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Californians Are Fleeing the Golden State—What’s Keeping its Housing Market Strong?

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Californians Are Fleeing the Golden State—What’s Keeping its Housing Market Strong?


February 22, 2021
Sunset at San Diego beach
Photo: Diego Gomez

Despite residents escaping California’s high housing costs and fleeing to nearby states, its southern market remains resilient, with homes selling within record time. John Burns Real Estate Consulting forecasted California to be one of the states to see residents and businesses leave for lower density, lower taxed, and more affordable states, such as Arizona, Utah, and Texas. Yet builders are selling homes faster in Southern California than any other time since the mid-2000s housing boom, says John Burns. Why? It remains a place people want to live. Its population, businesses, status as a gateway for international trade, its military base, and overall lifestyle continue to draw buyers in.

The work-from-home trend is igniting home sales in locations farther from dense job centers along the coast. Southern California’s inland regions offer ample land for builders and attainable pricing for buyers. Similar shifts are underway in Northern California, as people flee the Bay Area for lower prices and less-dense neighborhoods in the Sacramento suburbs.

Southern California remains an economic juggernaut and a place where people want to live:

Population. With about 23 million residents, Southern California is an economic engine of enormous scale.

Businesses. Southern California is projected to add 246K jobs in 2021—which is greater than the combined job growth in Phoenix, Houston, Austin, Denver, and Charlotte (projected at about 227K new jobs in 2021). Clusters of innovation surround the region’s world-class universities and research institutions such as Cal Tech, UC San Diego, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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