Do You Regret Leaving California? Interviews with People Who Have Left

Many people think there are greener pastures beyond California. But, do they regret leaving California? We interviewed 4 people who have left California and asked them if they have any remorse about leaving the Golden State.

Some of these folks have even returned after experiencing life in another state. So, what did they like and dislike about California? What compelled them to return? What about the people who left and never looked back?

Our interviews answered all of these questions and also opened our eyes regarding other topics, as well. 

Let’s find out if people actually regret leaving California or if they turn out to be happier in another location.


To find the best first-hand information about people’s regret leaving California, we had to identify the right group of people to interview. Therefore, we only surveyed individuals that have recently left California in the last three years.

From there, we also wanted a good mix of people and demographics so that our findings were not biased. Therefore, we made sure to include people from different age groups, socioeconomic statuses, and political affiliations.

That left us with four candidates to speak with about their regrets leaving California and what advice they had for people in a similar situation.

“I Miss it Everyday”

Our first interviewee was Vanessa, a 34-year old mother of 2 who moved out of California in 2020. Previously, she and her husband were living in Sunnyvale and worked at large tech companies.

During the pandemic, they decided to relocate to Phoenix, Arizona to take advantage of the lower cost of living and to be able to find a house with more space for their family. They were also able to stay at their current employers and work remotely.

She stated, “I thought we were going to be able to adapt easily to a new city, especially a big one like Phoenix. But, it’s just not the same. The fact that it is less expensive has not actually made it better.”

She added, “Yes, life is cheaper out here, but it’s kind of all the same. I miss the variety that California offers. There are beaches, national parks, mountains, and lakes, while Arizona is just mostly deserts. Plus, it is unbearably hot here. You realize that NorCal’s cooler climate is actually more comfortable in the long-run.” 

When we asked her if she regretted leaving California, she said, “Yes. Once our lease is up, I think we are going to move back. I miss it everyday – all the different things to do, the people, the weather.”

“I’ve Never Looked Back”

Meanwhile, we spoke with Dillon, a 28-year old consultant who has had the opposite sentiments. Dillon moved from Los Angeles to Dallas in 2019 to take a new senior consulting role at his current company.

“I’ve saved so much money on taxes alone that it pays for most of my mortgage. I also can’t believe how far my money goes here. I paid about $270,000 for my 1 bedroom apartment in Dallas. In LA, the same apartment for the same quality and size probably would have cost me double.”

He also added, “I definitely don’t miss the traffic either. It’s just a way more relaxed way of life out here. I have everything I need within the city and everything isn’t overpriced like in LA.”


“Sure, I miss things like the beach, but I can always just visit and not have to actually pay for the whole lifestyle.”

“I don’t regret leaving California for one second. It’s not like I’ve really left it altogether anyway since I can fly back when I want. It’s not that far away.”

“You Don’t Realize What You Have Until It’s Gone”

We spoke with Stacey, who is a 41-year old marketing executive who moved away from San Francisco to Austin, Texas in 2021.

We asked her about her experiences. “I thought that Austin would be a similar place like San Francisco in terms of its progressiveness, but Texas as a state counteracts most of that.”

“The lack of an income tax is nice, but it also comes at the expense of a solid infrastructure and a supportive government. It’s almost like it is too laissez-faire here. I never thought I would miss California’s regulations until I realized how beneficial they were to society.”

“Also, the salaries here are nowhere near the salaries in the Bay Area. For people looking to earn the highest amount possible, nothing beats California.”

“I don’t fully regret leaving California, but it certainly holds a special place in my heart that I will probably return to soon.”

We understand the lure of San Francisco, especially since we also ranked it as one of California’s best cities in our latest review.

“We Actually Came Back”

Seth is a retired doctor who used to live in Sacramento with his wife and 3 kids. When all the kids moved out, they decided to move to Florida like many retirees do.

In 2019, they relocated to Boca Raton, Florida. But, by 2021, they decided to move back to California and resettled in San Diego. What made them change their minds?

“The humidity in Florida was unbearable. Plus, there were so many mosquitoes and other bugs just flying around every month of the year.”

“The lifestyle is just not the same, either. It felt like people were less active. I don’t blame them since there isn’t much nature to take advantage of in Florida. It’s just the beach and Disney World, and I’m too old for Disney World.”

“After 2 years, my wife and I realized how much we missed our friends and family as well as the diversity of California despite the higher cost of living. In the end, it was worth it.”

Regret Leaving California – Summary

From this small sample size, we have found mixed results about people’s regrets leaving California. For those looking for more value for their lifestyle, there are better states out there. But, for those who enjoy a mix of landscapes and sceneries along with access to high paying jobs and some top cities, then California is hard to beat.

Basically, it comes down to your ability to afford it. If you have the means, then California can be a great place to live.

Regrets leaving or not, you won’t know until you try anyway. Besides, you could always just move back if you regret leaving California in the first place.