How To Plan A Move Out Of California

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Moving truck driving through the desert landscape

A move out of California can be advantageous for residents and homeowners who are looking to save money. In fact, California ranks #5 on the top outbound states for 2020 according to a recent study. However, the California exodus that the media likes to talk about isn’t as dire or pronounced as they like to make it seem. According to a report from the California Policy Lab, a research arm of the University of California, “no evidence of a pronounced exodus from the state.”

The truth is, during the pandemic, there was movement around the state, but not necessarily a mass exodus. San Francisco however did see a large year-over-year loss, and there were more departures and fewer arrivals in the final quarter of 2020. In all, total inbound traffic to California in 2020 was 41.3%, and total outbound traffic was 58.7%.

So while a lot of Californians talk about moving out of the state, very few take action. For example, from 2017-2019, Census Bureau stats show that only 3% of the state’s population departed even though half of California voters considered moving out of state. The high cost of living and real estate is often cited as a driving force for those moving out of state, but according to the United Van Lines National Movers Study, cost of living didn’t rank as the top reasons for moving out of California, which are:

  • Job: 30.65%
  • Family: 30.35%
  • Retirement: 22.69%
  • Lifestyle: 18.78%
  • Health: 5.41%

How much does it cost to move out of California?

For those who are considering a move out of California, it’s important to consider the cost of moving itself. A long-distance or cross-country move from Southern California costs on average $3,657 according to homeadvisor.com. The total cost varies however depending on the size of your load, what you’re taking (valuables, antiques, or other specialty items), and how far you’re actually moving. A move to Florida will cost you more than a move to Arizona. So when considering a move out of state, don’t forget the cost of your actual move when budgeting.

Where to move if you want to leave California?

The top inbound states (with 250 moves or more) were:

  • Idaho
  • South Carolina
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Arizona
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Alabama

Considering the options, most people feel the best states to move to from California are those closest to us, making Idaho, Oregon, and Arizona popular choices. When narrowing down your choices, cost-of-living and employment data are important metrics to consider as well. Not only is it important to find an affordable place to live, but you must also consider job opportunities and potential growth. For the cost of living statistics, we’ve referenced NerdWallet, and for job health, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2020’s third quarter.

Idaho: The cost of living is 33% lower in Boise, ID compared to Orange County, CA. The median price for a 3 bed, 2 bath home is $356,416 vs. $979,637 in OC. Idaho ranks #40 in terms of wage growth with a 5.5% increase over the last 12 months, and #50 in terms of highest weekly wages, coming in at an average of $884. Forbes listed Boise as the fastest-growing city in the nation in 2018, and Meridian and Nampa were among the top 10 fastest-growing cities in the country in 2020. The Gem State as it’s known attracts lots of California residents because of its natural beauty including endless mountains, rivers, and green hillsides, making it perfect for adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Oregon: The cost of living in Portland, OR is 4% lower than San Diego, CA. The median price for a 3 bed, 2 bath home is $615,500 vs. $798,964. Oregon ranks #15 in terms of wage growth with a 10.2% increase over the last 12 months, and #19 overall in terms of highest weekly wages with an average of $1,142. While there are certainly more affordable markets, Oregon makes a great choice for those leaving California because of the wealth of employment opportunities. And with over 300 miles of coastline to explore, dunes, lakes, mountains, rivers, and streams, your possibilities are endless if you enjoy the great outdoors. Oregon is also a popular place to settle because they don’t have state sales tax!

Arizona: The cost of living in Phoenix, AZ is 33% lower than Los Angeles, CA and housing costs specifically are 53% lower. The median 3 bed, 2 bath home in Arizona is $346,409 vs. $827,579 in the LA-Long Beach area. Arizona ranks #30 in terms of wage growth with an average weekly wage of $1,090. Contributing to the job growth of Arizona are big tech giants like Uber and Apple who have expanded into the state, creating more opportunities. If you don’t want to give up the sunshine but are looking for a nearby affordable alternative, Arizona is a great choice to consider.

How do I plan an out-of-state move?

Talk to your local First Team Real Estate agent! Through our First Team Relocation Department, we have local contacts all around the globe that can help make your next move seamless. It begins with planning the sale of your current home. Once you know the current value of your home and what you can expect to sell for in today’s market, you can begin budgeting for your moving expenses and your next home.