Is The Mass Exodus from California Real? – Real Estate Agent Weighs In

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California has always been expensive, and in times of crisis, that characteristic drives hard earning residents to more affordable pastures. The “California Exodus” isn’t new; it’s steadily been happening over the last 30 years or so. 


Those who left first, heading to more affordable states, have now seen exponential growth in their investment. Those who stayed can still get in while the prices are low, but the window is closing. In this article, we’ll take a look at the stats, the figures, and the why behind the California exodus.

The stats don’t lie – the California Population Exodus


From 2010 – 2019, close to a million people left California for other states. The population didn’t decline, though, as around a million immigrants arrived from abroad. Thus, an exodus is happening, but it’s harder to see. 


Who’s moving? It seems that the majority of ex-Californians are middle and low-income families. These are people who have realized that their income doesn’t justify the inflated cost of living. Neighboring states perhaps offer lower salaries, but the benefits outweigh the cuts.


The major driving force for the recent California exodus 2020 has been the COVID-19 restrictions. People still had to pay elevated rental prices without income. As the epidemic continues, we can expect that the number of fleeing Californians will continue to rise.

Companies and VIPs shipping out – the California Business Exodus

Residents aren’t the only ones packing up. Many companies, the driving force of the Golden State, have had enough. Elon Musk has threatened to move Tesla’s headquarters to Texas or Nevada. It’s no wonder, as California holds a spot on the top 10 list of highest corporate income tax rates in the US as well as the highest personal income tax.


The high personal income tax regulations have also pushed Joe Rogan (celebrity podcaster who recently signed a  $100m deal with Spotify) to speak out. In a recent podcast episode, he openly discussed his plans to find a home and office, elsewhere. He has since moved to Texas, spurring more to leave the Golden State.

Where are Californians heading? 

The mass exodus from California is sending residents to many of the neighboring states. Middle-income Californians are drawn by the non-existent personal income tax laws, lower mortgages, and wide-open spaces. Californians want more bang for their buck.


Many states are welcoming Californians with open arms, but some would rather build a wall – literally. 

California Exodus to Texas

Texas is a favorite as many Californians don’t want to part with coastal living. However, Texans aren’t as eager to welcome them. “Don’t California my Texas” has become a conservative rally call. 


While you won’t need to pay personal income taxes in Texas, other taxes such as sales tax, and property taxes make up for any savings. Texas has the sixth-highest property tax in the U.S.

California Exodus to Arizona

Arizona might be closer to home, but fewer people are choosing to move here. This could be due to the fact that Arizona taxes all personal income, including earnings from outside the state. 


Moving to Arizona will also mean having your retirement funds taxed even if it’s from another state.

California Exodus to Nevada

Nevada is a natural favorite since a visit to the Golden State is mere hours away. Those who love the Golden State, but dislike the policies are making the most of Nevada’s offering. 


Cities like Reno and Las Vegas are seeing an influx of Californians, and here Californians are welcomed with open arms.


Nevada doesn’t collect personal income taxes, and estates aren’t taxed either. Excellent tax laws, coupled with affordable real estate options is why Nevada saw an increase in its population census in 2019. While the population is growing, it’s still small compared to California, Texas, and Arizona. Meaning, there is room for growth. Nevada is the state of opportunity and potential for many.


While each state has its pros and cons, Nevada remains the state with the most potential. In 2017, Ethan Smith*** decided to pack up and leave California. Texas was a front runner. However, he had family in California, and the high property prices and taxes put him off. That’s when he contacted a real estate agent in Las Vegas

“Las Vegas made sense to me. It’s closer to California, the taxes are non-existent or really low, and the wifi is great. I work from home, so for me, it’s all about my quality of life at home”. 

Ethan found that with the price he got for his home in California, he could buy a larger property in Las Vegas, while still having money to spare. 

“It’s great – I love Nevada and Las Vegas. I made the right choice”.



***Name changed to protect his identity