

Meredith Brandt

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