Jeff Daniels | @jeffdanielsca
Published: Mon, 19 March 2018 – 6:49 PM ET

Californians may still love the beautiful weather and beaches, but more and more they are fed up with the high housing costs and taxes and deciding to flee to lower-cost states such as Nevada, Arizona and Texas.

“There’s nowhere in the United States that you can find better weather than here,” said Dave Senser, who lives on a fixed income near San Luis Obispo, California, and now plans to move to Las Vegas. “Rents here are crazy, if you can find a place, and they’re going to tax us to death. That’s what it feels like. At least in Nevada they don’t have a state income tax. And every little bit helps.”

Senser, 65, who previously lived in the east San Francisco Bay region, said housing costs and gas prices are “significantly lower in Las Vegas. The government in the state of California isn’t helping people like myself. That’s why people are running out of this state now.”
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Housing problem

Based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data, “lower income Californians are the ones who are leaving, not higher income,” said Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of research and consulting firm Beacon Economics in Los Angeles.

He said housing is the chief reason people are leaving California, pointing out there are frequently bidding wars for what limited inventory of homes is available.

A USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll of Californians last fall found that the high cost of living, including housing, was the most important issue facing the state. It also found more than half of Californians wanted to repeal the state’s new gas tax, which raised fees by 40 percent.

“The rate at which California has been losing people to other states has accelerated in the past couple of years, in part because of rising housing costs,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist with employment website Indeed.com.

Outbound migration

He said the latest Census Bureau data, from July 2016 to July 2017, show “more people moved out of California to other states than moved in from other states. In other words, California lost people due to domestic migration.”

During that 12-month period, California saw a net loss of just over 138,000 people, while Texas had a net increase of more than 79,000 people. Arizona gained more than 63,000 residents, and Nevada gained more than 38,000.

“You can literally have a lot of buying power for the dollar in Southern Nevada versus Southern California,” said Christopher Bishop, president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors. “So it has been a major trend over the year, year and a half, and we’re seeing it increase.”

Bishop said some people who work for Silicon Valley companies are even working remotely from home in Las Vegas to avoid the higher housing costs in California. But he added, “Most of the people are here because of our growing job market and industries in Las Vegas — and it’s not all about casinos anymore.”

Data from United Van Lines show some of the most popular moving destinations for Californians from 2015 to 2017 were Texas, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Colorado. Other experts also said Nevada remains a top destination.

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