As 2023 is off to a strong start in the moving sector, many are asking – are more people moving out of California? We will review some of the information within the United Van Lines 2022 Annual National Movers Study to answer your questions.

2022 was an interesting year for moving with some major shifts in outbound and inbound moving to some of the larger, more populated states within the U.S. Missouri and Nevada are among a shrinking list of “balanced” states in which outbound and inbound moving traffic were very similar. This is perhaps related to shifts in work culture and remote positions being an option for many Americans, as many of the shifts we are seeing are job-related.

Among the top 10 inbound states for moving traffic are Vermont, Oregon, South Dakota, and New Mexico. These are some of the least densely populated states in America, which could be a telling sign that there is increasing interest in moving to remote locations. 

Are People Moving Out of California?

The short answer is yes – but we have to look into the details for a greater understanding of who is leaving California and why. 

graph showing the decline in California's population from 2000 to 2022 due to people moving out of California
Source: Public Policy Institute of California

Since the year 2000, inbound migration to California has been steadily declining. Since the pandemic, there has been a noticeable decline in the number of inbound moving and an increase in outbound moving leading to some of the first population declines for California in over a century.

When getting into the details of why people are moving out of California, the information begins to add up a bit more based on economic and cost of living shifts. 

Industrial long hauler big rig green semi truck tractor with chrome parts transporting commercial cargo in loaded dry van semi trailer running on the highway road at sunset moving out of California

Reasons for Moving


Outbound moving from California was more than double the amount of inbound moving related to people retiring. It is not accessible for many to relocate to California as part of their retirement plans vs. people moving elsewhere for lower living costs as their income declines in retirement. Twice as many people moved out of California for retirement rather than to California in 2022. 


There was a 7% difference between outbound and inbound traffic to the state of California. This may not seem like much, but it is close to the 10% average difference between total outbound and inbound traffic. More people left the state of California to be closer to family than people who moved into California for family reasons in 2022. 


8% more people left California for Lifestyle purposes than moved to California. As the cost of living expenses are on the rise across the board, it’s possible many people decided to live somewhere else where their income could stretch farther for their lifestyle concerns. California has often been a place people move to for “lifestyle” benefits being near the ocean with good weather and great outdoor opportunities. Unfortunately, the cost of living is a major prohibiting factor for many. 


There is a 24% difference in favor of inbound moving traffic that is job-related. Despite declines in other areas, California still offers relatively high salaries compared to other parts of the US. Despite increasing living costs, many people are still choosing to relocate to California for a high-paying job. This steep difference in Outbound and Inbound traffic skews the impact of the other reasons for moving listed above. 


There is a very wide gap of 21% difference in outbound traffic due to the cost of living. This is interesting because cost wasn’t a common factor for leaving California until 2021 according to annual reports. 

This evidence is supported by the fact that by income ranges, the only range of increased inbound moving is for those at $150,000+ in income. All categories below $150,000 have greater outbound traffic than inbound moving traffic. 

Planning on Moving Out of California?

California’s population decreased by over 117,000 residents in the 2020-21 census reports. In combination with United Van Lines Annual Movers Study – It is safe to expect ongoing and increasing rates of people moving out of California. If you are planning on moving out of California (or even if you plan on moving into California), S&M Moving is an experienced, full-service moving and logistics company in Fremont, California, and across the state. S&M Moving Systems is dedicated to making your relocation as smooth and stress-free as possible. Visit the website to request a quote!