The Real Reasons People Are Fleeing California

By: Julia Mehalko | Last updated: Apr 05, 2024

Statistics have shown that many people are leaving California and moving to other states around the country. While some analysts state this migration trend is for one reason alone — often politics — there are actually a slew of reasons why Californians are deciding to start over somewhere else.

From the overall high cost of living to certain issues only the Golden State has, these are the real reasons why California residents are fleeing.

High Cost of Living

California has one of the highest living costs in the United States. According to Forbes, it’s the third-highest state that has residents spending more money daily than other states.

The San Francisco Bay area city skyline seen during sunset underneath a red sky.

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This high cost of living — which has only seemed to greatly increase in the past few years alone — has subsequently left many people to move to cheaper states where their money might go farther on a day-to-day basis.


Pricey Housing

Regular cost of living has increased for many Californians. So has housing. The housing market throughout California has a small inventory, especially in certain popular areas. This has led to an increase in housing prices.

A bird's eye view of downtown Los Angeles in the daytime.

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Many regular families have subsequently been priced out of the housing market and cannot afford to buy a home there. However, even renting has skyrocketed in recent years, leaving both renters and homebuyers fleeing to invest in cheaper property elsewhere.  

High Taxes

While nobody enjoys paying taxes, many Americans willingly do so because they feel confident that their money will go to important parts of the state’s government or their society. While California has always been considered a high-taxed state, its recent hike in taxes has annoyed many.

A bird’s eye view of the ocean and the Santa Monica Pier in the daytime.

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This has subsequently resulted in many people — and businesses — deciding to leave the state, choosing to settle down in lower-taxed regions instead.

High Bills

In just the last year alone, California residents have been stunned by skyrocketing electric bills. Other bills have also risen, for various reasons.

People walking on the Oceanside Pier in California during sunset.

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This increase in bills has left many unable to continue to live in the state. It’s just gotten too expensive for them. As a result, these high bills have forced them out.

The Tech Industry

The tech industry has transformed areas of California — for better and worse. Some residents miss how the state used to be, before all these tech giants moved in and started changing cities and even small towns.

The city of San Francisco seen with many tall buildings in the daytime.

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However, even those within the tech industry are now looking for a new place to live. The tech industry has laid off thousands of people recently, which has forced many to try to find job opportunities elsewhere. 


Lack of Employment Opportunities

California currently has the highest unemployment rate in the United States. The state has also struggled to increase job growth. Therefore, the Golden State has been going through quite a few problems when it comes to overall employment.

An aerial photo of a street in Redondo Beach, California.

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This has led to many Californians deciding to pack up and move to another state where they might have better job opportunities available to them.


Remote Working

Though some companies are trying to move away from remote working, this form of working from home will likely stay in many industries. The ability to work from home has brought a lot of flexibility to Californians.

A person sitting on a couch with their feet up on a coffee table while they’re working on a laptop.

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For some, this gave them the opportunity to work for a company in California — yet live in another state.


Business Regulations

Many businesses have announced their move from California in recent years, too. With this move, many employees follow their companies to begin a new life in a new, likely lowered-taxed state.

A bird’s eye view of the town of Sacramento seen in the evening.

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While there are many reasons why these businesses have chosen to leave California, many cite tough business regulations as the overarching problem.


Too Much Traffic

California holds some of the biggest cities in the entire United States. So, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to learn that the state has traffic, often. Los Angeles traffic rush hours have become well documented.

Busy traffic seen on a California highway during the sunset.

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However, daily congestion on the way to and from work has left many exasperated — and wanting to move. Though the state has tried to help solve the traffic problem, they haven’t been successful yet. 



It seems like California has always had a problem with gas. People have long had to pay a lot for it — and have often publicly complained about how expensive it is just to fuel up their car’s gas tank.

A gas station seen in the evening in Los Angeles, California.

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Unfortunately, California’s gas prices have only continued to rise. This, combined with other factors, has led some to give up on the state’s high price of living and move elsewhere.


Infrastructure Problems

California has claimed they’re going to make massive, $180 billion changes to the state’s overall infrastructure. For many, this is a little too late.

An aerial photo of fog over San Francisco, California.

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Infrastructure issues and restrictive zoning laws have only made the housing shortage and daily traffic congestion worse. These problems have made many realize they could have a better, easier, more peaceful life in another state.


Constant Wildfires

California has always been home to wildfires. However, in recent years, more and more residents have noticed that they’re seeing more wildfires throughout the state than ever before.

An aerial view of San Francisco during a wildfire, with the sky cloudy and red.

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Unfortunately, climate change has been linked to many of these wildfires. Experts warn that the state will only see more wildfires in the future. This fact has resulted in many residents — especially those in wildfire-prone areas — to seek a new home elsewhere.


Environmental Problems

Climate change is responsible for the increase of wildfires in the Golden State. However, various other environmental problems have become the norm for Californians. They’re tired of it.

Malibu Beach seen in the daytime with people walking alongside the water.

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The increased threat of things like drought has forced some residents to leave the state for something a bit safer. 


Climate Change Policies

The California government has made recent moves to try to combat climate change. This has led Governor Gavin Newsom to sign many bills into law to try to make the state use more renewable energy sources.

Wind turbines on hills in Stockton, California.

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Some haven’t liked this. This policy change has made many decide to move to states where they don’t have to worry about climate change policies.


The Homelessness Crisis

Political analysts on both sides of the spectrum have talked about the ongoing homelessness crisis in California, particularly in cities like San Francisco. Homelessness has become a major issue recently, and the state is home to almost one-third of all homeless people in the United States.

People walking, cars driving, and people on a bike seen at an intersection in San Francisco.

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This ongoing crisis has resulted in some residents wanting to live elsewhere where this problem doesn’t persist — and where rent and housing might be cheaper. 


The COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted every single state in the nation — some more than others. California made many changes that states such as Florida refused to do.

A black, white, and red map that shows outbreaks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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This led to Californians wearing masks, staying home from school, and staying home from work longer than others in the country. It also exposed some issues in the overall public health system and society. In turn, many left during the pandemic, as well as in the years after. 


Public Health Issues

Though California residents often publicly tout their healthy lifestyles, there’s a great divide in what residents experience. The public health system throughout the state has been proven to not work for everyone.

A close-up of a metal pole in a hospital that has an IV bag attached to it.

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The California Health Care Foundation has stated that the Black community in California faces higher rates of mortality from diseases such as cancer. This has led some to go to states that have a better public health system in place. 


An Increase in Crime

For years now, data has shown that crime has increased throughout California. Though crime levels are still at a 20-year low, this increase has still concerned many — especially as property crimes and violent crimes have risen.

An up-close look at a Los Angeles police car, with its logo on the door.

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This increase has caused worried Californians to move elsewhere, where this isn’t a major issue.



Ever since the California exodus began, some conservative analysts stated this mass migration trend was occurring because people were sick and tired of California’s liberal policies. While factors like high cost of living and pricey housing are the main contributors to the exodus, politics has caused some people to leave.

People walking outside in front of Los Angeles City Hall underneath a cloudy blue sky.

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Some Californians have chosen to leave the blue state for red states such as Texas and Florida. For these more conservative people, they didn’t want to live in a liberal state any longer.



Retiring on the coast, with a place not too far from the beach, is an ideal dream for many Americans. However, California has become too expensive — which has caused seniors to choose to retire elsewhere.

An older woman driving a car in the daytime in Beverly Hills, California.

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Those who have reached retirement are now choosing to live in other coastal cities, such as those found in Florida.



Throughout the United States, many people decide to leave their native home state once they start a family. Sometimes, for a variety of different reasons, it’s better to raise children elsewhere.

The silhouette of a father and his child on a California beach by the water.

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Many in California seem to have also come to this conclusion. Whether it’s because of an increase in crime or a high cost of living, families have decided to start over in a more family-friendly area.


The Elite

Some Californians have been known to have an elitist aura about them. While this has long put off others around the nation, even long-time residents of the Golden State have begun to grow wary of this mentality.

People walking around outside at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

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This elitist attitude has left many feeling that the state is exclusive. Those in search of a new type of culture and community have left to find a new home in other states around the country.


Overall Quality of Life

There’s a lot to love about California. It tends to have ideal weather, it’s on the coast, and it has both small towns and big cities to choose from. A recent study even named San Jose, California as the fourth best city in the United States for quality of life.

Two kids sitting on wooden chairs outside in the grass in California.

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However, many natives have felt the opposite. They feel their quality of life has diminished over time, thanks to the high cost of living, an increase in crime, and other factors. This has resulted in their desire to start over somewhere new.