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California is known for its year-round good weather, historic beaches, and glamorous Hollywood movie sets. It was the coveted place to be in the U.S., especially for those craving unique economic opportunities and a shot at the American dream the state once promised. 

But more are fleeing the Golden State the last few years, citing high taxes, extreme liberal policies, and the rise in homelessness.. 

And stringent COVID-19 restrictions are pushing conservative-leaning residents out of the state even faster. 

Leaving California is a Facebook page for California residents who are thinking of moving out of the state and currently has over 35,000 members. The page’s users share questions and concerns about leaving California and suggest companies that will help residents have a more confident move. 

“A group dedicated to helping people leave California for a better life, less traffic, lower taxes, less regulation, better education, lower cost of living, etc.,” the Leaving California “about” statement reads.

Ramona Gaerin and her family decided to move out of California last year because of the state’s high living costs.

“The cost of living is very high in San Diego, and our homeowner taxes are $10,000 per year,” Gaerin told Scriberr News. 

“We just spent eight weeks making a scouting trip, and the homes are much cheaper, and taxes on a $500,000 home are under $3000 per year, she said.

Gaerin said she’s tired of California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the liberal policies she believes are ruining the state. She said her family wants to “live somewhere we have extra money to do the things we want to do, save more for retirement and not worry about the future.” 

The pandemic, retirement, and sky-high living costs, in general, are the leading motives for residents leaving California. Southern California home prices have also increased since the pandemic and could be pushing Californians out of the state. 

In California, the median household income is $75,235, and the median price of a home is $505,000.

According to Macrotrends, the California population in 2019 was 39,437,610 people, and by 2020, the number of California residents decreased to 39,368,078. This 0.18% decrease is shocking compared to the 0.48% increase in 2017, 0.25% increase in 2018, and the 0% change in 2019. 

One California resident, who preferred to remain anonymous is planning to relocate to Tennessee later this year, again citing the high cost of living in the state.  

“We’re approaching retirement age, and we are a little tired of having to work to make ends meet,” the anonymous source said. 

“House payments and the cost of living here is too much, and so we feel like our retirement funds will go a lot further in Tennessee,” they said. 

Though the pandemic has ruined the livelihoods of thousands of Americans across the country, this was the tip of the iceberg for many Californians who feel their views aren’t fairly represented in state leadership to pack up and start anew. 

“We were thinking about it [moving] before the pandemic, but I definitely think it makes you think about seizing the moment by moving and working less,” the anonymous source said. 

“We want to spend more time with family, more time with distant relatives that we don’t get the chance to see now because we’re working here to try and keep up.”

According to United Van Lines’ moving service, the number of residents who moved out of California in 2020 was higher than those moving in. Close to 59% of residents decided to move out of California last year, and the two leading reasons reported were job stability and family. 

Due to the financial ruin caused by the pandemic, residents are reevaluating their finances and looking to move to more affordable states. Many are struggling to pay their bills amid layoffs and lost businesses. 

Germain Stewart and his wife Carly lost their jobs during the pandemic and are considering moving out of California because they can’t keep up with the living costs.

“The place that Carly was working at, she was an admin assistant at a therapy office,” Stewart said. “The place shut down, and she got laid off, so COVID did have an impact on that.”

“It is way too expensive here and with how much I would make as a teacher and how much she would make as a therapist elsewhere, like, of course, we will get paid less, but the cost difference on a home will be bigger,” Stewart said.

 “It just didn’t make sense to live here.”

According to the cost of living index on Salary.com, the cost of living in California is high compared to every other state, and this is one of the leading factors for residents to pack up and leave. In Los Angeles, the cost of living is 41.1% higher than the national average. For San Francisco, it’s 86.1% higher, and in San Diego, it’s 35% higher. 

The median property tax rate in California is 0.74%, meaning it isn’t the highest or lowest compared to other states. The average corporate income tax in California is 8.84%, which is higher than most states. 

Written ByLauren Akabori

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