Why Are Californians Moving to Austin, Texas?
Article By Emily Miller
If you live in Texas, you’ve probably heard all the jokes about Californians overrunning Austin and other major Texan cities. It’s true, more Californians are turning to the Lone Star State, and in fact, the trend can be traced all the way back to the 2008 recession. California, as glamorous as it is, is also infamously expensive, and there’s no better time than a recession to seek out greener, more inexpensive pastures.
The trend has been steadily growing ever since, with 2018 seeing a 36.4% growth in Californians making the move to Texas. In 2019 alone, over half a million Californians chose Texas as their new home. In fact, California currently stands as the no. 1 source of newcomers in Austin.
With the 2020 pandemic, the number of transplants has continued to grow, but what is it about Texas that attracts so many Californians? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why Austin, Texas is one of the most desirable cities for them to move to.
1. Affordability Is Not an Issue
One of the primary driving forces behind the California - Texas exodus is economic in nature. California is simply becoming too expensive for a lot of residents, who feel forced to move to less expensive areas of the country in order to achieve better economic opportunities and a better chance for a thriving future.
The cost of living in the state of California is sitting at an index of 149.9, compared to 93.9 for Texas, and 119.3 for Austin, where 100 is the national average. That’s a cut in overall cost of living expenses of around 50%, which can make a major difference, especially long-term.
Everything from groceries to utilities and other miscellaneous costs are right around the national average or even lower – a far cry from the overpriced life of a Los Angeles resident.
2. Housing Is More Attainable
It’s no secret that California, and Los Angeles in particular, has a huge problem with affordable housing. Residents who are not already independently wealthy or professionally established may find it difficult or even impossible to own their own home. That is one of the primary causes that are driving Californians away in droves.
And where are they going? To Texas. Especially for young families looking for a home, Texas offers better opportunities for home ownership and larger houses – even in highly coveted cities like Austin. The median house price in Austin is just $369,000, almost half compared to California’s median house price of $586,659, making home ownership a much more attainable goal for the average person.
That can make a major difference in the finances of the average family, especially long-term. Over a ten-year period, one may be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars saved.
3. There Are Ample Work Opportunities
While California has a lot of professional opportunities up for grabs, the competition is also high for these roles. Since it’s one of the most competitive and sought-after areas in the country, it makes sense to seek to relocate somewhere that offers more opportunities to make a living. Major cities in Texas are growing and thriving, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and especially Austin.
Austin is the tech hub of Texas, and is primed to continue to grow and develop even further, to the point of seriously competing with California in terms of opportunities for progress and career advancement in tech.
We know that Californians are attracted to Austin because it’s urban, developed, and offers plenty of amenities, from nightlife to restaurants, opportunities for cultural enrichment, and internet speed and accessibility to support the growing number of remote companies and employees. We can expect to see more people flocking to the city in the following years.
4. Population Density Is Lower
One contributing factor that cannot be ignored in 2020 is the pandemic and how that is affecting people and businesses. This year has seen a dramatic increase in California to Texas transplants simply because of COVID-19 alone.
Texas has a much lower overall population density, with Austin sitting at 3,089 people per square mile. For comparison, cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco exceed 15,000 per square mile. That means it’s much easier to avoid contact with people than it is in an overcrowded city.
Austin has been the destination of choice for a lot of people due to the lower risk and the less strict restrictions surrounding the virus, enabling them to keep their businesses open.
5. The Weather Is Gorgeous
California is the Sunshine State, which makes it an appealing forever home, and difficult to leave or become accustomed to a colder climate. From that point of view, Texas is an obvious contender for Californian transplants. The weather is similarly attractive, and doesn’t require a severe adjustment in that regard.
Austin sees an average of 300 sunny days per year, and that alone places it at the very top of the list. California residents are used to an outdoor lifestyle, so it helps that Austin offers numerous activities to enjoy in the sun, including swimming and an active biking and hiking culture.
6. Wildfires Aren’t A Problem
In recent years, California has been experiencing more wildfires than ever before, partly due to climate change. But Texas isn’t struggling with the same dangers. While Texas weather does, in fact, reach higher temperatures, wildfires are rare, because the vast majority of its land mass is in the care of private owners, who can more diligently prevent and stave off wildfires.
Especially considering how much wildfires contribute to pollution levels, Texas air is clean and breathable, and one doesn’t need to worry about out of control fires threatening their livelihood.
7. The Air Is Cleaner
For many who leave, California is becoming borderline unlivable because of the poor air quality and the high pollution rate. Between the sheer amount of people, the multitude of cars, and the frequent wildfires, places like Los Angeles are infamous for their negative impact on the health, lifestyle, and quality of life of their residents.
With few to no wildfires, more space, and significantly fewer people and vehicles, Austin is a no-brainer for any California resident who is looking for a healthier alternative. Austin’s pollution index is low, and their purity and air cleanliness index is high. That hangs heavily in the balance, especially for families with children.
As things continue to change around the country and people are abandoning overcrowded hubs like New York or Los Angeles, Texas is becoming a more and more attractive location, especially for Californians who are seeking a better, more affordable lifestyle.
Austin is one of the most popular destinations, not just because of its more affordable housing and cost of living, but also because of its excellent weather, lower pollution levels, and continued growth.