Many Heading To Arizona, Nevada, Texas
POSTED: 5:55 am PST December 11, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO -- For the first time in a decade, the number of residents who left California
for another state in 2005 exceeded newcomers who moved here, according to the newest figures from the state Department of Finance.
California recorded a domestic net loss of about 29,000 people last year -- the first negative flow of residents since the mid-1990s. The biggest recent loss was in 1994, when the sputtering state economy helped California lose about 350,000 residents to the other 49 states.
The most common destinations for the newest crop of departing Californians were Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Washington and Oregon.
Anecdotal evidence suggests the high cost of housing was the primary reason people fled the nation's most populous state, which has more than 37 million residents.
The number of Californians who could comfortably pay the mortgage on an entry-level home fell to 24 percent in the third quarter -- down from 44 percent in 2003, according to the California Association of Realtors. The statewide median home price in the third quarter was $563,190.
Stephen Gallant moved to Michigan this summer after nearly three years in the posh Silicon Valley suburb of Los Gatos, trading a $2 million house for one in a Detroit suburb that was about half the cost and double the size.
"It was all about lifestyle," said Gallant, former chief financial officer for Global Motorsport Group Inc.
"If I'm going to spend $1 million on a house as opposed to $2 million, that opens up a lot of purchasing power, the ability to go out and do other things," he said.
In previous decades, waves of departing Californians were primarily white. But the newest exodus includes unprecedented numbers of Hispanics, primarily Mexican-Americans.
The analysis by Hans Johnson, a demographer with the Public Policy Institute of California, found that about 320,000 more Hispanics left California than arrived from other states between 2000 and 2005.
Asians were the only ethnic group to have more people move into California than leave, according to Johnson.
The state gained nearly 33,000 Asians from elsewhere in the United States from 2000 to 2005 while losing 441,000 whites and 67,000 African-Americans.
In the past five years, the overall state population grew by 2.9 million people, including 1.2 million foreign immigrants, according to the California Department of Finance