It seems impossible to imagine a time when California wasn’t seen as a hugely desirable state to live and work in. From its attractive climate to its economic clout and cultural relevance, becoming a Californian has been an aspiration for millions.
However, times are changing and some west coast residents are choosing to up sticks and relocate to other parts of the country, with Texas being an especially popular destination. So why is this happening, and what makes Texas appealing as an alternative to California?
Operating a business is cheaper
While California is still a business powerhouse, in some ways it is a victim of its own success, which means that it can be expensive to establish and sustain a commercial organization within its borders, especially if you want to set up shop in one of the larger urban areas.
In comparison, office space rentals in Houston and other leading Texan cities are far less of a budgetary burden. This means that businesses are incentivized to establish outposts in Texas, taking their workforces with them.
Another effect of this trend is that there are simply more jobs available in Texas, especially in industries which California itself is not a specialist in offering. Likewise with a large, highly educated population, there are plenty of people already living in the state who can fill available roles.
If you want to buy a home in California, then you need to face up to some of the highest property prices in the world, or face up to the fact that you will be renting for the rest of your working life.
Conversely, Texas has far more attainable asking prices for domestic and commercial property alike, which means as well as being favorable to businesses, it will hook employees as well, since you can get more for your money.
The sheer scale of Texas helps with this to a degree, although it can accommodate every kind of desire a buyer might have in terms of the type and scope of the property in question.
Based on state-to-state migration figures from the U.S. Census Bureau — net migration from California to Texas in 2018 and 2019 was between 45,000 and 50,000 people per year. That’s about one-tenth of 1% of California’s population. In 2017 — the year of Hurricane Harvey — the net migration was only 22,000. It has doubled since then.
Income tax is not levied against individuals
Most states have their own unique approach to tax, and Texas is one of just a few places in the US where residents are not required to pay state income tax on their personal earnings each year.
There are of course other kinds of taxes which do apply, but the lack of state-level income tax could be enough of a perk to convince people from elsewhere to choose Texas as their state of residence, especially if they are lucky enough to take home a hefty salary.
Living costs are lower
Texas offers almost all of the same amenities as California, and yet the cost of living there is lower across the board, not only in terms of property prices.
Whether picking up groceries at the local store, buying a ticket to the movies, paying the babysitter or visiting a gym, the average cost of doing so will be lower in Texas.
Some of California’s biggest cities can feel both chaotic and disconnected, with Los Angeles being a particular problem in this regard, with its congestion-clogged freeways and its sprawling expanse.
Meanwhile in Texas, cities like Dallas are just more pleasant places to live in, thanks in part to just how much space is set aside for green, natural areas like parks.
Whether this exodus of Californians to Texas will continue remains to be seen, but it is certainly a trend to watch.
TEXAS IS MORE CONSERVATIVE THAN CALIFORNIA
Even those moving to Texas’ liberal bastion of Austin are probably going to feel the difference in political climate. They can find like-minded individuals in Texas’s major cities, especially as the migration from high-cost blue states drives other liberals down south. It’s likely to still be a culture shock for some. They’re definitely going to feel the conservatism concretely through state-level policies. Texas and California politics are almost diametric opposites. That includes:
- Greater obstacles to abortion
- Lower minimum wage
- Limited power for organized labor
- No “sanctuary state” protections (though major cities battled the state)
- Laxer environmental policies
- Fewer business regulations
- Less investment in public transportation
- Open-carry gun laws