Housing affordability remains a knotty topic of debate in Sacramento, and for good reason. The cost of housing has been a drag on the state’s economy for years, and most Californians have a grim view of housing affordability. These concerns have gained salience in the current economic context: our February 2023 survey found that a sizable share of Californians are at least somewhat concerned about having enough money to pay for housing and are seriously considering a move out of the part of Californian they currently live in.
Record numbers of people have left California, including groups who have traditionally stayed put, such as higher-income residents. Many (45%) say housing costs have made them seriously consider moving—with three-quarters of this group saying they would move outside the state. We began asking this question regularly in 2017, and our findings have not ranged widely over the past six years. However, it is notable that the share seriously considering a move is about twice as large as it was in 2004—and that this growth is driven by people considering interstate moves.
The shares seriously considering a move outside the state have increased by 19 percentage points since 2004. There have been double-digit increases across most political, regional, and demographic groups—the exceptions are liberals (+8) and San Francisco Bay Area residents (+9). As it does with many issues in the Golden State, politics plays a role: nearly half of Republicans, independents, and conservatives (44%, +30), say housing prices have them considering a move outside of California, compared to fewer Democrats and liberals (24%, +8).
Across regions, residents in the San Francisco Bay Area (23%, +9) are the least likely to consider an interstate move, while about a third or more in Los Angeles (34%, +20), the Central Valley (37%, +23), Orange/San Diego (37% +17), and the Inland Empire (40%, +26) are considering it.
Showing the breadth of the change since 2004, the share considering a move out of the state has about doubled across all income and education groups. And there have been double-digit increases across racial/ethnic groups: about one in four Asian Americans (26%, +13) report that they are considering an interstate move, compared to at least one in three Latinos (33%, +19), whites (35%, +20), and African Americans (38%, +17).
The contrast between the inclination to move over the past several years and the views expressed in 2004—when net interstate migration was less dynamic—is notable. As Governor Newsom and the legislature grapple with housing costs in California, PPIC will continue to monitor legislative and budget proposals, Californians’ views on housing, and pertinent demographic and housing trends.