The turnover rate in California during 2015 was:

  • 7.3% for homeowners; and
  • 18.4% for renters, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (the Census).

The turnover rate represents the percentage of households relocating each year, whether from rentals or ownership.

The renter turnover rate has declined swiftly since peaking in 2010, while the homeowner turnover rate oscillates from year-to-year. But homeowners and renters are both experiencing a similar trend in where they are moving.

Chart update 12-12-16

Homeowner turnover rate7.3%6.9%7.0%
Renter turnover rate18.4%20.4%21.9%

residents stay within their county of residence when they move. Of those who move in California, 60%-80% of renters and owners still remain in their current county upon relocating. However, this pattern of behavior is destabilizing.

22.3% of homeowners who moved in 2015 left their previous county of residence, up from 21.7% in 2014 and 20.2% in 2013.

Renters are also moving farther afield, with 18.1% of renters who moved in 2015 leaving their previous county of residence, level with 2014 but up from 16.9% in 2013 and 15.9% in 2012.

Further, 13.9% of homeowners who moved in 2015 moved out of state, a jump from 13% in 2014 and 11% the year before that.

Renters also ditched the Golden State in higher numbers in 2015, with 11.5% of renters who moved in 2015 moving out of state, up from 9.9% in 2014 and 9.6% in 2013.

All of this action caused a dip in domestic migration in 2015, with 77,200 more people leaving the state for perceived greener pastures than entering.

Where are they moving?

Why have more homeowners and renters started moving away from their former regions of residence? And where are they all going?

Where a resident ends up is mostly decided on where they currently are. That is, while residents are in fact moving further away in recent years, they still remain relatively close to their previous center of operations.

Those moving out of state usually stick to neighboring sand states like Arizona and Nevada. Those moving outside of their counties will often jump just one or two counties over. Thus, though people are moving further away, they are still staying within the same general ecosystem.

Zillow recently analyzed potential homebuyer searches that were conducted for places outside the buyer’s current metro. The study found:

  • in San Diego, just over half of all searches are for homes outside of the San Diego metro area. The most-searched areas from San Diego residents include Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Phoenix, Arizona; and
  • in San Francisco, about half of all searches are for homes outside of the San Francisco metro area. Nearby (and less cost prohibitive) Sacramento sees the most views from San Francisco residents, followed by San Francisco’s tech sibling, Seattle.

One likely possibility for much of this externally focused search traffic is due to the high cost of living in both these areas.

But agents who are witnessing more of their clients moving outside the area they serve are advised not to panic yet.

While more residents are leaving California for other states, international clients can be a consistent source of new business. Each year, a greater number of international immigrants arrive in California than leave, far exceeding the loss of population to domestic emigration.

Further, Trulia reported earlier this year that home searches from outside the country are on the rise in California and nationwide. The largest number of searches come from Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Brazil. Los Angeles is the number one destination for international migrants, followed by Orange County and San Diego.

Ways to capitalize on our growing international population include:

  • marketing yourself as a relocation agent;
  • learning the language or partnering with someone who already knows the language of the largest immigrant community in your area; and
  • becoming versed in the extra steps sometimes needed for an international client to purchase a home.