Millions of Californians Moved to Another Location in the State in 2022

Millions of Californians Moved to Another Location in the State in 2022

A man talks on his cell phone while riding on the back of a moving truck in Pacifica, Calif., on Jan. 26, 2016. (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore


Updated: 12/30/2023

Californians were on the move in 2022, and while nearly 800,000 left the Golden State, more than 3.5 million relocated in state, according to recently released Census Bureau data.
One northern Californian said he moved from Oakland to Sacramento seeking more affordable housing.
“The cost of living in the Bay Area is astronomical. It’s insane,” business owner Luke Wang told The Epoch Times. “I moved to save money and have more space.”
After graduating college and starting a business in the Bay Area, he said the cost he was paying for rent in Oakland—$2,300 for a 350-square-foot apartment—was too high for his budget compared to what he could find in other cities—including the state capital, where he landed an 1,800 square foot home for $1,800 per month.
As a young professional in his early twenties, he expressed frustration with the average price of a home—about $750,000 in California and topping $1.25 million in the Bay Area, according to online real estate listings firm Zillow—suggesting owning is out of reach for many in his generation, thus leading some to relocate, as he did, in search of cheaper housing.
“There’s no way I can ever afford to buy,” Mr. Wang said. “Especially with the price of gas, everything is so expensive. It’s almost impossible to save money.”
Most counties showing growth share a lower cost of living in common, including San Bernardino east of the coast in Southern California and Madera and other counties located in the state’s Central Valley, with rural areas gaining population between 2020 and 2022, according to census data.
Cities with the highest housing prices, including San Francisco and San Diego, show the most significant declines, though movement is spread across the state, the data revealed.
The state’s Department of Finance had similar findings in its May 2023 demographics report (pdf)—noting that only three of the 10 largest cities in the state showed population growth between January 2021 and January 2023: Sacramento, Bakersfield, and Fresno.
Across the state, 125 cities saw their ranks swell, while 365 experienced declines in population, equating to 46 of 58 counties losing residents during 2022, according to finance department statistics.
Internal Revenue Service reports show more comprehensive data, with the most recent release covering 2021 showing significant movement away from Los Angeles and San Diego counties to less expensive areas, including Riverside and San Bernardino, and another nearly 10,000 Los Angelenos moving to rural Kern County, home of Bakersfield in the Central Valley, during the year.
Such trends suggest some are moving in search of a cheaper cost of living, as the average price of a home in Bakersfield is approximately $378,000, while averages in Los Angeles and San Diego are closer to $950,000, according to Zillow.
Others say they are considering moving to find better employment, according to a recently released survey conducted by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California—with 82 percent of respondents saying the lack of good paying jobs in their area is a problem, and 7 percent reporting they’re looking to move in state and 21 percent looking elsewhere in the nation.
While the Golden State’s population has decreased by about 500,000 since 2020, the percentage of those born in California and still living in-state, 73 percent, ranks as the fourth highest in the nation, according to a study conducted by the Dallas Federal Reserve.
Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore


Travis Gillmore is an avid reader and journalism connoisseur based in California covering finance, politics, the State Capitol, and breaking news for The Epoch Times.

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