'Exodus' of the middle class from the Central Coast - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

'Exodus' of the middle class from the Central Coast

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There's no question about it: the middle class is on the move.

They're leaving California - and the Central Coast - in droves.

When we put out the call on KSBY's Facebook page to see if anyone locally was planning to move, the response was overwhelming: more than 51,000 people reached, with nearly 500 comments, mostly from people saying they've already left, want to leave, or intend to leave because of the cost of living.

The Kujawskis are perfect examples. They just moved from Oceano to Arizona. KSBY News spoke with them as they were packing up.

"Our mortgage will be $1,000 less and that coupled with property taxes, which is like $4,000 less, it's insane," Rachel Kujawski said.

Even with a good paying job, the parents of two said they just could not get ahead here. That's something moving company Meathead Movers hears a lot.

"Our clients are telling us, 'I can't afford to live here. The cost of living is so expensive, even with two jobs, we cant make it,'" Meathead Movers Call Center Manager Frances Heredia said.

She added their out-of-state moves have increased 91 percent since 2016, with most people headed to Arizona, Oregon, and Nevada.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau released in November showed San Luis Obispo County had one of the highest migration numbers of all Southern California counties, and the trend is people leaving, not arriving: 657,690 people left California in 2016 -- the highest rate in the nation. Albeit a small portion of our population, the folks we heard from said they cannot afford to stay.

"I don't think there's been enough focus from Sacramento on the problem of the exodus of the middle class from our state," Republican Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham said. He added he's currently working on bills to reverse the trend, including making it easier for middle-class families to get home loans and investing in trade schools for more higher paying jobs.

Cunningham also addressed the housing shortage and pricing crisis on the Central Coast.

"We gotta add supply. There's no way around it. Not just low-income, but middle-income starter three-, four-bedroom family households."

The GOP lawmaker agrees Californians are overtaxed and said he is going to work to get policymakers to keep the cost of living down.

Meanwhile, the Kujawskis are enjoying their 10-percent raise just by moving out of state.

"That puts us in a position where we're not just getting by, we can live and actually do more," Dave Kujawski said.

The U.S. Census Bureau also reported that Idaho is the nation's fastest-growing state, while California -- despite the cost of living -- remains the most populous.

A report released February 21 by California's Legislative Analyst's Office showed net out-migration from 1990 to 2006 was, on average, more than double what it was in the most recent ten years.

According to the state's report, the top destinations for those leaving California were Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon.

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