How do young adults make a living amidst entry-level job requirements and underpaid salaries? There’s a price to pay for residing in California.

I’ve lived in California for the entire 22 years of my existence. With its exquisite scenery, a wide range of attractions, and the simple fact that it’s all I’ve ever known, I never pictured myself leaving. I questioned why in the world someone would choose to grab all of their belongings and flee this beautiful state.

Yet it’s hilarious how ignorant a young person like myself could be about a crisis I only recently came to comprehend. California is beautiful, but is it worth it?

As I’ve begun the grueling search for entry-level jobs and internships that are said to guide me to my future career goals, I’ve realized how problematic living in California has become. It’s almost impossible to work and live fresh out of school in a state where the cost of living is 38% higher than the average U.S. city. For college students and recent graduates, making a reasonable living is extremely difficult.

Last year, I began my job search through the professional network LinkedIn, which offers users a wide range of professional connections and job information. It is an excellent way for college students to seek hands-on opportunities and form connections with leaders and communicators in their desired field. I became well acclimated with the platform, and I now search for jobs daily.

Although there are a large number of jobs available on LinkedIn, the pay scale is relatively low or otherwise completely nonexistent, especially for internships and entry-level work. Unpaid internships are common, and according to Capital Placement, “as a way to cut costs and still keep the business running, employers are hiring more unpaid interns.” The work is out there, but what good does an unpaid salary do for the time and efforts one puts into their craft?

Most entry-level jobs require a minimum of two years of field experience. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work for students in school or recent graduates. Students then opt for unpaid internships when nothing else is available. While some internships may offer valuable learning experiences, students cannot make money in these positions.

Denesse Ferraez, a recent allied health graduate of Azusa Pacific University (APU), said it’s extremely tough to graduate from college and learn to make a living for herself while working an internship. With student loans, car insurance, gas, food and other miscellaneous expenses to worry about, being underpaid is a big issue in California.

“As an emergency department medical scribe, I am only paid minimum wage, and it’s tough for me to spend money on leisure activities,” said Ferraez. “I work roughly 30 to 40 hours a week, but with all of my expenses to pay off, I cannot afford to live independently, and I continue to reside with my parents. I know many other people, both younger and older, in California who are facing the same issue.”

In addition to low-paying internships tailored to career goals, paid jobs frequently do not offer an adequate salary for college students and recent graduates. I collectively refer to these jobs as “coffee shop cul-de-sacs.” These include being a barista, waitressing, serving, retail and more.

But believe me, I have never looked down upon “coffee shop cul-de-sacs” as some of them serve as lifelines for many. I too have considered finding work in these forms in the future as a way to earn extra money and help pay off student loans. In other words, sometimes the struggle is very real.

According to Education Data Initiative, “approximately 42.9 million Americans with federal student loan debt each owe an average of $37,105 for their federal loans.” The balance is projected to only increase in the future.

Brielle Fraijo, an APU graduate from Covina, Calif. works at Stater Bros. Markets and earns a minimum wage salary of $15 an hour. She said living independently in a state where expenses are so high is extremely difficult.

“Given that I work at a job that pays minimum wage, I do not believe I am paid well enough to comfortably survive in California,” said Fraijo. “It’s so expensive here. Most apartments and housing require roughly $2,000 of rent per month. If I wanted to live on my own, I would be forced to give up every week’s paycheck toward the cost of living expenses, which leaves me unable to afford other important expenses.”

Others who make minimum wage or below feel the same way. Daniel Romero, a cadet for the Covina Police Department, said he struggles to pay off student loans while making $14 an hour. It’s unfortunate that even blue-collar jobs don’t provide adequate money to their employees.

How is it possible for college students to live comfortably in California after college? This is a question that runs through my mind constantly. As a senior in her last semester, I now await the challenges of finding a job and living independently after graduation.

I’m reminded every day that society carries specific standards, whether it be in regards to education, fashion, lifestyle or especially chronological commitments. What one person may commit to as a 21-year-old could look exactly the same as a 30-year-old. But why do people think that’s strange?

Living with parents, other family members, friends or coworkers is completely okay. If you choose to live in a state with extreme expenses, it’s important to understand the financial challenges that come with the beauty of it all. You may find yourself learning to sacrifice personal measures for a couple of years, but it will be worth it should you choose to commit.

It’s important to become aware of financial issues early on. Have a budget and stick to it. Work to pay off debt while understanding that it won’t be easy at first. Set saving goals and commit to them.

Is living in the Golden State worth it? Or should you look elsewhere? Considering these questions in college may set you up for a smarter and more fulfilling life.