Huntington Beach residents Chris Birtwistle and Allison Naitmazi were about to get married and decided it was time to buy a home.
They wanted to stay in the area but couldn’t find a house they both liked and could reasonably afford — despite a dual income of around $150,000.
So they decided to go inland — all the way to Arizona, where they recently opened escrow on a $240,000, four-bedroom house with a pool just outside Phoenix. Their monthly mortgage payment will be about $500 less than what they paid for a two-bedroom apartment in the Orange County beach community.
“The only hesitation was [leaving] the great weather,” the 31-year old Birtwistle said. “But we talked about what we can get here and what we can get there for the same price and that was a no-brainer.”
Residents of coastal Southern California are increasingly making the same decision to move away — a trend many economists blame on a housing shortage driving rents and home prices sharply higher during the economic recovery.
Moves out of the area remain far below levels seen during last decade’s housing bubble, when out-migration was nearly triple what it was in 2016 — and real estate agents urged clients to “drive until you qualify.”
But after slowing down in the aftermath of the Great Recession, which devastated the housing market, out-migration is picking up as prices climb steadily higher, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
To escape high prices, people — often younger and with lower- or middle-class incomes — are looking toward the Inland Empire and nearby states for additional square footage and a lower mortgage payment.
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