“They got their pound of flesh out of me… I’m leaving.”
What could possibly make someone leave San Diego, California for a move to Henderson, Nevada? According to our latest interview on Leaving California, “quality of life.”
Everyone is piling on California these days, and for many valid reasons. California is always ranked as one of the worst states in the country in which to run a business, while many other states are ranked at the top of the chart. “California has it real bad, with the state’s ideal climate and digital-tech dominance simply not able to overcome CEOs’ impressions that the Golden State just doesn’t care about how expensive and difficult it is to do business there,” Chief Executive says. “So it keeps hogging the bottom of the Chief Executive list.”
“Perennial No. 1 Texas is an example.” Texas always ranks as one of the best. Chief Executive rankings show Texas in first place and California in an embarrassing last place at 50th.
Nevada ranks in the Top 10 in the nation among the top-performing states in Chief Executive magazine’s 2019 Best & Worst States for Business survey.
While Nevada has made some “missteps,” “Nevada remains increasingly attractive to CEOs such as Billy Thompson, who recently moved his startup active-wear company, Thompson Tee, to Las Vegas from California, escaping high costs of doing business and of living there,” Chief Executive reported.
“The people we interact with in Nevada just generally seem to be happier,” Thompson tells Chief Executive. “Our theory is that it’s less crowded and has a lower cost of living, meaning people can enjoy middle-class jobs and income here and a quality middle-class life.”
California Globe interviewed John, a born-and-raised San Diego resident, who left San Diego’s “paradise” for Henderson, NV, mostly because of quality of life issues, as well as some economic reasons.
After college, John landed a good job in Huntington Beach, CA – “almost like San Diego” he said. But as he and his wife had started a family, they realized they really wanted to raise them in San Diego. So by 1994, they moved back to San Diego and scraped the money together to buy a home for $220,000. John said they raised their three kids there. But by the 2000’s, John said he started noticing changes in idyllic San Diego, as well as in the rest of the state.
John, 55, described growing up in laid-back San Diego. He said he and his friends used to hop on a bus and go to the beach, staying all day. They played outside until after dark. He wanted this for his kids. But by the early 2000’s John said his kids couldn’t live the way he had. And, the quality of life was going down, and getting much more expensive.
He noticed more hustle and bustle, and people were stressed all of the time. Freeways became congested, and everyone was in a hurry all of the time. “Southern California used to be so laid-back and chill – and we always heard, ‘the people are so nice,'” he added. “The it suddenly seemed people were no longer were ‘so nice.’ They were stressed out.”
John said he noticed that nearly every family now had both parents working because they could no longer afford to have one parent stay at home.”With two parents working now, the roads and freeways were more congested everywhere, and the stress level was going up.”
John said he was doing fine financially, but was seeing less and less of his income, and realized more and more local and state government intrusion. The quality of life just wasn’t there any more.
By 2016, John’s kids were grown and he and his wife decided to divorce – amicably. She chose to stay in San Diego, but John said he started to look throughout the Western United States. They sold their house, purchased in 1994 for $220,000, for $800,000 in 2016. He described it as a basic 2,300 square foot suburban ranch home.
Seeking a quality of life similar to what he grew up with, John said he was surprised at how many places throughout the Western United States offer this. So he narrowed his search to a closer proximity to San Diego, where he still had a lot of family and friends, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area, as he works as a software engineer in Silicon Valley.
John chose Henderson, Nevada, only 16 miles southeast of downtown Las Vegas. He needed a metropolitan airport fairly close to travel for work. “I can be at the office in the Bay Area even before my local coworkers are,” he said about flying there.
He also said he was looking for some place where he could retire in a few years, and still have a high quality of life.
Additionally, John’s hobbies were becoming a problem in California. As with one of our other interviews, John is a competitive shooter. “Half of my equipment, purchased legally, was now declared illegal by the State of California,” John said. He is also a motorcycle enthusiast, and said the costs associated were “getting ridiculous.” John said he registered a new truck in California in 2016, and the registration fees cost him $800.00.
“They got their pound of flesh out of me… I’m leaving,” John said.
He said he also chose Henderson because it reminded him of his old San Diego neighborhood. What John didn’t expect was lower utility bills. In San Diego he paid $400 per month for his electricity and gas, and that was without using any air conditioning. “I’ve been running my air conditioning 24/7 for the last two months, and my peak summer bill has been $300,” John said. “Energy is pretty cheap here.” John has just installed solar panels on his roof, and anticipates within a few months, his electricity bill will be zero.
Notably, John said when he received his first paycheck after his move to Nevada, “it had an empty box where the state income tax was supposed to go!” Nevada has no state income tax, and all retirement income is tax-free at the state level.
The average property tax rate for Nevada is just 0.77 percent, well below the national average of 1.19 percent. Nevada’s statewide sales tax rate of 6.85 percent is eighth-highest in the U.S. Local sales tax rates can raise the sales tax up to 8.265 percent. But with no income tax, low property taxes, the sales tax is a true consumption tax.
John said prior to his departure from San Diego, the roads and local freeways were like roads in third-world countries. “They just gave up trying to maintain roads,” he said. And he noticed homeless and tent encampments everywhere. “Even in the suburbs, the smell of feces, urine, and fires were everywhere” the homeless were. “It’s creeping everywhere – even in the suburbs!”
The July 1st gas tax bump sent gas prices in San Diego above $4.30 per gallon, while Nevada averaged $3.26 during the same period.
“I didn’t leave California, California left me,” John said, echoing what every other person California Globe has interviewed said.