For many a year, we Northwesterner’s have been told – yea loudly warned – about the “takeover” of our homeland coming from folks in California. All those “foreigners” using their ill-gotten California real estate profits to buy up our beloved Northwest – house-by-house and block-by-block.
Well, my corner-of-the-country neighbors, seems tain’t so. And the proof comes from no less a reliable group of folks than the U.S. Census Bureau.
One of the thousands of uses for all those numbers they gather each decade is to track where people come from – state-to-state – and where they go – state-to-state. Most of our cherished Northwest territory doesn’t come close to the top of the list of relocations for California transients.
Washington saw the most transplanted Californians in 2010 – 39,468. Sounds like a lot. But 68,959 of their California compatriots moved from the coast to – Texas. Yep, Texas. During the same period, 36,562 Texans moved West to California – about half as many.
Another 47,164 left California last year for the sun in Arizona. And 35,472 skipped across the border to Nevada. For Oregon, less than 20,000.
While statistics are usually pretty boring, these contain a lot of important information we should know for many reasons. So, here are a few more I found interesting.
In 2010, 59% of us lived in the state in which we were born. The state with the highest percentage of such was Louisiana at 78.8%. Given our modern day mobility, that’s hard to imagine. More than three-quarters of the folk in Louisiana have lived their entire lives in the same state. Michigan came in second with 76.6% followed by Pennsylvania with 74% living their entire lives where they started.
Another residential record showed up in the Census Bureau numbers. The percentage of people who changed living locations between 2010 and 2011 was 11.5% – lowest it has ever been. It would seem our rotten real estate and jobs markets had a great deal to do with that.
Among the few who did move in 2010, employment was the most common reason. Either getting a new job or looking for one. Those moving over 500 miles – 43.9% – cited such. But when people moved less than 50 miles, 40% cited housing-related issues. Often, losing one. But there are sometimes other causes for making a change. In 2006, just after Hurricane Katrina, 118,552 folks left Louisiana for Texas. Many haven’t gone back.
Though I’ve heard some fearsome stories about how some out-of-staters have been treated after moving to a Northwest state – I’ve even witnessed a few inhospitable encounters – it’s never been much concern to me. Born in Washington many years ago, I’ve lived in Idaho and Oregon and literally call the entire Northwest “home.” There are so many excellent reasons to live in our beautiful neighborhood, it’s no surprise – and really no disappointment – that so many folks want to live here.
When I look at my friends and acquaintances, I count a few Californians among them. Also some Nebraskans, one from Indiana, a New Yorker or two and several from other scattered locales. So what? Each brings a new set of life experiences and talents and our lives are enriched just for having them as neighbors. So I’ve never figured out why being a former Californian makes such a difference with some of the natives here. And the non-natives, too.
We Americans have long seen ourselves as a mobile society, blessed with a large country with many interesting locations in which to live. I’ve had homes coast-to-coast and border-to-border. We live where we do now – near the mountains and near the ocean shore of Oregon – because it pleases us. Many people of our senior years never get such an opportunity. We are fortunate.
Census Bureau numbers show we in the Northwest are not being overrun by Californians or anyone else despite “common wisdom.” But, as is often the case, the common wisdom can be wrong.
In this case, it is. Really.