Home / Population and society / Articles / 725,000 people left California in 2020. Which states did they move to?

Texas had the most California transplants from 2020 to 2021: 105,000. Arizona (with 63,000 California transplants) and Nevada (55,000) were next highest.

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Which states had the most people moving to and from California?

Including both people who moved in and out of the state, California gained net residents from four states: New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. California lost a net total of nearly 70,000 residents to Texas, and 37,800 to Arizona.

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Which states have the highest proportion of California transplants?

While Texas was the most common destination for people moving from California, it is also one of the most populous states in the country. As a result, recent movers from California only made up around 0.36% of the 2021 Texas population.

Nevada and Idaho had the highest proportion of recent California transplants, at 1.74% and 1.38%.

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Why are people moving?

While there is no data on the reasons driving people from California in the past few years, previous research can give some potential reasons for migration.

From 2000 to 2019, the most common self-reported reasons for interstate migration were job-related, including a new job, looking for work, or an easier commute. The second-most-common reason was family, including getting married or moving away from home.

From 2007 to 2016, California had the highest net out-migration from lower income groups as well as families with kids. At the same time, it experienced in-migration from high-income earners.

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County-level data can give some indication of moving factors. In 2020, California counties near the Nevada or Oregon state borders lost the most residents, in addition to residents of San Diego and San Francisco counties. These two areas have some of the highest housing costs in California, as well as some of the highest earners, so movers may have left the state for cheaper housing. Those living near the border may have left California to adjacent states.

The most popular county destinations for Californians were King County, Washington, Clark County, Nevada, and Maricopa County, Arizona. These three counties were the only counties with over 1,000 new movers from California.

Where did this data come from?

This data came from the IRS based on filed tax returns. The data has information on tax filers who moved at county, state, and international levels. However, it misses low-income residents who choose not to file taxes. In 2020, IRS provided data on the returns of 31.7M out of 39.5M Californians.

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2021 population estimates
Migration data