It’s been called a mass exodus. Californians fed up with the high cost of living are fleeing to the more affordable states of Arizona, Nevada and Texas.
Census data from mid-2016 to 2017 indicated California experienced a net loss of just over 138,000 people, while Texas had a net increase of more than 79,000 people. Arizona gained more than 63,000 residents, and Nevada gained more than 38,000.
According to a recent survey by the San Francisco Bay Area Council, 46 percent of those surveyed said they are likely to move out of the Bay Area in the next few years — this up from 40 percent last year and 34 percent in 2016. They cite fewer affordable housing options, and the desire for a better quality of life.
Although this outbound migration includes mostly lower-income Californians, the trend is now shifting to middle-income workers and retirees who can no longer enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in California. Already the highest taxed state in the nation, some residents of California are now faced with even higher taxes due to the capped deduction in the new tax laws.
Many Californians are taking advantage of their buying power in other states with the substantial equity they have after selling their homes. In Arizona, they can buy properties for a fraction of housing costs in California, and still have money left over.
Karen Russo and her family have lived in southern Arizona for 12 years after migrating from northern California. Now Russo’s parents have just relocated to the Tucson area after losing their Santa Rosa home in the Tubbs fire of 2017. “They had lived in that house since 1982 and they had quite a bit of equity in the property,” said Russo, “My dad had just retired a year before the fire and the home was paid off. They didn’t want to take out a loan just to re-build.” Russo explained that the cost to re-build on a lot in northern California was higher than taking their equity to Arizona and having money left-over for their retirement. “They were able to get a larger lot here,” she said.
In southern Arizona, Californians are building their dream homes and banking the rest. They are seeking communities with open spaces and easy living, without the of traffic congestion of the big city but still close to modern conveniences and shopping.
One such community is Red Hawk at J6 Ranch, a 25-minute drive from Tucson. Home lots are 3.3 acres on average and priced under $100,000. At 4,300 feet in elevation, the weather in Red Hawk is comfortable most of the year, with virtually no disastrous climate events like earthquakes, tornadoes flooding and fires. It’s an area rich with history and stunning mountain views. JFK spent the summer of 1936 working at the J6 as a ranch hand.
Major employers are nearby as well, with more on the way. Raytheon Missile Systems continues to expand its Arizona operations, while Caterpillar and Amazon have started construction on what will be two of the largest facilities in the region, creating numerous employment opportunities.
“People are moving here for the location, the scenery, the climate and good schools,” said Brad owner of MC2 Homes. A custom home builder currently constructing on two lots in Red Hawk at J6 Ranch, Cooper said the people relocating to the area “are looking for a quieter, slower lifestyle.”
Californians looking to escape the expensive living and start living richly have a place to call home in southern Arizona.