Las Vegas

Las Vegas has the most Golden State transplants

Jon Ortiz

The State Worker
By Jon Ortiz
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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