(NBC) – The Golden State has lost its luster for people seeking a higher quality of living. California is losing residents by the thousands, led by exiting millennials.
California used to be the place where everyone dreamed of going. Now, people dream of leaving.
Sydney Mulkey is a 30-year-old educator from Oakland who was living with her grandmother to make ends meet. “My economic situation there was not great,” she explained. “At one point I was working three jobs and I was just really tired. So that was kind of the last straw.” So she moved to Portland, Oregon where she got the same job for more pay and was able to buy a brand new townhouse.
Danielle and Scott Fortier are Los Angeles natives who picked up and moved their family and small business to Nashville. “We’ve been relocated here about six months,” Scott said, “and in that six months we’ve already had six friends or six couples relocate to the same area also.”
These are not isolated examples. The Census Bureau says California had a net loss of 190,000 residents last year. Still a relatively small number, but growing.
Joel Kotkin with Chapman University said, “People have this image of all these old people who are frustrated leaving, but actually the ones who are leaving are family age people, people 30 to 54 age group. The numbers are showing us more and more people making one hundred thousand, even two hundred thousand a year that are now leaving.”
For the Fortiers, moving to Nashville has allowed them to save for retirement. Scott Fortier no longer has to work 80 hour weeks. They traded in a 3100-square-foot house on a small lot in L.A. for a larger house on seven acres in Tennessee which includes a building for their business. Scott said, “Property taxes in California were about $7,200 a year. And our property taxes here are $2,800 a year.”
Migration out of California could have national implications. The state’s unique culture of innovation took decades to build and benefit the whole country, attracting the best and brightest from around the world. That’s not easily recreated elsewhere.
“There is no substitute for California,” Kotkin said. “When somebody moves from California to Dallas, they may live a better life. Will they have the same impact they would have had had they been in California? I’m not so sure.”
But do these millennials miss California? “And I think leaving our family was the hardest part,” Scott said. Mulkey added, “Yeah I do. Especially on days like today when it’s just rainy and bloomy and very dark at 7:30 in the morning.”
But California’s famous weather may no longer be enough.