- People are leaving the most economically powerful and populous state in droves
- California has seen its population decline for first time in state’s 171-year history
- Families are being driven away by cost of living, crime fears, taxes and wildfires
Scott Thatcher and his wife Angela were born in California and love the sun-kissed Golden State. But two months ago they sold their home, packed up their belongings and travelled 1,700 miles with their three sons to start a new life in Texas.
Despite earning good salaries with secure jobs as a driver and a nurse, the family’s combined income of about $140,000 (£99,000) a year was not enough to prosper in their town of Modesto, about 90 minutes east of San Francisco.
‘We were surviving but not thriving,’ said Scott, 35. ‘We were getting by but it felt like we would never really get ahead.’
The pandemic was the final straw after politicians shut down schools in the state. Now the couple have a far bigger home in Fort Worth – and although they earn slightly less, they take home more money thanks to lower taxes in Texas. As Scott says: ‘You pay a high premium for the Californian lifestyle.’
But increasingly, people are deciding this is a premium no longer worth paying and joining the exodus from America’s most populous and economically powerful state.