Breaking News
More () »

We're No. 1! More people move to Texas from California than any other state. But... why?

37 percent of Californians say they've seriously considered leaving because of high housing costs. Texas doesn't have that problem.

DALLAS — Watch WFAA News 8 at 10 for this full story.

You've probably heard that lots of people are leaving California and headed to Texas. 

How big of a thing is that?

For answers, we’re digging into numbers from the US Census Bureau, as well as research from UCLA and the Public Policy Institute of California. We're also talking to Bill Fulton.

Fulton is the director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University in Houston -- and a former mayor of Ventura, California, but try not to hold that against him.

We asked him: Is there an exodus of people from California to Texas?

"Yes," Fulton said. "There is something like 20 percent of the new residents of Texas come from California."

Actually, if you look at the decade from 2010 through 2019 (the last year that Census data is available), the number is even bigger. It shows a net number of 885,000 people moving to Texas -- about 303,000 of which were from California. 

That means 34 percent of new Texas residents are migrating from California.

When you look at all the places Californians are leaving for, you can see Texas is number one. But research from UCLA shows they're also bolting in large numbers to the adjacent states of Arizona, Nevada, Washington and Oregon.

Yes, Californians are coming to Texas. But they're going to lots of other places too. 

Fulton says this trend is driven less by how great Texas is, and more by one of biggest problems with living in California: Houses cost way too much. 

“There's a housing crisis actually everywhere in the United States," Fulton said. "It's not as bad in Texas except for Austin as it is in California. California has under produced housing for 30 years.”

While the North Texas housing market is red hot itself, the situation in California has devolved into a full-blown housing emergency. In a survey, the Public Policy Institute of California found "37 percent of Californians have seriously considered leaving the state because of high housing costs."

Those costs look like this. In Texas, the median home price is $362,000, topping out at $640,000 in Austin. But in California, the median cost $800,000 and getting as high as $1.3 million in San Francisco.

In his research, Fulton tracked census data to show that, when housing prices go up in California. more Californians pack up for Texas.

“Most of the people are priced out of the California housing market, and they're looking for a place where they can afford to buy a house,” he said.

So, is there an exodus of people moving from California to Texas? Yes, it's happening. 

But even though Texas is objectively awesome, the genesis is really more about California and its problems.

Before You Leave, Check This Out