The Californians Are Coming, the Californians Are Coming

Receptions can be frosty in Portland, Seattle, and, increasingly, Austin, but nobody has absorbed transplants from California quite like Las Vegas and Reno.

One out of ten California residents moving to another state in 2011-2018 relocated to the Las Vegas or Reno areas–about 270,000 in all–according to my analysis of IRS migration data. Las Vegas and Reno combined for nearly three times the number of Californians moving to the Seattle area and more than four times the Austin area.

Here are the top twenty destination counties for people leaving California, ranked by the number of exemptions claimed on tax forms, which we can use to estimate the number of people, with the usual caveats:

Of course, many of the counties at the top of that list are heavily populated and we would expect to see large numbers of people moving to them from California and everywhere else. It’s interesting, but not too revealing, given places like Chicago and New York are on it. California license plates don’t stand out in Chicago like they do in Portland.

So, here’s another look comparing the number of people moving from California to the total residential population of the destination county, in effect, identifying places where transplants might be more conspicuous:

Several smaller counties are on this list–Mohave, Yuma, Onslow, Yavapai, etc.–which I assume must have something to do with snowbirds or retirees and military bases. However, many places are on both lists, such as Reno, Las Vegas, Boise, Austin, Honolulu, Portland, Seattle, and Phoenix. Prime destinations for Californians, nominally and relatively.

The influx of Californians to the Reno area is remarkable. The population of Washoe County is only about 472,000, much smaller than most of the other leading counties on the first list.