The Californian exodus continues, with Los Angeles and San Francisco in the lead: “Why are we here? »

Visitors look towards the ‘Painted Ladies’, a row of historic Victorian homes, in San Francisco. The city ranks first in the United States for outbound moves, according to a new study. Los Angeles ranks second. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

After living in the Bay Area for nearly seven years, Hari Raghavan and his wife decided to move to the East Coast late last year.

They both worked remotely and wanted to leave California due to the high cost of living and urban crime. So they put together a list of potential relocation towns before choosing Miami for its sunny weather and what they perceived as a better sense of security.

Raghavan said their Oakland home had been burglarized four times and before the pandemic his wife called him every day during his seven-minute walk from the BART station because she felt safer with him. someone on the phone. After moving to Miami, Raghavan said they accidentally left their garage door open one day and were floored when they got home and didn’t steal anything.

“We moved to the Bay Area because we had to be there if you wanted to work in tech and start-ups, and now that it’s no longer a tether, we looked long and hard and said, ‘Wait, why are we here again?’ said Raghavan.

He said there wasn’t much appeal for quality of life, local or social politics or the cost of living in California. “It made us think about where we really wanted to live,” he said.

An acceleration of people leaving coastal California began in the first year of the pandemic. But new data shows it continued even after the easing of lockdowns and other COVID restrictions.

California ranks second in the nation for outbound moves – a phenomenon that has snowballed during the pandemic, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which tracked data from moving company United Van Lines . Between 2018 and 2019, California had an outbound move rate of 56%. This rate rose to almost 60% in 2020-21.

Citing changes in work-life balance, remote work opportunities and more and more people deciding to quit their jobs, the report found that many Californians were leaving for states like Texas, Virginia, Washington and Florida. California lost more than 352,000 residents between April 2020 and January 2022, according to statistics from the California Department of Finance.

According to a Redfin report released this month, San Francisco and Los Angeles rank first and second respectively in the country for outbound movements, as the cost of living and housing prices continue to climb and landlords flee. to less expensive cities.

Angelenos, in particular, flock to places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Antonio and Dallas. The number of Los Angeles residents leaving the city rose from around 33,000 in the second quarter of 2021 to nearly 41,000 in the same period of 2022, according to the report.

California is struggling with extremely high real estate prices compared to other states, according to USC economics professor Matthew Kahn. Combined with the pandemic and the rise of remote working, privileged households moved when they had the opportunity.

“People want to live here, but an unintended consequence of state environmentalism is that we’re not building enough housing in desirable downtown neighborhoods,” Kahn said. “It takes middle-class people away from the suburbs [and creates] long journeys. We don’t have road pricing to help with traffic congestion, and those headaches add up. So when you create the option to work from home, a lot of those people… say “enough is enough” and move to a less expensive metropolitan area.

Kahn also pointed out that urban crime, a growing homeless population, the quality of public schools and the overall quality of life are driving residents away.

“In New York, but also in San Francisco, there are all these fights over which kids get into which elite public schools,” he said. “The rich are always able to hide in their bubble, but if the middle class is watching this declining quality of life, that’s a push factor.”

Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather cited a June report that tracked the buying power of a homebuyer with a monthly budget of $2,500. While 11.2% of homes in Los Angeles were affordable with this budget, using a 3% interest rate, that amount rose to about 72% in Houston and about 50% in Phoenix.

“It’s really an affordability issue,” Fairweather said. “California has long prioritized single-family zoning, causing people to stay in their homes longer because their property taxes don’t reflect true value. California is the epicenter of the housing shortage, so people have no choice but to move elsewhere.

While California experienced a major population boom at the end of the 20th century – reaching 37 million people in 2000 – it has since lost residents, with new growth lagging behind the rest of the country, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. The state’s population grew 5.8% from 2010 to 2020, below the national growth rate of 6.8%, and resulting in the loss of a congressional seat in 2021 for the first time in the United States. state history.

Although California has relied on immigration to offset its population decline over the past two decades, that flow has also declined, according to UCLA economics professor Lee Ohanian.

Delays in processing applications for migration to the United States have been compounded during the pandemic, resulting in the lowest immigration levels in decades, according to data from the US Census Bureau.

Estimates showed a net increase of 244,000 new immigrants between 2020 and 2021 – about half of the 477,000 new immigrant residents recorded between 2019 and 2020 and a drastic reduction from the more than one million reported from 2015 to 2016.

The state also sees a declining middle class, Ohanian said, citing a National Assn report. of Realtors, noting that the national median home sale price hit a record high of $416,000. Meanwhile, the median home price in California has topped $800,000.

“[California is] at the risk of becoming a state for very, very rich and very, very low paid people who receive state, local and federal aid that allows them to live here,” Ohanian said. “We should be worried about those in the middle earning that median household income of $78,000 and ultimately really struggling, especially if they have an interest in buying a home.”

Los Angeles County, in particular, suffered from slowing population growth, as did rural parts of the state, while Orange County, Sacramento and parts of the Bay Area fared well. to record gains, found the Public Policy Institute of California.

Fairweather said that since she last lived in Los Angeles in 2016, she’s noticed less affordable housing for rent.

“Santa Monica and Beverly Hills used to be expensive, but you could find affordable housing on the Eastside,” she said. “But it was expensive and you had to find accommodation near South Central. Now, there’s no place within a two-hour drive of downtown Los Angeles that’s still affordable.

Bay Area native Kenny Phung, who left California last fall when his partner entered nursing school in Portland, Oregon, said high rent prices had helped cement the decision to leave the state. Phung lived with three roommates in Los Angeles for a total of $3,600 a month, but found a two-bedroom apartment for less than half that price in Portland. He currently works as a project manager at a company based in San Jose, which allows him to work remotely.

“It just didn’t make sense,” Phung said. “Why would I want to live in California when I work from home and pay an outrageous thing for such a small space when I can try things out and be able to save money on rent?”

Housing was also a major factor in Raghavan’s decision to leave the Golden State, he said, adding that downtown Miami has several high-rises, more affordable housing, well-paved roads and better infrastructure and services.

“The Bay Area has become a land of minor inconveniences, and some aren’t so minor anymore,” he said. “Housing and real estate affect everything. It makes rent more expensive for restaurants, which increases food prices and forces people to travel longer distances. Everything becomes a burden.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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