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Mapped: Which States Californians Moved To (2020-2021)

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Mapped: Where Californians Moved Between 2020–2021

Californians have had a hard time with it in recent years. Because of the state’s ballooning cost of living, many residents—particularly from middle and low income families—have departed for more affordable states.

But where did they go?

USAFacts tracked data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates, and visualized the states with the highest number of Californian transplants between 2020–21. The interactive heat map colors states by popularity—the darker the shade, the more Californians moved there.

Ranked: States with Highest Californian Transplants

More than 100,000 Californians moved to Texas between 2020–21, well ahead of second place Arizona (63,000 Californians) and third ranked Nevada (55,000).

Texas has recently emerged as a popular destination, not just for Californians, but Americans from all regions. No state income tax and lower cost of living, along with a growing tech hub is pulling in Americans from all income brackets. Meanwhile, Arizona and Nevada offer similar tax and affordability benefits as well.

Here’s the full ranking of which state Californians moved to in the first full year of the pandemic.

RankStateCalifornian Transplants
(2020–21)
1Texas105,434
2Arizona63,097
3Nevada54,740
4Washington46,677
5Florida40,730
6Oregon32,906
7Colorado26,911
8New York21,700
9Idaho26,233
10Tennessee23,403
11North Carolina21,961
12Utah19,930
13Georgia18,713
14Virginia18,441
15Illinois13,919
16Massachusetts9,568
17Pennsylvania10,072
18Hawaii10,743
19Ohio9,596
20Michigan9,190
21Missouri9,928
22New Jersey8,091
23Oklahoma9,815
24Maryland7,988
25South Carolina8,838
26New Mexico6,427
27Indiana7,046
28Minnesota6,239
29Montana6,563
30Wisconsin5,417
31Arkansas6,554
32Alabama4,876
33Kansas4,588
34Kentucky4,585
35Connecticut3,932
36Louisiana3,810
37Iowa3,598
38Washington, DC2,381
39Nebraska3,032
40Wyoming2,607
41Alaska2,273
42South Dakota2,484
43Mississippi2,423
44Maine1,965
45New Hampshire1,877
46Rhode Island1,343
47North Dakota1,367
48Vermont1,092
49Delaware961
50West Virginia884

On opposite corners of the country Washington (47,000) and Florida (41,000) round out the top five destinations for Californian expats.

On the other hand West Virginia and Delaware were the least popular spots for Californians to move to, with both attracting fewer than 1,000 people.

Ranked: Californian Net Migration

As startling as these numbers seem, it’s also useful to remember that many people also move to California, which is the biggest economic hub in the U.S.

Below we have California’s net migration numbers, accounting for those moving to the state, where a negative number implies that California lost more residents than it gained from a particular state.

StateCalifornian Net
Migration 2020–21
Texas-69,342
Arizona-37,825
Nevada-30,386
Idaho-21,558
Florida-20,867
Washington-18,762
Tennessee-18,201
Oregon-17,109
Colorado-12,618
Utah-11,964
North Carolina-11,681
Georgia-8,872
Oklahoma-6,137
South Carolina-5,034
Missouri-4,920
Montana-4,813
Virginia-4,524
Arkansas-4,428
New Mexico-2,505
Alabama-2,502
Indiana-2,444
Kentucky-2,362
Ohio-2,217
Hawaii-2,201
Kansas-1,712
Wyoming-1,669
South Dakota-1,669
Pennsylvania-1,607
Michigan-1,344
Iowa-1,255
Wisconsin-1,189
Maine-1,122
Nebraska-1,033
Minnesota-984
Maryland-910
New Hampshire-865
Mississippi-584
Vermont-539
Connecticut-442
West Virginia-365
Delaware-310
Alaska-277
Louisiana-229
North Dakota-210
Rhode Island-191
Washington, DC+161
Massachusetts+537
New Jersey+1,311
Illinois+1,978
New York+6,031

Unsurprisingly, California lost the most net residents to Texas, Arizona, and Nevada. However Idaho jumps past Florida and Washington, with California losing 21,000 more residents than gained from the Gem State.

In fact, both Idaho and Nevada had the highest proportion of incoming Californians to their 2021 populations, at more than 1.38%.

On the other hand, California gained more residents than it lost from four states (New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts) and Washington D.C.

Why Are Californians Leaving?

A key driver of migration is the state’s continuing affordability challenges where housing costs have pushed home ownership out of many Californians’ reach. It is also one of the most difficult states to retire in, where $1 million can last as little as eight years.

Separately, the rise of remote work in 2020 allowed many Californians to move out of their more expensive state to cross into regions with a lower cost of living while maintaining their economic opportunities.

Within the state itself, the more rural, less populous parts have seen, proportionally, the most outward bound migration—a phenomenon occurring across America.

These sustained levels of outward migration, combined with slower population growth, has consequences. California already lost a seat in the House of Representatives after the 2020 Census (Texas gained two and Florida gained one) which results in one fewer vote in the Electoral College and proportionally lower census-guided federal spending.

At the same time however, while domestic outward migration continues, the Golden State is still successfully attracting international immigrants who are more than filling up the gaps.

Where Does This Data Come From?

Source: USAFacts.

Note: USAFacts sources their data from IRS tax returns which has information on tax filers who moved at county, state, and international levels. However, it misses low-income residents who choose not to file taxes. Please view their website for more details.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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population

Mapped: North America Population Patterns by Density

Nearly half a billion people live on the third-largest continent. We take a closer look in this population map of North America.

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A map of North America along with its population patterns.

Mapped: North America Population Patterns by Density

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

From the icy expanses of the Arctic to the warm Caribbean sea, the North American continent covers nearly 25 million square kilometers, or about 15% of the Earth’s land area. Populating this vast region are nearly half a billion people, spread out from coast to valley, along the edges of arid scrublands and rainforests.

We visualize a map of North America population patterns, including Central America and the Caribbean, with spikes illustrating densely populated areas.

Data for this map is sourced from Statistics Canada, the World Bank, and WorldPop—a research group based out of the University of Southampton that tracks population growth and movement across the globe.

Ranked: Countries and Territories by Population Density

Deep in the Atlantic, seen as a small dot near Haiti on the map, the island state of Bermuda is the most densely populated jurisdiction on the continent. Measuring just 53 km² in area, and home to 65,000 people, results in an average population density of 1,266 people per km².

Also in the Caribbean, Barbados ranks second with an average population density 642 people/km², followed by Aruba, ranked third-highest at 550 people/km².

RankCountry/TerritoryAverage Population
Density (per km²)
Area (km²)
1🇧🇲 Bermuda1,22653
2🇧🇧 Barbados642439
3🇦🇼 Aruba550193
4🇭🇹 Haiti42327,750
5🇵🇷 Puerto Rico3608,897
6🇲🇶 Martinique3251,130
7🇸🇻 El Salvador30321,040
8🇱🇨 Saint Lucia292617
9🇻🇮 Virgin Islands285346
10🇻🇨 Saint Vincent &
the Grenadines
267389
11🇯🇲 Jamaica25710,992
12🇬🇵 Guadeloupe2521,628
13🇩🇴 Dominican Republic23448,442
14🇧🇶 Netherlands Antilles229800
15🇹🇹 Trinidad & Tobago2125,128
16🇦🇬 Antigua & Barbuda214440
17🇻🇬 British Virgin Islands206153
18🇰🇳 Saint Kitts & Nevis176269
19🇦🇮 Anguilla17591
20🇰🇾 Cayman Islands168264
21🇬🇹 Guatemala165108,889
22🇨🇷 Costa Rica10151,100
23🇨🇺 Cuba102109,884
24🇭🇳 Honduras94112,492
25🇩🇲 Dominica91750
26🇲🇸 Montserrat91103
27🇹🇨 Turks &
Caicos Islands
75616
28🇲🇽 Mexico651,972,550
29🇵🇦 Panama6074,177
30🇳🇮 Nicaragua54130,370
31🇺🇸 U.S.359,834,000
32🇧🇸 The Bahamas2913,880
33🇵🇲 Saint-Pierre
& Miquelon
24242
34🇧🇿 Belize1722,966
35🇨🇦 Canada49,984,670
36🇬🇱 Greenland02,166,086
37🇺🇸 Navassa Island05

Naturally the largest countries on the continent—Canada, the U.S., and Mexico—have some of the lowest average population densities compared to other nations in the region.

However, thanks to their size, their overall population distribution is more apparent on a map of this scale. In Canada, the Greater Toronto Area is home to one-fifth the country’s entire population. In stark contrast, the rest of the country seems almost empty—averaging just 4 people/km².

Major U.S. cities—New York, Chicago, and San Francisco—also stand out, though the more regular dispersion of Americans, particularly in the Northeast, South, and Midwest can also be seen.

Interestingly, Monterrey in Mexico jumps out on the map; the city is built at the foot of Cerro de la Silla, and several districts are densely populated as a result.

Ranked: Continents by Population Density

How does North America compare to the other continents by population density?

Unsurprisingly, thanks to its large land area, as well as comparatively smaller population, North America is one of the least densely populated continents in the world, beaten only by Oceania, which averages 5 people/km², and Antarctica.

RankContinentAverage Population
Density (per/km²)
1Asia149
2Africa49
3Europe32
4South America25
5North America25
6Oceania5
7Antarctica0

Source: World Population Review.

In comparison, Asia, while being the largest continent, is also home to 60% of the global population, and averages 149 people/km².

Continue Reading
Visualizing Asia's Water Dilemma

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