A majority of Californians are considering moving to another state, according to a recent survey (pdf) conducted by Strategies 360—a research and communications firm focused on public affairs.
Respondents reported dissatisfaction with the high cost of living as a primary factor in their desire to move elsewhere, with 40 percent saying they are somewhat or very serious about leaving and another 24 percent saying they are thinking about it, but not too seriously.
Approximately one-third said they were not considering leaving at all, and three percent were not sure.
Issues leading to dissatisfaction included economic uncertainty, expensive housing and living costs, public safety, political polarization, and the state’s education system, according to the survey.
Affordability was the reason 61 percent reported wanting to leave, and 27 percent said the state‘s policies and laws that do not reflect their political views are driving them to look elsewhere.
Many have already made the decision to move, with California losing more than 800,000 people—about half the population of Nebraska—after deducting those that moved in over the last three years, according to data released by the state’s finance department.
Recent population declines are unprecedented, as the Golden State saw its citizenry grow consistently for more than a century—until approximately 1 percent of the population fled during the height of pandemic, and the trend has continued, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.
“My family is one of those looking to leave at the right opportunity,” Lauren Meyers, account executive and mother of two living in San Mateo, told The Epoch Times. “My husband and I both work remotely, and we can’t afford to buy a home here, so we’ve been looking at Florida and Texas. It’s only a matter of time until we move.”
With a median home price in California of approximately $728,000—and those in San Mateo, where Meyers lives averaging $1.5 million—according to online real estate listing firm Zillow, many in the state are mathematically priced out of the housing market, according to economists.
“When we look at how much further our income would stretch in states with cheaper homes and no income tax, we know that as much as we love living here, it’s the right decision for our family,” Meyers said.
Only 38 percent of those surveyed said they are satisfied with housing costs.
The impact of California’s high cost of living is reflected throughout the survey responses, with nearly two-thirds saying they struggle to save money or find it difficult to make ends meet, and 81 percent of respondents reporting being dissatisfied with the cost of everyday expenses.
According to the survey, those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 saw a significant decline in positive sentiment from 2020, with 28 percent reporting the ability to live comfortably as compared to 54 percent three years ago.
Higher income earners also said they are less comfortable with their ability to save and manage expenses, with 57 percent of those making more than $100,000 confident now, while 77 percent reported satisfaction in 2020.
Internal Revenue Service data also shows those in the highest income bracket, exceeding $200,000 annually, leaving the state in disproportionate numbers. This can be attributed to the state’s 13.3 percent marginal tax rate, according to Jim Doti, president emeritus and professor of economics at Chapman University.
“State-to-state migration is so easy, and you save a lot of money,” Doti said during a 30-minute interview on a recent episode of EpochTV’s “California Insider.”
Health care costs are also impacting personal budgets, with 56 percent of respondents saying they are not happy with the amount they pay.
Overall economic conditions in the state were also a matter of concern to those surveyed, with 68 percent reporting dissatisfaction. This represents a 12-point drop since the poll began in 2020 and a 5-point decline from last year, suggesting increasing anxiety with the state of the economy, according to an analysis released by pollsters June 23.
In terms of a general assessment of the direction California is headed, only 28 percent of those questioned believed the path was beneficial for Californians, and 43 percent said the state is on the wrong track.
Public safety and crime remain important topics, with 59 percent dissatisfied with the state’s policies and the increase in criminal activity. These numbers are in line with last year, up one percent, but are 16 percent higher than in April 2020.
More respondents said they did not feel safe and secure than those that did, with half indicating their apprehension and nearly a quarter saying they do not feel safe at all.
As one of those who left California, Derek Drake said in EpochTV’s new documentary “Leaving California” his family’s laundromat in Oakland was subject to multiple break-ins in recent years. Thieves once stole $600 from the ATM in the store after causing $32,000 in damage, he said.
“They know they’re not going to get in trouble. The penalties out here are nothing. It’s all ‘non-violent crime.’ A lot of people aren’t even reporting crimes anymore,” he said.
With a Democratic supermajority controlling both Legislative houses, the study’s political demographics indicate the state’s voters consist of 38 percent identifying as Democratic, 36 percent independent, and 19 percent Republicans.
In terms of political ideology, 38 percent ticked the liberal box, 33 percent moderate, and 26 percent conservative.
Less than half of respondents said they feel the state has a democracy where their voice is heard, with 50 percent reporting they feel left out of the conversation.
The survey was nearly evenly divided, 47 to 46 percent, on the issue of whether the nation has overcorrected in attempting to give everyone equal rights, with a slight edge to those that believe it has.
Additionally, approximately 83 percent of Republican respondents said they are dissatisfied with where the state is headed.
The survey was conducted online June 6 through June 16 with 1,354 California residents responding and has a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percent.