11 Reasons Americans Are Turning Their Backs on California

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: May 01, 2024

Over the last few years, Americans have begun to look at California a bit differently. Once, California held a lot of opportunity for those looking to grasp their own American Dream.

However, now many have turned their backs on the Golden State. As a result, the state has seen many people move away in such a massive migration movement that it’s coined the California exodus. So, why are Americans turning their back on California and moving out of the state that once held so much promise? 

High Cost of Living

Throughout the United States, many states have been dealing with an increased cost of living, thanks to a variety of factors such as inflation. However, California has seen a surge in its overall cost of living.

The beach in Orange County seen with hills and homes in front of it.

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Now, that high cost of living has priced a lot of people out of their very own local neighborhoods in the state. Thus, they’ve left. 


High Taxes

Everyone knows that California has high taxes. That’s seemingly always been the case. However, while Californians could put up with high taxes once upon a time, the further increase in taxes has reached new heights.

An aerial view of Beverly Hills, California seen in the daytime.

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Now, with the ongoing high cost of living in the state, regular people can’t afford to live there. So, they’ve decided to move elsewhere and leave their California dream behind. 

The Housing Crisis

The Golden State is still going through a housing crisis, thanks to its housing shortage. There aren’t enough houses up for sale on the market, which has made the homes that are for sale incredibly pricey.

A row of colorful old homes seen in San Francisco underneath a clear blue sky.

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Many native Californians cannot afford to buy a home in the state. So, for a chance at owning a home, they’ve decided to leave and move to another state that has cheaper housing.

Business Regulations

Various businesses have publicly claimed they have left California for good, choosing to move their headquarters to states such as Texas or Florida. While there are many reasons why this has happened, business regulations are mainly to blame.

Many people eating at tables in a dimly lit restaurant in San Francisco, California.

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California has strict regulations in place when it comes to both people and businesses and what they can do, such as where they can build. Zoning regulations are incredibly strict. 

No Opportunities

California’s job market has never fully recovered since the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw many people file for unemployment benefits after being laid off. While the state has grown back from this low, many people still feel there aren’t enough opportunities throughout the state.

An aerial look over a big wooden table where many people work on their laptops and phones in an office.

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This idea is especially fueled when certain industries, such as the tech industry in Silicon Valley, lay off hundreds of employees in a quick timeframe. 


Terrible Traffic

Another thing California has long been known for? Terrible traffic. The traffic around its major cities, such as Los Angeles, has notoriously been difficult to drive in, as it’s always congested.

A view from a car on a California highway with traffic seen during sunset.

Source: Xan Griffin/Unsplash

Many have become annoyed over their inability to get around the state without having to deal with this traffic. So, they’ve made the decision to turn their back on California. 


Infrastructure Issues

One of the major reasons for traffic issues lies with the various infrastructure problems that can be seen throughout the state. Though the government has tried to help solve the state’s infrastructure problems, they haven’t been successful yet.

An aerial look of a road on a hill in California seen in the daytime.

Source: Vladimir Kudinov/Unsplash

As a result, Californians have looked at how other states run — and have chosen to move to a place where there might not be such prevalent infrastructure issues. 


Climate Change

More and more, we’re seeing natural disasters happen throughout California. From major flooding to out-of-control wildfires, many of these natural disasters are the result of climate change.

San Francisco seen after fires, with the city skyline underneath a dark red sky and air.

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As people don’t want to live in an area where their homes and lives could be threatened by water or fire, they’ve chosen to live elsewhere in the country. 


A Rise in Crime

Unfortunately, various areas of the Golden State have seen an uptick in crime in recent years. While crime still remains low when compared to historical levels, this rise is enough to worry locals, particularly those who are raising a family.

An up-close look at a police car for the Los Angeles police.

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For a safer experience, many families have chosen to leave the state and settle down in an area of the country that hasn’t seen a rise in crime. 


Celebrity Culture

Los Angeles is also known as Hollywood. Celebrities can be found throughout the city, and elsewhere in the state. While some love this, others have come to despise it, especially as these celebrities are put up on a pedestal by many.

An up-close look at the Hollywood sign seen in California.

Source: Ahmet Yalçınkaya/Unsplash

To get away from the celebrity craze — and the overall lifestyle that many can find themselves caught up in — some locals have chosen to move elsewhere. 



Certain areas in California have become incredibly progressive over the years. While some value this, others don’t and feel that these progressive policies don’t align with how they want to live.

People walking in front of the Los Angeles City Hall in the daytime.

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As a result, some Californians have chosen to leave the state because of these politics. They’ve chosen to start a new life in a state that is more closely aligned with their views.