Los Angeles Times, Who Moves to California? The Wealthier and Better Educated, Mostly:
Hand-wringing over an exodus of disillusioned Californians may be a Golden State pastime, the subject of political punditry and strung-out social media threads.
But the latest data are far from dire. The U.S. Census Bureau, in its newly released surveys for 2017, shows that California’s net migration remained fairly stable. Since 2010, as the economic recovery took hold and housing prices skyrocketed, departures accelerated — but the number of newcomers rose steadily as well.
The state attracts a steady stream of college graduates, especially from the East Coast, even as many less-educated residents move to neighboring states — and to Texas — in search of a lower cost of living.
Consider that in 2017:
- More people left California (661,026) than arrived (523,131) from other U.S. states. But for the nation’s most populous state, with 39 million residents, that amounted to a tiny fraction in net departures: just 0.35%.
- Among the 25-years-and-older set, the state lost a net 86,890 residents without bachelor’s degrees, and just 4,443 with a four-year degree. It gained 11,653 people with graduate degrees.
- No state boasts more loudly of its attractions than Texas. Indeed, 63,174 people relocated from California to the nation’s second-most populous state, more than to anywhere else in the U.S. But it’s also true that no state sent more people here than the Lone Star State — 40,999.
“The cost of living, especially housing, is what stops the whole world from moving to California,” said USC demographer Dowell Myers, a longtime census expert. “Otherwise, who wouldn’t prefer California? We have superior weather. We have mountains and oceans. And we have better jobs — better paying and more specialized, whether in tech, entertainment, the arts or medicine.” ...
A report from the state legislative analyst’s office in February found that “although California has had net out-migration among most demographic groups, it has gained among those with higher incomes ($110,000 per year or more) and higher levels of education (graduate degrees).” ...
Ask people why they came or left, and the reasons are often multifaceted. A few of them shared their stories:
California dream meets reality
Six years ago, Keith Johnson and Sandra Martinez-Johnson felt the lure, moving to Whittier from New Braunfels, Texas, outside San Antonio.
“On paper, the decision looked great,” said Johnson, 50, who got a job renting out construction equipment for a Downey firm. “You’ll make more money, live the West Coast dream, go to the beach, whatever. Then you get here and reality sets in.”
Two weeks ago, the couple packed their possessions to move back to Texas with their 6-year-old son, Javier. “I’m making a good living,” Johnson explained. “But it doesn’t translate into a good quality of life. Everything costs more, from a gallon of gas to a gallon of milk. And it is impossible for an average person to buy a house.” At one point, the family moved to Ontario, he added, thinking “that’s the only way to get a house. But then you’re commuting 80 miles a day because the work is on the coast. And you can spend 30 hours a week just driving.” ...
Since 2010, departures from California to Texas dropped by 8%. Meanwhile, the number of Texans moving to the Golden State edged up by 12%.
The Top Destinations For People Who Called California Home In 2016
New York is ‘bleeding people’
For Paul Urcioli and his wife, Sasha Smith, who were living in Pelham, a New York City suburb, the tipping point came in the winter of 2015.
“I had a 90-foot gravel driveway to shovel by hand,” said Urcioli, 54, who taught drama at New York University and acted in television shows and commercials. “We’d had five snowfalls of at least 8 inches deep.” ... One day Smith went to Los Angeles on business. “Within 12 hours, I got an all-caps text saying, ‘WHY DON’T WE LIVE OUT HERE?’ ” Urcioli said.
After Texas, New York was the largest source of migrants to California in 2017, with 34,278 arrivals — a 63% jump from 2010. Unlike Texas, more people moved to California from New York than vice versa: a net increase of 9,296. Departures from the Golden State to the Empire State remained flat over the eight years.
The States From Which California Gained New Residents In 2017