Some of the only people moving to California are fleeing another dismally unpopular state: New York.
Anecdotal evidence and actual studies indicate that young professionals from the Empire State don’t regard California’s soaring crime, ceiling-busting taxes, increased blight of homelessness and expensive housing markets as a complete deterrent to moving west.
Maria Rios, a local real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway, says she sees many home-buyers coming to Ventura and Los Angeles Counties from New York, plus some from Midwest states like Missouri and Ohio. A study by the University of California fingered New York and Texas as the top states sending high-earning people to California. And a Thousand Oaks moving company employee told the Guardian that he, too, has observed an influx of people moving here, specifically from New York.
One move-planning business, Moving Waldo, even offers an article about how to successfully move from New York to California, with tips on car registration, utilities and climate comparisons.
But for many Americans, California remains the butt of jokes and a place to avoid, except for perhaps a quick vacation.
The 2020 census revealed that for the first time in more than a century, the Golden State experienced a decline in population — 182,000 fewer residents than the previous year. California is also on track to lose a congressional seat, falling from 53 to 52 representatives.
U-Haul’s manager of media and public relations, Jeff Lockridge, told the Conejo Guardian that since 2016, California has ranked among the three slowest-growing states, according to the company’s nationwide metric. By 2020 and 2021, it was dead last, with fewer new arrivals versus departures than any other state.
Jessica Millan Patterson, chairwoman of the California Republican Party, blames “suffocating gas and income tax rates” and calls California “the capital of homelessness and poverty.”
Meanwhile, Texas, Florida and Tennessee are enjoying large influxes of people drawn to low property taxes, low (or no) income taxes, and freedom-and-family-oriented schools and communities. A 2021 study done by Neighbor.com shows the primary motivation for half of Americans who move to other states is the cost of living.
Those choosing to make California their new home “are different from those who move out,” according to a March 2022 report by the Public Pay Institute of California. “In general, those who move here are more likely to be working age, to be employed, and to earn high wages — and are less likely to be in poverty — than those who move away.”
Which isn’t bad news for the state. However, the report continues, “Notably, this gain in educated residents is concentrated among young college graduates (generally, adults in their 20s) looking for opportunities as they start their careers. In recent years, though, the net flow of college graduates has slowed considerably, and perhaps even reversed during the pandemic (but still remains positive for young college graduates).”
It’s a safe guess that some ambitious young people come from places like New York for tech jobs. Yet, for plenty of soon-to-be-former Californians, the land of opportunity lies beyond the Golden State’s borders — which is why the population overall is now in actual decline, no matter how many seem to be making the trek from New York and other points east.