Everyone is leaving California. Well, it feels like it. But what do the stats actually say? Let’s talk about it. This is so important for real estate professionals in particular to understand because it helps us talk about the market and plan for the future. Any stories to share? Please comment below.
1) Where are California residents moving?
Last year 653,551 residents left the state according to the American Community Survey. Here are the top destinations of where California residents are moving. Keep in mind 2020 data is not out yet. I included the top states below. If I had all fifty states on one graph it would be too big. Does anything surprise you?
2) Who is coming to California?
There is so much news about people leaving California, but we have quite a few people coming to the state too. Last year in 2019 there were 480,204 people who moved to California. It’s interesting that many residents moving here are from some of the top destination states.
3) Where are Californians MOVING THE LEAST?
This visual shows the locations where California residents moved the least in 2019. Does anything surprise you?
4) How can the population still be growing with so many leaving?
Last year we saw more people leave than come to California and that’s been the trend for at least ten years according to the American Community Survey (without considering international migration). So how is our population still growing? Well, in short we’ve had more births to offset the numbers. This is really important because we often hear things like, “Dude, our population keeps growing, so clearly we don’t have more people leaving. That’s just a made-up narrative.” Look, it’s both. We actually do have more residents leaving than coming, but births are helping our population continue to grow. On a side note, I wonder if we’ll see the birth rate go up in light of the pandemic. You know, will sheltering in place lead to more babies?
5) Aren’t more residents moving to Idaho?
It seems like Idaho is all the rage as a destination, so it might be surprising to see only 17,722 California residents moved to Idaho last year. But keep in mind these are 2019 stats and we could see the numbers increase in 2020. Let’s remember Idaho only has a total population of about 1.75 million people though, so having nearly eighteen thousand California residents move last year is huge because it essentially boosted the population by 1%. That’s enormous growth for Idaho, but it’s really just a drop in the bucket for California since we have over thirty nine million residents.
Thanks Meghan for letting me use the photo.
6) Less than 2% of the population moved last year
It seems like everyone and their Mom is leaving the state, but it’s really not true when considering the numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. I’m not trying to minimize over 650,000 residents leaving last year, but that’s less than 2% of the state. It’s worth noting that over 98% of residents did not move last year.
7) Will the pandemic cause more people to move?
The stats above DO NOT reflect the pandemic because 2020 stats aren’t out yet. I’m anxious to see what new stats bring in light of so many residents being able to work from home now. By the way, here are three ways the pandemic has affected buyers.
8) Migration resources:
You can make your own visuals like mine by checking out the U.S. Census Bureau. But there is also a fun tool called the Census Flow Mapper that helps us see county to county migration (the only downfall is data only goes through 2018 so far). We can also look at migration reports from moving companies. Here’s a sampling of migration reports from Atlas Van Lines, United Van Lines, and North American Moving Services. We can also consider search queries to get clues for places people are thinking about, but I tend to put more weight on stats that show where people actually moved.
9) Why are people moving?
This is a huge question. It’s a dissertation and I won’t pretend to be qualified to answer it. But the usual suspects such as retirement, lifestyle, job change, politics, etc… are surely factors. I’d love to hear your take in the comments.
QUESTIONS FOR REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS
Who are your clients going to be over the next few years?
Who is coming to the market?
Who is leaving the market?
Who is going to be participating in the future market?
What steps do you need to take to position yourself for the future?
Where can you meet future clients?
I hope this was helpful.
Questions: Does anything surprise you about the stats above? Why are people leaving? Did I miss anything?