Las Vegas

Las Vegas has the most Golden State transplants

Jon Ortiz

The State Worker
By Jon Ortiz
jortiz@sacbee.com
May 11, 2015

About 15 percent of CALPERS pensioners live outside California

This city’s Spanish name recalls grassy, spring-fed meadows that nourished the first farms here and gave laborers relief from desert heat.

Now Las Vegas draws a new generation of settlers epitomized by California transplant Joe Beck: CalPERS pensioners who have made Sin City their No. 1 destination for retirement outside California.

“Compared to California, Las Vegas was a no-brainer,” said Beck, a former Southern California school district maintenance administrator who moved here in 2000. “I decided that if I could handle the heat three months out of the year, I needed to move to where my retirement check would be tax-free.”

About 15 percent of the 561,000 pensioners in the California Public Employees’ Retirement System live their golden years outside the Golden State, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis of fund data by The Sacramento Bee. The vast majority have flocked to low-tax or no-tax states, creating a veritable river of cash that flows out of California and into cities such as Las Vegas; Reno; Tucson, Ariz.; and Grants Pass, Ore.

Overall, CalPERS sent $2.16 billion to roughly 81,000 beneficiaries living elsewhere in 2013, based on monthly pension payments made in December of that year, the latest for which CalPERS data are available.

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