Unique scenery from both the West Coast and East Coast. Santa Monica, California (left), and New York City, New York (right). Photos by Sharon Bean.

East Coast vs West Coast: a topic for debate since Westward Expansion first began in the year 1803. Each end of the country has many pros along with plenty of cons. A lot of similarities, yet so many differences as well. From the boiling and humid Southeast summers, to the frigid and rainy Northwest winters. From the cramped and expeditious Northeast cities, to the cultural and easy going Southern California lifestyle. Let’s take a deep dive into the similarities and differences of the two U.S. coastlines.

The East Coast stretches through fourteen different states, for a total of over two thousand miles. Not a single square foot of those two thousand miles lacks diversity in scenery, history, sports, food, people, etc. The first East Coast feature that the majority of people tend to think of is the heavily populated and fast paced Northeastern cities, including New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia. In all Northeastern cities, especially NYC, the opportunities are endless. You can truly be a brand new version of yourself every single day when living in this portion of the country. 

With many East Coast states being smaller and more compact, traveling from one location to another is much easier compared to living on the West Coast. By car, you are just a few hours away from dozens of other major U.S. cities no matter where you are on the East Coast. But of course, not everyone loves these highly populated cities. As you travel south towards Virginia, to the Carolinas, and eventually down to the Sunshine State of Florida, you’ll discover countless gorgeous beaches, plains, and other peaceful locations to get away from the busyness that the Northeast provides. Coming along with these many different places are many different people, traditions, foods, and so on. Each location that you’ll visit will have a rich history that you won’t be able to experience anywhere else. Each location has its own signature delicious foods and, from Philly cheesesteaks to Maryland crabs, there is always going to be something for everyone to enjoy. The ability to travel to more states and experience a much larger variety of locations that the East Coast has to offer is by far the biggest benefit of the Eastern U.S. 

However, just like any other place, the East Coast does have its disadvantages as well. The cost of living in the more ideal locations, like NYC or Washington DC, is extremely unaffordable. With unpredictable weather from top to bottom, seasonal changes tend to be very difficult for new East Coast citizens to adjust to. And of course with much of the East Coast being far more densely populated, the traffic in the majority of places is almost always atrocious. 

Overall the East Coast is a very unique area and you should capitalize on every opportunity that you get to discover its depth for yourself.

The West Coast stretches through three states (excluding Alaska) for a total of over 1,300 miles. The natural scenery that this coast provides is undeniably some of the best in the entire world, with many fantastic vacation and quick trip locations. Whether you want beautiful beaches, towering mountains, or gorgeous city skylines, the West Coast has it all. The weather is also unmatched in most parts of the West Coast, and the laid back lifestyle from top to bottom creates a unique community. For those who love the sun, where better to go than Southern California, where it’s sunny year-round? And for those who love rain…well, we all know the Pacific Northwest will provide that for you. With many artistic and relaxed groups of people on the West Coast, it is super easy to fit in in this area of the country. You are encouraged to be unique and be yourself, which is super rare in today’s society and not something that you’re easily able to do in other parts of the country (or even world). All of these things are major pros that set the West Coast apart from the East Coast. 

However, the West Coast is not immune to flaws. With fewer locations comes fewer opportunities. Additionally, the three states’ larger and more popular locations are all farther apart from each other compared to East Coast locations, so traveling is much more difficult. It is much less common to take a weekend trip to the closest state or closest major city, and many people can struggle with feeling stuck in one place because of this. Additionally, there are not as many traditionally West Coast foods for tourists to try just so they can say they’ve tried them.

The beauty of it all is that the United States has multiple amazing coastlines with their own unique features and no matter which one you’re on, you really can’t go wrong.

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