California has long been lauded by its residents as the best state to live in, with so many unique features – the ocean, the mountains, exciting big cities and quaint small towns – but in recent years, the “California Exodus” has proven that the so-called California dream might be over.
At the beginning of 2021, U-Haul published their yearly ranking of growth per state. Surprisingly (or not), California ranked last. Since 2016, the Golden State has ranked 48th or lower.
653,000 people left California in 2020, while only 480,000 moved into the state, leaving a net negative in population growth.
State officials said in late 2020, the state’s growth slowed to the lowest rate on record.
The Bay Area, particularly San Francisco, was the top region that saw departures after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a national emergency in March 2020. San Jose and Oakland were also affected.
Why are so many people moving out of California?
One of the largest reasons people are moving out of the Golden State is affordability, according to an article by Sacramento’s ABC10 News.
Home prices have skyrocketed and buying and maintaining a home in California is much more expensive than in other nearby states. The state’s median home price hit a record high of $712,000 in September 2020.
High taxes, politics and the business climate are other reasons for leaving, as noted by local media.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment claims reached 1.6 million in 2020, and in September, the Census Bureau named California as the state with the highest real-world poverty rate with about 7 million Californians living in poverty.
Many people in the state have lost their livelihoods during the pandemic, they have chosen to move back to their hometown, or closer to family, or to get a fresh start.
For those who have not lost their jobs, remote work looks like it is here to stay in many industries. This is leading people to leave high cost-of-living cities that are now offering less amenities than before due to pandemic-related closures, in lieu of lower cost-of-living cities where they can own a home, live comfortably and work remotely.
Lower commute times, less crime, bigger houses and more all factor into the draw of leaving a large urban center for a small town.
With the move of popular personalities out of California, like Tesla’s Elon Musk and podcast magnate Joe Rogan, who both moved to Texas, Californians are increasingly interested in leaving the state.
Where are people moving to from California?
People are leaving California to go to Texas, Arizona, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Tennessee and Nevada – the last two being states with no income taxes for residents.
Tennessee was the top state for growth in 2020 according to U-Haul’s study. In addition to no state income tax, many of its cities have a lot of job openings and business opportunities.
Whatever one likes about California – it’s beachy lifestyle, creativity in entertainment, technology hub – can be found elsewhere in the country, more and more people are realizing. Whether you think the grass is greener on the other side of the country or just across state borders, moving out of California is the new dream for many residents.