Perhaps it’s time to erect billboards in New Mexico urging Californians to stop migrating here. My conversations with friends and family increasingly are centering on the flow of folks here from the Golden State and the impacts it will have on our state.
A record number of people are fleeing California, and a growing number are coming to New Mexico. From January to June 2020, our state ranked second behind Idaho as the state where significantly more people — 44 percent — are moving in than out, a Hire A Helper survey found.
Many of them, often families with children, migrated because of the sky-high cost of living in California — for housing, taxes and utility costs. Even before COVID-19, a January 2019 survey found 53 percent of Californians surveyed were considering fleeing, up from 49 percent a year earlier, and that desire ranked highest among millennials.
It’s not surprising New Mexico is their destination. Ours has always been a state that welcomes new residents. And increasingly, Californians are choosing us because our cost of living ranks fifth-lowest among states while California has the third-highest cost of living, and the difference is nearly 75 percent.
Utility costs are another major factor. New Mexicans’ monthly utility bill — including electricity, natural gas, internet, cable and water — is more than 10 percent lower than what Californians pay. And the not-so-Golden State’s gasoline prices are notoriously high, averaging $3.18 for a gallon of regular gas versus $2 in New Mexico.
Frankly, and surveys confirm it, many Californians are moving away because their policymakers and lawmakers have made living there too expensive. They maintain that when policymakers make rash decisions, they affect people’s lives and how much it costs them to live, heat or cool their homes, buy food and get adequate health care.
What’s troubling is that quite a few of those moving here are progressives who have destroyed their state with ideas that raise taxes and living costs exorbitantly.
Now they want to bring their expensive ideas here to one of the poorest states. For instance, they urge us to “go green” with everyone driving an electric vehicle. But not many of our rural communities can afford building electric charging stations to power them.
New Mexicans must make clear to all the folks migrating here from California and elsewhere that we cannot afford expensive policies that will make it difficult for us to continue the quality of life most New Mexicans enjoy. Is it time for those billboards?