Not long ago, on a bright, sunny, San Diego day, Dave, my indispensable, he-makes-house-calls computer guy, was working on my PC.
He said, “I’ve got something to tell you.”
Words that strike fear into everyone’s heart. Was my computer not fixable?
To prepare myself I said, “I’m not going to like this, am I?”
“Well…” he said.
I sat down.
Expecting the worst.
It was worse than I expected.
Dave said, “I’m moving to Texas.”
I didn’t say that, but I felt it. What I said was, “Wow, that’s big news! Where? When?”
“Greenville,” Dave said, “at the end of the month.”
Then he pulled out his phone to show me pictures of the house he’d bought. “Three bedrooms, two baths, an acre of property.”
Dave grinned. “We paid $150,000.”
His grin was understandable.
This is what $150,000 buys you in California:
Dave had been fixing our computers for 10 years. He was smart, reliable, available – everything you need when your computer is malfunctioning.
Indispensable Dave was leaving.
This news came just a week after Chip, our wonderful handyman who’s been fixing stuff around our house for six years, told me he was moving.
“Closer to family and a better life for the kids,” he explained.
Wonderful Chip who, like Dave, was smart, reliable and available. Two service providers I’ve been able to count on for years.
Both of them: Leaving.
Later, I emailed my next-door neighbor, John, who had referred me to both Dave and Chip. “Have you heard about Dave and Chip leaving?” I asked.
John had, and added, “I know seven or eight couples moving out of state. I’d go myself if I were a younger man raising a family.”
What’s going on here? I wondered. Is this a new pandemic – people leaving California?
It turns out there is a lot of it going around – but it’s not new, according to this December 2020 story:
The article says,
“For the second year in a row, more people left California than moved there. The result was a net migration loss of 135,600 people.”
A net loss of 135,600 people would be as if the entire population of Charleston, SC packed up and moved out of state, and brought along some suburbanites along with them.
This January 5 article…
…confirmed that, and also confirmed that plenty of those Californians were headed for Texas (like Dave) and Tennessee (like Chip), but also to Florida, Ohio, Arizona, Nevada…basically…
These and other articles all offer reasons for the exodus, among them:
- The cost of housing, whether it’s buying or renting.
- The appeal of living in states with no income taxes.
- High taxes in general – for example, California has the highest state-level sales tax rate, at 7.25 percent.
- Gasoline prices – this morning in California, according to AAA, it’s $3.42 per gallon, while the national average is $2.43.
- For some, the left-wing politics – states don’t get much bluer than California.
And if all that wasn’t enough, just recently my cousin – a resident of North Carolina – emailed me and said,
“Have you ever considered moving away from CA and away from earthquakes (you know The Big One is coming) and wildfires? And mudslides and tsunamis. I worry about you guys being where you are.”
Well, there’s no denying California’s earthquakes and wildfires and mudslides. But tsunamis? I scoffed. We don’t get those here. Obviously I’d forgotten this 2011 event…
…when a 9.0 earthquake in 2011 in Japan triggered a massive wave that traveled 5,000 miles across the ocean, causing damage up and down the West Coast as far south as San Diego.
San Diego. That’s where I live.
But people are still moving here, and it’s easy to find online articles with plenty of reasons why: The weather, the diversity, the weather, the food scene, the weather, and how about our beautiful Highway 1, a 650-mile ribbon that runs along the coast and is described as “one of the most beautiful scenic drives that one can find in the entire United States.”
Well, it was…until this happened to Highway 1 near Big Sur on January 28:
“California dreaming,” indeed.
I can’t deny it: Taken together, there are plenty of reasons to exit California.
But – at least in terms of natural disasters – exit to where?
Where in this country aren’t there natural disasters?