East Coast vs. West Coast: What are the differences?

East Coast vs. West Coast: What are the differences?

by Andrea Byaruhanga

Updated January 23, 2023

The United States spans nearly 2,800 miles from one side to the other. In a country so large, there are bound to be tons of variations from place to place

Nowhere is that more apparent than on the East Coast and West Coast. From the weather to career culture to daily life, the two opposite ends of the country couldn’t be more different from each other.

If you’re wondering what those differences are, you’re in the right place! Below, we’ll take a look at the East Coast vs. West Coast, digging into their general differences, both good and bad.

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The states on each coast

Let’s start by discussing what we mean by “East Coast” and “West Coast.” 

The East Coast is made up of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut (in other words, almost all of New England, minus Vermont), New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

The West Coast comprises Washington, Oregon and California. Some definitions of this coast also include Alaska and Hawaii, though they’re separate from the other coastal states.

Each state has its own unique characteristics. For the purposes of our comparison, we’re going to be generalizing a bit to give you an overall picture of the main differences. 


West Coast

Generally speaking, the West Coast has a more temperate climate, meaning the seasons are milder overall. A big reason for this is the Pacific Ocean. Because of the region’s proximity to the ocean, the climate of the West Coast is made more moderate by the air flowing in from over the ocean. Many West Coast cities also experience a lot of rain, especially in Oregon and Washington, which are part of the Pacific Northwest region.

East Coast

The East Coast tends to have hotter summers and colder winters. You might be wondering why, considering it also sits beside an ocean. Well, the East Coast gets air currents that travel from west to east over the land between the two coasts, not over the ocean, so it doesn’t experience the same moderating effect as the West.

However, there are differences in temperature between states on each coast. For example, on the West Coast, California has warmer weather than Washington; on the East Coast, Maine is colder than Virginia.

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West Coast

Most people will tell you that the West Coast offers a slower and more relaxed way of life than the East Coast. This might sound like one of those East Coast vs. West Coast stereotypes, but there’s some truth to it. The West Coast lifestyle often, though not always, involves a focus on connecting to nature and engaging in healthy activities like hiking and cycling. This seems to be especially true the closer you get to the oceanside cities and towns.

As for getting around, you’re more likely to need a car in many West Coast cities. Just a warning: Traffic is terrible in some places (we’re looking at you, Los Angeles), so that may take away from that West Coast relaxation you might be dreaming of. 

East Coast

People on the East Coast are said to be more serious about business and career status and live a faster-paced life in general. This could be due to the fact that the financial center of the US is on the East Coast. 

It’s not all about stress, however. New York City, for example, is a multicultural, 24/7 city where there’s always something to do, from tasting international foods to attending festivals to visiting museums. Keep in mind that you’ll be doing a lot of walking or taking the subway in New York; they’re both more efficient ways to get from place to place than driving.  

Work culture

West Coast

On the West Coast, you may notice an emphasis on work-life balance—the idea that life isn’t all about work. This coast is also seen as a hotspot for creativity and innovative ideas,ideas with lots of room for entrepreneurship in cities like Seattle. Silicon Valley is also on the West Coast, so if you’re a techie, this might be a great place for you.

East Coast

As we mentioned above, the East Coast is the financial center of the United States; specifically, we’re talking about New York City. As a result (depending on your industry) work can sometimes be very high-pressure. The work culture on the East Coast can also be quite competitive. If you’re a go-getter who thrives in this type of environment, you might find this suits you well!

East Coast vs. West Coast: You be the judge

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to East Coast vs. West Coast culture. While both are great places to visit, explore and practice your English skills, they have their differences! If you prefer the hustle and bustle of big-city life, the East Coast might be the right choice for you. If something a little more laid back is your style, you may want to check out the West Coast. The US coasts have something for everyone!

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Andrea is a Canadian freelance writer and editor specializing in English, e-learning, EdTech, and SaaS. She has a background as an ESL teacher in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. In her free time, Andrea loves hanging out with her husband and children, creating recipes in the kitchen, and reading fiction. She also loves camping and jumping into lakes whenever possible. Learn more about Andrea on LinkedIn or check out her website.

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