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California exodus continues as conservative states attract blue-state residents: Report

Californians fleeing the blue state over its high cost of living are showing no signs of slowing down, according to the latest report by a major moving and storage company. 

“The Golden State has a reputation for imposing high sales, income, and property taxes. The cost of living is approximately 50 percent higher in California than the national average, and housing costs can be prohibitive,” according to a report on 2024 moving trends published by PODS.

The report, published May 20, found that more people are moving to the southern Appalachian region, which includes parts of South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama, all conservative states.

“California is number one in all the wrong things,” Will Swaim, president of the conservative think tank California Policy Center, told Fox News Digital on Friday. “Add to that regulations that make building new homes almost impossible, and it’s no wonder that people are moving out.”

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Businesses are getting in on the piece of the pie, too. The study noted companies are packing up to southern sunbelt states like Texas, Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina, and Tennessee, according to data collected from Iron Mountain. Why? Because these regions “offer lower operational costs, tax incentives, and better value for employees.”

Los Angeles and San Francisco landed in the top two spots for the cities seeing the highest numbers of residents moving out. 

Terry Gilliam, the founder of the popular Facebook group “Leaving California” which has hundreds of thousands of members, told Fox News Digital in an interview the list confirms “you’re not just getting the high-end taxpayers, but the middle class taxpayers are leaving.”

“California is number one in all the wrong things.”

— Will Swaim, California Policy Center

“I think that that’s what California’s been doing for the last many years, is eliminating the middle class, and Governor Newsom loves to brag about how California’s economy is top five in the world, and then he came out bragging about how there’s now more Fortune 500 companies based in California than anywhere else in the country,” Gilliam said. “But that’s for the wealthy, and in reality, the middle class is what’s suffering in California, and that’s why they’re leaving.”

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homelessness stats from Fox News Channel screen grab

Gilliam and members of his group did a 10-day tour of the south, he said, and talked to people in every town who had left California. 

“And really what it comes down to is the quality of life for their family, lower cost of living, better schools, politics that align with the way they feel in these southern towns,” he said. 

According to the report, four California markets rank in the top 10 for the most outbound moves, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Stockton-Modesto. 

“The various locations of these cities point to the fact that this is a statewide exodus,” the report concluded.

California saw its first-ever population decline in 2020 when the state imposed rigid lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. From January 2020 to July 2022, the state lost well over half a million people, with the number of residents leaving surpassing those moving in by almost 700,000.

In January, California topped U-Haul’s Growth Index list for having the largest net outbound movers in 2023.

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California coastline

A spokesperson for Gov. Newsom’s office pointed Fox News Digital in an email to the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook report “noting that California remains the 5th largest economy in the world for the seventh consecutive year, with a nominal GDP of nearly $3.9 trillion in 2023 and a growth rate of 6.1% since the year prior, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.”

“California’s per capita GDP is the second largest among large economies,” Newsom’s office said. “California, which has the most equitable tax system in the entire country, is #1 in the nation for new business starts, #1 for access to venture capital funding, and the #1 state for manufacturing, high-tech, and agriculture.”

Fox News Digital’s Nikolas Lanum contributed to this report. 

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