By Arizona New Times
California, the most populous state in the nation, is losing residents to other states at an alarming rate. According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 343,000 people left California and moved to another state in 2022, the highest number of any state.
The top destinations for Californians were Texas, Arizona, Florida, and Nevada, which offer lower costs of living, warmer climates, and more favorable tax policies. Texas received 102,000 Californians, followed by Arizona with 74,000, Florida with 50,000, and Nevada with 48,000.
The main driver of the exodus is the high cost of housing in California, which has become unaffordable for many residents. The median home price in California was $800,000 in March 2022, compared to $346,000 in Texas, $325,000 in Arizona, $320,000 in Florida, and $375,000 in Nevada.
Many young and immigrant families are leaving California in search of better opportunities and quality of life elsewhere. “We are losing younger folks, and I think we will see people continuing to migrate where housing costs are lower. There are good jobs in California, but housing is incredibly expensive. It hurts young families, and it hurts immigrant families.” said Manuel Pastor, a professor of sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.
However, not everyone is ready to leave the Golden State. A recent poll showed four in ten Californians are considering moving out of state, but the majority still say it’s too expensive to live there. Some Californians are attracted by the state’s culture and diversity, which make it a unique and vibrant place to live. “The state’s culture and diversity have proved to be a very powerful magnet to keep a lot of people here, even despite the affordability challenges. But as the cost of living continues to be a greater challenge, it’s logical to assume that the allure of moving to a more affordable location is going to continue to grow.” said Dan Schnur, a communications professor at the University of Southern California and the University of California, Berkeley.
California is not only losing individuals, but also businesses. A 2022 report by the Hoover Institution shows 352 businesses leaving California and moving their headquarters to a different state between 2018 and 2022. Some of the reasons for the business relocation include high taxes, regulations, labor costs, and energy prices in California. Some of the notable companies that have left California include Oracle, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Tesla, and Charles Schwab.
The trend of Californians leaving the state is likely to continue in the near future, unless the state can address the issues that are driving them away. California needs to find ways to make housing more affordable, reduce taxes and regulations, improve infrastructure and public services, and foster a more business-friendly environment. Otherwise, it may lose its competitive edge and its reputation as a global leader in innovation and creativity.