Oct 14, 2021 - News
Cheaper real estate lures Californians to Texas
A for-sale sign outside an Austin area home.
A for-sale sign outside an Austin-area home. Photo: Ed Lallo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Just as it seems every Californian and her brother are moving to Central Texas, a recent study compares the economic policies of California and Texas and how they affect quality of life.

Why it matters: The two most populous states in the country have long epitomized contrasting ideas about government, including policies on taxes, regulation and, more recently, pandemic response.

Context: Even before COVID-19 hit, a net of nearly 50,000 Californians moved to Texas annually.

  • Texas is among the fastest-growing states in the U.S. and gained two congressional seats in the latest Census, while California is growing slower than the national average and lost two districts.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has repeatedly taken aim at the Golden State, even campaigning with the motto: "Don't California My Texas!"

Details: According to the study, co-authored by researchers at the University of Texas and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, crime rates and renewable energy production in both states are similar, despite California spending more per capita on both police and green energy subsidies.

  • The Lone Star State has lower income taxes, but higher property taxes and a reduced percentage of insured residents.
  • The Golden State has significantly higher income taxes and spends 60% more than Texas on a per-resident basis.
  • California also spends more per K-12 student, but "student outcomes are if anything better in Texas," the study concludes.

By the numbers: The biggest economic difference between the states is the overall cost of living.

  • In California, 57.8% of houses cost more than $500,000.
  • In Texas, that number is only 7.8%. Most homes here are under $200,000.

That might come as news to Austinites. The median home price in the city was $540,000 in August — up 27% over the same period last year.

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