A recent report revealed that over 500,000 Californians left the Golden State in the two years following the pandemic’s onset. The primary reasons behind this mass exodus were the high housing costs and the difficulties presented by densely populated and crime-ridden cities.
According to The Los Angeles Times, from April 2020 to July 2022, a whopping 700,000 more people left California than those who relocated to the state.
According to The Times, unaffordable housing, lengthy commutes, overcrowding in cities, high crime rates, and pollution are the primary reasons why people are looking for new opportunities outside the state. Moreover, homelessness is also a significant concern in urban areas, which is another driving force behind the migration of people to other locations.
According to the report in the newspaper, the increase in remote work options has played a significant role in the shift of population, as people no longer need to reside near urban areas for work opportunities.
According to experts consulted by The Times, although the impacts of the pandemic are easing, the outmigration is indicating a slowdown. However, it may take several years for California to recover the population growth that had previously made it the most populous state in the country.
According to data released by California’s Department of Finance, the state experienced a decline in its population by approximately 211,000 individuals between July 2021 and July 2022. Notably, more than half of this number (113,048 people) left Los Angeles County, which is the largest county in California. In the past year, the county had a net loss of around 160,000 residents as many of them chose to relocate to other states.
According to Dowell Myers, a University of Southern California professor who specializes in policy, planning, and demography, most of the individuals who left the state were urban residents who were looking for a “safe haven” during the pandemic. They typically had the backing of their loved ones.
California struggles to keep young people who initially relocate to the state due to the burden of high rental costs. Although the state still remains appealing to many, the exorbitant rental fees force them to explore more affordable housing options in other states.
According to Myers, those who are leaving are more inclined to become homeowners once they depart.
Myers has suggested that California’s population can be revitalized through a combination of reduced housing prices, increased immigration, and a higher birthrate. According to his projections, the state’s population would reach a balance in terms of annual population change by 2023, and by 2024, it would experience a positive change once again.
Housing costs are the primary factor behind the exodus of people from California, says Paul Ong, the director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at the University of California, Los Angeles. He points out that there are several socio-economic reasons for people leaving the state.
According to him, salaries may be lower in some regions and states, but the cost of housing is also significantly lower. As a result, people in these areas enjoy a higher standard of living due to their increased disposable income and a greater possibility of owning a home.
Many Californians have been leaving their homes to settle in neighboring states like Nevada and Utah. Among these states, Utah is becoming increasingly popular for its ability to discourage Californians from moving in.
According to The Times, around 143,000 more people left California than the second highest state, New York, in terms of net outmigration.
It’s important to point out that California actually saw a positive net gain of around 157,000 individuals as a result of natural population growth, taking into account the disparity between births and deaths. This number actually exceeded the losses incurred by New York.
In 2022, Florida witnessed the highest number of New Yorkers moving to the state than in any other year in its history, with approximately 707,000 people relocating. Texas also experienced an influx of around 884,000 new residents during the same period.