More Californians than ever before are “on the move.” In fact, according to the state’s Department of Finance, the rate of people choosing to live in California has reached a record low in 2020. As if that wasn’t enough, United Van Lines’ 2021 survey found that California has 58 percent outbound moves. So, no matter what state you live in, chances are you’ll see a few extra CA license plates.
While recent data suggests most Californians are heading to Texas, a few other states have new West Coast neighbors. For instance, Kentucky’s real estate market has been red hot in recent years. But why would Californians trade LA for Louisville? Here are a few potential reasons.
Four Reasons Californians Are Heading to Kentucky
In Terms of Taxes, Kentucky Kicks Cali’s Butt!
Whenever journalists ask Californians why they’re moving, the first response is generally the same: “The taxes are too high!” Indeed, a recent WalletHub report found California has one of the worst tax burdens for any US state. According to analysts, the total tax burden per resident is about 9.5 percent per Californian. The company TurboTax also said California has the worst personal income tax rate at over 13 percent. That’s higher than living on the Hawaiian Islands!
By contrast, Kentucky has a flat 5 percent income tax rate, which is slightly below the national average. Kentucky residents also have to pay a lower sales tax of 6 percent. While that’s not the lowest in the nation, it’s undoubtedly better than California’s 8 percent sales tax.
Kentucky’s Cost of Living is Cheaper
Related to the last point, most Californians who move to Kentucky say they enjoy the Bluegrass State’s affordable cost of living. For instance, recent stats suggest housing in Kentucky is 56 percent cheaper than in California.
Economists also say Kentuckians enjoy an 18 percent discount on services and a 9 percent reduction in goods than California. As if that wasn’t enough, Fresno City College says it’s about 1.5 times more expensive to live in California versus any other state.
Kentucky Has More Conservative Politics
There’s no hiding the fact that California is one of the nation’s most progressive states. After all, this was the first US state to legalize medical marijuana! While Cali’s liberal attitude isn’t a deterrent for all movers, some interviewees say it was a contributing factor.
Unlike California, Kentucky is a reliable red state. In the past 12 presidential elections, Kentuckians only voted for a Democrat three times (Clinton and Carter). A recent Pew Research Poll also showed about 42 percent of Kentuckians identify as conservative. This same study also showed that about 30 percent of Californians say they’re conservative.
Forget LA Gridlock — Kentucky Has Lower Traffic
Despite California’s reputation in the green movement, it still has some of the worst smog and traffic in the nation. Indeed, the air-purifying company Molekule says California is the most polluted state in the USA. Unsurprisingly, most of this pollution comes from car exhausts—and most of these car fumes come from Los Angeles.
Multiple studies suggest LA has some of the worst traffic jams in the USA. With few exceptions, even the big cities in Kentucky have very low traffic congestion. This leads to lower stress, faster commutes, and cleaner air.
No question: It’s far more pleasant to drive around in Kentucky. In fact, driving in Kentucky is so pleasurable that WalletHub ranked it as the sixth-best state for motorists. The company IQ Air also says Kentucky has “respectable” air quality levels throughout the year. Anyone who hates sitting in Cali’s gridlock traffic will enjoy cruising along Kentucky’s roads.