Daniel Richards

21 Reasons Why Americans Don’t Like California Anymore

California was the promised land for generations of ambitious Americans who wanted to improve their lives. But a recent poll has suggested that as many as 4 out of 10 Californians are considering moving out of the state. Here are 21 reasons why people are leaving California.

High Taxes

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Many residents have decided to leave California due to the state’s high tax burdens. Income tax, property tax, and sales tax have all reached new heights in recent years. This has made living here much less affordable than it used to be and a lot more expensive than many other parts of the country.

High Cost of Living 

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USA Today has reported that the high cost of living in California is the main driver of people moving away, according to experts. The average cost of living is reportedly 1.32 times more expensive than the average across the country.

Housing Affordability

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California has been accused of not being effective in lowering the cost of living primarily because not enough homes are being built. With too many people chasing too few homes, prices have skyrocketed, and the state’s economy risks being thrown into crisis. 

Traffic Congestion

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The state is famous for being car-centric. During peak hours, 87% of California’s urban Interstate highways are considered congested. Although there have been attempts to widen some of the roads to ease traffic, objections have been raised about the possibility of causing more environmental damage.

Crumbling Infrastructure

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Previously one of the most well-thought-out states in America, California’s infrastructure is now crumbling, according to the Hoover Institution. In 2016, it was reported that the state would need to invest an additional $5.7 billion into transport to meet basic road and transportation maintenance. 

Natural Disasters

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Despite being known as the Sunshine State, California has been famous for extreme weather occurrences for many years. In January last year, at least 19 people were killed in a series of storms that left huge areas flooded. Meanwhile, climate change is thought to have increased the risk of wildfires by around 25%.

Politics

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Many of California’s residents have become disillusioned and frustrated with the political climate in the state, where many experimental policies not seen in other parts of the country have made citizens feel like guinea pigs. 

Education

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California’s public education system was once the envy of the whole country. But a lack of public funding, as well as strikes and overcrowded classrooms, have helped to paint a pretty grim picture of the system today. In 2012, the Center for Cities and Schools at UC Berkeley reported that a total of $117 billion was needed to invest in state school facilities. 

Strict Regulations

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California’s government has placed strict compliance obligations on individuals and businesses alike. This is the result of policies regarding a range of issues from business practices to the environment. The result has been that entrepreneurial endeavors have been stifled, leaving many ambitious residents frustrated. 

Crime

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In 2022, California’s annual report on crime revealed that violent crime had increased by 6.1% in the previous year. The state also saw increases in property crime and robberies. This has been reflected in Californians’ concern about crime growing every year, leading many to up and leave for safer areas.

Environment

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California is the home of countless natural beauty spots, drawing millions of visitors every year. But environmental damage has wreaked havoc along the state’s coastlines. Last year, huge waves along northern California resulted in mudslides, sinkholes, and flooding, which washed away walls of people’s homes. The risk to property has forced many people to consider moving away.

Lack of Opportunities

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A couple of years ago, it was reported that California had the highest jobless rate in the country. This was partly put down to the state’s slow return from COVID-era levels. Even in 2024, California’s job growth is lagging behind most states, forcing people to look elsewhere for opportunities. 

Overpopulation

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While the state ranks 10th among states for population density, almost half of the population lives in just five counties in Southern California. The state’s population is expected to peak at between 39 and 40 million people. If people continue to leave, it could lead to other problems presented by underpopulation. 

Air Quality

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For decades, California has been plagued by large amounts of the air pollutant known as soot. The Los Angeles basin and the San Joaquin Valley are thought to contain some of the nation’s worst soot levels.

Lack of Water

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California was the first state to make safe drinking water a human right. But the Los Angeles Times reported last year that it is now facing a real struggle to provide clean drinking water to its residents. This has been put down to many factors, including allegations of discriminatory policies and lack of investment in the worst-affected communities.

Economic Divide

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The problems with California’s economy are only made more stark by the enormous wealth gap that exists among its residents. While a small proportion of Californians live in extreme wealth and privilege, neighborhoods like Skid Row highlight just how unequal Californian society really is.

Celebrities

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A lot of Californians have expressed exasperation with the culture of celebrity worship that goes along with being the home of Hollywood. With so many people moving to the state to chase fame and fortune, a feeling of inauthenticity has resulted in residents leaving to find something more real.

Opioid Epidemic

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A problem across the US, the nation’s problems with drug overdoses, particularly in California, are terrifying. In just three years, between 2019 and 2021, opioid-related deaths increased by a shocking 121%, according to the state’s health department.

Healthcare

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California’s healthcare system has a long list of flaws, such as huge costs for individuals and a lack of access in rural areas. There have also been reports of disparities in healthcare among different racial and ethnic groups, with Black Californians being hit hardest.

Homelessness

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California has the highest number of homeless people in the country. Although billions have been spent to fight the problem in recent years, the situation only became worse between 2018 and 2022.

Mental Health

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A mental health crisis in California has led to the creation of new government programs aimed at adults and young people suffering from mental illness. However, a review of 15 programs found that funding has been inconsistent. Right now, it is thought that almost 1 in 7 Californians experience mental illness.

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