People Are Checking out of Hotel California in Droves

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Well, it looks like The Eagles got it wrong. As it turns out, you can check out from Hotel California anytime you like, and you can leave. In fact, that’s what hundreds of thousands of former Californians did in 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Numbers released on Thursday reveal that the Golden State’s population declined again for the third year in a row and has been part of a decade-long trend of people fleeing the state for greener pastures. Indeed, the population has decreased so sharply that the state lost a seat in the House of Representatives. The Sacramento Bee reported:

Between July 2021 and July 2022, the number of California residents dropped from 39,142,991 to 39,029,342 — a loss of about 114,000 people, the new data shows. There were more births than deaths in the state, and 125,715 immigrants made their homes here in that one-year span.

Most of the population decline was explained by the 343,230 people who moved to other U.S. states.

Of course, California government officials are trying to spin this thread into gold. H.D. Palmer, deputy director of external affairs for the state’s Department of Finance, acknowledged the decline but predicted net growth in the future. He said the numbers are “relatively in line with what the historical trend has been,” and that “some people – for reasons other than demographics, and more politics – try to jump on some of the out-migration numbers.”


Excuses notwithstanding, it is clear politics has played a monumental role in this trend. The state is in a housing affordability crisis largely because of the government’s policies. The draconian lockdown orders that persisted in the Golden State amid the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t go over well with many of its residents.

In cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, local leadership has turned some areas into dystopian hellscapes infested by poverty and homelessness. The fact that district attorneys in these cities are more concerned with protecting criminals than law-abiding civilians is only making the state even less attractive. These, and many other policies, have contributed to a growing sentiment that California is no longer the place to be.

Great weather isn’t everything, after all.

Many former Californians are moving to states like Texas, Florida, and others that are not dealing with the same issues as their previous state. As a former Californian who moved to Texas before it became cool to do so, it is easy to see why so many are vacating the state. The simple fact of the matter is that it is much easier to live in a state like Texas than in most Californian cities.


California’s governance has caused a myriad of problems for the people living there. Even worse, it does not seem that things are going to turn around anytime soon; instead, they are only going to get worse until the populace becomes fed up enough to elect new leadership. Now, with more of a focus on state-level politics, it would not be surprising to see even more people fleeing states like California and New York. Perhaps that national divorce people keep bringing up might actually be happening organically.


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