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Leaving California: Interviews With Californians Who Moved To Greener Pastures

‘In Texas, government is an afterthought’

By Katy Grimes, July 16, 2019 2:04 am

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 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.

California’s real estate market is good for sellers, but bad for buyers – it’s expensive and there is a shortage of available and affordable residential homes. The rental market is even worse, largely because of thousands of pages of regulations imposed on developers and builders making it cost prohibitive even before the ground has broken.

Last month in the California Senate, Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson argued that it is a myth that people are leaving the Golden State. “I am frankly tired of hearing how people in the state of California are leaving,” Sen. Jackson said. Jackson added that when people are stuck in legendary traffic on the 405 in Los Angeles, or on the 101 in Santa Barbara County, “people aren’t leaving the state. They are going from place to place.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom argued that California’s “gross domestic product outperforms all other states.” The state “is still the envy of the world,” Newsom told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Newsom also promised a group of executives at the June 2019 Pacific Summit in San Francisco: “We’re not going to be the cheapest place to do business, but you knew that 50 years ago,” WolfStreet reported. “He mentioned some of the reforms. ‘We’re making progress, and I hope you’ll start focusing on that rather than the 13.3% damn tax rate.’”

The denials are expected, but a dose of reality is also important.

A February survey by Edelman Intelligence found that 62 percent of Californians feel the best days of living in California are behind them. It could be higher now with the drug-addicts, homeless and transient explosion living on California city streets, spreading filth and diseases, selling and taking drugs, and breaking into homes, cars and businesses.

The survey also found 53 percent of Californians are seriously considering moving out of state due to the high cost of living –  Millennials say the same, at an even higher rate of 63 percent. With the median home price $611,000, and condos/townhomes topping $470,000, is it any wonder?

The survey found 72 percent say the lack of availability and the high cost of housing is a dominant issue, and this bumps up to 76 percent in the San Francisco Bay Area.

However, the same people surveyed said that because businesses make large profits “while draining local resources and straining infrastructure, they owe it to the public to contribute more to solving our local problems.” Go figure. Most business owners are facing their own set of state-induced problems.

Recently California Globe interviewed several individuals and business owners who left California for greener pastures. The Globe wanted to know what economic improvements they experienced, as well as regulatory improvements, whether there was less or more government intrusion, and any liberties and freedoms newly realized.

Former California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore

Former Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine) was in the California State Assembly from 2004 to 2010. DeVore ran as the Republican candidate for the United States Senate against then-Sen. Barbara Boxer, and lost. Shortly thereafter, in 2011 DeVore, his wife, kids and elderly parents and in-laws moved to Texas.  DeVore has been working for the Texas Public Policy Foundation since, and is Vice President for National Initiatives.

In an interview with Mr. DeVore, he said that he and his wife initially made the decision to move because they had taken on the responsibility of two aging parents with special needs, and their home in Irvine became rather tight with kids and grandparents under one roof. Finding another suitable home for a reasonable price was no longer an option as prices had soared the Orange County. At the same time, DeVore had agreed to write a book for the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

With two kids, DeVore said he and his wife also were concerned that California ranks dead last in the number of students completing high school and receiving a diploma.

So they moved to Texas. DeVore said they bought a lovely larger home than they had in Irvine, outside of Austin in the hill country on two acres, with a pool. And there was plenty of room for the in-laws to have their own rooms.

While Austin is the most progressive city in Austin, he said the permitting is not nearly as intrusive.

About permitting and government intrusion in Texas, DeVore had an interesting perspective: “It is akin to how during the Cold War in the U.S., unless something was prohibited, it was allowed,” he said. “In the Soviet Union it was the opposite – Unless something was allowed, it was prohibited. That is more like California now.”

It became clear that because of his experience as a lawmaker in California, he had a unique perspective, and noticed more about the economy and job status. “There are so many more manufacturing jobs,” he said. “And because of the lower cost of living, you can own a pickup truck, live in a nice house and raise a family without public assistance.”

Chuck DeVore

“California now is like a dystopian sci-fi film with the ultra-wealthy living on a space station, while the rest of the people who serve them, live on earth in squalor,” DeVore said. “Like Hollywood and Silicon Valley — very desirable areas. But the Central Valley, Fresno, Stockton are the forgotten, left-behind areas. How long can we continue to do this?”

Texas does not have a state income tax, therefore government collects less from each taxpayer, DeVore said. The American Legislative Exchange Council has found that over the past decade, states without a personal income tax have consistently outperformed – on GDP growth, employment growth and in-state migration – the nine states with the highest taxes on personal income.

The states without personal income taxes are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

New Hampshire and Tennessee residents don’t pay an income tax but do pay tax on dividends and income from investments.

As for healthcare in Texas, DeVore said some of the state’s Democrats want to expand Medicaid in the state. But he says, access to doctors and hospitals is better. In California there is a six to nine month wait to see a doctor under Medi-Cal, California’s form of Medicaid. DeVore said the left continues to conflate “coverage” and “access,” just as California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom does.

Houston is known internationally for its medical care and available doctors and specialists, DeVore said. “Even the indigent care in Texas for the working poor is better,” DeVore added.

Texas has its share of labor unions, but it is more balanced, DeVore said. “Everyone has to play along.”

“Land use is better than California, except maybe for the big cities,” DeVore said.

Lastly, we spoke about the demographics of both Texas and California. DeVore had some very interesting information on this. “There’s a lot of fear that the demographics of Texas will go the way of California,” DeVore said, noting that California has dramatically changed over the years with the influx of immigrants from Mexico and Central America. “California’s migrants come from very impoverished areas, and corrupt countries, as well as underdeveloped,” DeVore said. “In Texas, there are much stronger economic ties going back hundreds of years with Mexico.” Devore said there have always been migrants crossing over the border regularly for economic reasons – jobs in steel factories, and work in resorts on the Yucatan Peninsula. “There are much more vibrant entrepreneurial and industrial ties that go back to the founding of Texas,” he said. “The Mexicans here are much more likely to call themselves ‘Texans.'”

Since moving to Texas, DeVore said he has been contacted by many California constructions businesses, friends, other business owners and even former colleagues about making the move. He said government is more decentralized and there are far fewer ADA lawsuits, fewer regulations on equipment and construction. “In California, the thought of government telling you what to do is frequently on the mind. In Texas there is a different vibe. People here view government as more of an afterthought.”

Oh, and the average cost of gas in Texas right now is $1.99 per gallon. California gas is $3.75 average, and nationally AAAs daily tally has it at $2.79 per gallon on average.

Katy Grimes

Katy Grimes, the Editor of the California Globe, is a long-time Investigative Journalist covering the California State Capitol, and the co-author of California's War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?
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24 thoughts on “Leaving California: Interviews With Californians Who Moved To Greener Pastures

  1. May God bless you and your family members, Chuck. No question, the best days of California are in the rear view mirror.

  2. I am a lifelong Californian who has left the state for many of the reasons noted in this article. I am a semi-retired attorney and spent my career in private practice representing California local governmental agencies. I was also active in Republican politics. As I reached the age of potential retirement, it became clear to me that staying in California was no longer an option, economically or politically. One of my children had moved to Indiana and after several visits over the years, my husband and I decided to become Hoosiers. We love it. I am general counsel to our local Republican Party and maintain a limited local law practice. The politics in our community are mixed and challenging and I am a integral part of that. Housing is reasonable in price and communities are safe and clean. As I have told friends and family, we were able to get twice the house for half the money when we moved. What a joy to be able to be a part of a real community where ideas can differ but people work together to find reasonable solutions to problems. I make a point of keeping up on news in California because every day it affirms the wisdom of our decision to pick up stakes and walk away.

  3. We also left about two years ago and at first, I missed the Kaly culture.. It’s fast-paced and can be exciting at times. Beaches, redwoods, great restaurants, etc BUT.. after moving to a nearby state, it took a year, but the difference is very clear. People are friendly, polite, no middle fingers, little crude talk, the kids actually open doors at stores for you and say please and thank you.
    Food, Gas, utilities, roads, infrastructure all work. Even the darn DMV only took 45 minutes to get get my license and plates.. Wow
    Yes life can be and is better outside of the lunatic asylum called Kalyfornia
    PS.. You not an enemy of the state if you own firearms and CCW’s are cheap and easy to get.

    1. Your description of how it is to move from California fits perfectly with my experience after having moved to Tennessee in 2011. I’m a native Californian (81 years young), from the San Joaquin Valley, tho’ I’ve lived in other parts of the state, and the nation. I have always had a love affair with the California you described. I loved California, and Huell Howser’s California Gold PBS Series describes the state I knew and loved.
      Your description of how it is to live in another part of our Nation is a so very accurate. You took the words right out of my heart…it is sooooo pleasant…it is the absence of the negative that makes it so liveable. Your description of a visit to the DMV is so on spot…same with a visit to the doctor, the prescription counter at the store, etc. etc. etc. AND, most of all, people speak English, albeit in Tennessee with a slight Southern accent. : )
      As for negatives about my move…can only find two. I greatly miss my friends and family that are still there! And, my heart is sad as I hear (and see in the news and online) about all they are experiencing.

      1. Thanks Joan,
        Your words are a confirmation of my thoughts about leaving. I do miss my friends and family ( well just a few ) , but zero traiffic in a city with 80,000 people and an air of being positive is sooo refreshing instead if the scowls, and angry looks on most Kalys face. People wave as you drive by. We have actually seen license plate frames from marin as more people move into this area. I sincerely hope that they leave those scowls and most importantly … their voting habits for democrats behind them and realize that the Democrat party destroyed paradise. Please don’t start voting for them again here . I lived in Kalyfornia for almost 59 years before decind that enough is enough ..

  4. I relocated to Missouri last year. Born and raised in California, I left because I did not feel the political leaders cared about me.

    1. As evidenced by the quote by Hannah Beth Jackson in the third paragraph of this article. She won’t be happy until every free thinking Conservative has left this state.

  5. I can almost smell the California politicians laughing at this article, pretending none of it is true.
    As a 57 year resident and 4th generation Californian on both sides of my family, my wife and I will also be making the move in a few years.
    Not to worry, We’ll be replaced (numerically at least) by two other human beings moving into the state.
    But there is a difference… We’ll be leaving with several million dollars and a large retirement account while the person who replaces me will likely be on public assistance.
    The politicians in California not only embrace, but put illegals, homeless, drug users, felons, etc above the rest of us that actually pay for everything.

    From Atlas Shrugged
    Francisco D’anconia: “If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders – What would you tell him?”
    Hank Rearden: I…don’t know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?”
    Francisco: To shrug.”

    Those of us leaving are simply shrugging our shoulders and walking away.

  6. We just left with our savings and pension never to step foot in that wasteland of a state again. Couldn’t be happier.

  7. I’m a 33 year resident of the East Bay. Long gone are the days of responsible government and “public service.” Now, the taxpayers serve the government. In addition, the (estimated) $1Trillion unfunded government pension liability means there will never be an end to the tax increases and government fees. Just look at the growth of social media groups dedicated to helping people move. I started a Facebook group called “Leaving California.” We have hundreds of members who have moved or are looking for life outside of California. Feel free to join us.

    1. Thats a perfect description. Long gone responsible government.. They do think now that WE serve them and take our money like it’s an ATM Machine.

  8. I will be leaving California when I retire in a few months. I was born in this state but don’t recognize it anymore. I am being penalized because I am a tax paying resident here. Illegal aliens get health care for free while a pay 17 hundred dollars a month for my wife and i. California is becoming like one of those company’s that offers new customers great a great deal while the long term customers get the lousy deal.

  9. “California’s real estate market is good for sellers, but bad for buyers – it’s expensive and there is a shortage of available and affordable residential homes”

    Stupid comment. For every “seller” there’s a buyer who is willing to pay for the housing. Furthermore, if there’s a shortage of housing, someone is buying it – it’s not too expensive for them. I won’t sell and leave, I’m riding the horse until it drops dead. My house is paid for, low taxes, why should I sell and move – to some place where it’s worse? I know 2 families that are trying to move back to California – but they can’t because they sold high, went to another state and paid big bucks for a nicer home. They hate it and their kids do too. Not all that glitters is gold.

    1. Thanks for so ably presenting the “I’ve got mine, the hell with the rest of you” School of Economics. I particularly appreciate your stunning demonstration of your profound economic illiteracy.
      You claim that the shortage of housing it being purchased. Pray tell, how can housing that has NOT been built be purchased??
      That fact is, CA has a lower percent of home ownership (vs. renting) than all but two states — NY and HI.
      https://www.businessinsider.com/homeownership-rate-state-map-2017-7
      As the article asserts, the high CA home prices caused by this housing shortage profits those who own homes while preventing many from buying homes. Indeed, many who DO buy a CA home are “house poor” in that they have little left for other discretionary spending or saving. That’s why the main portion of our departing California refugees are the middle class — the people that apparently you don’t care about.
      BTW, I love your “analysis” — you “know two families” that want to move back to CA. Yeah, THAT’s conclusive!!

      1. Just wait till Sacramento does away with Prop 13. Then it will not matter if it’s paid for or not, we’ll be back to the good-old-days of forced sales for taxes.

  10. A small clarification: Tennessee is scheduled to TOTALLY drop its state income tax in 2023.

    Given that TN voted almost 2-1 for Trump, it’s a state that’s unlikely to turn blue for a couple decades, at least. I might add that comparing states is something I spend a good amount of my time doing — beats gardening!

    All told, Tennessee (especially EASTERN Tennessee — from Nashville to Knoxville) is my favorite “California refugee” destination location.

  11. California is not for everyone.
    You do not build the 5th largest economy in the world with texas politics.
    I moved out of California for college and have lived in several states. I moved back to my Socialist Republic of California as soon as I got the chance. I love diversity and progressive politics.
    As California goes so does the rest of the nation.
    Not everyone is an early adopter.
    BTW the people you surveyed are OK with taxing big companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook. They just don’t want to tax small business. Republicans always seem to clump large multi national corporations with mom and pop business. I guess that’s how Trump duped republicans into voting for large tax breaks for his multinational corporate buddies LOL

    1. “You do not build the 5th largest economy in the world with texas politics.”
      Vacuous truth. Texas has the 10th largest economy in the world, and doesn’t need to lecture its citizens how to live like California does.

      “As California goes so does the rest of the nation.”
      Off a cliff? Well, maybe New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.

      Enjoy your 12% income tax, double digit sales taxes, utility bills 3x the national average, and 4-5 figure rents.

    2. You might want to ditch the magical accounting about that “fifth largest economy” and make allowances for the 1st largest pension fund debt.

    3. “Progressive California” Yes, California has the 5th largest economy in the world. China’s economy (GDP) is FAR larger than California. Does that mean the people of China are better off — more prosperous — than the people of California? In your progressive mind — perhaps. Not in the minds of sane people.
      California is a HUGE state of 40,000,000 people. First we need to look at our state’s GDP on a PER CAPITA basis to fairly compare with other states. We are 10th — not number one.
      Then we need to consider each state’s COL. Adjusted for COL, California is less prosperous than all but 13 states. We rank 37th.
      Some “Workers’ Paradise”!
      https://riderrants.blogspot.com/2016/07/updated-2015-figures-ca-per-capita-gdp.html

  12. Just don’t move to Colorado…

    Polis & Co. are rapidly Californicating the state and the weather SUCKS… High altitude amplifies the solar heat and it’s frequently windy and the winters are cold and bleak…

    Why suffer the crappy weather, pot-loving millenials and similar politics…

    Ventura County is isolated from much of the social issues, so that’s home until we figure out something better for retirement….

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