Leaving California

The great California exodus continues for the fourth straight year:

“Mike Reilly spent his lifetime chasing the California dream. This year he’s going to look for it in Colorado. With a house purchase near Denver in the works, the 38-year-old engineering contractor plans to move his family 1,200 miles away from his home state’s lemon groves, sunshine and beaches. For him, years of rising taxes, dead-end schools, unchecked illegal immigration and clogged traffic have robbed the Golden State of its allure.

Is there something left of the California dream? ‘If you are a Hollywood actor,’ Reilly says, ‘but not for us.’

Since the days of the Gold Rush, California has represented the Promised Land, an image celebrated in the songs of the Beach Boys and embodied by Silicon Valley’s instant millionaires and the young men and women who achieve stardom in Hollywood. But for many California families last year, tomorrow started somewhere else.

The number of people leaving California for another state outstripped the number moving in from another state during the year ending on July 1, 2008. California lost a net total of 144,000 people during that period — more than any other state, according to census estimates. That is about equal to the population of Syracuse, N.Y.  The state with the next-highest net loss through migration between states was New York, which lost about 125,000 residents. “

11 thoughts on “Leaving California

  1. It’s beautiful to see the free market (among states) at work. I do feel sorry for folks like you, Jeff, who have good family reasons to stay. But I’ve never for a moment regretted our decision to abandon CA for the midwest—or stopped hoping that enough other people would follow suit to ensure the utter collapse of that place. Not that Michigan is gaining any new residents. But at least this place has a semblance of normalcy and respect for the natural law.


  2. I was born here, and I love this state. And yet we’ve talked of moving several times over the years, for all the reasons most people consider.

    What keeps us here? Family, family, and more family.

    Second to that? My husband’s (non-transferable) job – our family’s sole source of income.

    Third: It’s HOME. The shape of the hills are familiar to me, I’ve been looking at them all my life. The fact that the physical beauty of God’s creation is manifest at the ocean’s edge, the valleys, the mountains and the deserts – all in one county.

    That third one is of no consequence in the grand scheme of things – millions have left homelands and gone much further (farther?) than the next state or three. Getting to that Heavenly home is of eternal significance, and all else pales in comparison. It’s just that… with reasons one and two firmly in place, reason three makes it a little easier to stay.


  3. Judging from the article, the people leaving are disillusioned at the “California dream”. As a native Californian I was never here for the “dream” in the first place. Perhaps this exodus is a good thing: the dreamers move on and the only ones left are here because it’s home.

    We stay for family reasons, of course, but there are other reasons to stay.

    1. Our Catholic family. These dear people are irreplaceable. Our children, too, have relationships that I don’t want to rupture.

    2. I’m 42. I don’t have another lifetime to become as familiar with any other place as I am with northern California.

    3. California north of SF/Sacramento is unique. I doubt very much that there is an exodus from this region. The people here aren’t chasing fame or fortune or “the California dream”. If I dropped a rural midwesterner off at the Berry Patch for breakfast he’d think he never left home. For those with native eyes, the beauty of the north valley is impossible to replicate.

    That said, we haven’t ruled out leaving California someday, if push comes to shove. Leaving California was once an idea that had an element of romance and adventure for me, but no more. It would be a very bitter choice.


  4. “I’d be willing to move to California just so I could leave. I want to enhance that demographic trend.”

    Let’s think this one through. If you moved here from Virginia, and then left, your moves in and out of California would cancel each other out. The effort would be pointless (but please stop by the ranch while you’re here). However, if you came in through Mexico, your move in ends up in another set of statistics. So the only way to enhance the trend is to become an illegal alien. Which is probably easier than you think.


  5. “…or stopped hoping that enough other people would follow suit to ensure the utter collapse of that place.”

    Well, Chris, given that California is home to 38 million immortal souls – and the largest Catholic population in the U.S. – I am hoping for conversions rather than collapse.


  6. I saw this on the news and it said that there were about 242,000 immigrants who came in at the same time, both legal and illegal. So the net gain is quite a few, but they are often from Mexico and just starting out. I think you may find an influx of people from other states as the house prices are going down, down, down. My folks will be back soon! :)


  7. I left the beautiful California central coast (which I truly did love) for Southeast Texas, and I didn’t look back. California is nice to visit, and I respect those who feel called to stay and have a support structure, but I look forward to raising my family anywhere else but California.

    I know Texas has its own major flaws, as any state does. Yet all is not lost. While I do lean conservative, it’s nice to live in a state where pro-life democrats aren’t suppressed. Our local Democratic state senator co-authored our state’s parental consent laws and supported a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, which passed by 76% in 2005.


  8. Yes, Jeff, I should clarify: I’m not hoping for a collapse of the civil order. Rather, my hope is for a collapse of the unsustainable net of taxation and regulation, and of the political class (of both parties) which ran the state into the ground. I think the California system is too far gone to be changed much from within. It’s like a company that needs to go into Chapter 11 and not emerge until it’s entirely cleaned house. Or maybe broken into pieces and readmitted to the Union as separate states with new governments.


  9. Coloradoans have long complained about Californians and Texans moving to our fine state, where now only one in five residents is native-born. Newly arriving Californians seem to be relatively politically active, worrying some of us that they are dedicated to installing here the same self-destructive policies that made them move.


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