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California is a dynamic state, with many things going for it.

The Golden State’s strong economy, top college and university system and beautiful climate are all reasons for residents to stay, and for new migrants to move here from other states and countries.

To gain a glimpse into those moving into and out of California, we took a look at surveyed data from several moving companies, including United Van Lines. Here’s what we found out:

United Van Line’s 2016 United Movers Study found of those moving between California and other states:

  • in the 18-34 age group, 27% moved into the state, while 16% moved out of the state;
  • in the 35-44 age group, 22% moved into the state, while 19% moved out of the state;
  • in the 45-54 age group, 20% moved into the state, while 15% moved out of the state;
  • in the 55 to 64 age group, 17% moved into the state, while 24% moved out of the state; and
  • in the 65 and older age group, 14% moved into the state, while 24% moved out of the state.

The remainder of California moves occurred within California state lines.

As the statistics suggest, retirees are more often moving out of California than moving in. About a quarter of older residents are choosing to move out of state. About 19% of those who used United Van Lines to move out of California cited retirement as the main reason, while only 9% of those moving into the state said it was to retire here.

Heading in the opposite direction, young adults are most likely to move into the state rather than out of it.

All in all, the United Van Lines study found those moving into the state and those moving out were roughly the same. But more accurate Census data tracks immigrants of all stripes (not just those using United Van Lines).

More leaving for other states

In 2015, 77,000 more people left the state than entered, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census. This continues a long negative trend in domestic migration, which hit a bottom in 2006 when California experienced a net loss of 300,000 individuals to other states.

Why do more people leave California for other states every year than enter?

The United Van Lines study found the number one reason for moving was a job (47% of respondents). However, of those moving into the state, a much higher percentage (68%) moved for job reasons. So employment is far more likely to send someone into the state rather than out of it.

Of all of the reasons for moving in or out of California, the outbound respondents all cited higher reasons of:

  • family (24% outbound, compared to just 16% inbound);
  • retirement (19% out bound, compared to just 9% inbound).
  • lifestyle (18% outbound, compared to just 10% inbound); and
  • health (6% outbound, compared to just 4% inbound).

Retirement and lifestyle are both big catalysts for emigration from California. That’s mostly due to older folks on fixed incomes, and individuals of all ages, in search of a place where their income will go further.

California has one of the highest costs of living in the nation, and high tax rates to boot. Depending on where you live in the state, you can expect to spend 50% or more of your income on housing alone.

The high cost of homes is a major depressant for California’s homeownership rate and, now, on domestic immigration.

Now, the good news.

Positive net immigration

While more people leave California for other states than enter from the rest of the U.S., California immigration is still positive. How can that be?

International migrants far exceed the number of residents lost to other states each year. In 2015, 77,000 more people moved to other states, but over 170,000 people moved to California from other countries, according to the U.S. Census. This includes new residents from Mexico, Canada, China, the United Kingdom, the Philippines and many other nations.

New residents flock to California from other countries for the state’s strong economic standing, good university system and pleasant climate. There’s also a snowball effect, as current residents from other nations draw friends and family who want to live near someone they know and in a community where their language is spoken.

All of this action means migration into the state continues at a positive rate each year, despite consistently losing more people to other U.S. states.

Harness the energy from moving clients

Be it for a job, retirement or some other reason, real estate agents and brokers always end up saying goodbye to clients moving to other states. It can feel defeating, especially when years of energy have gone into keeping up with these clients to earn their repeat business.

Aside from helping them sell when it’s time to move, here are a few steps to take to gain business from a client moving out of state:

  1. We live in a mobile and ever-connected society, and your former client from Riverside who moves to Phoenix just may make friends with a Phoenix resident who will move to Riverside, and need the referral of an agent. Or, you never know, your client may return to Riverside one day. Once your former client is settled in their new home, send them a card to remind them you always appreciate a referral.
  2. When you help your former client sell, return to the house in a few weeks and drop off a note to the homebuyer to welcome them to the neighborhood. True, they used another agent to purchase the home, but let them know you are willing and available to help them with their next move and add them to your list of homes to send marketing material
  3. Become a relocation agent. Reach out to businesses in your area and offer your expertise when a new employee relocates from out of state.

Our state continues to be a vibrant and desirable place to live, and successful agents will always be ready to capitalize on the ever-expanding population of Californians.