Californians Are Leaving the State – And It Could Get Even Worse

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Jun 17, 2024

Recent data shows that California’s population has been steadily declining, with a significant drop of 573,000 people from July 2020 to July 2023.

This trend is concerning as the overall U.S. population has been growing. The Golden State’s allure seems to be diminishing, leading many residents to seek new beginnings elsewhere.

Top Relocation Destinations

According to moveBuddha, the most popular relocation routes in 2024 involve moving out of California.

Multi-colored houses on a street. Cars are parked outside the houses.

Source: Enric Cruz Lòpez/Pexels

Los Angeles to New York was the top searched route, followed by other significant exits such as San Francisco to New York and Los Angeles to Dallas. These moves highlight a growing trend of Californians seeking opportunities in other states.

Arizona: A Popular Choice

Arizona has become a favored destination for Californians, with 74,000 people making the move in 2022 alone.

An Arizona welcome sign on the side of a road, seen in the daytime.

Source: Anna Sullivan/Unsplash

The state’s affordable living conditions and lower housing costs are major attractions for those fleeing California’s high expenses. The trend shows no sign of slowing down, either, indicating a persistent outflow of residents.

High Moving Costs

Moving from California can be an expensive endeavor. Costs for professional moving trucks range from $2,056 to $10,356, depending on the move’s size and timing.

A row of different colored houses. Behind the houses are high-rise buildings.

Source: Kae Ng/Unsplash

Despite these high costs, many Californians find the financial burden worth it for a fresh start in a more affordable state.

Housing Costs: The Main Driver

Tom Vogl, an associate professor at the University of California San Diego, states that housing is the primary factor behind the exodus.

san francisco aerial shot with house animation overlaid

Source: Loren Elliott/Getty Images

A typical house in California costs twice as much as one in Texas, prompting many to relocate. The high cost of living makes it difficult for residents to make ends meet, fueling the migration trend.

Homelessness Crisis

California’s housing crisis has also led to a significant homelessness problem. The state is the epicenter of homelessness in the U.S., and this issue serves as another push factor for residents.

Person sitting beside building and asking for money

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The unaffordable housing market leaves many with no choice but to leave in search of more stable living conditions.


Impact on Young Adults

Dowell Myers, a demography expert at the University of Southern California, highlights that young adults are particularly affected by the housing crisis.

woman with both hands on either side of her face with a worried expression

Source: Freepik,

High prices are pushing out those who wish to buy homes, leading them to seek more affordable options in other states. This demographic shift could have long-term effects on California’s workforce and economy.


Crime Rates Not a Major Factor

While crime is often mentioned in discussions about California’s challenges, it is not a significant factor in most people’s decision to leave.

Vehicle Blue Emergency Light Turned on

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Myers notes that crime rates are relatively low compared to the population size, suggesting that other issues like housing are more critical in driving the exodus.


California’s Government Response

The state government is actively working to address the housing crisis by implementing policies to build more homes.

Gavin Newsom pictured with an unusual face

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

These measures aim to rebalance the housing market and make living in California more affordable. However, it may take several years for these efforts to show significant results.


Future of California’s Population

As the exodus continues, the future of California’s population remains uncertain. The state’s ability to retain and attract residents will depend on its success in addressing the housing crisis and other related issues.

A young couple holds a small wooden home and a key depicting buying a new home

Source: Freepik

Without effective solutions, the population decline could worsen, impacting the state’s economy and social fabric.


Economic Implications

The ongoing population loss could have significant economic implications for California.

A photograph of the Los Angeles skyline during the daytime/Gavin Newsom is pictured with his thumb up in California

Source: Wikimedia/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A shrinking population may lead to reduced consumer spending and a smaller workforce, affecting businesses and industries. The state will need to find ways to mitigate these effects to maintain its economic vitality.


A Changing California

The continued outflow of residents is reshaping California in various ways. The state is experiencing demographic shifts and changes in its social and economic landscape.

11 Alarming Reasons Why California's Wealthy Are Fleeing the State

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Thomas Hawk/Flickr

As more people leave, California faces the challenge of adapting to these changes while striving to remain an attractive place to live and work.