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?

Herbert L. Trujillo is a resident of Española, lifelong New Mexican and retired educator from Northern New Mexico College.

(4) comments

Elizabeth Pettus

Xenophobia is the root of the current violence all over this country-ironic xenophobia from people whose ancestors violently took this continent, but xenophobia nonetheless. Keeping people out of “our suburbs”, “our city”, “our state”, “our country”, “our council”, “our community”, “our schools”, “our country club”...it’s bigotry and hatred, plain and simple. No outsider is to blame for New Mexico’s problem. We are a mobile society, and New Mexico has not kept pace with many educational and other goals. Let’s address our shortcomings, and maybe take a page from the books of other successful places, moving forward in whatever harmony we can muster.

Chris Arrott

Your simplistic denunciation of Californians is an insult to those of us who have lived in both states and honor and respect the culture and traditions of the each state. That is a stereotypical statement that you make about Californians bringing in expensive ways of thinking. Your reference to the need to attack climate change with alternative energy sources and more efficient transportation options shows your misunderstanding of what must be done worldwide about our personal consumption as humans. Perhaps what New Mexico needs badly and most agree is a stellar education system that will provide better jobs, a robust economy and improvement on the standard of living. What provoked you to write a disparaging article on Californians?

Richard Reinders

Your simplistic denunciation of NM to get their education, economy, and standard of living up to California standards says it all, everyone moving here need to leave it like they found it.

Matthias Pfau

Before throwing all the blame at so called liberals, I assume largely a derogative and synonyme for Democrats, take the example of power prices and read up on deregulation and the role of Enron in the first power crisis. Neither deregulation nor Enron's business practices are pillars of liberalism, unless you add a Neo in front of it.

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