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California's Shrinking Population: Why Are They Leaving and Where Are They Going?

It turns out that not only can you check out anytime you like, you actually can leave Hotel California. A brand spanking new survey revealed that about two-thirds of the Golden State’s residents are flirting with the idea of getting out while the getting is good.

This raises a myriad of questions: Why are Californians getting out, and where are they going? Even more curious is what this could mean for the country overall.

Strategies 360 released the findings of a survey revealing attitudes that Californians have toward remaining in the state:

A new poll by Strategies 360, a consortium of the Los Angeles Times and several non-profits, should concern Gov. Gavin Newsom and the leftist politicians running the Golden State into the ground: four in 10 residents are actively considering leaving California for greener pastures.

These numbers are nothing to sneeze at, even if you developed allergies after moving from California to Texas, like yours truly. The fact that a whopping 40 percent of individuals residing in the Golden State are thinking about leaving is about as poignant a testament to progressive governance as one can get. So why are these folks fleeing? The survey tells us that the high cost of living is the prime culprit. Public safety, education, and differing political beliefs also played critical roles.

Even more notable is how many Californians have left the state already:

The top-line number was eye-opening: About 725,000 people moved out of California in 2020 to set up new lives in one of the 49 other states or Washington, D.C.

If that were the end of it, the number – derived from the Internal Revenue Service’s Migration Data for 2021 – would’ve represented the biggest single-year exodus in state history.

But it wasn’t the end of it. While experts say the reasons are more nuanced than the gross outflow of a single year, California’s population has been shrinking steadily since 2020. Recent state data shows California’s population today is a little under 39 million, after flirting with 40 million just four years ago.

So where are these wayward Californians going?

Texas, Idaho, Florida, Arizona, and Nevada appear to be the favorite destinations for those departing the Golden State. We Californians still like our warm weather, I suppose. Given the state of the conditions in places like California and New York, which has also lost tons of residents, it isn’t too surprising that so many people are considering leaving, even if they haven’t already packed up.

One of the primary drivers of dissatisfaction among Californians is the state’s economy. According to the poll, satisfaction with the economy has dropped significantly, with a 12-point decline since 2020. High taxes, excessive regulations, and a challenging business environment have led many individuals and businesses to feel overwhelmed and financially strained. The cost of housing and living expenses has skyrocketed, making it difficult for residents to afford a comfortable lifestyle and save for the future.

California’s notorious affordability crisis is another compelling factor pushing residents toward the exit door. The poll revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the cost of healthcare, housing, and everyday living expenses. With home prices reaching astronomical levels and rental costs continuing to surge, many find it increasingly challenging to find an affordable place to live. This is particularly true for middle-class families who face the burden of high living costs coupled with stagnant wages. As a result, people are seeking more affordable alternatives in other states with lower costs of living.

The declining quality of life in California is also contributing to the desire to leave. The state’s former rapid population growth has strained infrastructure, resulting in traffic congestion, overcrowded schools, and inadequate public services. Additionally, concerns about crime rates and homelessness have risen, further eroding the sense of safety and security among residents. These issues, combined with the high taxes and rising cost of living, have caused many individuals to question whether California can provide them with a sustainable and fulfilling lifestyle.

All signs seem to indicate that California’s troubles aren’t going to disappear anytime soon. With folks like Gov. Gavin Newsom in charge, the situation is never going to improve. In light of this, it is reasonable to conclude that this exodus isn’t going to slow down. In fact, it might even accelerate as the state’s government continues passing silly laws and demanding more money in taxes. At some point, only the wealthy will be able to continue living there.

It is also worth noting what this trend might say about the state of the nation overall. People appear to be voting with their U-Haul trucks over the past decade. The fact that nearly a third of respondents indicated that they are considering leaving the state because its policies are not in alignment with their political beliefs is telling. The country is starting to realign, and folks are relocating to areas of the country that better reflect their values. This could very well be the national divorce many have predicted.

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