Americans Flee New York and California in Droves Seeking Affordability, Quality of Life
Americans Flee New York and California in Droves Seeking Affordability, Quality of Life

By Mary Prenon

Fed up with skyrocketing rents and home prices, high crime, a continual influx of migrants, and other quality-of-life issues, New Yorkers and Californians poured out of those states in record numbers over the past year.

A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau named New York as the state with the highest population decline, with almost 102,000 people exiting the Empire State from 2002 to 2023. California was close behind, with almost 75,500 leaving.

Other heavy population loss states included Illinois at almost 33,300, followed by Louisiana at just over 14,000 and Pennsylvania at almost 10,500.

Conversely, Texas experienced the biggest incoming population of 473,453, and Florida, in second place, added 365,205 residents. Combined with North Carolina and Georgia, those four states were responsible for 93 percent of the country’s population growth in 2022 and 67 percent in 2023.

A United Van Lines 2022 study echoes the Census Bureau statistics, noting the highest outbound states as New York, California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Louisiana. Not surprisingly, the highest inbound states were North and South Carolina, New Mexico, Oregon, and South Dakota.

Published reports indicate that New York City took in more than 95,000 migrants in 2023 alone. While the New York Police Department’s Crime Report indicates violent crime, including murder and rape, was down more than 10 percent in 2023 from 2022, felony assaults were up more than 6 percent in 2023.

Richard Soto, owner of VIP Realty in Dallas, Texas, told The Epoch Times that the cost of living is the number-one reason driving New Yorkers to the Lone Star State.

“When they move to Texas, they’re in shock about what they’re able to afford for housing,” he said. “There’s also no state income tax here, plus significant savings on real estate taxes. Even the cost of average lunch at a nice restaurant here is around $14.”

In New York City alone, the current average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $3,652 and $5,028 for a two-bedroom unit, according to Apartments.com. In Manhattan, Realtor.com reports that the median listing price of a condo is $1.6 million.

“There’s also less crime here and people feel safer,” added Mr. Soto. “The climate overall is great except for July and August, when it can get pretty hot.”

Mr. Soto’s recent business trip to Manhattan’s west side was a real eye-opener as to why New Yorkers keep heading south.

“I talked with a lot of people who are just living paycheck to paycheck,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong. New York is beautiful if you’re wealthy, but if you’re just a day-to-day person, I don’t know how they do it when the costs of everything are so high.”

According to WalletHub, a personal finance firm, a 2023 Tax Burden Report revealed that New York State ranked first for overall tax burden, with residents paying an average 12.75 percent of their income on taxes. Texas, on the other hand, ranked 29 on the list, with an average tax burden of just 8 percent of a resident’s income.

The Texan cities of Dallas, Frisco, and Plano remain popular locations for transplants from New York as well as California, where housing and taxes have also been escalating over the past few years. Mr. Soto noted that with the influx of new construction in those areas, newcomers have their choice of a brand-new home or single-family resales. “We have everything from small homes to mega-mansions and horse farms,” he said. “There’s also quite a selection of architecture to choose from.”

Most of his clients from the Northeast are seeking single-family homes, which in the Dallas suburbs can be purchased for about $320,000.

“Families are also looking for good schools and a state that is committed to family values,” he added. Many of these new homeowners have already secured jobs in the area or are working remotely.

While Florida ranks second as the most popular state for relocation, home prices can be higher there, especially in and around Miami. Ines Hegedus-Garcia, the 2023 chair of the Miami Association of Realtors and executive vice president of Avanti Way Realty in Doral, Florida, named the weather and lifestyle as the two biggest attraction factors.

A view from Queens of the United Nations headquarters and the city skyline of New York, on Sept. 19, 2023, (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

“Of course, like Texas, Florida also has no state income tax, so that’s another big draw, and while housing can be more expensive here, it’s still a lot less than people will pay in New York,” she told The Epoch Times.

With a total of 14 offices—eight of them in south Florida—Ms. Hegedus-Garcia said the clientele is no longer mainly retirees. “We’re seeing people of all different ages who are looking primarily for condos with lots of amenities,” she said. “In fact, developers are starting to change their projects to fit the needs of residents, such as adding business centers for those who work remotely.”

People also enjoy the walkability and more casual lifestyle that Florida offers. “New Yorkers are not buying cheap properties; the majority of them are always over $1 million,” she said. “But many of them define that as a ‘bargain’ from Manhattan prices.”

Meanwhile, Californians migrating out of state are heading for places like Arizona, the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Florida. Scott Fuller, owner of LeavingTheBayArea.com, told The Epoch Times that the number-one reason his clients are relocating is the lack of affordable housing in the Golden State.

“Traditionally, we saw more retirees on a budget, but now we’re dealing with singles and couples in their 30s and 40s, as well as families who are having a harder time making ends meet,” he said. “We’re also seeing a lot of real estate investors pulling out of Southern California as some government regulations have limited their ability to collect rents or evict those who don’t pay.”

Mr. Fuller founded his consulting firm in 2016 to help other San Francisco Bay Area residents find more affordable housing and a better quality of life. He and his family are also Bay Area transplants who moved to Gilbert, Arizona, several years ago. With the average home price of $1.3 million for a modest single-family home, would-be Bay Area homeowners can typically save more than half that amount and secure a much larger property in other areas of the country.

“I think as interest rates continue to stabilize, we’re going to see even more people who are now on the fence get ready to make their move,” Mr. Fuller added. Many of them already have new jobs lined up in other states, while others have the ability to work remotely.

In addition to the Bay Area’s prohibitive cost of housing, Mr. Fuller noted that quality of life issues like crime and homelessness are also coaxing people to relocate. “California is one of the leaders in being a sanctuary state for illegal immigration, and people are now factoring in their tax increases that will be needed to pay for all of the extra social services,” he explained.

According to the San Francisco Police Department’s Crime Report, violent crime was down over 15 percent in 2023 from 2022, but robbery increased by more than 14 percent last year and car theft by more than 5 percent.

A real estate broker for 22 years, Mr. Fuller works with a network of real estate agents throughout the nation to assist those who are ready to relocate. “I always recommend they do their research first, make one visit to look around, and use the next visit to search for properties and be prepared to make an offer,” he said.

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