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    Leaving California: What’s the best state to move to in 2023?
    • October 17, 2023

    During the past two years, 1.6 million Californians left for other states.

    I figured they might want some help choosing a new place to live. So, I embarked on my “Leaving California” voyage — seven columns ranking the potential of other states for ex-Californian wannabes.

    My trusty spreadsheet examined stats on state economies, demographics, health, climate and politics to weigh appropriate landing spots. The 49 other states were graded for costs, wellness, jobs, fun, culture and safety. And just to make sure I didn’t goof, other “best state” rankings also were reviewed.

    What did I learn? When those seven scorecards were combined, the top state for an exiting Californian was New Hampshire. It scored three, top-five grades among the seven rankings.

    Next on my scorecard for a highly compatible California exit were Utah, Minnesota, Utah, Idaho, and Washington.

    At the other end of this spectrum, the top state to avoid was Mississippi. It had four grades in the bottom five. The next lowest were Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and New Mexico.

    And by the way, some states that are popular destinations for Golden State exits scored middling grades: Florida was No. 17 while Texas was 28th. Plus there’s Oregon (No. 26), Arizona (No. 27), and Nevada (No. 34).

    EXODUS SLOWDOWN?: California exits drop 3%, arrivals rose 10%. READ HERE!

    As you digest this scorecard, think about the variety of folks who might bolt from the Golden State. It’s a flock that includes young adults just starting out, families seeking better opportunities and seniors seeking a cheaper place or slower pace.

    Yet no scorecard can fit any one person’s exact needs. These rankings are broad compilations of various medians, averages and indexes – mathematical cliches for the commoner.

    These grades, at best, speak to the “typical” Californian. You tell me who that is?

    The math

    This best-place-to-relocate scorecard reflects my spreadsheet’s seven previous rankings of the 49 other states. These 2023 gradings looked at the pros and cons of places for a Californian’s relocation.

    Here’s what those rankings found …

    Best bargain: Where would your dollars go the furthest, mixing incomes and cost of living? The top states were Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Illinois and Utah. The worst? Hawaii, Mississippi, Arkansas, New Mexico and Maine.

    Healthiest: Where will you find ideal medical services and statewide wellness? Tops were Massachusetts, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey and Maryland. Worst? West Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Oklahoma.

    Best job market: For those seeking employment, where is your best chance at a solid paycheck? Tops were Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona and Texas. Worst? Connecticut, Rhode Island, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia.

    Most fun: Where’s the best mix of indoor entertainment and outdoor activities? No. 1 is Florida, then Hawaii, Massachusetts, Colorado and Minnesota. Last for leisure was Indiana, Alabama, West Virginia, Kansas and Kentucky.

    AFFORDABILITY: Who can afford to live here? What’s being done? CLICK HERE!

    Best culture: Where can you find the most anti-California vibe? The best fits were in South Dakota, North Dakota, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Idaho. And New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Illinois had the worst scores.

    Safest: Where might you feel the most secure from risks of crime, climate or collisions? Tops were Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island. Worst? Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

    Other ‘best’ grades: As a double-check of my thinking, other “best state” rankings were reviewed. My composite “best of best” said the top states were New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Minnesota. At the bottom were Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, New Mexico and Alabama.

    Bottom line

    Do not forget that scorecard creators are human.

    Look, there’s bias in any “best state” scorecard no matter how hard an author tries. The choice of data and how the math is applied can sway the final results – intentionally or not.

    Let’s contrast my relocation rankings with the “best of best” composite grades I created from other similar scorecards.

    Four states got the same grades, including No. 1 New Hampshire plus Nebraska (15), Oregon (26) and West Virginia (41). Seven others had a one-rank difference: Montana (my No. 24 vs. No. 25 “best of best”), Tennessee (31 vs. 32), Kentucky (44 vs. 43), New Mexico (45 vs. 46), Alabama (46 vs. 45), Arkansas (48 vs. 47), and Mississippi (49 vs. 48).

    Politely speaking, there seems to be lots of agreement on where Californians should NOT go. For 14 states, however, there was a gap of 10 ranking spots or more.

    My grades were far kinder to Utah (No. 3 for me vs. No. 21 “best of best”), Idaho (4 vs. 18), Maryland (10 vs. 23), South Dakota (11 vs. 22), North Carolina (19 vs. 30), Georgia (23 vs. 34), Arizona (27 vs. 37) and Texas (28 vs. 38).

    Meanwhile, I was harsher on Vermont (No. 16 vs. No. 2 “best of best”), Maine (20 vs. 8), Connecticut (21 vs. 11), New York (32 vs. 13), Delaware (35 vs. 20) and Ohio (43 vs. 33).

    My excuse? Well, it appears I primarily favored states with strong anti-California vibes.

    Remember, though, I had a built-in bias. My goal was to find the best state for a departing Californian.

    Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at [email protected]

    Leaving California?

    Which state ‘culture’ is your best alternative?
    Where do ‘best state’ rankings tell you to move?
    What states are the safest places to live?
    Here are the healthiest states to consider
    If you want ‘fun’ lifestyle, here are states to move to
    States with the strongest job markets
    What state is the best bargain?

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    ​ Orange County Register