NY Times: It's not hard to see why people are moving to Texas

There’s an opinion piece in today’s NY Times titled “Everyone’s Moving to Texas. Here’s Why.” Author Farhad Manjoo lives in San Francisco with his family but admits that he often finds himself wondering why.

I’ve lived in California nearly all my life, and it’s still more likely than not that I will remain here; reports of a sudden “exodus” from the state are frequently exaggerated. Still, there’s plenty going wrong — soaring housing costs, devastating poverty and inequality, and the cascading disasters brought about by a change in what was once our big selling point, the climate. Not a month goes by that I don’t wonder what I’m doing here. There’s got to be somewhere better, right?

Manjoo met up with the owner of a Facebook site that specialized in Californians fleeing to Texas and took a tour of some neighborhoods around Dallas:

If you’re looking for an affordable, economically vibrant city that is less likely to be damaged by climate change than many other American cities, our data shows why Texas is a new land of plenty. For the many hypothetical life scenarios I ran through our quiz, the suburbs around Dallas — places like Plano, McKinney, Garland, Euless and Allen — came up a lot. It’s clear why these are some of the fastest-growing areas in the country. They have relatively little crime and are teeming with jobs, housing, highly rated schools, good restaurants, clean air and racial and political diversity — all at a steep discount compared to the cost of living in America’s coastal metropolises…

My guide through the Dallas suburbs was Marie Bailey, a real estate agent who runs Move to Texas From California!, a Facebook group that helps disillusioned Californians find their way to the promised land. Bailey is herself a Californian. She and her family moved in 2017 from El Segundo, a beach city next to Los Angeles International Airport, to Prosper, a landlocked oasis of new housing developments north of Dallas. In El Segundo, the median home list price is $1.3 million; in Prosper, it’s less than half that.

And in Prosper, the houses are palatial, many of them part of sprawling new developments that brim with amenities unheard-of in California. “It’s like living in a country club,” Bailey told me, which sounded like hyperbole until she showed me the five-acre lagoon and white sand beach in the development where she and her husband purchased a home. Their house is 5,000 square feet; they bought it for about the same price for which they sold a home they owned in Orange County, which was 1,500 square feet.

Bailey’s move gets to the heart of the great California-Texas migration: housing. As she drove me around Dallas’s suburbs, Bailey would point out cute house after cute house now occupied by a Californian. I had been talking about the idea of choosing between California and Texas, but for many people moving here, Bailey suggested, there really was not much choice at all — it was simply that, economically, they could not make their lives work in California, and in Texas, they could.

I’ve mentioned before that two of my friends moved out of state in the past two years. One friend who struggled to buy a house in California moved to upstate New York and bought a house on five acres. Another friend sold his townhouse across the street from the beach and bought a brand new house in a beautiful planned development on the east coast. He also had enough money left over to buy a brand new Model S. I’ve also had two neighbors on my street leave the state. One moved to Ohio and the other to Nevada. Both are living in much larger homes an paying less in taxes now.

If you live in California this exodus east is something you probably here people talk about pretty often. Recently, we hired a pest control service and the person who came out was a young man in his mid 20s. He’s been married just a few years and just had his first baby. After talking just a little bit he brought up that he’s hoping to move to Texas because he can’t afford to buy anything in southern California. The price of homes has tripled here in the past 20 years. Young families just can’t get a foothold. In Texas, he’ll be able to afford a nice starter house and as his business grows and his family grows, he’ll have real options.

Again, the point is that this is a conversation you can have with almost anyone in California at this point. Lots of people think about getting out and Texas is one of the most appealing options.

Of course, given that this is published in the NY Times, there’s a bit of throat-clearing about Texas’ politics.

I visited Dallas two weeks after Texas’ bounty-hunter abortion law went into effect, and a week after Greg Abbott, the governor, signed a bill that severely restricts voting access. Attractive as Texas’ real estate might be, I was beginning to regret this whole idea: Twitter was alive with calls to boycott Texas and here I was — a lefty New York Times columnist —preparing to laud the livability of a state that seemed to be lurching to the fringe right.

But as the author notes, there are lots of places in Texas now which are basically blue enclaves in a red state and the arrival of so many Californians in recent years is one reason why. So if you move to Austin from Los Angeles, you’ll have a different governor and Senators but your neighbors may not be all that different politically.

But, not surprisingly, politics seems to be all some of the NY Times‘ commenters care about:

I would not step foot in Texas, let alone live there. It’s is a state that is moving backwards under Republican rule. It is anti-women, anti-minority, pro fossil fuels and lacks the kind of culture and social environment that I desire. More than happy to pay my higher taxes and remain in New York City, where the people, culture, and politics is far more to my liking.

This commenter says people moving to Texas are selfish:

Really? Leave NYC for a state that allows open carry guns with no permit needed and has the most unacceptable and restrictive abortion laws in the country because the long term weather outlook is better? It seems people moving to Texas are more concerned with their personal comfort than the with the future of democracy.

I’m guessing Texans won’t regret not getting some of these folks as neighbors:

So many numbers and statements of joy listed in this article surrounding the bliss that the authors consider Texas to be. However, there’s one serious problem with this article that they fail to mention that that would affect an enormous swath of the population from not moving to that state, to wit: it’s TEXAS. NO, thank you very much.

Lots more of this. There’s even a guy from New Jersey referring to Texas as a failed state. Anyway, some people may reject the very idea of moving there but the fact remains that a lot more people are moving there than are moving to California and there’s a reason for that.