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Idaho Grows as California Exodus Continues

Welcome to Idaho Sign | Image by Famartin/Wikimedia Commons
Welcome to Idaho Sign | Image by Famartin/Wikimedia Commons

Idaho is increasingly becoming a popular state for residents of West Coast states fleeing high taxes and poor quality of life, but Texas continues to lead the nation in population growth.

Fox News reported that there has been a significant increase in people from the West Coast moving to the Gem State since the COVID-19 lockdowns. Several individuals interviewed by the outlet cited restrictive health policies and the desire to raise their children in a safe community as driving factors behind their decision to head east.

According to the report, more than 26,000 Californians have moved to Idaho. In all, the state has seen more than 700,000 residents leave between April 2020 and July 2022, but no state has seen more former Californians settle in its borders than Texas.

Moreover, Census Bureau data shows that the Texas population experienced the largest numerical growth of any state between 2022 and 2023. The data shows that more than 473,000 newcomers helped swell the Lone Star population to a record 30,503,301.

Data shows that Texas has added more than 1 million people since 2020. Texas is now the second-most populace state behind California, which boasts a population above 38 million.

As for Idaho, its rapid growth has cooled in recent years. Between 2019 and 2020, the state saw a population explosion of 2.1%, but that has declined to 1.3% between 2022 and 2023.

Jap Vos, a professor at the University of Idaho, released a study in 2022 that showed the difference between people moving to and people moving out of Idaho. He found that on an average day in 2021, 180 people moved in, while 137 moved out. Ironically, many of the people leaving the state moved to ones from which people were leaving.

“We need to stop looking at just growth,” Vos said. “Why are people moving out? … What is causing that? Is it because housing wasn’t affordable? Is it because of the economy? It’s not clear.”

Vos added that the newcomers from California’s urban areas tend to move to Boise, while those from Northern California and Washington mostly headed for the northern city of Coeur d’Alene. His research used data from the Census Bureau and the Idaho Department of Transportation.

Among several reasons Californians are departing for other states is the high cost of living, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. Purchasing a home in one of California’s urban areas is increasingly difficult for many people as median prices tend to be near or slightly above $1 million.

However, the influx of newcomers has resulted in some changes to local real estate markets. For instance, Idaho has seen a recent price spike as the supply cannot keep up with demand. According to Redfin, the median home price in Idaho is now $476,300, whereas it was around $300,000 in 2020. In comparison, Texas’ median home price is $344,500 — roughly $150,000 more than in 2020.

As California continues to become more expensive and Oregon and Washington more restrictive, population trends across the nation will likely shift. The Texas Demographic Center anticipates that Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio will all see population growth of more than 1 million residents by 2060.

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