For the third straight year, California’s population declined amid rising housing costs and people feeling like their money just doesn’t go as far as it used to.
Now, a new statewide poll shows that the trend might continue, as the financial divide in California is forcing many residents to seriously consider leaving the Golden State.
More than 1,300 people were included in the poll and were asked to weigh in on several topics, including the state’s diversity, economy and overall satisfaction with living in California.
Cost of living
While more than two-thirds of people polled said they were happy calling California home, 4 in 10 said they were thinking about leaving, with a large majority saying the state’s considerable cost of living is the main driver.
Of those who were considering moving, 61% said it was due to how expensive it is to live in California, while 27% said they were considering moving due to the state’s politics. One-third of those who said they wanted to move to a place where their political beliefs are better represented were white, the highest percentage among racial demographics to voice that concern.
Satisfaction with the California economy also took a big hit in the recent poll, dropping 12 points from a poll conducted in 2020 and 5 points since last year.
Most Californians are also feeling less financially secure in recent years, with 72% of households that make between $50,000 and $100,000 saying they can’t afford to live comfortably and save for the future. Only three years ago, less than half of households in that same income bracket reported those problems.
Diversity a positive
But one way in which California is thriving, as far as those polled are concerned, is the state’s diversity.
“The state’s diversity is viewed as a major benefit of living here: by a 20-point margin, residents say it ‘brings people together around new ideas and vibrant communities’ rather than creating ‘tension and division between groups who have different needs and priorities,'” pollsters found.
The majority of those polled celebrated the diversity of the state and their specific neighborhoods and said they believed California’s diversity was a major reason that they are happy to live there. Many said relationships between various ethnicities were excellent in their local neighborhoods and vastly better than the nation as a whole.
Still, many people of color who were polled say they still face race-related discrimination and are less satisfied with their access to quality jobs, safe communities, good schools and fair treatment by law enforcement.
In total, 1,354 adults in California were polled, with specific quotas to ensure that those polled accurately reflected the state’s diversity in age, gender, race, location and educational background. For more on the methodology, click here.
Since 2020, U.S. Census data shows that the California population has declined by about 500,000 people.
More than half of California’s 58 counties lost population during that timeframe, with many counties in Southern California and the Bay Area — two regions in the state that experience some of the highest costs of living in the country — seeing the biggest declines.
The results of the poll shows that while some Californians are willingly leaving the state because of politics, a drum that many conservative leaders in other parts of the nation are beating to claim that California’s liberal or “woke” policies are unpopular across the state, in reality, the majority of those moving away are doing so reluctantly.
It’s expensive to call California home, but the outdoor beauty, endless amenities, vibrant communities and cultural hotspots is seemingly worth it for those who can afford to make it work.