We crunched the numbers from moveBuddha data collected from January 1, 2023 through June 8, 2023. This data includes searches nationwide by individuals who were either planning to move or hire a moving company throughout 2023. This data is much fresher than official Census data and gives hints of future moving patterns.
So where are Californians moving to in 2023?
- Texas is the top destination for departing Californians, with 13.71% of California moving interest toward the Lone Star State.
- Florida is #2 with 7.49% of interest. This confirms other reports that Californians are flocking to The Sunshine State.
- The Golden State ranked dead last in moving interest in 2022 and currently ranks last in 2023, as well, according to moveBuddha data.
Table of Contents:
The Top 10 States Seeing The Biggest Influx of Californians in 2023
Using moveBuddha moving search data, we've ranked the top 10 destinations Californians are interested in moving to this year.
#10 Tennessee - voluntary moves from California
Percentage of Californian moving interest: 3.62%
Tennessee has become a top move-in state in recent years - and Volunteer State locals are seeing plenty of California license plates lately. The trend of Californians moving to Tennessee has been happening for many reasons. Tennessee offers a lower tax burden, more conservative politics for those looking for that, and cheaper housing prices. Plus, you can't deny the appeal of Music City (Nashville) for aspiring artists and music fans alike.
Californians are especially flocking to the Nashville area. Some long-time residents don’t like seeing all those California plates and are concerned Nashville is growing too fast. West Coast newcomers could be pricing them out of the crowded housing and rental market.
#9 North Carolina - economic relocation in droves
Percentage of Californian moving interest: 4.09%
Like Tennessee, North Carolina is another fast-growing state. The Tar Heel State added nearly 900,000 new residents in the last decade - many of whom have come from California. A top reason for Californians flocking to North Carolina is similar to those heading to Tennessee: lower taxes.
But another big reason for Californian moves to NC could also be work-related. North Carolina has a growing and diverse economy that also ranks as one of the nation’s top states for companies relocating their headquarters from California.
#8 Nevada - no tax next door
Percentage of Californian moving interest: 4.09%
Californians’ moves to Nevada make sense, given the two states border each other. And like other states on this list, Nevada offers many incentives for new residents. A big one is a much lower tax burden. Nevada has no state income tax and a median property tax rate that’s one of the lowest in the U.S.
It’s not just California residents moving to Nevada - some California sports teams are making the move, too.
The NFL’s Raiders recently moved from Oakland to Las Vegas. Perhaps some die-hard Raiders fans followed their team to the Silver State. A recent moveBuddha report also found that Las Vegas and Reno were two of the top destination cities for San Francisco residents who left California behind.
#7 Colorado - heading for the mountains
Percentage of Californian moving interest: 4.18%
Colorado is another state relatively close to California, with a two-and-a-half-hour flight from San Francisco to Denver. The trend of Californians moving to Colorado has picked up since the pandemic, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down this year.
More than 198,000 people moved into Colorado in 2021, more than any year since 2010. And 13.46% of new Colorado residents in 2021 came from California, according to Census data, the largest share from any state.
moveBuddha data shows the Denver area is drawing strong moving interest in 2023, and many new residents may be coming from California cities. San Diego and San Francisco are in the top 10 cities that have residents interested in moving to Denver this year.
#6 Oregon - searching for lower prices in Portlandia
Percentage of Californian moving interest: 4.36%
Some are asking if Portland is the new California. That may be the case, but Californian moves into Oregon are always high.
According to the Oregon Employment Department, nearly 40,000 Californians move to Oregon annually. And plenty of Oregonians move to the Golden State annually, too (about 20,000). This move makes sense because the Pacific Northwest isn’t far from California.
One thing that also draws Californians to Oregon is housing prices. The median housing price in Oregon isn’t cheap, but it’s much better than in California, which has some of the most expensive housing costs nationwide.
#5 Arizona - Californians close to 1/4 of all new migrants into Phoenix
Percentage of Californian moving interest: 4.91%
Arizona is another natural destination for departing Californians, given the close proximity. According to U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, approximately 64,000 Californians moved to Arizona annually between 2016 and 2020. There’s no sign of that slowing down.
The #2 state sending new residents to Arizona is Washington, and that state's numbers are low compared to California. Washington sent about 17,000 new residents annually to Arizona between 2016 and 2020.
When Californians move to Arizona, they most likely end up in the Phoenix or Tucson metropolitan areas. Californians alone accounted for 23.3% of domestic migrants in Phoenix and 20.3% in Tucson between 2016 and 2020. moveBuddha’s data from 2023 shows the trend continues.
#4 Washington - more affordability in the PNW tech hub
Percentage of Californian moving interest: 6.77%
Washington is another Pacific Northwestern state that regularly sees an influx of Californians. Between 2022 and 2023, California’s population decreased by 138,000, and 55,467 of those people moved to Washington State.
Cities like Seattle have seen a rise in housing prices, but they are generally more affordable than most California cities. Californians can also find more affordable housing in Washington cities like Spokane, Tacoma, and Olympia.
Many Californians heading to Washington may also be relocating for work. Tech giants like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google all have offices in the Seattle area, along with aviation giant Boeing. Seattle is also home to major employers like Starbucks and Alaska Airlines, so new residents from California may be able to find employment opportunities easily.
#3 New York - heading for Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley
Percentage of Californian moving interest: 6.77%
New York appearing so high on this list is a bit surprising. The Empire State ranks #43 out of 51 states (including Washington, D.C.) in moving interest among Americans in 2023, according to moveBuddha data. Many have recently fled New York because of high taxes and housing prices.
But apparently, Californians want to trade one high-cost state for another. Some reports say Californians are especially interested in Brooklyn and counties north of New York City. One real estate agent told the Times-Union in 2021 that more than half of her buyers in the Hudson Valley were from the West Coast and that the clientele from there is up 50 percent since 2020. moveBuddha data shows Californians are still interested in New York.
#2 Florida - LA and SF refugees are loving Miami
Percentage of Californian moving interest: 7.49%
Florida is the third biggest state in population, and California and Florida have traded residents for a long time. Californians moving to Florida has also been the subject of some political debate. California Governor Gavin Newsom recently claimed that more Floridians move to California per capita than the other way around.
Newsom’s claim is technically true, but PolitiFact FL notes that margin of moves between the two states is close to net-zero most years. Nevertheless, Californians have shown strong interest in Florida in recent years.
Orlando and Miami were the top 5 cities for residents interested in moving out of San Francisco in 2022, according to moveBuddha. And Los Angeles residents showed strong interest in moving to Miami in 2022, according to another recent moveBuddha report.
#1 Texas - will 300 Californians a day make this the next most populated state?
Percentage of Californian moving interest: 13.71%
The Lone Star state is a top destination for departing Californians by a wide margin - more than 6% points higher than #2 Florida. Texas is the second largest state by population, so the high ranking makes sense. But other data confirms that Californians continue to flock to Texas in huge numbers.
Moving from California to Texas has become the most popular interstate relocation in the U.S., even beating New York to Florida. A 2021 study found that 111,000 Californians moved to Texas that year, averaging roughly 300 daily. The number of people moving from California to Texas was up 80% in 2021 compared to 2012. Yes, Texans move to California, too, but the number is much smaller. Nearly 33,000 Texans moved to California in 2021.
Numerous recent reports from moveBuddha show this trend isn’t slowing down. San Francisco residents were interested in moving to Texas in 2022 more than any other state by a wide margin. Austin was the top location for departing Bay Area residents in 2022, and San Antonio (#7), Dallas (#13), and Houston (#15) also ranked high.
A recent moveBuddha report projects the top three cities by population in America by 2100 will all be in Texas - Dallas, Houston, and Austin. If America’s future lies in Texas, Californians will likely be making it happen.
The States that Californians Aren’t Interested In
Locals in many states seeing a large influx of Californians may not be happy about it. The new residents could be driving up real estate prices and, in some areas, changing local politics. It’s why you see bumper stickers in Nashville sometimes that says, “Don’t California my Tennessee.”
So, what states can mark themselves safe from the Californian invasion?
moveBuddha discovered the top 10 states that Californians aren’t showing moving interest in 2023 are:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- Rhode Island
Many of these states have smaller populations, so it makes sense they are lower in the rankings. Surprisingly, though, some states listed have seen strong moving interest from Americans so far in 2023, according to moveBuddha. It’s just that Californians don’t seem very interested in them.
California Timeline: Are People Still Fleeing California in 2023?
Many have been obsessed with the "California Exodus" since the pandemic began. But is California still losing residents?
The short answer is yes.
The pandemic was a catalyst for folks leaving California in 2020, but the trend had gained steam for a while. The Los Angeles Times reported the Golden State lost more than 700,000 residents than it welcomed between April 2020 and July 2022. California’s net out-migration numbers hit a record high of 407,000 between July 2021 and July 2022.
moveBuddha data backs up these numbers and shows that California has ranked near the bottom in American moving interest since 2020.
California ranked #49 out of 51 states (including Washington, D.C.) in moving interest in 2020 and then #50 in 2021.
It’s only gotten worse since then.
The Golden State ranked dead last in moving interest in 2022 and currently ranks last in 2023, as well, according to moveBuddha data.
California’s exodus continues in 2023
The trend of California losing residents might seem new, but it’s not.
The state’s Department of Finance says California has struggled with yearly resident retention since 2000. One big reason why is that California has become so expensive. California consistently ranks in the top five of the most expensive states, and between 2005 and 2022, the average home value spiked 92%, according to Zillow.
Many companies are also leaving California and taking workers with them. A Hoover Institution report showed that 352 companies relocated their headquarters from California between 2018 and 2022. Expensive real estate, high tax burdens, and burdensome regulations are some reasons why.
The exodus from California has continued in 2023, according to the most recent moveBuddha data. All these Californians have to end up somewhere, and many of the places they’re relocating make sense.
Close geographic moves like Oregon, Arizona, and Washington are practical. States like Tennessee and North Carolina make sense, considering lower costs of living and better housing prices. New York is a head-scratcher but is also the fourth-biggest state by population, which could skew the results.
Then there’s Florida and Texas - two of the most popular states for Americans to move to in recent years. Florida and Texas are the new “it” states for American movers, just like California once was in the past.
But as Californians flock to these states, Florida and Texas should be careful about what they wish for. With population growth comes challenges, such as rising real estate prices and the need for higher taxes to support infrastructure.
Migration patterns are cyclical, and California may be on the losing end for now, but we can never tell when things may change.
Sources and Methodology
This data was collected from January 1, 2020, through June 8, 2023, and includes searches nationwide by individuals who were either planning to move or hire a moving company throughout 2023.
More information about our move data and in-to-out ratio equation can be found in our annual Migration Report.