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San Franciscans moving to Sacramento, Seattle, Las Vegas

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Where’s everyone going?

The Tower Bridge in Sacramento.
The Tower Bridge in Sacramento.
Photo by Chris Allan/Shutterstock

The populations of both San Francisco and California remain on the rise, with the state recently approaching the 40 million mark.

Even so, real estate platforms are busy trying to figure out where outgoing Californians are heading when they do pull up tent stakes from the Golden State, with neighbor to the north Seattle remaining a favorite prospect.

First, real estate aggregate site Redfin released another of its quarterly “migration reports” last week, presenting much the same findings as its previous reports: The site still ranks San Francisco as the city with the highest “net outflow”—i.e., the number of locals browsing home ads in other cities that exceeds the number of people from other cities eyeing SF properties.

As in the past, Redfin attests that Sacramento is the city San Franciscans peruse most often, with Seattle, Washington remaining the most common out of state prospect.

The problem with Redfin’s analysis is that it only tells us what Redfin users—rather than the general Bay Area population—are up to, and there’s no real way to tell how many San Franciscans shopping for homes in Sacramento or Seattle actually end up buying and making tracks.

With that in mind, real estate site Trulia released a study today surveying “top destination markets” for outgoing Californians, measuring where migrants from San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego end up.

The biggest beneficiary of California fallout, according to Trulia: Las Vegas, Nevada, where 8.1 percent of fleeing Golden Staters end up, followed by New York City at 7.3 percent.

Phoenix, Arizona came in third on the list at seven percent even with Dallas, Texas moving into fourth place at 5.5 percent. And yes, Seattle rounded out the top five at 5.1 percent.

Trulia economist Cheryl Young notes that “Sun Belt markets” like Vegas and Phoenix present much cheaper housing prospects for those fed up with the California crunch. Although even New York and Seattle are less prohibitive by that standard.

Young cites the U.S. Census’ Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics as the source for Trulia’s data, which provides a more robust look at where Californians actually ended up moving, rather than just where they were considering.

However, the site does caution, “The data captures job-to-job moves specifically and may not capture the full picture of migration, e.g. those not in the workforce such as recent graduates and retirees.”