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More than 500,000 flee California since 2020

They’re no longer California Dreamin’.

More than 500,000 people fled the Golden State since 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began, US Census migration data shows.

The exodus of roughly 508,000 residents between April 2020 and July 2022 was spurred by high housing prices, too-frequent natural disasters like wildfires and mudslides, and high crime rates in the cities, the Daily Mail reported Saturday.

The largest population declines were in San Francisco county, at 7.1 percent and Lassen county, at 7.5 percent. 

Lassen County, in northwest California, was hit my the massive Dixie wildfire in 2021.

The ongoing housing affordability crisis is a key factor in the exodus, H.D. Palmer, deputy director of external affairs at the California Department of Finance, told the Sacramento Bee.

High crime in cities like San Francisco have spurred residents to leave.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In Sacramento, a household salary of around $145,000 is required to afford the median-priced house in the region, yet the average income is no more than $71,000.

In San Francisco, which many tech industry executives abandoned due to the pandemic, many office spaces stand empty and the city streets sometimes-violent drug addicts have taken over in multiple neighborhoods.

“San Francisco went from being one of the hottest office markets in the country to one of the weakest,” Patrick Carlisle, Compass’ chief market analyst, told the San Francisco Gate, adding: ‘High tech workers were the ones who were most likely to say, ‘Well if I can work from any place, I’ll move some place where housing costs 90 percent less.”

The increases in homelessness and crime have affected the “quality of life ambiance” the downtown once offered, Carlisle said.

The exodus of tech executives from San Francisco since 2020 has led to empty office spaces and streets.

Making matters worse, he said, mass layoffs across the tech industry — which now top 130,000 positions — have forced middle-class workers to move.

Some areas of the state have seen population growth. Nineteen of California’s 58 counties saw an increase in the number of residents during the same time period — mainly inland counties with lower housing costs. 

The fastest-growing county was San Benito, which is located just south of the Bay Area, according to Census data.