The Top Reasons People Are Fleeing California

By: Savvy Dime Staff | Published: Feb 18, 2024

California was once a state many Americans dreamed of living in. But within the last few years, things have changed. Now, California residents are fleeing the state at high rates.

There are countless reasons why Californians have decided to start over somewhere else. Everybody has a different story. However, some major factors have stood out when analyzing this unique situation about why people are leaving California behind.

Cost of Living

The cost of living is one of the main reasons why so many Californians have decided to up and leave the state. The Golden State has always had a high cost of living when compared to other states. However, the last few years have made this bad situation even worse for many.

Palm trees line a busy street packed with cars, the Hollywood sign and a hill in the distance, as the sun sets.

Source: Jake Blucker/Unsplash

Skyrocketing housing and rent prices have made it incredibly difficult for many regular middle-class and working-class families to thrive. People aren’t making enough at their jobs to afford where they live. As a result, many have realized they could live quite well in another state, where they don’t have to worry as much about the cost of living.



There are many issues revolving around housing in the entire state of California. The cost of housing and rent has become a major problem for many. However, the housing shortage in the state doesn’t help matters at all.

Street view of three old stylish homes on a hill in San Francisco, California.

Source: 12019/Pixabay

This housing shortage is why there is such an exclusive housing market in California. This is also one of the reasons why housing prices have skyrocketed in recent years. To find a home that they can afford, many natives of the Golden State have had to leave.


California is known for having high taxes — especially when compared to other states, such as Texas. While many residents originally didn’t care too much about high taxation in the past, the increasing cost of taxes and cost of living factors have changed things.

A close-up view of tax papers, with a pen, computer mouse, and mug on top of them.

Source: stevepb/Pixabay

Now, the state can tout that they have some of the highest sales tax rates and income tax rates in the United States. This fact has caused more people to flee California in the last few years alone.

Job Opportunities

California has a lot of big cities that have done marvelously well when it comes to creating job opportunities. Silicon Valley’s success is just one example. However, many residents are looking to broaden their horizons in ways that the state does not provide.

San Francisco city buildings underneath a clear blue sky.

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The lack of a variety of job opportunities has therefore led many Californians to look for a better — or higher-paying — future in other states in the country. In some cases, people even leave California to live out of the country for this specific reason.

Entrepreneurial Opportunities

In recent years, California has made a name for itself in the entrepreneurial world — and not in a positive way. Now, the state is known as one of the hardest places to start a business.

Woman working in a hair salon near a row of empty black chairs before mirrors.

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Because of this, many California residents who have entrepreneurial dreams have chosen to begin their business journey elsewhere. Often, they choose to go to states that are less restrictive to business owners, such as Texas and Florida.



California holds some of the biggest cities in the entire country. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that traffic around cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco tends to be a disaster on a daily basis.

Cars stuck in traffic on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in the daytime.

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Nobody likes being stuck in traffic — especially for hours on end. Because traffic doesn’t seem to be getting any better in the near future, some have chosen to leave California to find an easier way to manage how they travel in their daily life.


Environmental Issues

While California is often labeled as very beautiful, it has had some severe environmental issues in recent years. From raging wildfires to horrible droughts, this state has seen it all.

Wildfire in California in fields and mountains during the night

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As nobody enjoys having to deal with extreme environmental issues, many have become worried and fearful of continuing to live in a state that will likely keep on having wildfire issues. As a result, they’ve decided to go to states where this isn’t a massive problem.


Water Worries

The Golden State has long had issues with water. Water scarcity worries have become more common in recent decades, and the state only recently got out of a drought.

A small green plant grows in the middle of a California desert experiencing a drought.

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Just as some Californians have chosen to leave because they’re worried about wildfires, others have chosen to flee because they’re worried about water. These residents may choose to go to other states that don’t have such issues with droughts and instead have more stable water resources.


Political Differences

California is known for being liberal and, in some cities and towns, very progressive. While some areas are more conservative than others, California as a whole is a very blue state.

A group of people are holding signs and wearing masks at a public protest in a city.

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For some, this has become an issue. Therefore, they have chosen to leave the state behind to find a new home in a part of the country that is more receptive to their own personal and political beliefs.



For those who have spent all — or a better part — of their working lives in California, the chance to retire elsewhere is high. Many older Californians who have retired feel that they’re being aged out, and even pushed out, of the state.

Two people sit together as the sun sets, looking out at the blue ocean.

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The cost of living remains incredibly high for all in the state. This can make it hard for retirees and senior citizens to live comfortably. As a result, many have chosen to live out their golden years in another location.


Better Quality of Life

While many Californians do love the state, others have come to realize that they’ll have a better quality of life if they leave. Whether this is because they cannot afford the city anymore or for something else entirely, many of the state’s natives have recently discovered it’s time to move on.

A family holds hands and walks together in green grass during the daytime.

Source: Jessica Rockowitz/Unsplash

Often, those who flee the state are looking for a better balanced work and home life. Increasingly, Californians are going to states like Texas or Florida to create this balance.