Cross-Country Move Considerations: The Southwest


Moving West Causes Culture Clash

Known primarily for its abundance of sunshine and tanned bodies, those who move to the Southwest are most likely expecting long summer days on the beach and fair weather year-round. However, beyond all of the clogged freeways and smoggy cities, there are some key cultural differences between cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, and the rest of the country. Here are the things you need to know when moving to the Southwest. SEE ALSO: Cross-Country Move Considerations: The Northwest

The Culture

One of the biggest cultural differences has to do with consumerism. Though it is a bit of a worn-out stereotype, a lot of people in this area are more concerned with looks than in other areas of the United States and the world. Sure, you see people walking to grocery stores in PJs and sunglasses, but when people from the southwest know that someone is coming over—anyone, really—they put on the best show possible. Take, for example, the dinner party. People in the southwest, and especially in Los Angeles, are obsessed with dinner parties. Takeout is less of a fad in this area, so people are more likely to get gussied up and stay home while all their friends come over for a four course meal . Admittedly, the abundance of traffic probably has a lot to do with that. Another contributing factor, though, is that southwestern cities aren’t known for much, food-wise, aside from Mexican food and great fast food. So, often times, a great home cooked meal with friends is better than that restaurant down the road.

The Costs

  • Average cost of gas for LA: $3.21 (US average: $3.38)
  • Average cost of bread for LA: $2.62 (US: $1.42)
  • Average cost of milk for LA: $2.42 (US: $3.86)
  • Average cost of energy for LA: $0.223 per KWH (US: $0.134)
Because of its great weather, people have thronged to the southwest by the millions. Where there are a lot of people, companies can (and often do) charge more for the essentials. So, you shouldn’t be surprised to know that anything from bread to electricity will be more expensive. That’s not to say there aren’t more affordable options in this area. For example, you’re probably going to save money living in the suburbs of San Diego than you will living in Beverly Hills. Living on a budget here isn’t impossible—it just might be slightly more difficult than in a less populated area. The same concept applies to housing. A $1,500 budget for rent might go far in one area, but in a large municipality like Los Angeles, it might only buy you a closet-sized apartment. Before deciding on a permanent residence, shop around in your area. Also, keep in mind that since the southwest is populated with driving cities, living five minutes from your work might not be feasible. Cars are a necessity for these cities, given the scarcity and infrequency of public transportation.


One thing the southwest can boast is saving money on utilities. This can be explained partially by the money saved on heating and cooling in this region. The climate in this region is less variable than in most other regions of the US, so people spend less to regulate the temperatures of their homes. However, you might be shelling out more for your gas. According to Gas Buddy, the west is one of the most expensive regions for gas in the US. You’ll also be spending more time in traffic, lowering your MPG significantly. According to Forbes, Los Angeles is the most traffic-choked city in America. People also drive more. In California, for example, people spend an average of 27 minutes driving to and from work, according to USA Today. SEE ALSO: Cross-Country Move Considerations: The Midwest

What You’ll Need

Because of how different the southwest is from most of the country, the items you will need for your survival will also be drastically different. Here are some things you’ll need in the Southwest:
  • A fuel efficient car for all the driving you’ll have to do
  • Jeans, which are good both for the hot summers and slightly less hot winters
  • Light jackets to layer as needed
  • Sunblock because you can even get sunburned when it’s raining
  • Nice dinnerware for all of your fabulous dinner parties
Moving to another region can be stressful and frightening. Luckily, if you’re moving to the Southwest, you have sunshine, gorgeous beaches, and near perfect weather to look forward to.
Date of original publication:
Updated on: November 10, 2015

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